Four blind men and an elephant

Once, four blind men went out to see an elephant.

One touched the leg of the elephant and said, “The elephant is like a pillar.”

The second touched the trunk and said, “The elephant is like a thick club.”

The third touched the belly and said, “The elephant is like a big jar.”

The fourth touched the ears and said, “The elephant is like a big winnowing basket.”

Thus they began to dispute hotly among themselves as to the shape of the elephant.

A passer-by, seeing them thus quarreling, asked them, “What is it you are quarreling about?”

They told him everything and asked him to arbitrate.

The man said: “None of you has seen the elephant. The elephant is not like a pillar, its legs are like pillars. It is not like a winnowing basket, its ears are like winnowing baskets. It is not like a stout club, its trunk is like a club. The elephant is the combination of all these — legs, ears, belly, trunk and so on.”

–       Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhans

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