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The Pedant and the Elephant - A Parable
A variation upon the old tale , by Ned Ludd

Five blind men and a pedant (who had eyes but could not see) decided one day that their mission in life was to discover an elephant. They had all heard that there was such a thing as an elephant, but none had any idea of what an elephant was.

So they set out, and traveled far, in search of the elephant. Finally, in a strange land, a man they met on the road told them they could find an elephant in the shadowy bower of nearby forest.

"Now, my poor blind brothers," said the pedant (who was just as blind as all the rest), "we must approach the elephant with caution. We must not use mentation or concepts or any mental process in discerning the elephant, but only depend on the raw sensation which comes from the elephant to us."

All the blind men agreed, and so the pedant and the five blind men groped their way forward into the darkened thicket of the forest. Sure enough, a calm old elephant, worn down by years of work and drudgery, stood in the bower, munching on leaves.

The men stealthily crept forward, uncertain of where they were, or where the elephant was. Gradually they circled the elephant, until each man stood before a different part of the great beast.

The man who stood by the elephant's side said, "Aha! The elephant is just like a wall, solid and smooth and flat."

"No!" said another of the blind men, who stood by the tusk of the elephant, "It is very much like a spear, it is sharp and pointed and hard."

"No, no," said a third, who held the elephant's trunk, "the elephant is just like a snake, a huge twisting snake."

"But you are all mistaken," said the fourth, who happened to be standing by the elephant's leg, "for the elephant is exactly like a tree, an enormous firmly-rooted tree!"

The fifth blind man, who was by the elephant's ear said, "Ach, you are all wrong - for the elephant is like a fan, or the frond of a large palm tree!"

As it happened, the pedant was standing by the rear of the elephant. "Blind you are all, and blind you shall be," he exclaimed, "deluded by your mentations and discriminations. I shall tell you precisely what the elephant is!" The pedant's head was right before the elephant's anus, and as the pedant slowly advanced, the elephant lifted its tail and farted. And the pedant's head entered the elephant's rectum.

"AHA!" came the great echoing cry, "The truth of the elephant is emptiness, for it is exactly like an enormous foul-smelling cave!"


In the immortal words of the poet:

"And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong.
Though each was partly in the right,
They all were in the wrong!"

-- John Godfrey Saxe



If you're blind, and you know you're blind, don't follow a man with his head up his (or any other being's) arse.

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