Five blind men
Once, five blind men were asked to investigate aspects of an elephants and tell everyone what an elephant is !
First man checked out the elephants powerful legs. Strong, rough, round, tall, supporting a dropping, solid vault. He came back to the group to say An elephant is a four pillared creature, supporting a low, roughly finished ceiling.
Second man checked out the barrel shaped stomach / torso of the beast. Strong, rough, rotund, occasionally wobbly, it was a large entity ! He came back to the group and said, It is not split up in such a way with pillars and things ! An elephant is a large barrel shaped creature with a strange rough, tough, solid yet slightly soft body.
Third man went to investigate the creatures large ears. Floppy, flexible, vast and thin, it reminded him of an oversized hand fan he had at home. He came back to the group and said, Dont be silly my friends. Its not a pillared creature, not a barrel, but an enormous leathery fan !!
Fourth man went to examine the trunk of the beast and came back to say, Friends, the elephant is has none of the characteristics of what you have said. It is in-fact a huge, flexible hose. Indeed, I felt water rushing through it, spraying me with a cold shower ! The elephant is an organic hose !!
The fifth man took brave steps forward, groping around to find out what an elephant may be. He investigated the tusks, hard, cold, pointed and smooth ! He came back to the group to say, You guys are all strange ! How could you possibly describe it as a rough pillar, or a solid barrel or a leathery fan ! Indeed, the hose idea is the most ludicrous of all !! In have experienced the elephant myself and I can tell you it is a long, cold, hard, smooth and dangerously pointed implement that can easily kill a man ! How did you guys think it was rough ? I actually felt it to be as smooth as polished stone vase. Indeed, its like a long, curved cone. How could you get it so wrong ?
The five men argued about what an elephant is. Neither would agree with the other and each was convinced that his own exploration had unearthed as much as was needed to form a total, overall, picture of the beast. Their strenuous arguments were rather animated, as each was convinced that he was the sole authority on what an elephant looks like.
Only someone who has seen or experienced the elephant, an entire elephant, could tell them they were all right, and yet wrong at the same time ! It is indeed a strange paradox !! Yes, they are right from the view point of their own experience, but, to get an overall, complete picture, they have to pool-together their experiences and come up with a composite picture of the creature.
This story is variously told in scriptures, myths, legends and folk tales around the world.
Though as old as time, this story still holds true even now.
Most religious leaders know only their own branch of philosophy and claim that that is the be all and end all of all knowledge ! God can only be experienced through the way they have understood / taught. They all claim to have exclusive access to God and divine knowledge. They all guard their knowledge jealously, least anyone else gets in on their game !! Seldom do they venture outside their silos, or explore anything thing outside their own cocooned world. Indeed, anyone suggesting this is considered to be a fool !!
Fortunately for us all, one person has tried to look at the elephant from all the different angles, exploring all its different aspects and putting it all together in a meaningful way.
RamaKrishna Paramhansa - guru of Shri Vivekananda.
Shri RamaKrishna is a rare soul who actually took the trouble to go beyond philosophical discussions and experimented with different spiritual / religious practices to see where they all lead. Having tried everything from Tantra to Bhakti, Hinduism to Christianity and Islam he concluded that yes, they all eventually lead to the same spiritual entity. Call it Krushna, Kali, Prabrahma or GOD, It is the same. His experiments, his experiences, speak of the same speechless bliss that is encountered on going beyond the world of cants and rituals. The reality is the same, no matter which path you approach it from. Going beyond the petty mindedness of religious leaders, of self imposed limits and of their blinkered visions, Shri RamaKrishna personally strived and experienced the God from different view points, and found God to be the same !! He confirmed the Vedic dictum, - Eko Brhaman, Vipra bahuda vadani. God is one. Scholars speak of God in various terms !!
In a world full of blind leading the blind, Shri RamaKrishna is an amazing guide whose eyes are wide open !!
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