Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow...
THE ELEPHANT AND THE FIVE BLIND MEN
Once upon a time in a very nice city of ancient India, there were five blind young men were living together and getting along very well. They could share together many things they acquired materially and mentally. They could shared each other what they had learned, known or experienced. For example, they had learned and known how a hose, a broom, a post, a drum, a belly...looks like by listening to the descripton of someone who got good eyes and words, by using their hands touching it, or their noses smelling it, or their tongues tasting it...
One day it was very nice out, all the five of them were together taking a walk to the beautiful park at the center of the city. When they were in the park, it happened to be there an elephant with the hamout. After talking to each other, they agreed to come and ask the hamout allow them to take a "look" and "see" what the elephant really looks like. When heard the request, the hamout was very surprised but also interested in seeing how could they take a look and see the elephant. He agreed.
The hamout told the first blind man come close to the elephant's trunk and "see" it. After used his both hands touching over the trunk of the elephant, he felt it, thought of it and finally said: -The elephant looks exactly like a big hose, brothers!
-No! The elephant looks exactly like two big posts standing side-by-side! The second one protested the first one because he was touching over the two fore-legs of the elephant.
-No! You both are wrong! The elephant looks exactly like a huge drum! The third one negated the others because he was touching over the big belly of the elephant.
-Not like that at all! Three of you are wrong! The elephant looks exactly like a big broom! The fouth one asserted, after touching the tail of the elephant for a while.
-None of you is correct! The elephant looks exactly like two fans. The fifth declared after touching over two ears of the elephant.
The argument, at first, was going fine. Then it became a big quarrel, and afterall, a big fight.
The hamout witnessed all of what was going on, he was moved and felt pity for the five blind young men, and told them: -Please stop fighting! None of you were correct and none of you are really wrong. Why? Because each of you only touched and knew some part of the elephant and not the whole elephant, therefore, what you touched and "saw" is separate and incomplete.
When heard these words of the hamout, the five blind young men understood. They stopped fighting, quarelling, arguing, and palm-to-palm said to the hamout, "Thank you very much! We really appreciate this."
Purchase posters, art prints, media (music CD & DVD)