“The palm has not the means of covering the whole of the beast.”


The parable of the blind men and the elephant from the Buddhists, the Hindus and even an African version – as well as the homegrown poem version – comes to rest before me. It goes like this.

The blind men try to learn what an elephant is by touching its different parts. From the perspective of the legs, a man assumes pillars. From the back, a throne is conjured by another. And upon feeling the trunk, his fellow posits that an elephant must be much like a snake. The moral of the story, although it differs a bit across cultures, is that the narrow perspectives of each man caused them to have totally erroneous ideas about the true nature of the elephant.

But do any of us see the true nature of the elephant?

I can’t help but go back to the sensory experience. Each man focusing on a small part of the whole, giving it his full attention, making connections with what he knows, and really feeling the beauty and the mystery of what he beholds. Everybody knows the big picture is important but what about the little pictures. The little discoveries. The tiny epiphanies. The niggling awareness. Whether erroneous in the eyes of the big picture, these pieces matter. And in terms of the big picture, I believe these little bits are significant even if not in the most obvious or direct way. For instance, after reading the elephant parable, I will never look at an elephant the same way again. The observations of the blind men gave poetry to anatomy and function, more dimension than I thought an elephant had.

So here I record my small contributions from my little corner in space and time. I give no guarantees for grammar or completeness or “big picture” relevance, but I will say there is a nugget of truth and a piece of my heart throughout.

© 2014 - 2016 Nora Snyder, Ithaca, NY. Contact: nsnyder9@yahoo.com
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