The Other Elephant in the Room
Many are familiar with the parable of the blind men and the elephant. I want to expand the usual lesson taught by that story. I want to identify a second elephant in the room that needs to be explored.
Here’s the short version of the classic story. The man holding the elephant’s tail declares that the elephant is a rope. The one holding the elephant’s trunk insists that the elephant is a snake. And, so it goes: The one holding its leg, a tree; the one with its ear, a leaf; the one feeling its side, a wall.
An argument ensues. They each assert the truth of their own experience. But, only one of the men is truly honest enough to gain some wisdom. After hours of bitter bickering, he shouts, “Stop it! Don’t you know that we are ALL blind?”
Now, I want to focus on that truth: “We are ALL blind.” I’m asking myself (and you) to be completely honest. Do you have a heart? How do you know that you do? Can you feel it beating? What does it look like? Does it have chambers, as they tell us? How many chambers are there in your heart? (A very intelligent and successful friend of mine just told me that her heart has three chambers…she thinks.)
Can you hear what your dog hears? Do you smell what you cat can smell? (Be honest.) How keen is your sense of taste? Can you feel the countless number of germs that are “crawling” all over your body right now? Can you feel the earth moving, or does it look to your eyes that the sun is moving?
Stop and realize…by our very nature, all humans are “blind.” In this context, of course, “blind” does not mean what it normally means. I assert, in all honesty, that even if one has perfect human eyes and ears and nose and taste and feeling, because of the limited nature of human senses, WE ARE ALL BLIND.
This, then, is the “second elephant in the room” that must be explored. Not only is it true that we are limited in the amount of reality our senses can “see,” but even what we do see with our owns eyes can never be completely known without faith. Religious or not, we are ALL blind. We ALL rely on faith. We must stop our arguing and admit the universal truth that, for humans, all knowledge is more of less known by faith.
You probably have heard the sales pitch, “I can’t believe it’s not butter.” Yes, margarine (an artificial butter substitute) can fool our senses of sight and taste, but it doesn’t really fool our bodies. The reality is that when that stuff (which is only one molecule away from being plastic) hits our stomach, our bodies are probably saying, “What the hell is this!”
WE ARE ALL BLIND. By nature and by necessity, we only know reality by seeing signs. Our limited senses can, and often do, betray reality. Remember that fact when you dismiss the claim that Jesus Christ is God. Remember it when you dismiss the claim that a piece of bread and a cup of wine are REALLY God. Remember it when you won’t seriously consider that this whole cosmos might be God and we little creatures take shape and live and move and have our being here within the One Divine Organism—the Cosmic Christ.
So, I challenge people with religious faith to get honest. I challenge folks who have no religious faith to get honest. Before we even begin to talk of religious faith, I submit that we must honestly admit that these human critters, by nature and necessity, have always been creatures of faith. Most of what we rely upon for our daily existence is beyond our senses.
And, all the signs point to one truth that is constant and universal. Everything is ONE. Nothing ever leaves the universe. Nothing is ever added to the universe. GOD AND THE UNIVERSE IS ONE—IT IS ONE. You’d have to be blind not to see it!
© 2020 Rev. John Vogler