“Not one thought you hold is wholly true. The recognition of this is your firm beginning.”
– A Course in Miracles (The Problem and the Answer)
There once lived 4 blind men who went to visit an elephant. They were all very curious about what exactly an elephant was. They had heard people talk about elephants many times but being blind from birth they had never seen one with their own eyes.
This day was very special for all of them because they would have the opportunity to explore an elephant with their hands and finally discover what it was people were talking about.
The first blind man grabbed the elephant’s ear. He felt how it flapped around and was large and flat like the sail on a ship. Oh… this is what an elephant is. An elephant is similar to the sail of a ship.
The second blind man approached the elephant’s leg and began his examination. He felt the massive girth of its leg. Oh…this is what an elephant is. An elephant is like a tree.
The third blind man came close to the elephant and grad a hold of its rough tail. He lifted that tail and felt the fibrous hair. Oh… this is what an elephant is. An elephant is like a rope.
The fourth man had his turn to meet the elephant. He approached the elephant’s face and grabbed his heavy, malleable trunk. Oh… he thought this is what an elephant is. An elephant is similar to a rolled up cotton rug that can grab objects.
All four men walked away from the elephant satisfied that he finally knew what an elephant was. They had not gone very far before they began to discuss their experience.
“Who would have thought an elephant was like a rope?” asked the third blind man.
“It most certainly is not like a rope,” argued the other 3 blind men.
“It is like a tree”, remarked the second blind man.
“No, not even close. It is similar to a sail on a ship,” rebutted the first blind man
“How could you even think that, when it is obvious that is comes closest to a large coarse rope?” added the third.
The blind men fought amongst themselves for quite sometime until they stopped at a tavern for dinner. They made the decision to ask the keeper of the tavern who was right. Was the elephant like a sail, a tree, a rope or a rolled up cotton rug?
The tavern keeper laughed, “You silly men. None of you are correct but neither are any of you fully wrong. You have all described parts of the elephant that make up the whole. All parts are equally important to the whole elephant but none, by itself, is the whole truth of what an elephant is.”
I really like this story (obviously, or I wouldn’t have shared it). It’s a helpful reminder to me when I feel an exceeding amount of self-righteousness brewing in me or when I don’t like (or agree with) something my partner is doing or saying.
It can be challenging to let go of the belief that we have the whole story and are fully capable of passing judgment on another. But in truth, we never have the whole story and we pass judgement based on only partial information.
“She is so selfish, she should be spending more time with my family.”
“He only thinks of himself.”
“They never want to have sex with me, that’s not what a good partner does.”
“I would never hurt them the way they hurt me.”
Do any of the above sound familiar? If you haven’t heard yourself say or think these or something similar to these at least once in your life you may want to check for a pulse or denial.
Usually we try to blame others to get ourselves in a better place. The thinking goes, if I can make them wrong, by default I am the innocent one. We bring others down so we can temporarily feel slightly superior. But, we don’t always think it through all the way.
When we choose to see the other as wrong, the bitch, the scoundrel, it has its effect on us. It leaves us feeling like a victim. When we choose to see them as an individual who is doing the best they can with the resources they have we can begin to see their innocence.
Would you rather be with an innocent being or a no good scoundrel? Whatever you are looking for in your partner you are guaranteed to find it. This by no means means that you need to put up with unconscious behavior. The best thing to do may be to leave, but you have a choice in how you see the person you are leaving.