Last week, I came across the parable of The Blind Men and an Elephant, a tale whose origin can be traced back to ancient India. It tells the story of a group of blind men, who, having never experienced an elephant, try to understand what an elephant is like by touching it. Presented with an elephant, each blind man feels a different part of the elephant’s body, but only one part of it and then conceptualise the elephant based on their limited experience.
In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, he said “This being is like a thick snake”. For another one, whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another man, whose hand touched its leg, the elephant was like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand on its side said, “The elephant is a wall”. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope and finally, the last man felt its tusk, stating that the elephant was like a spear.
This parable illustrates the need for deeper understanding and respect for different perspectives on the same object of observation. While one’s subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth. We believe our experience is the only truth; we don’t acknowledge or experience that each person’s truth is simply a different facet of the same animal.
The collapse of dualistic identification.
A turning point in our evolution, and certainly in my own, is when you don’t know who you are, a sort of existential crisis occurs and you begin seeking answers. You embark on a spiritual journey which seeks to answer this question. For me, the first step to awakening was the realisation that I identified myself with the ego mind; it is the mind that distracts us, consumes us and enslaves us, keeping us far removed from spiritual evolution. But once the soul wakes up and remembers itself, once you come to know your Divine essence, you realise that your true self has always been there buried deep inside; it is in everything, but you simply have not realised its presence. This reminds me of Saint Francis of Assisi’s words:
‘’What you are looking for is what is looking.’’
To realise one’s true self is to realise one’s Divine nature. Every soul has the ability to awaken from its sleep in the identification of the ego-self and reach higher levels of consciousness.
‘’Compose yourself in stillness, draw your attention inward
and devote your mind to the Self.
The wisdom you seek lies within.’’
Like many people, I faced initial struggles with meditation, finding it awkward when I first started to practice and always questioning whether I was doing it right or if it was doing anything. It wasn’t until I joined a meditation group that I realised I hadn’t really understood what it was all about, but under the guidance of a teacher, I began to notice a difference in my ability to remain calm and at peace even in the midst of chaos. By incorporating a daily 20 minute practice into my life, I noticed that it started to ease the resistance of the ego mind, bringing a sense of calm and clarity which allowed me to access my inner wisdom and provide me with answers to questions I had been struggling with.
In Sanskrit, meditation means to be free of measurement, free of becoming. In meditation, you are not trying to become something else. You are ok with what is. The way to rise above the suffering of the physical realm is to embrace it, to say yes to it, to accept reality as it is by surrendering. It is only once I learned this lesson of surrendering to what is that I finally had the courage to open up to pain, accepting what was/is instead of creating another reality. Now I live my truth with the knowing that circumstances don’t matter, only my state of consciousness matters.
I now choose to live my life where my mind is in service to my heart. I don’t judge my thoughts as good or bad, I drop all labels to see things as they really are. By living from a heart-centred space, you connect your outer world with the inner world and realise that all is one.
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.’’
With much love and light