Why an elephant really isn’t a broom
WE USUALLY THINK that we know what reality looks like.
‘This plant is green.’
‘My problem really is a super serious problem.’
‘I am really right about this issue, and he is really wrong!’
We are truly convinced that our view of reality is the one and only right view.
This is because we think that we see the complete picture. Our clever ego makes us believe that we know the whole truth. But reality dictates that we can’t know nor understand the whole truth. Simply because we, as human beings, have limited capacities.
It’s like the fact that we can’t experience the 4th or 5th dimension, because we lack the senses.
This story demonstrates how your ego tricks you to believe the wrong things.
Once upon a time there was a king who wanted to be entertained. Hij sent for the palace elephant, as well as some men who were born blind. The king asked the men to touch the elephant and tell him what they thought it was.
The blind man who held the tail, claimed the elephant was a broom.
The blind man who touch the leg, claimed the elephant was a tree.
The blind man who gently slid his hand over the animal’s kin, claimed the elephant was a wall.
The blind man who stroked the ear, claimed the elephant was a fan.
Each of these men described the elephant in a totally different way. Still, each of them were totally convinced that they were right and started to shout in disbelief when they heard the ‘wrong’ interpretations of one of the others. They all believed that their truth was the real truth!
Of course, they were all wrong.
Just like we are so often wrong too.
You write an old friend an email but she never responds. You think: ’Aha, madam obviously thinks she’s too good for me! Well, I don’t need her, now do I?’
And so you firmly hold on to your belief that your elephant’s tail is a broom.
But reality might be quite different. Of course, there is the possibility that your friend doesn’t want to know you anymore. But it might just as well be that her inbox has been hacked and all her email is vanished. Or she is wrapped up in relational problems and doesn’t have the strength to answer your email. Or she might be on vacation and just found out that there’s no internet connection in the middle of the jungle.
Practise mindfulness today by postponing your judgments.
If your ego is quick to come up with a judgment concerning some other person or a specific situation, thank your ego kindly for its sharp observations.
Then consciously consider a few alternative views. The elephant might be a wall, or a fan, or a broom. He might even be an elephant, for all we know!
This is a very powerful way of widening your view and opening your eyes.
Look at your judgments from different perspectives. Feel, touch, observe, listen, taste and listen. Try to use all your senses to get a total view.
Mindfulness will help you to understand that reality is always different from what your ego claims. Reality is far less threatening, less disappointing, less depressing, less disastrous and less frustrating when you can let go of your ego’s limited view.
Reality is just as beautiful as an elephant.
Not only huge and impressive… but honest and innocent… as long as we allow ourselves to see the complete elephant, rather than blindly pulling its ear and claiming it’s a fan.
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