The Six Blind Sages and the Elephant: a Story to Value the Opinions of Others

It is not always easy to value the opinions of others because when they clash with our own, we usually give priority and greater veracity to our own. This causes us to become intransigent people and we refuse to analyze the way in which others perceive reality. Instead of enriching us, this situation rather impoverishes us.

Among other reasons, if we act like this it is because, although we deny it, we like to be right. However, as well exposes an appointment that includes the article Relationship between two concepts: information, knowledge and value. Similarities and differences “you can only be right if you run the risk of making a mistake”.

In order to open our eyes to this widespread attitude, today we will discover a story that will help us to value the opinions of others with the knowledge derived from their background. For this, we invite you to read it carefully.

The story of the six blind sages and an elephant

Once upon a time there were six wise men who lived in a small village. The six were blind. One day, someone brought an elephant to the village. Given this situation, the six men looked for a way to know what an elephant was like, since they could not see it.

– I know, “said one of them. Let’s feel it!

– Good idea, said the others. So we will know what an elephant is like.

Said and done. The first felt one of the large ears of the elephant. I touched it slowly back and forth.

– The elephant is like a big fan, said the first sage.

The second, feeling the legs of the elephant, exclaimed: “It’s like a tree!”

“You are both wrong,” said the third sage, and after examining the elephant’s tail he exclaimed. The elephant is like a rope!

Just then, the fourth sage who was feeling his fangs bellowed: the elephant is like a spear!

– No no! the fifth shouted. It is like a high wall (the fifth sage had been feeling the side of the elephant).

The sixth sage waited until the end and, holding his hand, the elephant’s trunk said: “you are all wrong, the elephant is like a snake.”

– No no. Like a rope.

– Snake.

– A wall.

– You are wrong.

– I’m right.

– Not!

The six men extolled in an endless discussion for hours, without agreeing on what the elephant was like.

To value the opinions of others, you have to listen

Something we can make clear from this story is that to value the opinions of others you have to learn to listen. The six wise men of the story did not attend to what their companions said, they only affirmed what they had felt with their hands. But, that was just a guess.

In the end, none of them approached the true image of what an elephant is like, although all defended their opinion with determination. This, which may seem so absurd, happens frequently. Certainly, they were all right in their perception. However, none coincided with reality. Neither was able to value the opinions of others.

How can this story help us?

The next time you have a different opinion from the people around us, I suggest you try to look at the situation from your perspective. For that, it is essential to listen, ask if we do not understand something and, also, express our own position.

This does not mean that others can not be wrong, but that we will learn to be aware that each one perceives reality in a different way, having all of them a portion of reason. In fact, as pointed out in the article The search for reality or truth: an approach from the sociological theory and Plato, with the Myth of the Cave, pointed out that it is possible that there are different interpretations of the same reality.

Influenced by our experiences, values ​​and beliefs, our way of seeing reality can differ quite a bit from that of others. But does that mean that there are some that are true and others that are not? The answer is no”. Therefore, assessing the opinions of others will allow us to enrich ourselves instead of impoverishing ourselves by defending our own truth that, as we have seen with the story of the elephant and the six wise men, is probably not as “adjusted” as we think.

«The idea of ​​truth is about a mental interpretation of the reality transmitted by the senses. […] In the meantime, we must remember that mental interpretation includes beliefs, values and, ultimately, consciousness, because it can deceive us by […] constructing a truth only for ourselves”.

-Josep Vidal-