19 January 2006

Six Wise Blind Elephants

This joke is attributed to the prolific writer Anonymous. I found it while researching readings about Buddhism for a high school religious education class in my congregation:
Six wise, blind elephants were discussing what humans were like. Failing to agree, they decided to determine what humans were like by direct experience.

The first wise, blind elephant felt the human, and declared, "Humans are flat."

The other wise, blind elephants, after similarly feeling the human, agreed.
This joke parodies the Hindu parable about the six blind men and the elephant.

I'm thinking that there may a lesson from this joke that we can use when exploring world religions as Unitarian Universalists.

Like the blind elephants, we may accidentally transform and even distort another's religion into a form wildly different from the original through our exploration.

1 comment:

CK said...

That's a great joke, Steve, and absolutely pertinent.

While UUs have every 'right' to adapt and integrate the theology of the East and the West into their personal viewpoint, we must be careful to be at least aware of the original context before appropriation.

Otherwise, we are religious imperialists, plundering Babylon for what we think is valuable.

Captive to original context? No. But respectful of religious history and context? Absolutely.