Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Elephant in the Dark


Some Hindus have an elephant to show.
No one here has ever seen an elephant.
They bring it at night to a dark room.

One by one, we go in the dark and come out
saying how we experience the animal.
One of us happens to touch the trunk.
A water-pipe kind of creature.

Another, the ear. A very strong, always moving
back and forth, fan-animal. Another, the leg.
I find it still, like a column on a temple.

Another touches the curved back.
A leathery throne. Another the cleverest,
feels the tusk. A rounded sword made of porcelain.
He is proud of his description.

Each of us touches one place
and understands the whole that way.
The palm and the fingers feeling in the dark
are how the senses explore the reality of the elephant.

If each of us held a candle there,
and if we went in together, we could see it.

3 comments:

dirt clustit said...

Absolutely Radiant Ruthi!

I find it hard to believe there are not truths outside the gates of heaven. And sometimes it happens sooner rather than later in reading certain posts by specific Rumi Readers and adding a capitol T to a synchronizing name.

it can be known without intuition because it is literally spelled and perfect to read.

:)

Shaista said...

Ruth, I love this poem for its ending...

If each of us held a candle there,
and if we went in together, we could see it

Many years ago I made the acquaintance of a young Church apprentice... I was young myself and spoke elusively of Rumi-esque faith, my own Sufi-esque religion. The next day, the young man came round to our home, and delivered a thin book called 'The Elephant'.
It was the same story, but with a different ending. The ending was, 'only the Christian sees the elephant whole and complete. Only the Christian sees. All others are blind.'
It was so painful to read that book, not expecting that ending.
I returned the book to the Church, and never saw the young man again. He wasn't a local - so it was a strange fateful encounter.

Waqar Ahmad said...

the candle is out dated. light is more accurate and it is available in your mobile phone. the elephant is interesting.