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ONE MAN’S ELEPHANT
This story has its origins in the distant past of the Hindu discipline. Whoever wrote it had an insight that I have envied for years.
Six blind men went to “see” an elephant. They all approached the elephant from different directions.
The first reached out and touched the elephant’s trunk.
The elephant is like a large snake.
The second touched the elephant’s tusk.
The elephant is like a spear.
The third touched the elephant’s ear.
The elephant is like a large banana leaf.
The fourth ran directly into the side of the elephant.
The elephant is like a wall.
The fifth put his arms around the elephant’s leg.
The elephant is like a tree.
The sixth grabbed hold of the elephant’s tail.
The elephant is like a rope.
When we try to understand God, we are at a greater disadvantage than these blind men. It is much easier for one of these blind men to comprehend the total elephant than it is for the most brilliant human mind to comprehend God. I am one blind man attempting to understand the elephant. You too are blind. Will you accompany me on my journey? As finite beings, humans cannot comprehend that which is infinite.
I have a nephew who is blind. To him, the colors red, green, blue, yellow, etc. are just words. He knows these words are used by those of us who can see to describe one of the characteristics of an object. But, to him, these words are meaningless. If you ask him to hand you the red ball, he is at a total loss. In just the same way, we are unable to perceive the aspects of God. Our senses are not able to conceive of the aspects required to define God.
When I speak of the elephant, I am referring to our inability to perceive God. I am not comparing God to the elephant, I am comparing us to the blind men.
My hopes are that I may someday know what God is and what God expects of me. By putting my thoughts down on paper, I hope that God will guide and enlighten me. The second purpose of this book is to express my belief that we Christians are wrong to think we will be the only ones to attain salvation. Perhaps this is God’s purpose, not mine.
I believe God opens many doors for us. God uses many methods to reach out to His children. God offers many paths for salvation. God wants all of His children to participate in His plan. God reaches out to all. God wants all. God will not fail to reach out to us, but we may fail to accept what God offers.
If your faith is so weak that it cannot bear questioning, then you should not read on. If you are totally able to see the elephant, then you are wasting your time reading this. If you think you can see the total elephant then you probably should read this, but will not.
All statements made here are not really my true belief. Some are here for the shock value or to make you think. Some are part of my own exploration. I expect my own faith will change between here and the last page. If your faith or understanding grows while reading this then my purpose has been fulfilled. If my faith changes, then my purpose has been fulfilled. If you think it is heresy, I have at least made you think. I do not expect or want you to believe the same as I. After all, you should not depend on a blind man for a guide.
As you go through this book, you may refer back to this chapter. This chapter is my disclaimer. If I tell you that this is all fiction, will that save me from eternal damnation for heresy and blasphemy?
I am also violating another rule. I attempt to force my value system on you by using the terms “must” and “should” to express my feelings and ideas. But, my elephant requires me to let you know what my values are.
I am too old to change some of my ways. Usually I refer to God as He or Him. This is not to make a sexist statement, but because I find it clumsy to say: “He/She” or “Him/Her.” I absolutely refuse to call God “It.” However, you may find me calling God “She” or “Her.” Perhaps to offend your sensibilities, or to make a point. God is a spirit. He does not have a sex. Spirits have no bodies so how can a spirit have a sex?
I may refer to a human being or the human race as “man.” This is not to be sexist either. Those of you who have trouble with this may find it interfering with your trip through this book. I hope not. When I use a term that refers to one sex, feel free to replace it with the other. If that changes the meaning for you, then I have not done well enough getting this important point across.
Some of my stories and examples are true, some are fictional, some are plagiarisms, some may be lies. Do not trust a blind man’s description of the elephant.
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copyright© 2007 George L Snyder