Sunday, September 25, 2016

Collecting Travel Notes

William James collected metaphysical abilities of different spiritual travelers in "The Varieties of Spiritual Experiences". Some recalled satori moments, others described a spiritual world that no-one else seemed to perceive. One traveler for example saw mysterious strings attached to everyone that reach into heaven; another saw spirits ascending into the sky after a mass tragedy. Like the story of the blind men and the elephant, everyone of us spiritual travelers sees and perceives a little of the metaphysical reality that lies Beyond. As William James did a century ago, perhaps we can pool our insights and write them up for the travelers who come after us, to make their vision of GOD a little more complete. What do you think?

It was six men of Hindustan,
to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant,
though all of them were blind.
That each by observation
might satisfy the mind.

The first approached the elephant,
and happening to fall
against his broad and sturdy side,
at once began to bawl;
"God bless me, but the elephant 
is very like a wall."

The second, feeling of the tusk,
cried, "Ho, what have we here, 
so very round and smooth and sharp?
To me it's mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant
is very like a spear!"

The third approached the animal,
and, happening to take
the squirming trunk within his hands,
thus boldly up and spake,
"I see", quoth he, the elephant 
is very like a snake!"

The fourth reached out his eager hand,
and felt about the knee;
"What most wondrous beast is like 
is mighty plain", quoth he;
"It's clear enough the elephant 
is very like a tree."

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
said: "And the blindest man 
can tell what this resembles most;
deny the fact who can,
this marvel of an elephant
is very likes fan."

The sixth no sooner had begun
about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail
that fell within his scope,
"I see", quoth he, "the elephant
is very like a rope!"

And so the men of Hindustan
disputed loud and long.
Each in his own opinion 
exceeding stiff and strong.
Though each was partly in the right
and all were in the wrong.
(John Godfrey Saxe)  

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