Mang Ren Mo Xiang (The Blind Men and the Elephant)
Once upon a time there were six blind men who lived in a village. Every day they went to the road nearby and stood there begging. They had often heard of elephants, but they had never seen one, for being blind, how could they?
One morning, an elephant was led down the road where they stood. When they heard that an elephant was passing by, they asked the driver to stop the beast so that they could have a "look". Of course they could not look at him with their eyes,but they thought they might learn what kind of animal he was by touching and feeling him. For, you see, they trust their own sense of touch very much.
The first blind man happened to place his hand on the elephant's side. "Well, well, " he said. "This beast is exactly like a wall."
The second grasped one of the elephant's tusks and felt it. "You're quite mistaken," he said. "He's round and smooth and sharp. He's more like a spear than anything else."
The third happened to take hold of the elephant's trunk. "You're both completely wrong," he said. "This elephant is like a snake, as anybody can see."
The fourth opened both his arms the closed them around one of the elephant's legs. "Oh, how blind you are!" he cried. "It's very clear that he's round and tall like a tree."
The fifth was a very tall man, and he caught one of the elephant's ears. "Even the blindest person must see that this elephant isn't like any of the things you name." he siad. "He's exactly like a huge fan."
Then the driver and the elephant moved on, and the six men sat by the roadside all day, quarrelling about the elephant. They could not agree with one another, because each believed that he knew just what the beast looked like.
It is not only blind men who make such stupid mistakes. People who can see sometimes act just as foolishly.