blind men feeling an elephant
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
(xia1 zi5 mo1 xiang4)
這部經所討論的，是「佛性」的存在。「the blind men and the elephant」（盲人與大象）的寓言如今已有更廣泛的用法，表示知識是偏頗的──即便這些知識是靠親身經驗所獲得的──因此可能會造成很大的誤導。
(You should have understood it completely before making your assessment, not just got a partial understanding and insight like the proverbial blind man feeling the elephant.)
(Investors in this emerging market are like the blind men feeling the elephant; they’re still exploring how it reacts and operates.)
the parable of the blind men and the elephant
A feature of the way people tend to understand an event, an object or a process is that we take all of the information our perception avails us of and, imagining it to be complete, form an opinion based upon that, unaware (or unwilling to conceive) that this information may well be partial. This tendency is perfectly captured in a parable of considerable antiquity, originating in the Indian subcontinent and appearing, in one form or the other, in Buddhist, Hindu and Jain texts, the first version being traceable to the Buddhist text Udana, dated to the mid 1st millennium BC. This parable revolves around how a group of blind men trying to understand the appearance of an elephant individually explore different sections of the animal and come away with radically different ideas of what it looks like.
In a discussion on the Buddha-Nature that appears in Chapter 39 (On Bodhisattva Lion’s Roar) of the translation into English by Kosho Yamamoto of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana (Nirvana) Sutra, thought to have been compiled between 100 AD and 220 AD, for example, there is a story in which a king asks his minister to show an elephant to a group of blind people and then asks them what the elephant was like.
“The person who had touched its tusk said: ‘The elephant is like [a radish].’
The man who had touched its ear said: ‘The elephant is like a winnow.’
The one who had touched its trunk said: ‘The elephant is like a pestle.’
The person who had touched its foot said: ‘The elephant is like a handmill made of wood [or mortar].’
The one who had touched it by the spine said: ‘The elephant is like a bed.’
The man who had touched its belly said: ‘The elephant is like a pot.’
The man who had touched it by its tail said: ‘The elephant is like a rope.’”
The king then says,
“All these blind persons were not well able to tell of the form of the elephant. And yet, it is not that they did not say anything at all about the elephant. All such aspects of representation are of the elephant. And yet, other than these, there cannot be any elephant.”
The parable of the blind men and the elephant has been used more generally to show how knowledge, even when arrived at experientially or empirically, is partial, and can therefore be misleading.
The simplicity and genius of the story has meant that it has captured the imagination of people in many cultures and countries around the world. In Chinese, it is encapsulated in the idiom 瞎子摸象 (blind men feeling an elephant).(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)
Isolated research in individual scientific disciplines risks gaining only partial knowledge, rather like the story of the blind men inspecting the elephant.
There’s something I’m not quite understanding here. I feel like the proverbial blind man working out what an elephant looks like.
Let’s go for a spin in my new set of wheels (4/5) 坐我的新車去兜風吧（四） A: So what do you think of my Mini? B: Well. . . apart from the fact it’s absolutely boiling inside without any air conditioning — and the wind noise is quite loud compared to a modern car — it’s actually pretty cool! It feels a bit like I’m in a go-kart. A: That’s because of the Mini’s ultra-wide wheelbase, which means it handles corners really well. Modified Mini Coopers won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967. B: Wow! It feels like we’re driving in a piece of automobile history. A: 那麼，你覺得我的迷你車怎麼樣？ B: 嗯……除了車內沒有空調，感覺快被煮熟以外──而且風切聲跟現代汽車比起來有夠大聲──其實真的很酷！有一點感覺像是在卡丁車裡面。 A:
Let’s go for a spin in my new set of wheels (5/5)
坐我的新車去兜風吧（五） A: Can you hear a strange noise? B: Now you mention it, I can hear a faint whirring sound. Also, there’s a slight whiff of burnt rubber. A: Uh-oh! I’d better pull over and take a look... OK, sit tight. I’ll pop the hood and take a look at the engine. B: What’s the prognosis? A: I think the fan belt has worn out and caused the engine to overheat. I’d better call a mechanic... A: 你有聽到一種奇怪的噪音嗎？ B: 既然你說了，我確實有聽到微弱的低沉呼呼聲。另外，我還聞到一點點燒焦的橡膠味。 A: 哦哦！我最好停車檢查一下……。好，你坐穩，我要把引擎蓋打開，看看引擎有沒有問題。 B: 你推斷的病情是什麼？ A: 我想應該是風扇的皮帶破損了，導致引擎過熱。我最好打個電話給維修人員……。 （Edward Jones, Taipei Times／台北時報章厚明譯） English 英文: Chinese 中文:
Pets are an inseparable part of people’s lives in the modern world. About 65 percent of US households have at least one pet. On a psychological level, pet companionship can bring better psychological wellbeing; on a biological level, our furry friends can boost human immunity. According to a report in Psychology Today, a review carried out by researchers from the UK’s University of Manchester found that the companionship of pets can result in better psychological wellbeing for people with mental health conditions. The diabetes research center of the University of Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital analyzed data from over 3 million people,
A: Hello, I’d like to book a table for two please. For 7 o’clock, if possible. B: Certainly, sir. Let me see if I can fit you in. I’m afraid we’re fully booked at that time, but we do have a space at 8pm. A: No problem, 8pm will be fine. B: Thank you. I‘ve reserved you a table for two for 8pm. Just to let you know, we operate a “bring your own” policy for wine, and corkage is NT$50 per bottle. A: OK. See you later on. A: 你好，我想要訂位，兩個人，方便的話晚上七點。 B: 好的，先生。讓我看看能不能幫您安排座位。不好意思，我們那段時間的訂位滿了，不過晚上八點還有空位。 A: 沒問題，晚上八點可以。 B: 謝謝您。我幫您預約晚上八點，兩個人的座位。另外，提醒您本餐廳關於「自行帶酒」的規定，每瓶酒酌收新台幣五十元開瓶費。 A: 好的。我們晚點見。 （Edward Jones,