Each Wednesday morning at 6:30am I offer a free Gratitude circle on zoom. I always begin with spiritual teaching of sorts, add in meditation and then we share what we are grateful for. It’s been a wonderful way to contribute and elevate our energy as a group on a weekly basis. All are welcome and we have people from all over the world attending. This morning when I awoke, I wasn’t drawn to my bookshelf for inspiration or guidance as is my usual habit. Instead, I sat down and began to write a story. The story just came to me as though channeled from beyond. It is likely influenced by other stories I’ve heard over the years but it came from the heart and is more relevant today than ever. Here it is.
There was a little girl, nine years old, who lived with her grandmother in a huge and bustling city. The girl had always lived with her grandmother and helped her with her work, cooking, and cleaning. Her grandmother taught her the ways of the world and the child admired her grandmother’s wisdom greatly. Because of her grandmother’s knowledge, the little girl could walk confidently through the city. She knew every ally way, every restaurant, and shop, and all of the people in her neighborhood. Her grandmother told her tales of the city, its people, and its history. It was a big city and there was a lot to know! Her grandmother had been born in the city and had never left as she was busy trying to make ends meet for most of her life. She had endured many challenges and lived hand to mouth for as long as she could remember. The little girl never wanted for much but the grandmother promised her that one day they would take a vacation to a quieter part of the city where the pollution wasn’t as bad and you could hear birds singing. The girl was excited to see this secret part of the city with her grandmother.
One day the little girl’s grandmother took her to a shop they knew well to purchase a new dress. They had been invited to the home of one of her grandmother’s childhood friends for tea and her grandmother wanted to make a good impression.
When they arrived at the gleaming skyscraper, which they walked by occasionally but had never been inside of, the little girl was excited. She had never been in an elevator before as her neighborhood and all of the surrounding ones were made up of two-story utilitarian buildings. She looked at her feet to make sure they were still on the ground as the elevator ascended. She felt an unfamiliar “whoosh” in her stomach as they quickly ascended. Her grandmother’s friend lived way up high on the 17th floor. Imagine that 17 floors! When the elevator doors opened, her grandmother took her hand and they walked to the door number that her grandmother had written on a small scrap of paper. The girl smoothed her new green dress as her grandmother knocked on the door. They were greeted with warm smiles and warm hugs by her grandmother’s old friend and ushered into a spacious and grand apartment that beheld floor-to-ceiling windows on an entire wall. Both the grandmother and the little girl gazed out in awe.
From the higher perspective of the 17th floor, they could see that the massive city wasn’t nearly as big as they thought. It was in fact, surrounded by miles and miles of beautiful, untouched jungle. Off in the distance, they could even see a sliver of the ocean. The child was astonished for she had never seen such a sight let alone experienced the possibility of a world beyond the city streets. She peppered her hosts with questions and barely gave time for one to be answered before she spat out the next. As she paused to take a breath in between questions, the little girl realized her grandmother had been silent the whole time. She looked over and saw there were tears in her grandmother’s eyes. “What’s wrong grandmother? Why are you crying? Look at the trees!” Her grandmother dabbed the tears from her eyes and said, “All this time I thought I was showing you the ways of the world. It seems that I was only teaching you about my world. It turns out I have no idea just how big the world is or what is out there beyond what we know. There is a much bigger world for you to explore child, now that we’ve seen things anew.”
Stories like this have been told for centuries and can be found throughout every culture. It is human nature to defend our views. There is an ancient Indian parable that is a story of a group of blind men who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and conceptualize what the elephant is like by touching it. Each blind man feels a different part of the elephant’s body, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then describe the elephant based on their limited experience and their descriptions of the elephant are different from each other. In some versions, they come to suspect that the other person is dishonest and they come to blows. The moral of the parable is that humans have a tendency to claim absolute truth based on their limited, subjective experience as they ignore other people’s limited, subjective experiences which may be equally true.
How often do we argue for our limited view of the world as though it is the only possible perspective? I for one have done harm by arguing for my rightness and not holding space for the possibility of things unseen, or unknown. My point is that none of us really know the whole story. Each of us occupies our version of the grandmother’s city or touches the leg of the elephant and most of us remain blissfully unaware that there are higher perspectives available. What if instead of defending our little piece of the truth we went on a mission to expand our view each day? It seems to me that everyone’s perspective is valid but it is not complete. If we collect perspectives and put them together, we may come closer to seeing the truth.
Some food for thought friends.
With love and gratitude.