The Blind Leading the Blind | I am technology. #blog by Trey Warme, San Diego
This post has similarities and builds upon a previous post I wrote. In case you missed, you can read here: blind men and an elephant.
Like many helpful attempts at illustrations of truth, the blind men and an elephant analogy has been repackaged into other similar teaching traditions. There are considerable similarities between the blind men and an elephant metaphor and several historic teachings on the blind leading the blind, some still commonly taught today.
The definition of the blind leading the blind found on Dictionary.com is an expression applied to leaders who know as little as their followers and are therefore likely to lead them astray: “When it comes to science and technology, many politicians know as little as the average citizen; they’re the blind leading the blind.”
An agreeing definition of the blind leading the blind can also be found at the Urban Dictionary, a site defining popular terms and phrases from those you may know, like man on the moon, to a few funny localized terms you may not, like the California no.
Probably the most notable usage of the blind leading the blind metaphor are those taught by Jesus found in the New Testament of the Bible, you’ve probably heard of the book:
He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides [of the blind]. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”~ Matthew 15:13-14, NIV
He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” ~ Luke 6:39-40, NIV
There are also similar symbols of blind men leading blind men found in Indian traditions.
Occurring in the Upanishads:
Abiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind. ~ Katha Upanishad
And another usage found in the Buddhist Pali Canon:
Suppose there were a row of blind men, each holding on to the one in front of him: the first one doesn’t see, the middle one doesn’t see, the last one doesn’t see. In the same way, the statement of the brahmans turns out to be a row of blind men, as it were: the first one doesn’t see, the middle one doesn’t see, the last one doesn’t see. ~ Canki Sutta (MN 95)
It maybe easy to look around today and perhaps see countless instances where we think others are the blind leading the blind. That’s all good: recognize, reflect, and avoid their mistakes if possible. Then maybe ask yourself, are there areas I may be behaving blindly?
Blindness, or ignorance of truth, seems to be a common thread woven throughout the teachings of different cultures, all the way from ancient philosophies to making it’s way into modern day values still today. Hmm.. this must be an important lesson, he says scratching his head. What do you think? Let’s hear it in the comments!
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