Parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. Parables are common in all religious beliefs of the world such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Zorastrianism and others.
- 1 Quotes
- 2 External links
- Bohr's sort of humor, use of parables and stories, tolerance, dependence on family, feelings of indebtedness, obligation, and guilt, and his sense of responsibility for science, community, and, ultimately, humankind in general, are common traits of the Jewish intellectual. So too is a well-fortified atheism. Bohr ended with no religious belief and a dislike of all religions that claimed to base their teachings on revelations.
- Finn Aaserud, in Love, Literature and the Quantum Atom: Niels Bohr's 1913 Trilogy Revisited, p.110
- One of the greatest of poets, Coleridge was one of the wisest of men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable. Let us have a little less of "hands across the sea", and a little more of that elemental distrust that is the security of nations. War loves to come like a thief in the night; professions of eternal amity provide the night.
- Each parable makes one point per main character.
- Craig Blomberg as cited in: David B. Gowler (2000) What are They Saying about the Parables?, p. 98
- The rhetorical power of the narratives is obviously lost by means of propositional paraphrase, as is a portion of their meaning.
- Craig Blomberg as cited in: David B. Gowler (2000, p. 98)
- The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. And splitting this reality into an objective and a subjective side won't get us very far.
- Niels Bohr Remarks after the Solvay Conference (1927)
- Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth 'not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside.
- He [Jesus] speaks in parables, and though we have approached these parables reverentially all these many years and have heard them expounded as grave and reverent vehicles of holy truth, I suspect that many if not all of them were originally not grave at all but were antic, comic, often more than just a little shocking.
- The Parables of our Lord, while they were addressed to all ranks, and adapted to all circumstances, always held in view the elucidation of the doctrines of Christianity and the enforcement of its precepts: They spake the same language to the prince and the peasant, they guarded the rights of God, and developed the scheme of salvation: they shewed that the present is nothing, but as it is subordinated to the interests of eternity.
- William Bengo'. Collyer, in Lectures on Scripture parables, p.vi
- The sages of antiquity employed parables to elucidate various subjects – sometimes philosophical principles – at others moral truths at others, maxims of economy –Jesus excelled in all.
- William Bengo'. Collyer, in "Lectures on Scripture parables", p.xi
- All that passes is raised to the dignity of expression; all that happens is raised to the dignity of meaning. Everything is either symbol or parable.
- Christ does not save us by acting a parable of divine love; he acts the parable of divine love by saving us. That is the Christian faith.
- The parables of Jesus in the Gospels are considered the single most important source for discovering how Jesus himself taught and proclaimed his message.
- David B. Gowler. What are They Saying about the Parables? Paulist Press, 2000: Text on back cover
- If the story-tellers could ha' got decency and good morals from true stories, who'd have troubled to invent parables?
- The final authority for evaluating a parable is the parable itself.
- Charles W. Hedrick (2004) Many Things in Parables: Jesus and His Modern Critics. p. 53
- The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. And splitting the reality into an objective side won’t get us very far.
- The soul speaks to itself in parables. Like those dreams that have pleased us.
- A man once said: Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid of all your daily cares.
Another said: I bet that is also a parable.
The first said: You have won.
The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.
The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.
- But the four Evangelists agree in ascribing to Jesus evasive and equivocal answers to plain questions, not only those of the high priest and Pilate; and quite generally the Jesus of the New Testament avoids straightforward statements, preferring parables .
- A parable is a form of communication, a dialogue between a narrator and listener
- Attributed to Eta Linnemann in David B. Gowler (2000, p. 14)
- To paraphrase: Everything happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.
- Malcolm Muggeridge, quoted by Chester Elijah Branch in Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity, p.24
- Jesus of Nazareth could have chosen simply to express Himself in moral precepts; but like a great poet He chose the form of the parable, wonderful short stories that entertained and clothed the moral precept in an eternal form. It is not sufficient to catch man's mind, you must also catch the imaginative faculties of his mind.
- Jesus’ view of nature and life, which sometimes shines through his speeches and parables in fragments and hidden allusions, shows quite clearly that he understood this fact.
- A parable is a form of writing that tells a story about common everyday things within the range of every individual's experience, and at the same time draws a subtle analogy between the ordinary facts of the story and the deeper meaning which lies parallel to the facts. Literally, the word parable means, "a comparison.
- Ervin Seale (1966) Learn to Live. p. 16
- Men are in the habit, when the truth is exhibited by the servants of God, of saying, All is mystery, they have spoken in parables, and, therefore, are not to be understood.
- The reasons Jesus taught in parables was to conceal his message from "those outside". Another reason why Jesus taught in parables appears to conflict with the first, for a second reason was to reveal and illustrate his message to both his followers and “those outside”.
- Robert H. Stein, in An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, p.35
- A parable is a form of teaching in which one thing is thrown beside another. Hence its radical idea is comparison.
- Marvin Vincent (1887) Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. 1. p. 74
- Every perfect life is a parable invented by God.
- So wide was Christ's view of truth, so extended His teaching, that every phase of nature was employed in illustrating truth. The scenes upon which the eye daily rests were all connected with some spiritual truth, so that nature is clothed with the parables of the Master.
- But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
- And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
- Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
- Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And when his disciples asked him what the parable meant, he said “to you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables so that ‘seeing they may not see and hearing they may not hear'.
- Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For Amalek he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; the first and the most powerful of the neighbouring nations - but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.
- And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwelling place, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.
- Bible, in "The Holy Bible according to the authorized version: with notes ..., Volume 1", p.358
- And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this.
- Bible, in "The Holy Bible according to the authorized version: with notes ..., Volume 1", , p.358
- Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
- And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:
This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.
- And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
- And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Set on a pot, set it on, and also pour water into it:
Gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones.
- I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
- Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: / So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
- And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own slaves that summer is now nigh at hand.
- And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath the LORD spoken?
And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor:
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.
- And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
- Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,
As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; …
All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;…
My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.
- Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,
Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;
As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;
When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;
When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;
When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up.
- And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.
- Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
- Bible, in Novum Testamentum Graece. (The New Testament, etc.) Gr. & Eng (Google eBook), p.30
- And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, Happiness:rejoicing.
- In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.
- And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel;
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:
He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick; he set it in a city of merchants.
- Bible, Under the parable of two eagles and a vine, in The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments Translated Out of the ..., p.LxxV
- The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
- Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
- Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!
Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?
Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
All the Parables of the Bible
Herbert Lockyer. All the Parables of the Bible.
- Bible parables, especially those of the Jesus, are the choicest examples of figurative speech employed to express and enforce Divine truths.
- In p.9
- There is nothing of the miraculous in parables, which, in the main, are natural and inevitable, and illustrate grace and judgment.
- In p.9
- Without a parable spake He not unto them. He [Jesus] did not invent this form of teaching. Parables go back to antiquity. In the age and country in which Christ appeared, parables were a common and popular method of instruction, for both parables and fables were popular among the people of the East.
- In p.10
- ...in the Old Testament, the first recorded parable in the form of fable is that of the trees choosing for themselves a king, an exposition ...bare precepts were clothed with parables and similitudes. Hillel and Shammai were the most illustrious teachers by parables before the time of Christ. After him was Meir, with whom tradition says the power of inventing parables notably, declined? Knowing how Jewish teachers illustrated their doctrines with the help of parables and comparisons, Christ adopted these old forms and gave them a newness of spirit.
- In p.10
- ...the Old Testament makes a wide use of parable, showing sometimes alike in spirit, form, and language, a remarkable resemblance to the parables of the New Testament. The Old Testament Parables are: Story-Parables of which that of the trees is an instance, Sermon Parables as found in the Vineyard, ...and Symbol - Parables as illustrated by the Two Sticks. In the New Testament the word “parable” takes on a varying meaning and form and is not confined to those lengthened narratives in the Gospels we know as Christ’s parables.
- In p.11-12
- Dealing with the truths of God, parables are correspondingly lofty, with illustrations true to reality – never monstrous or unnatural.
- In p.16
- Speeches and sentences, full of spiritual wisdom and truth are called parables for two reasons: 1. Because they carry conviction and divine authority. 2. Because they are as touchstones of truth – they are rules, and therefore ought to rule.
- In p.17
- Among the many advantages: Parable attract, and when fully understood are sure to be remembered...; Parables greatly help the mind and thinking faculty...; Parables stir up, or excite the affections, and awaken consciences as when hell in parable is set up as a furnace of fire, and conscience by a gnawing worm; Parables arrest and hold attention...; Parables preserve the truth...And mere words are constantly changing their meaning, whereas the symbols of life and nature, as such as our Lord used in His parables, are as abiding as nature and life themselves.
- In pp.17-18
- The parables are not to be handled as if they were a storehouse of texts. Each parable must be seen with its own distinctive peculiarity, and any analogies made must be real, not imaginary, and substance to the main lesson of the parable.
- Ada Habershon in the Study of the parables” quoted in p.22
- Realm of parables cover: The Spiritual Realm, Natural Phenomena, Animate Nature, and Human Life (aspects of physical, domestic, pastoral, commercial, civil, social and religious).
- in pp. 22-23
- The Parable of the Tabernacle: The Holy Spirit is our authority for Affirming that the Tabernacle, which Moses reared in the wilderness was parable of a more glorious heritage. ”The Holy Spirit this signifying...the first tabernacle... was a figure (Greek, parable) for the time then present. (Hebrews 9:8,9)...The main features of the Tabernacle was its three-fold division – a trinity in unity: The Outer court...; The Inner court…; and the Inner Most Court or Holy of Holies.
- In pp.29-30
- The Parables of Balam: ...prophetic parables of prophet Balam are among the noblest and most distinct in Old Testament Scriptures.
- In p. 30
- The Parable of the Trees by Jotahm delivered to the king and people from Mount Gerizim; he then fled for his life.
- In p.33
- The Parable of Ewe Lamb used by Nathan is parable of reproof is a touching story of the Ewe Lamb awoke the better nature of King David... It was meant to convict David of his sin and to induce true repentance.
- In pp.36, 38
- The Parable of the Two Sons is of the woman of Tekoa spoken at the clever instigation of Joab who was “wily and politic and unscrupulous, [and well able] to read human character and discern human motives through a very small crevice...I was meant to promote Joab’s scheme of self–interest and self-preservation.
- In p.38
- The Parable of the Wounded Prophet...action parables must have made a deep impression on those who saw and heard them... According to Josephus ‘the certain man’ who acted this parable was Micaiah, the son of Imlah.
- In p.40
- The Parable of the Vine of Egypt is a great psalm which presents a multiplication of arrestive figures of speech such as: The beautiful, familiar metaphor of the Shepherd, one of the special designations of the Lord used in connection with Israel, and of the Church (Genesis 48:15; 49:24, John 10:11); The Bread of Tears (Psalm (80:5). What trials and tribulations, sorrows and strife God’s people had endured; The Vine ([[Psalm 80:8-11) is used as an emblem of Israel – an emblem “so natural and apt that we do not wonder to find it repeated again and again in the Old Testament and adopted in New (Genesis 49:22, John 15:1)
- In p.43
- Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
- Five were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. But the wise took all the oil with them.
- In "The parable of the ten virgins: in six discourses, and a sermon on the ...", p.23
- While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridgroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all the virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
- In "The parable of the ten virgins: in six discourses, and a sermon on the ...", p.37
- Then those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone [marg. going] out. But the wise [virgins] answered, saying, Not so,; lest there be not enough for us and you; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourself.
- In "The parable of the ten virgins: in six discourses, and a sermon on the ...", p.60
- And while they went to buy, the Bridgroom came; and they were ready went in with him to the marriage; and door was shut.
- In "The parable of the ten virgins: in six discourses, and a sermon on the ...", p.81
- Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not.
- In "The parable of the ten virgins: in six discourses, and a sermon on the ...", p.81
- Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day or the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
- Gospel of Matthew (Matt, xxv), In "The parable of the ten virgins: in six discourses, and a sermon on the ...", p.128
- There is no question however the Bridegroom is Jesus Chirst... His bride is the church to which he has given his promise to which he has betrothed himself for a blessed and eternal union.
- Joseph Augustus Seiss, in "The parable of the ten virgins: in six discourses, and a sermon on the ...", P.9
- The subject of this parable is, the Church, - the congregation of believers, - with reference to the experiences and qualifications necessary to secure the high honours of the world to come. It refers to a state of things preceding the second advent of Christ and having special regard to that great event.
- Joseph Augustus Seiss?, p.10
- Originally this parable was intended to teach preparedness for certain developments that were to take place in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Later, however, after the crisis in Jesus’ ministry to which the parable first pointed had passed, the church modified the parable, adding an eschatological setting in order to prepare men for the final world crisis which was then believed to be approaching.
- He said a certain man had two sons.
The younger of them said to his father.‘Give me my share of your property'. He divided his livelihood between them.
Not many days after, the younger son gathered all of this together and traveled into a far country. There he wasted his property with riotous living.
When he had spent all of it, there arose a severe famine in that country and he began to be in need.
He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs.
He wanted to fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, but no one gave him any.
But when he came to himself he said, "How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough to spare, and I'm dying with hunger!
I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants”.
He arose, and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran towards him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and in your sight I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring out the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. Bring the fattened calf, kill and let us eat and celebrate for this my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found. They began to celebrate.
Now his elder son was in the field. Ashe came near the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants to him and asked him what was going on. He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him safe and healthy.
But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and begged him.
But he answered his father, "Behold, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this, your son, came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.
He said to him. Son, you are always with me and all that is mine is yours.
But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.
- Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming close to Him to hear Him.
The Pharsees and the Scribes murmured, saying “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”.
He told them the parable:
"Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn't leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it?
When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'
I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.
- In "The Real Scriptures' of God - New Testament", p. 377
- Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?"
He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind, [Deuteronomy 6:5]; and your neighbour as yourself [Leviticus 19:18]."
He said to him, "You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live."
But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbour?"
Jesus answered, "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he travelled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, 'Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.'
Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?"
He said, "He who showed mercy on him."
Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
- In "The Real Scriptures' of God - New Testament", p. 369-70
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
In Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism
- Buddha, the Blessed One, gives the parable of the blind men and the elephant to illustrate that partial knowledge always breeds bigotry and fanaticism.
- Suresh K. Sharma, et al, in Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Hinduism, pp.4-5
- Those who think that truth is in their exclusive keeping and that their religion is the only approach to God, ‘see only one side thing like the blind men in the parable.
- Suresh K. Sharma, et al, in "Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Hinduism}, P.6
- Budddhist scripture, w:UdanaUdana 68-69: Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant, a version of this well-known Indian tale from the Buddhist canon, but some assert it is of Jain origin. The Buddha [answered to his disciples],"Once upon a time there was a certain King|raja who called to his servant and said, 'Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind... and show them an elephant. Very good, sire,' replied the servant, and he did as he was told.
- The archeologist-and-elephant cartoon (created by Carrol Ellick and Richard Lange) was inspired by John Godfrey Saxe’s famous poem “the Blind Men and Elephant”. Saxe retold a parable from the Udana, a scripture of the Indian subcontinent. One anonymous translation of the original concludes with the Buddha dispensing an uplifting verse.
- IT was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his 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 't is 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 this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
"'T is clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"
- The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a 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 these men of Indostan
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!
- So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
- O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
For preacher and monk the honored name! For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
Such folk see only one side of a thing.
- In Wikisource:The poems of John Godfrey Saxe The Blind Men and the Elephant. The version in Jainism is similar as here Elephant And The Blind Men. In Hinduism, Ramakrishna narrates the same parable but with four blind men, in Approaching Humankind: Towards an Intercultural Humanism, p.151
- George Orwell, otherwise temperamentally distant from Gandhi, saw exactly the tensed, pageant-like character of Gandhi’s life, and its status as a theatrical parable when he observed of Gandhi that ‘his whole life was a sort of pilgrimage in which every act was significant.
- In An Autobiography By M.K Gandhi, p.16
- You are lions, you are souls, pur infinite and perfect. The might of the universe is within you. Why weepest though, my friend? There is no disease or misery for thee, but though art like the infinite sky; clouds of variuos colours come over it, play for a moment, then vanish. But the sky is ever the same eternal blue.
- The parable of those who spend their possessions for the sake of God is that of a grain out of which grow seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains: for God grants manifold increase unto whom He wills; and God is infinite, all-knowing. They who spend their possessions for the sake of God and do not thereafter mar their spending by stressing their own benevolence and hurting [the feelings of the needy] shall have their reward with their Sustainer, and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve. A kind word and the veiling of another’s want is better than a charitable deed followed by hurt. O you who have attained to faith! Do not deprive your charitable deeds of all their worth by stressing your own benevolence and hurting [the feelings of the needy], as does he who spends his wealth only to be seen and praised by men, and believes not in God and the Last Day...Such as these shall have no gain whatever from all their [good] works: for God does not guide people who refuse to acknowledge the truth. And the parable of those who spend their possessions out of a longing to please God, and out of their own inner certainty, is that of a garden on high, fertile ground: a rainstorm smites it, and thereupon it brings forth its fruit twofold; and if no rainstorm smites it, soft rain [falls upon it]. And God sees all that you do.
- Sufi tradition of Islam frequently used parables to lay the ground work for teaching the basic principles of Islam to beginers. Dozens of parables are found in the Qura’n and hundreds of parables are known within the Sufi tradition of Islam. Parables were told and adapted many times for use in each successive generation. Parables were owned by the community and specific authorship of individual parables was unimportant.
- Steven J. Voris, in Preaching Parables: A Metaphorical Interfaith Approach, p.33
The Good Lie
- The king was angry with the foreign captive who had thrown down before him.
”Put him to death he ordered”.
The captive had been expecting it. He had been up to know been silent but, now that death was certain, he gave up all hope and cursed the king, using the foulest words in his native tongue. He was like a cat, spitting and screeching at dogs who are its throat.
The king not knowing the language did not understand what the captive was screaming, but he knew one or two of his viziers were familiar with the tongue.
”What is he saying?” he asked them.
The viziers looked at each other. Then, one, who was good-natured, replied: “My Lord, he is quoting from the sacred Koran.”
”Indeed”, said the king. “From which verse”? The vizier went on: ”From the verse which speaks of the Paradise which awaits those who control their anger and forgive, for God loves men of goodwill”.
”I see”, said the king thoughtfully. He turned to the silent captive. “You have done well to remind me of that”, he said,
”I will control my anger. And I will forgive you. You can go free.”
”That was disgraceful” muttered another vizier, an enemy and rival of the one who had replied to king’s question. “People of our rank should speak nothing but the truth.”
The king overheard. “What was that” he asked.
”My Lord!” protested the second vizier, I am sorry, but you were told a lie by that vizier! The captive was certainly not quoting from the Koran. The truth is that he pouring foul abuse and the filthiest of insults upon you,
The king frowned at this. “Then I prefer his lie to your truth!” He said, “I think that your truth came from a heart bent upon mischief. His lie came from a good heart, and good has come of it, as you have seen.”
- By telling a lie to the king, the first vizier was using love to promote a more compassionate outcome for both the captive and the king. The captive would have his life and the king would not have innocent blood on his hands.
- Steven J. Voris, in "Preaching Parables: A Metaphorical Interfaith Approach", pp.115-16
- And especially above the heavens: for all gods are poets’ parables, poets’ prevarications. Verily, it always lifts us higher—specifically to the realm of the clouds, upon these we place our motly bastards and call them gods and overmen. Ah, how weary I am of all the imperfection which must at all costs become event! Ah, how weary I am of the poets.