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Over 6 billion Elephants in as many Rooms!

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Rex Barger



Joined: 19 Aug 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Hamilton, Ontario

PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2004 3:07 pm?? ?Post subject: Over 6 billion Elephants in as many Rooms! Reply with quote

Friends, earthmates, passengers! Lend me your eyes (but make sure they are well connected to your mind/heart, please). Remember the story about some blindmen's first encounter with an elephant that ended in a big argument about whose perception was the most accurate? They needed D&D;, right? But, first, they needed to abandon the arrogance of believing that all the others were wrong, wrong just because their perceptions were different. I'm very fond of that story: it illustrates a very common human failure in communicating. D&D; can be a crucial corrective for us all. In our case, the ?‘elephant?’ we each need to become very familiar with is merely a metaphor for our understanding of how life works. From birth to earth, each encounter we have with reality is a potential learning experience. Without being conscious of it, we begin to form a mental model of how best to cope & we spend the rest of our lives refining&refining; it. .

Raising our own invisible ?‘elephant?’ is a work we each have to undertake by ourselves! Because we are trapped within a skin sheath that separates us from the rest of reality, we each have to figure out to the best of our ability how to cope, to stay alive, to thrive. Even with a little help from our friends, the final decision about what we do is always up to us. But, before we can start getting that much-needed help, it is helpful to understand some of the limitations of language. We need to be aware that there is a huge gap between ?‘the words we use?’ in our efforts to communicate our understandings of reality & ?‘the reality behind the words we use?’. (That?’s why we say: actions speak louder that words! Note: no matter what words we use, it is well to remember that ?‘reality always has the last word!?’)

Ponder this: whether we are aware of it or not, communication always involves a lot of translating. The urge to communicate is followed by translating our thought into words (word we hope will communicate well). [Some claim that we can?’t think without words, but careful observations of my own processes has convinced me (for now) that thoughts often come that we have trouble finding words to express. Our ?‘elephants?’ (mental models of the world) are dependent on our experiences with reality, not on words (although words may be a part of that reality).]

If my words are to be understood, those who hear my words become like the blindmen in the story. (No one can see my ?‘elephant?’ except in their mind?’s eye.) They must try to visualize the reality I?’m trying to describe. [They must beware of metaphors.] If their reconstruction of my reality doesn?’t match their own, we have more work to do. It may just be that I chose my words badly. It may be that their experience just isn?’t broad enough.

This is why my ?‘elephant?’ always tells me: welcome every disagreement as an opportunity for more healthy D&D;!
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Rex Barger



Joined: 19 Aug 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Hamilton, Ontario

PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 2:35 pm?? ?Post subject: More about my 'elephant'. Reply with quote

I wish I could show you my 'elephant', but I can't. It will always be invisible to you because it exists only in my head. It's my understandings of our common reality. I believe our understandings to be non-linguistic. That's why our 'elephants' must remain invisible. But because our 'elephants' are what guide our daily actions, it is helpful for us to try to help others 'see' our's & it is helpful for me to try to understand your understandings of reality. We usually do this by trying to describe them using words (especially metaphors), but words used linearly have a hard time describing a holisitic undertanding of reality. If we forget this while engaging in D&D;, we may be tempted to give up before reasonable understandings are reached. So please don't give up on me; it isn't easy to describe the indescribable.
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Rex Barger



Joined: 19 Aug 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Hamilton, Ontario

PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 4:57 pm?? ?Post subject: My version of the story of the blindmen & the elephant Reply with quote

Once upon a time, several blindmen encountered their first elephant. It must have been tame because it let them touch it. One encountered its leg & called out to the others, "An elephant is like a tree!" But the one who touched its trunk said, "No, no, no! An elephant is like a huge snake!"
Another, at its tail called out, "No! You're both wrong. An elephant is very much like a rope!" Then they all fell to quarreling with each other, because they had never heard of D&D;!
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