DAY 37: The Elephant & The Hot Room.

Author: Heather Molina /

by Liesbeth Strobbe

I would like to tell you an old Indian story of five blind men and an elephant. There are different versions of the tale, this is one of them.

Once upon a time, five blind men were asked to tell what an elephant looks like, by each feeling a different part of the animal. The blind man who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope. The one who feels a leg says it’s like a pillar. The one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall. The one who feels the tusk says it’s like a solid pipe. And the one who feels the trunk says it’s like a tree branch.

A wise man then says: "Everybody is partly right. The reason why every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched a different part of the elephant. You all think you touched the whole of the animal, while in reality you only have a part of it. I know it might be difficult to acknowledge but the elephant has all the features you mentioned. The palm of the hand just can’t cover the whole of the animal."

The elephant stands for the reality in daily life and the disagreeing five blind men are the different views people have about that same reality. We all see the truth in a different way and think we know what’s going on. But just like the blind man can’t feel the whole elephant, we can’t know the whole truth about matters, even though we think we sometimes do. Different people have different backgrounds and different opinions. And they all have something of the truth in them.

I really like the story. It was told even before the 13th century. It’s simple, but so true. You see it all around you in daily life. But maybe also in the hot room. The only thing people in the hot room really have in common is that they showed up that day. But for all of us those same 90 minutes are a completely different. We may think it’s not so humid today, but maybe the person lying next to you thinks it’s the hardest class ever. And that’s because we all have our different backgrounds. Every day we all bring different emotions with us into that room. A terrible fight at home. An awful day at work. A bad dream. Stress. But also stiffness from the day before. Dehydration. We all struggle and lay down sometimes. Remind yourself not to judge so quickly. And don’t be to hard on yourself. You might think you know all there is to know about yourself, but you don’t. There’s so much more to explore, you will surprise yourself every day in that room. We all do our best.’

I think the story itself is also partly true. Cause there’s one thing I know for sure as the whole truth: we are all doing great in the challenge no matter how we all feel, ‘cause we ARE doing it!

BTW: I stumbled again on the story a couple of weeks ago when I read the debut novel of Babsy Jain’s ‘Lucky Every Day’. It’s a book about yoga and acceptance. And although there are some things I don’t like about the story, I did read it in a couple of days from cover to cover.

Liesbeth lives in Amsterdam and has written for Bikram 101 before. She has been addicted to Bikram yoga for a couple of years. She works for a Dutch radio station and is a volunteer at Foundation Monkey. She is doing her 101-challenge at Bikram Yoga Amsterdam.


thedancingj said...

Love this! Very clever connection to the elephant story. (And I bet Bikram would give you major bonus points for reading Bapsy's book! Hehe.)

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