"… the king went to the blind people and on arrival asked them, 'Blind people, have you seen the elephant?'
"'Yes, your majesty. We have seen the elephant.'
"'Now tell me, blind people, what the elephant is like.'
"The blind people who had been shown the head of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a water jar.'
"Those who had been shown the ear of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a winnowing basket.'
"Those who had been shown the tuft at the end of the tail of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a broom.'
"Saying, 'The elephant is like this, it's not like that. The elephant's not like that, it's like this,' they struck one another with their fists. That gratified the king.
"In the same way, monks, the wanderers of other sects are blind and eyeless.” [Blind and eyeless means not knowing the Four Noble Truths].
This is the pervasive metaphor of blind men feeling an elephant and each describing one small part of the beast. The story usually segues into the proposition that it is actually possible to see the whole elephant and such capacity belongs to God and/or the enlightened. But is it actually possible to see the whole truth and nothing but the truth? How do you know? Doesn’t everyone have a point of view? Why do you think some people can see the whole truth/elephant?
There’s an added lesson in this particular version of the elephant story: you gotta belong to our sect to see the whole truth and nothing but.