Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Wise People and the Elephant

The Storytime class hears the story of the Wise Men and the Elephant.

Today’s story comes from our third source, lessons from the world’s religions.  We learn from many cultures.  This story is from the religion of Buddhism.

Long, long ago there was a great teacher who told stories.  The name we give this teacher is Buddha.  It means enlightened one.  We call him that because his stories can help us see things more clearly.  It is as if these stories bring light into a dark room.

One day the Buddha said “Truth!  Truth is like this!”

There was a monarch who often wondered about the great questions of life who decided one day to set up a test. An elephant was to be brought into the throne room.

After the elephant was brought to the palace and into the throne room the monarch gave a second order: the five wise people who taught at the gates of the city were to be brought to the throne.

Each of the wise people happened to have been born blind.  The monarch had each wise person placed near a different part of the elephant’s body.  The first wise person was stood next to the elephant’s ear.

The second wise person stood by the elephant’s tail.

The Monarch had the third wise person stand holding the elephant’s tusk.

The monarch stood the fourth wise person right in front of the elephant holding onto the elephant’s tusk.

The monarch then had the fifth and last wise person stand touching one of the creature’s legs

Then the monarch issued the challenge.  “You are each holding what we call an elephant.  Now tell me what an elephant is like.” 

The first wise person who was holding one of the elephant’s large ears said, “An elephant is like a banana leaf.”

The second wise person was holding the elephant’s tail and said, “No.  No.  No.  An elephant is like a paint brush.”

The third wise person was holding onto the elephant’s tusk exclaimed, “They’re all wrong!  An elephant is like a plow made of metal, and sharpened to cut through the earth.”

The fourth wise person who was in front of the elephant holding its’ trunk said, “Hear my words.  An elephant is like a great snake.”

The fifth and final wise person who was holding one of the elephant’s legs declared, “I tell you an elephant is like the trunk of a giant tree.”  Before long the five blind wise people began arguing with each other calling one another “Fool” and “Crazy.”
They fought and fought crying “An elephant is like a tree.”  “No it is like a fan.”  “Any person with sense knows that an elephant is like a plow.”  “They are like paint brushes.”  “Elephants are like snakes.”

“This,” said the Buddha, “Is what truth is like.”

I wonder why each wise person named something different to describe an elephant?
I wonder what they each thought when the others gave a different answer?
I wonder if the elephant could be all these things?
I wonder what he meant…”this is what TRUTH is like”? 
I wonder what  TRUTH means to you?

Members of the Spirit Play and Creativity classes invented an animal-themed game following the story of the Wise Men and the Elephant.

More Lessons from Hinduism

This month, the Explorers and Treasure Hunters classes have been studying about the Hindu religion.

The Treasure Hunters made art using rice flour, inspired by Hindu Rangoli designs.   

The Explorers did a photo scavenger hunt through books on Hinduism.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Facing Fears at Halloween

Halloween is a special holiday with ancient roots. The ancient Celtic people believed that this was the time of year when the spirits of the dead were closest to the spirits of the living. It is a time to honor ancestors and to celebrate the end of the harvest. It’s a time for honoring the darkening days and for enjoying things that are spooky and scary. On Halloween, we make a game out of being afraid, and maybe that helps us to deal with our fears during the rest of the year.

Sometimes something can seem scary or not scary depending on how we think about it.  Children at the 11:00 class made Halloween masks that show the two sides of something scary. Each child picked something that might be scary—like a spider or a tiger or the dark or a zombie. On one paper plate, we drew that thing as a really scary, vicious thing. On another paper plate, we draw that thing thinking of it as not scary at all, just a part of the natural world, or a fun made-up thing. 

These two-sided masks can remind us that the face that people are seeing on the outside is different than the one you are seeing on the inside. Maybe some of the things we assume are scary and dangerous don’t really have to be that scary at all—and maybe we need to be careful about our assumptions about people and things we don’t really know.

Halloween Party

The youth prepare to scare

Making beaded spider bracelets
Black cat scratch art

The haunted room held scary surprises


Spook-tacular costumes