An Afterword

There is an old story about a group of blind men trying to discover what an elephant was. They each explored the part they could reach, and not being able to see the whole animal, came to very different conclusions about it. One thought it had the thickness of an arm but was very long, another that it was about four outstretched palms in extent with the thickness of one, a third thought it had the girth of a man's body and the height of a boy and so on. So each man had a different picture of the elephant.

Imagine the situation if this group of blind men had been friends who went on to discuss their findings. Each one, trusting the others discovery, would realise that there was more to this elephant than they had thought. They might check out the parts described by the others and so end up with a larger and more realistic idea of what an elephant was like.

This seems a good analogy of how one might read, and write for, Samatha. It is hard to imagine an article which could give the whole picture of the practice or any other aspect of the Buddha's teaching. Nevertheless, each one describes a part of it as seen from a particular vantage point. Reading something written from a view other than our usual one can help us to expand our understanding and perhaps give us clues about a new direction to follow. Of course, none of the articles should be taken to be an 'official line' — if such a thing exists! — but as something to think about and to help us towards a larger view of the elephant.

P.S. Discussion, disagreement with and development of contributions are always welcome.