The blind leading the blind
"The blind leading the blind" is a metaphor used in antiquity, notably by Jesus in Matthew 15:13-14 and Luke 6:39-40 of the Holy Bible, as well as in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas (Saying 34). A similar expression appears in Horace: Caecus caeco dux ("the blind leader of the blind").
In Matthew, Jesus responds to a question about the Pharisees saying:
He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides [of the blind]. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
— Matthew 15:13-14, New International Version
The use in Luke has a different context:
He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher."
— Luke 6:39-40, New International Version
Metaphors of blind men leading other blind men can also be found in Indian religious traditions.
One occurs in the Upanishads:
Another usage can be found in the Buddhist Pali Canon:
Suppose there were a row of blind men, each holding on to the one in front of him: the first one doesn't see, the middle one doesn't see, the last one doesn't see. In the same way, the statement of the brahmans turns out to be a row of blind men, as it were: the first one doesn't see, the middle one doesn't see, the last one doesn't see.
— Canki Sutta (MN 95)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Blind Leading the Blind.|
- Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, Eerdmans, 1997, ISBN 0-8028-2315-7, p. 278.
- Gospel of Thomas: Lamb translation and Patterson/Meyer translation.
- Sullivan, Margaret A. (September 1991). "Bruegel's Proverbs: Art and Audience in the Northern Renaissance". The Art Bulletin (College Art Association) 73 (3): 431–466, 463. doi:10.2307/3045815. JSTOR 3045815.
- Juan Mascaró (tr), The Upanishads, Penguin Classics, 1965, ISBN 0-14-044163-8, p. 58.
- Canki Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 95), translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu