I understand this story originated in ancient India.
Six blind men were asked by their teacher to determine what an elephant looked like. They approached the animal and begin by feeling different parts of the elephant's body. The blind man who felt a leg pronounced “the elephant is like a pillar extending from the earth”. The one who felt the tail exclaimed “you are wrong brother, the elephant is like a rope hanging from the sky”.
Then a third man felt the trunk and with confusion and concern said “what has come over you two? The elephant is clearly like a tree branch” Another who felt the ear says “you have all gone mad! The elephant is like a wall”. The other 2 also had different opinions and all 6 begin to argue about who was right.
Finally the teacher interrupted them with a hint of a smile and compassion in his heart. He went on to explain:
All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. Actually the elephant has all the features you mentioned.