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Sunday, 15 July 2012

Three Wise Monkeys (dont: see, hear, speak +evil)

Three Wise Monkeys : Reexamining an Ancient Teaching
The proverb of the "Three Wise Monkeys" has existed for long. It is often interpreted as Them that (do not see, hear or speak) evil shall be spared the three Vajras. There is a connection to body, speech and mind made.

Here is what I fathom. This is what the original was supposed to say (and was lost in literary translation.) 

"Do not see what you are not supposed to see. Do not hear what you are not supposed to hear. Do not speak what you are not supposed to speak." 

If you read that verse you will understand that within itself lies the paradox. "How will you know what you should not see if you do not see that and know the cause of its abhorrence? Applying the same to the next two actions, unless I have at least heard once what I should not be hearing how can I filter that? Unless I know what people do not want to listen to, how can I not speak that?"

There is enough evidence that the 'Three Wise Monkeys' and the paradox of morality dates back to extremely ancient times. There are figurines dating back to the mother goddess times and later to the times of phallic deities with similar symbols that suggests that this has been at least from the beginning (or renewal) of the five-thousand year old super-civilization we are.

If you went to school in India, you definitely associate these with (Mahatma) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (presently the "unofficial Paterfamilias of India.") These were gifted to him by a Chinese admirer who traced back 4th Century BC Confucianism to 8th Century BC philosophy that was prevalent in India (too much in India is wrapped up under the umbrella term Hinduism.) That helped it to make its way to our primary school text books and hopefully still exists on them today.

If you have read "My Experiments with Truth" (M K Gandhi) which is probably one of his best contributions - leaving the rest of the political dogma and controversies to vaporize as they have; the actual point being made is: "Find what is wrong, and the only way you can stop hearing/seeing/speaking it is by eliminating it, or by accepting it, until which time, you continue to address it."

Simplistic teaching for Rote Learning is helpful if you can recall what was learned in Rote and re-examine it at a later point in life. For this very reason Rote learning is unacceptable for higher education but preferable for learning if you are under the age of ten (10) - as we tend to remember lots of prose/poetry from under that age.