I was wandering around Wat Arun park in Bangkok when I saw these trio cute little wooden monkeys, -each around 9 cm height-, abandoned on the floor of a souvenir kiosk and separated from the main things they sell. I could not help not to capture them for their representation of ancient wisdom.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
Based on Wikipedia, originally the three wise monkeys as symbols were coming from Japan. Mizaru who is covering the eyes as the symbol not to see evil, Kikazaru or sometimes we called Mikazaru who is covering the ears as the symbol not to hear evil and Iwazaru or sometimes we called Mazaru who is covering the mouth as the symbol not to speak evil.
Although this philosophy was carved over a door of a shrine in Japan around 17th century, it might be shortened from Confucius’ phrase from at least 4th-century BC.: “Look not at what is contrary to propriety, Listen not to what is contrary to propriety, Speak not at what is contrary to propriety, Make no movement which is contrary to propriety” The last phrase is related to ‘do no evil’.
Incredibly, this wisdom was also represented in 6th-century golden tribal figurine which now are kept in southeast section of a gold museum in Budapest. And like the other wisdom, this one also travelled far and spread to Ethiopia which among the locals, they have the saying “Let the eye fast, let the mouth fast, let the ears fast”.
And spread to India as well, which was known in Sanskrit, Manasa (mind), Vaacha (speech) and Karmana (action). Which are together used to describe a state of consistency expected of an individual that one should strive to achieve the state where one’s thoughts, speech and the actions coincide.
World is so awesome…
Since it is not easy to apply this philosophy into the daily life, sometimes people do the justification and shallow on Shizaru, -the 4th-monkey who is covering the genital or crossing the arms as the symbol of not to do evil-, and depict it with a sulking gesture and a face of have no fun 🙂