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The Three Monkeys

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. As far as proverbs go, this has to be one of the more recognizable. Most everyone is familiar with this long-established precept and the three monkeys associated with it—one with hands over the eyes, the next over the ears, and the third covering the mouth.

Today in the Western world, this phrase typically is used in a somewhat sarcastic manner. Often it is in reference to someone who observes an offense, whether it be illegal or unethical, and then looks the other way. The dictionary describes it as to ignore or turn a blind eye to wrongdoing without taking action against it. And yet at it roots, this saying goes far deeper than the surface interpretation placed on it by modern society.

The symbolism of the three monkeys originated in 16th century Japan. Mizaru, Kikazaru, and Iwazaru, as they were named, were the symbolic face of a sincere teaching principal which called for remaining morally sound in the face of malevolent situations. Predating this monkey symbolism, there is evidence that the philosophical concept of seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and speaking no evil may have come from China. And even before that from India.

Of course, people are free to translate the meaning of this old adage in whatever manner that feels appropriate to them. However, I’d like to propose that beyond the cynical or moral interpretations, there is a deeper message based on universal truths. The wisdom of the ancients was often passed down in parable-form and sayings that offered a surface meaning as well as a more esoteric truth beneath. The deeper lesson of see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil lies in its relation to law of attraction.

Our lives are molded and formed by our focus. Whatever we place our thoughts on will naturally increase. That which does not garner our attention diminishes. So the message is not about right or wrong, good or evil. It’s simply a roadmap for creating the joyful life you desire. The goal is to raise yourself up to a place where, no matter what the situation, when you see others, you only see the best in them, you only speak the best of them, you only hear the best from them.

This is not make-believe or pretending. You are not looking the other way or burying your head in the sand. Rather, you understand that inside everyone and every situation, there is good. By training yourself to see it, and if you do this with consistency, your life will change. It’s a universal law.

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