Hundredth Monkey

The Hundredth Monkey

The Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, has been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant.

An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers, too.

This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists. Between 1952 and 1958, all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes — the exact number is not known. Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes. Let’s further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes. THEN IT HAPPENED!

By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough!

But notice. The most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then spontaneously jumped over the sea — Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes!*

Thus when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind. Although the exact number may vary, the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the consciousness property of these people. But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness reaches almost everyone!

from The Hundredth Monkey by Ken Keyes, Jr.
Vision Books
790 Commercial Ave.
Coos Bay, OR 97420

*Quote from Lifetide by Lyall Watson, PP. 147-148, Bantam Books, 1980. This book gives other fascinating details.

    Ed note – the book The Hundredth Monkey is about nuclear technology, particularly the threat of nuclear weaponry. It outlines, in a positive manner how this world must change its thinking and its actions if we are to survive. Certainly the nuclear threat is a far more grave social problem than even genital mutilation, but both (and many other destructive practices) exist on a spectrum of violent mentality which must be healed.

    I have seen how our movement has grown from a dozen or so to thousands of deeply concerned individuals and believe that we will see a “hundredth monkey” breakthrough one of these days.

    Imagery is every bit as powerful, or more powerful than words in changing people’s mindsets. In the United States circumcision has been so widespread that sometimes people have been unfamiliar with the appearance of the intact penis. For some new parents, despite having read plenty of convincing literature, the intact penis still “looks strange”, while the circumcised penis “looks right.” An older child, of course, needs to have his privacy respected, but the parent of an intact baby has the opportunity to educate the public simply by changing his diaper in public settings, just as the nursing mother can silently promote breastfeeding by nursing her child (reasonably discreetly) in public. In our educational literature, much can be accomplished simply by including illustrations of an infant or child with a normal, intact penis.

Rosemary Romberg



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