This blog set the question: Are You the Hundredth Monkey?

Comments to the initial post "What's Up With That?" give wonderful examples of what that might look like.

The New Year has begun. The Hundredth Monkey has abundant opportunity to be be make a difference - any difference that makes the world brighter, holier, more sane.

What does that look like for you?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's up with that?

The hundredth-monkey effect is "a supposed phenomenon in which a learned behavior spreads instantaneously from one group of monkeys to all related monkeys once a critical number is reached. By generalization it means the instantaneous, paranormal spreading of an idea or ability to the remainder of a population once a certain portion of that population has heard of the new idea or learned the new ability."

The story of the “Hundredth Monkey Effect” was published in the foreword to Lawrence Blair's Rhythms of Vision in 1975.[1] The claim spread with the appearance of Lifetide, a 1979 book by Lyall Watson. In it, Watson repeats Blair's claim. The authors describe similar scenarios. They state that unidentified scientists were conducting a study of macaques monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima in 1952.[2] These scientists purportedly observed that some of these monkeys learned to wash sweet potatoes, and gradually this new behavior spread through the younger generation of monkeys—in the usual fashion, through observation and repetition. Watson then claimed that the researchers observed that once a critical number of monkeys was reached—the so-called hundredth monkey—this previously learned behavior instantly spread across the water to monkeys on nearby islands.

This story was further popularized by Ken Keyes, Jr. with the publication of his book The Hundredth Monkey. Keyes presented the “Hundredth Monkey Effect” story as an inspirational parable, applying it to human society and the effecting of positive change therein. Since then, the story has become widely accepted as fact and even appears in books written by some educators.

The book by Keyes was a treatise on the effects of nuclear war on the planet and the devastation caused thereon.

Of course, the research goes on and on disputing everything from the monkeys to the study to the sweet potatoes themselves...but maybe - just maybe - there really is something here.

Maybe that something is YOU.


  1. Forgiveness has been a common theme in many workshops and in my life, I am certain I am not alone. I had a substantial betrayal that happened with a very, very close and dear friend. Without going into details -which really don't matter ... I had cursed her and hated her for a year or better, and all I achieved was to make myself ill. I did in time learn to truly forgive her, not something I felt the need to share with her. But an incredible gift came to me just last week that went far beyond any amount of forgiveness I could have imagined myself capable of...I was listening to a cd we had both enjoyed and I remembered her commenting to me about the beauty of the music. And a deep feeling of gratitude for her being in my life overcame me, an incredible warm and fuzzy feeling of how happy I was that she was at one time, a close friend. My prayer is that others will be able to find this level of forgiveness in their lives. If the hundredth monkey effect could sweep over those we hold anger towards, we would certainly find ourselves living in a kinder and nicer place.

  2. As a doer I sometimes have little patience with people that talk about "Them." and believe things come from outside of themselves. I believe that if I put my energy towards something then even if in some very small way change occurs, I have been an agent of that change. I know that I make a difference in the world by just being who I am. I'm not gifted, or extradorinary in any way. But I am willing to do.

  3. I always liked this story. It reminds me that the 'unattainable' things in life really just lack the metaphysical momentum to be realized. If we live our principles and teach others by example, we can become that first monkey..... or the second, or third..... or the hundredth!! At some point metaphysical 'critical mass' is achieved and something can grow exponentially. I think this happens within us individually as well. When we gather, bit by bit, the lessons of life into a cohesive bundle we may suddenly leap forward in consciousness or 'conscienceness'.