“The Hundredth Monkey”, by Ken Keyes, Jr.

In 1984, Ken Keyes, Jr. wrote a book called “The Hundredth Monkey”.  He did not copyright the book and has stated that it be shared freely so that the message that he believed in so strongly be distributed by whomever would care to share it with others.  I believe it is a timely and timeless message given the current upheavals throughout the world.

Ken Keyes used a legend based on a study of a group of macaques monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima in 1952 as the opening in his book.  It is an impressive phenomenon, now known as the Hundredth Monkey effect, which some have come to believe is unfounded…at least in part.  Nevertheless, this is an inspirational story that leads into the passionate plea by Keyes for us to be aware of the danger to the life of our planet by the use of nuclear weapons.

 It is a simply written book but with a request that we all take part in being mindful of how all our thoughts can affect each other and how powerful we can be in bringing about change for the better.

Here is the opening  story that he shares with us:

The Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, had 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.


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.

A most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then 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, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious 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 is picked up by almost everyone!

Don’t underestimate the power that each of us holds as individuals.

Gayle ~

Shared on Occupy Blogosphere hosted by Souldipper:  http://souldipper.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/occupy-blogosphere-thursday-february-2-2012/

English: Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata). J...

Image via Wikipedia

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  1. Thank you for participating in Occupy Blogosphere with the ressurection of The Hundredth Monkey, Gayle. It is so poignant – thinking of positives that will capture the attention of the world is quite like picking sand off sweet potatoes. With diligence we can find the stream and be part of the first 99.


    • I’ve always been fascinated by this story and am glad I could share it with your Occupy Blogosphere page…let me add a link to your page from here. I’m sorry I didn’t think of that sooner, Amy.


  2. Wow! I’ve never heard tis story before but I have used a similar argument to counter apathy. If each one of us do what we instinctively know is right, eventually we’ll be in the majority. I’ve watched humanity come closer to that point, rejoicing when I discover more evidence to back up my hippie theories. So, thanks for this confirmation Gayle!


    • Well, I’m impressed that you came up with a similar story to illustrate apathy…it works both ways of course…negative or positive. I still cling to some of my hippie ideas too and I’m so glad I could give you this confirmation today. Thanks for coming by and for sharing a great comment with me.


  3. I’d never heard that story. It’s powerful and I believe in the power of the collective conscious to produce results (wholesome and unwholesome). Thanks for sharing this, Gayle.


    • Very powerful isn’t it. I believe in that collective consciousness too…it’s up to us as to which direction we want to take our “living space”.


  4. read it before. there is a pack of baboon in africa that pelts stones at animals/men who dare to venture near the pond from which they drink water. they ferociously guard it for themselves.

    love and hugs.


  5. Yes! What a great story! Thanks very much for sharing it here where so many others can see it…you’re like the hundredth monkey, ya know…lol…you may have just crested the tipping point of awareness for bloggers! 😀 It’s such a truism that should be shared with everyone, because none of us know how we might impact those with whom we come into contact…but awareness is crucial…anyway, thank you!!!


    • I love the idea of being the hundredth monkey! 🙂 That ripple effect is so strong…and you’re so right…we don’t know how we may impact others with our sharing. Spread the word, Corina!


  6. Hey, yes this is great.
    In 1995 I participated in a world healing event ‘The Hundredth Monkey Camp’ which was aimed at building a morphic field of understanding to help heal our troubled world. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life, and I ended up writing a book about it, titled Waking The Monkey, which I am now serialising in my blog
    If you like it perhaps you would consider sharing with your friends. Thanks


    • Thanks for coming by and sharing your story here, Cosmicclaire. Good luck with your book. I’ve also participated in group gatherings to help bring about healing and positive changes in the world…you seem to get as much back (or more) as you give.


  7. Absolutely right there Bodhirose! Thanks for letting me post my link.
    The more people get into this frame of mind, however it may come about, the better.



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