Podcast – Three Wise Monkeys

Choosing innocence.

Podcast — Three Wise Monkeys

Previous posts mentioning “You get what you choose:”

More about value judgments:

Dr. Leichtman’s webpage:  Active Meditation

Music: Allman Brothers Band, “Southbound”



It’s The William Tell Show.  I call myself William Tell; you can call me Bill.  Thank you for including me in your world.  I hope today finds you free of anything that’s bugging you; and hopefully, after this episode, even fewer things will ever bug you.

This one’s unusual, in that I will include a copy of the script in the blog post.  And the blog post, and podcast description, include some information that I won’t include in the script.

Three Wise Monkeys.  I first met them in 1964, when I spent a few weeks of summer vacation at my cousin’s house.  One day I found this figurine on the piano, and I asked about it, and my aunt or cousin explained what it was.

The first wise monkey covers his eyes, so he can see no evil.  The second wise monkey covers his ears, so he can hear no evil.  The third wise monkey covers his mouth, so he can speak no evil.

It’s largely a matter of choosing to be innocent.

And thus having a happier, more peaceful life.

Whatever you pay attention to, you choose — that’s how I use the word “choose.  You become involved with it, and the more you become involved with it, the more real it will become in your life, and the more likely you will be to encounter similar things in the future.

Who needs evil?

If you pay attention to evil, whether you hear it, see it, or, God forbid, speak it — then that’s what you’re choosing.

You get what you choose,
whether you want it or not.

The object is to not pay it no mind.  Just let it be.  Let it pass, and get on with the things you do want.

Let’s take a break.

[Commercial break]

What is evil?

That can be a cosmological question.  Darkness, spiritual darkness, exists.  Sometimes human beings create it.  But evil is often subjective:  what seems evil to you, may not seem evil to me.

One regards as evil, whatever one disapproves of.  As far as darkness goes, one “throws shade at” the people or things one disapproves of; and that, itself, is a participation in darkness.

I disapprove of things I think “should” not have happened.  And that word, “should,” opens us into the world of value judgments.  One can accept what is, as it is, without necessarily judging it good or bad; those judgments aren’t necessarily necessary.

I have a lot of work to do on this myself.

Most contemporary pop music irritates me.  One in particular I heard in the store a few days ago — I googled the lyrics, I played a YouTube video to make sure I had the right one, because there were several with the same title; and then I read about the artist on Wikipedia.  This turned out to be “Because of you,” by Ne-Yo — N, E, hyphen, Y, O — and it came out in 2007.  Hard to believe it’s been irritating me for thirteen years.  But for me to spend all that time and energy on something I don’t like — this is not a good thing.

The medical doctor and wisdom teacher Robert Leichtman tells his students, “Think noble thoughts.”

What do you think?  Can the Three Wise Monkeys point us to a nobler approach to life?

Today’s music is completely unrelated.  I chose it because I like it.  It’s “Southbound,” by the Allman Brothers.  I know nothing about him personally, but every single thing they did that I like, every single thing they did that I like, involved Dickey Betts.


The Wikipedia article on this topic has completely changed since I first read it, a few years back.  At that time, it was completely hostile toward this subject, counting this lifestyle as the height of irresponsibility.  It currently includes this passage:

Though the teaching had nothing to do with monkeys, the concept of the three monkeys originated from a simple play on words. The saying in Japanese is mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru (見ざる, 聞かざる, 言わざる) “see not, hear not, speak not”, where the -zaru is a negative conjugation on the three verbs, matching zaru, the modified form of saru () “monkey” used in compounds. Thus the saying (which does not include any specific reference to “evil”) can also be interpreted as referring to three monkeys.


The character codes for the three images are &#x1F648, &#x1F649, and &#1F64.  I left off the semicolons to keep them from inadvertently converting (again).

4 thoughts on “Podcast – Three Wise Monkeys

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