The Hundredth Monkey
by Ken Keyes Jr.
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.
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
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!
This phenomenon shows that when enough of us are aware of something, all of us become aware of it.
From the book "The Hundredth Monkey" by Ken Keyes Jr.
Reprinted by permission of the author.
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