100th Monkey

I love the story of the 100th monkey — the monkey who tumbles everyone else over the tipping point of social/cultural change. It is one of those stories that floated around in the back of my awareness, and then, MAGIC! I was reading a book by Jean Shinoda Bolen, and she detailed the story in her book.  The glories of the internet enable highlighting bits of narrative detail all the more readily, so here are the words of Jean Shinoda Bolen, followed by story as told by Ken Keyes to whom she gives source credit!

Magic is alive! Change is afoot.


Circles of Compasson and The Millionth Circle 
by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.

*antidote: 1: a remedy to counteract the effects of poison. 2: something that relieves, prevents, or counteracts. ~ Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary

 The Hundredth Monkey

An idea whose time has come depends upon a critical number of people embracing a new way of thinking, feeling, or perceiving. Once that critical number is reached, what had been resisted becomes accepted. What was once unthinkable, and is then adopted by more and more people reaches a critical mass, and then becomes a commonly held standard of belief or behaviour.

When an idea is ridiculed, especially when men discount the possibility and label it as illogical as well, a story to hold onto while continuing to work on bringing about a change is a powerful inspiration. That concerned citizens could be effective in ending the nuclear arms race between the United States and Russia was a ridiculed idea, for example, and yet people began to try and the movement grew, inspired by the idea of a critical mass examplified by the story of “The Hundreth Monkey” written by Ken Keyes and spread by word of mouth. Predicated on the intuitively grasped morphic field theory, postulated by theoretical biologist Rupert Sheldrake, it told the story of how new behavior initiated by a young female monkey spread through her colony and then was observed by scientists to now be done in all other monkey colonies on separated islands, without any means of direct influence. “The hundredth monkey” was the one who became the critical number, after which all monkeys now did this new thing because every member of the same species is connected to the same morphic field.

The 100th Monkey

A story about social change.

By Ken Keyes Jr.

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 monkey 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!

From the book “The Hundredth Monkey” by Ken Keyes, Jr. 
The book is not copyrighted and the material may be reproduced in whole or in part.

Read the whole book.

One hundered monkeys and tipping points — have you ever notice a time when a critial mass was reached around an issue you were struggling to transform? Have you been witness or participant to the birth/growth of justice? what were some of the key elements that fed the alchemy?


One thought on “100th Monkey

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