Monday, December 3, 2012

Will you be the Hundredth Monkey? By Gaby

The story: the Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, (also known as snow monkey or Japanese Macaque) has 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.

Macaca Fuscata, photo credit  E. Tasker
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 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.

The myth: 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!*

(*Lifetide by Lyall Watson, pp. 147-148. Bantam Books 1980. This book gives other fascinating details.)

However, the story is now popular among New-Age authors and Gurus, it has become and urban legend and part of new ages mythology. For more check here.

I am interested in modern mythology here, and what the myth is telling us is that people desperately hope for change.

The hope: Yoga is all about (self) transformation and transcendence. But change is often difficult and motivation is key. I feel the story of the Hundredth Monkey is a good source of motivation. Although it always seems we are too few who really want to change and even fewer who want to change for the benefit of a greater thing than just ourselves, the mere fact of change may one day trigger a much larger wave of change.

So despite I know the myth of the hundredth monkey is just that, a myth, I still think we do not have a choice but to believe that there is some tipping point, that if we reach a sufficient number, things will really start to change. Everyday I wake up and direct my focus to that endeavor only, create an environment of example, where others can learn, get inspired and finally find motivation to change for the better.

On the other hand I know some interest are working to keep people subject to the same model we have had for the last century, a model that has clearly shown its limits by now, but that solid economical interest protect from evolving to some other model more fair, more environmentally friendly, less based on profit and more based on compassion and Love. Sometime I find the battle impossible, it feels like David facing Goliath. The financial and lobbying power of theses interest, their lack of ethics, their selfishness and short sightedness scares me and I feel they expand so fast that it dwarves all my efforts. At that moment I think about the hundredth monkey.

So if you have read these lines until here I am asking you, will you join us in our efforts?
Will you be the Hundredth Monkey?

With Love&Light, Gaby

No comments:

Post a Comment