"The Four Wise Monkeys" by Rev. Christine Emmerling, 8/28/2022 (Text)
“The Four Wise Monkeys”
by Rev. Christine Emmerling 8/28/22
This Sunday I’m speaking on “The Four Wise Monkeys.” Three of these monkeys are mostly known as the three no evil monkey statues. There is a lesser known fourth monkey. These monkeys statues are said to have come from the ancient Hindu tradition of China.
It is believed that these four sayings originally came from the Analects of Confucius. It says, “Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety.”
The use of the monkey symbol and their sayings were first known in China and were brought to Japan by a Buddhist monk. The following is a brief description of each monkey’s meaning:
The 1st monkey, Mizaru, is covering its eyes as to see no evil.
The 2nd monkey, Kikazaru, is covering its ears as to hear no evil.
The 3rd monkey, Iwazaru, is covering its mouth as to speak no evil.
The 4th monkey, Shizaru, is seen covering its crotch or crossing its arms, representing as to do no evil or think no evil.
For everyday living these four “Do No Evils” is a message to live a good moral life. Such as, Don’t see flaws everywhere - always look for the good. Don’t listen to gossip or lies - always listen for the truth. Don’t speak that which is hurtful - always speak respectfully and kindly. Don’t do hurtful things - always act respectfully and kindly. This is another way of saying the Golden Rule “To do to others as you would have them do to you.”
There is another way to understand this from the Bible in Matt.15:11-20: Jesus replied, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” Here Jesus is using the example of eating and digesting food to explain how we take in information through our eyes and ears. Then by thinking upon these things they are internalized and become part of us in our beliefs, emotions and feelings.
These are then stored in our subconscious memory ready to be drawn upon to express through our words and actions. Just by thinking fearful, hateful, lustful or judgmental thoughts we are already living with their energy within us - they have become part of our being; mind, body and soul. Even if we take no action, it is already causing us pain and suffering in bodily or mental ills.
There is the saying, “What goes in must come out.” This means all that is seen or heard through our TV, newspapers, movies, books, cell phones, computers, conversations is taken in and absorbed in consciousness and eventually will be expressed in our words, our actions, or manifested in our body.
In Matthew 12:36-37 Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Then in Luke 12:3 “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” Knowing our words have so much power in our life, tells us to be careful about what we choose to say. And, I would add what we choose to think.
People talk a lot but have little to say that is meaningful. The quantity is high while the quality is a low grade vibration. Many conversations are about people complaining, judging, criticizing, or gossiping. People telling their perspectives of their daily dramas. This is a very low level negative energy that sucks up the life force energy of the person speaking and to the one listening.
When a person gossips or is always finding something to criticize says much more about themself than the person or thing they are talking about. It is a reflection of what is within them. It is like a poison within us that we share on to other people.
I am reminded of the saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying.” To me this means our actions represent who we are as a person; our beliefs, thoughts, and emotions which become our actions. This tells us so much more about a person than what comes out of their mouth. Some people just say what they think you want to hear, or what makes them look good in your eyes. But, whose fooling who?
A similar teaching is found in Don Maguel’s book The Four Agreements. These agreements are based on ancient shaman wisdom teachings to help people live a life without pain and suffering. I’ll briefly describe each.
The 1st agreement is “Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.”
The 2nd agreement is “Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
The 3rd agreement is “Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
The 4th agreement is “Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.”
These agreements are all about truly loving our self - we are being kind to our self when we practice them. It is so easy to look in a mirror and see something that needs fixing, to complain about and to criticize. Or, we just go around seeing problems to fix or complain about to whoever will listen. Gossiping is a habit in leu of anything of quality to say.
We may find that if we’re not complaining or gossiping that we have nothing to say. How about just being silent; silencing our mind and mouth. Have you ever looked out at the world without a thought, and just observed without a judgement - just seeing what is? This is a beautiful peaceful state of being.
We are being kind and loving when we truly listen to what another person is saying. We do this by being totally focused on every word, facial and body expression, while having no thoughts of our own. Just hearing that person speak, sharing from their heart. This is true listening that leads to true communication. People can sense when you’re truly present or not.
Our senses can misinterpret our world; meaning they can give us false information. These are the illusions, or Maya, of the world. Our collective thoughts are reflected in the world we see and experience. Our thoughts are filled with all sorts of information, beliefs, and distorted experiences.
Have you ever seen something, and the person next to you saw it differently? Have you said something, and the person heard something else? Have your actions ever been misunderstood? We think we hear clearly, we think we see truly, we think we speak truthfully, and think our actions are what we intended. While all the time the information we are given is false and then our actions follow accordingly causing pain and suffering.
Now let us look at this from the mystical view point. These four wise monkeys are also known as the mystic monkeys. They are seen as shutting off all input to their senses. When we close off the input to our senses we have an opportunity to see beyond the illusions of this world to truly see, hear, speak and act with pure intentions.
The following is a spiritual practice of the mystics in what we call silent meditation or silent prayer. The way of the mystic is to truly love our self. This begins with loving God, the Christ consciousness within us, the loving presence of God that is everywhere present in you, me and all life.
We do this by first having a relationship with the Divine within us. We nurture our true Self. Starting with some good deep breathing. We then take our focus away from the problems of the world and letting go of our personal problems.
We close our eyes going inward to unite with our True Self, which is known as our Christ mind or Christ consciousness; this is God within us. We close our ears by turning our attention away from the internal mind chatter. We affirm what we know to be spiritual Truth. Then we close our mouth and just be in a quiet stillness.
This is relaxing into a receptive, listening state of mind for the still small voice within - being pure peace, pure light, pure love. In this silence we are in the presence of pure Spirit, of pure Being. Truth is imparted and is embodied within our being. We are renewed of mind, body and soul. We are uplifted in love and gratitude. We have taken off the old person and put on the new. The mortal has put on immortality.
We then can’t help but be that which is recognized and realized in the silence within. Our behavior now matches our new understanding. We are now seeing the world through eyes of love, and loving our neighbor as our self.
These four wise monkeys have revealed to us a path for living in peace, and towards spiritual enlightenment. I invite us to take the challenge to control our input and output; garbage in, garbage out. To swap these old habits for the promise of living a life in peace. We take the next step towards enlightenment by giving a minute or two throughout the day to withdraw from the world and go within to the silence and be present in the Divine Presence. Along the way we add longer periods of silence once or twice a day. Then one day we shall find ourselves transformed and living a life in peace and love.