July 21, 2012

There Once Were 100 Monkeys. ~ Chantelle Jahara Pinto

Photo credit: tzzimone

My girlfriend is one of those people who works her freckles off and never seems to find an empty moment.

So it was with meticulous planning that she created a do-nothing weekend that would begin on Friday night and end on Sunday evening.

Then something crazy happened.

A whole bunch of relatives and friends decided to arrive unannounced at her home with the intention to spend the weekend with her.

It was spontaneous; each of the visitors had made their decision to stay, unbeknownst to her other friends and family’s same intentions.

I spotted her in the supermarket car park with a cart full of goods to feed the masses. When she told me what had unfolded, her exacerbated face stared at me in wonderment.

I told her, “It sounds a lot like the 100th monkey syndrome—or at least, like a hundred monkeys are staying at your home right now.”

The joke went flat; her face looked uninformed.

It surprised me that not everyone in the world had heard of this phenomenon!

I explained.

The 100th monkey syndrome is the description of how collective consciousness works.

It’s a relevant observation today, as collective consciousness works hand in hand with social media as its lackey.

From this conversation, I knew that the 100th monkey syndrome was going to be my next blog post.

I trawled the internet to check my facts, and what I found was a crazy thing: this study was suffering from a very serious case of “Chinese whispers.”

Yes, there were monkeys in every story that I read, but that’s where the common ground ended.

So today, I’m going to tell you about this amazing phenomenon called the 100th monkey syndrome, internet-style.

In Japan, a group of scientists observed a colony of monkeys on an island. For centuries they have been known to regularly practice the original form of Pilates.

Then, one autumn day in 1952, playmates of an adolescent monkey called Neo noticed him sitting still. His eyes were almost closed. He appeared to be looking upwards toward the center of his forehead.

Photo credit: Chrishonduras

After some time, he stood up and began to practice a primitive form of yoga.

Between 1952 and 1958, all of the young monkeys had emulated Neo’s practice and never returned to their old Pilates routine. Some of the young even taught their parents. The other adults kept practicing their Pilates routine until they met their demise, unsatisfied and clueless.

For the sake of describing this syndrome, let’s just say that when the sun rose one morning, 99 monkeys had learned to practice yoga.

By the end of that morning, the hundredth monkey had switched over to practice this higher form of exercise.

Then it happened!

By that evening, everyone in the tribe took on the yoga practice and abandoned Pilates forever.

The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough.

An even more surprising phenomenon happened after Neo’s colony had adopted yoga: an isolated colony of monkeys, who lived on the other side of their island, also started to practice yoga instead of Pilates.

And then, monkey colonies on the neighboring islands abandoned their Pilates for the spiritually transformative practice of yoga.

These Japanese scientists observed a cultural innovation; evolution at work.

It outlined the mechanisms of collective consciousness.

We should always remember the significance of this phenomenon.

It takes 100 monkeys to change the world.

And if you want to read about the real study, well I can’t just direct you to a website can I?

It will surely be a version of a version, so better you just stick with my version of events.

The study I quoted from Iceland is as true as the sky is blue, only decorated a little. And yes, this study is from Japan.

Good spotting, Padawan.

Photo credit: Michael Schamis


Chantelle is an Australian living in Rio de Janeiro. She writes for her blog, Yoga Leaks. For the past two and a half decades, Chantelle has studied meditation, yoga, martial arts, dozens of healing modalities, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, as well as Tao, Buddhist and Hindu philosophy. She is a practicing Kriyaban, which is a yogi who practices Kriya yoga. Chantelle has worked with health retreats and spa destinations in their management, design and realization. She loves to create other-world or better-world experiences. Hence the concept of her blog, which explores a “better” nation in which we can all live for a few minutes each week. Chantelle has traveled extensively and worked in many idyllic locations around the world. Her passion is in the written word, vibrantly sharing her knowledge about endless facets of health and living.

Editor: Jamie Morgan

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