See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil


“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is a common phrase, usally used to describe someone who doesn’t want to be involved in a situation, or who is turning a willful blind eye to an evil act that they are involved in. The saying is typically associated with the Three Wise Monkeys (one covering his eyes, one covering his ears, and the other covering his mouth). It is therefore believed that the saying may have its origin in a 17th century temple in Japan. Many scholars believe the monkeys were carved as a visual representation of the religious principle, “If we do not hear, see, or speak evil, we ourselves shall be spared all evil.” The monkeys originated from a Japanese play on words. “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” translated into Japanese is, “mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru.” The Japanese word for monkey is “saru”, and sounds very similiar to the verb-ending “zaru”.

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