See No Evil, Hear No Evil Elephants
Just as there is disagreement about the origin of the phrase, there are differing explanations of the meaning of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
- In Japan the proverb is simply regarded as a Japanese Golden Rule
- Some simply take the proverb as a reminder not to be snoopy, nosy and gossipy.
- Early associations of the three monkeys with the fearsome six-armed deity Vajrakilaya link the proverb to the teaching of Buddhism that if we do not hear, see or talk evil, we ourselves shall be spared all evil. This may be considered similar to the English proverb "Speak of the Devil - and the devil appears."
- Others believe the message is that a person who is not exposed to evil (through sight or sound) will not reflect that evil in their own speech and actions.
- Today "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" is commonly used to describe someone who doesn't want to be involved in a situation, or someone turning a willful blind eye to the immorality of an act in which they are involved.
Measures 5 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 inch wide, and 2 inches tall.