Ever wonder where the origin of the phrase "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" originated?
The phrase originates from a proverbial teaching popularized by Buddhist philosopher Confucius’ Code of Conduct, traditionally reminding believers to not dwell on evil thoughts or actions in an effort to stay away from negativity. In western culture, however, the popular phrase of course symbolizes feigning ignorance or looking the other way when something inappropriate takes place.
The original iconic image of the three monkeys representing this phrase is located at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko Japan. On the shrine, a series of wood panels are presented depicting monkeys going through the cycle of man's life. And, on one of these small panels, the iconic "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" phrase is engraved.
The carved monkeys covering their eyes, ears and mouth, are called Mizaru, Mikazaru, and Mazaru - a play on Japanese words literally translating to "don't see, don't hear, don't speak."
The Toshogu Shrine shrine is a part of a historic complex of stunning temples built between the 17th and 19th centuries by over 127,000 craftsmen, nestled in a forest located about a 2-hour ride from Tokyo.