The Hundredth Monkey

by Ken Keyes, Jr.


This book is not copyrighted. You are asked to reproduce it in whole or in part, to distribute it with or without charge, in as many languages as possible, to as many people as possible. The rapid alerting of all humankind to nuclear realities is supremely urgent. If we are wiped out by nuclear destruction in the next few years, how important are the things we are doing today?


This book is dedicated to the Dinosaurs, who mutely warn us that a species which cannot adapt to changing conditions will become extinct.


Two events converged on me this summer. They supplemented each other and gave me the inspiration and added push I needed. They made me respond to the urgency I had felt brewing in me for some time to express my concern about the worldwide danger of nuclear weapons.

The first event was my viewing the videotape "The Last Epidemic," taken at a symposium held in November, 1980 on the unacceptability of nuclear weapons for human health. I was deeply impressed by the physicians and scientists who brought their knowledge and eloquence to that meeting. Their stature and level of experience, insight and courage left no doubt in my mind that my priorities had to be rearranged. I had to add my voice and speak out now!

The second experience was my exposure to the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon, which I learned about in talks by Marilyn Ferguson and Carl Rogers. This phenomenon shows that when enough of us are aware of something, all of us become aware of it.

That concept confirmed my own intuitive trust in the basic tenet of my work — that the appreciation and love we have for ourselves and others creates an expanding energy field that becomes a growing power in the world. This radical new support gives me the counterbalance of hope to offset the doomsday story of nuclear destruction.

There is no need to feel helpless or get paralyzed by hopelessness. We know we have the power to make changes if we can join together and raise our voices in unison. There is more power in numbers that we ever hoped to dream about! I call for us to let our numbers grow exponentially as we all take it on ourselves to spread these messages.

We are the bearers of a new vision. We can dispel the old destructive myths and replace them with the life-enriching truths that are essential to continued life on our planet.

St. Mary, Kentucky Ken Keyes, Jr.

December, 1981


I appreciate your letting me share the drama of our megaton madness with you.

This book does not deal with petty matters.

It tells how to operate our lives — and our world.

It tells us how to stay alive!

The mess we've brought upon ourselves is a most perilous and challenging one.

The broad picture pieced together here will show you the immensity of the nuclear dangers, the futility of any defense or protection, the power of the new awareness and your role in the unfolding drama.

There is a phenomenon I'd like to tell you about.

In it may lie our only hope of a future for our species.

Here is the story of the Hundredth Monkey:

The Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, has been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years.

In 1952, on the island of Koshima scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant.

An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers, too.

This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists.

Between 1952 and 1958, all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable.

Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes — the exact number is not known.

Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes.

Let's further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes.


By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them.

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

But notice.

A most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then jumped over the sea —

Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes!*

(*Lifetide by Lyall Watson, pp. 147-148. Bantam Books 1980. This book gives other fascinating details.)

Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind.

Although the exact number may very, the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the consciousness property of these people.

But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone!

Your awareness is needed in saving the world from nuclear war.

You may be the "Hundredth Monkey" . . . .

You may furnish the added consciousness energy to create the shared awareness of the urgent necessity to rapidly achieve a nuclear-free world.

"If I knew then what I know now, I never would have helped to develop the bomb," spoke George Kistiakowsky, an advisor to President Eisenhower who worked on the Manhattan Project.

Let's look at the almost incredible nuclear monster we have created in the last forty years on planet Earth . . . .

Herbert Scoville, Jr., former deputy for research of the Central Intelligence Agency warns,

The unfortunate situation is that today we are moving—sliding downhill—toward the probability or the likelihood that a nuclear conflict will actually break out—and that somebody will use one of these nuclear weapons in a conflict or perhaps even by accident.

The only result of a substantial nuclear exchange would be a hollow victory in which the "winners' would be no better off than the losers.

An all-out nuclear war could make our planet uninhabitable for a million years!

A nuclear war can end the way we live.

It cannot be won — it can only be lost.

Winning equals losing.

The word "war" is too mild to apply to this nuclear craziness.

Carl Sagan at the Conference on the Long-Term Biological Consequences of Nuclear War stated:

We have an excellent chance that if Nation A attacks Nation B with an effective first strike, counter-force only, then Nation A has thereby committed suicide, even if Nation B has not lifted a finger to retaliate.*

(*The Cold and the Dark by Paul R. Ehrlich, Carl Sagan, Donald Kennedy, Walter Orr Roberts, p. 33. W. W. Norton and Co., 1984.)

Suppose you and your family are rafting down an unexplored river.

Most of your attention is on steering the raft away from the rocks and keeping it off the banks so that it will not get damaged or stranded.

Several miles downstream unknown to you lies a huge waterfall that will fling you and your family on the rocks below.

It is easy to miss the significance of certain signals that are coming to you.

You have noticed a distant, rumbling background sound. But what does it mean? You can see a mist in the air ahead of you. There's nothing alarming that seems to call for your immediate attention.

And, besides, you are so busy guiding the raft and keeping it off the rocks that you don't want to think or anything else right now.

Maybe the rumbling will go away . . . .

But the distant rumbling is getting louder.

We can ignore it — or we can use our intelligent minds to inform us of the dangers we must avoid.

What are the signs and the scientific data that are so easy for us to ignore — but which are giving us a clear warning of a certain catastrophe that lies ahead if we remain on our present course?*

Continued in Part 2

The Hundredth Monkey Revisited


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