Inner Peace: The 100th monkey

One planet, one people, one family, by Sally McKirgan.
March 5, 2022

We pick and choose what we want to give our attention to’

By Jim Hatton

“The 100th monkey effect is a hypothetical phenomenon in which a new behavior or idea is spread rapidly by unexplained means from one group to all related groups once a critical number of members of one group exhibit the new behavior or acknowledge the new idea. The behavior was said to propagate even to groups that are physically separated and have no apparent means of communicating with each other.” (Wikipedia)

Jim Hatton

Primatologists conducting a behavioral study of a troop of Macaca fuscata (Japanese monkeys) on the island of Kōjima, observed that some of the monkeys learned to wash sweet potatoes. One particular monkey named Imo discovered that dirt and sand could be removed from the potatoes by washing them in a stream or in the ocean. Gradually, this new potato-washing habit spread through the troop — in the usual fashion, through observation and repetition. (Unlike most food customs, this behavior was learned by the older generation of monkeys from younger ones.)

This behavior spread when a sort of group consciousness had suddenly developed among the monkeys, as a result of one last monkey learning potato-washing. The researchers observed that, once a critical number of monkeys was reached — i.e., “the 100th monkey” — this learned behavior instantly spread across the water to monkeys on nearby islands. 

This idea of a “Critical Mass Consciousness” became popular among those of us in the Spiritual-Metaphysical community. An example of critical mass consciousness occurred in 1876: Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell independently, on the same day, filed patents for invention of the telephone.

How does this concept of the 100th monkey compare to the spiritual understanding of omniscience (God or Source knowing everything, everywhere, all the time)? If a group of monkeys discovered how to wash sweet potatoes before eating them, why didn’t the same species of monkeys on other islands know about this at the same time as the first group of monkeys? 

We might apply the same question to peace in the world. If a group of people in a particular part of the world live in harmonious community and have a peaceful consciousness, how can hatred, anger, and war exist in another part of the world? If God-Source knows only peace and it is known everywhere, since God is omnipresent as well as omniscient, why don’t people live in peace everywhere?

While it is true that the God-source is much like a hologram (i.e., all of what God-source is, is present everywhere all the time), this doesn’t mean that we, as individuals, are aware of everything that the hologram contains. We pick and choose what we want to give our attention to, and we recognize the aspects that we choose. That doesn’t mean that all of what God-Source is is not present everywhere, all of the time; it simply means we choose to see only what we want to see.

What we “choose” to see can be largely filtered by our environment, culture, and past experience. Our choices are not always conscious but more of a default reaction based on our history and conditioning. For example, if we were born or raised in a culture of war, hatred, conflict and religious bias, seeing a peaceful, harmonious co-existence with our neighbors can be difficult. Peace is easier to see and embody when our environment, community and spiritual convictions support a culture of peace.

None the less, a vibration-consciousness of peace is fully available to all, everywhere. One only needs to “tune-in” to that vibration-consciousness. This requires a conscious refocusing of our attention on a global level. For those of us who live and choose inner peace, our responsibility is to hold that vibration-consciousness for the rest of the world so that others can more easily “tune-in.” Once we reach the critical-mass consciousness, the “100th monkey” will be the harbinger of peace, and then peace will begin to spread across the planet. 

The world is not broken, be in peace .…

Jim Hatton is an author, spiritual teacher and speaker. He makes his home in the Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon. Contact him at Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (

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