So, thanks to some of you out there in Bloggersville, I found out what the 100th monkey is. It seems there were some scientists on a tropical island and monkeys were running all over the place. The scientists decided to try an experiment – they put sweet potatoes on the beach for the monkeys to eat. One monkey tried one, then another monkey tried one, then another and another but the sweet taste of the potato mixed with the grimy dirt and sand did not make for an appetizing meal. Until….
Until one day, one monkey decided to wash it in the ocean and then eat it. Behold, a sweet sweet potato! Good news travels fast, even among monkeys, it seems, so once the word got out about potato washing, everybody was washing their potatoes. But it seems it had to reach a critical “tipping point” before ALL the monkeys partook of the secret.
Before anyone could say “monkey’s uncle,” the news had magically traveled to other islands and other monkeys were washing their sweet potatoes as well. So by the time 100 monkeys had heard about this, the whole South Seas were awash with washed potatoes and smiling monkeys. That’s the story as I understand it.
But I have a few questions about it. First of all, how does anyone KNOW there were 100 monkeys and that the 100th monkey was the ONE who tipped the scale? Second, what about the law of exponential increase (I’m not sure that’s what you call it but it’s about generations - an older monkey teaches baby monkeys and those babies teach their babies and so on and so on?) The 100th monkey effect seems to imply that the phenomenon occurred lickety-split but it actually took years (according to wikipedia.org.) My last question – where did the monkeys on the new islands get the sweet potatoes? Did scientists plant them there. too? Did one monkey swim to another island with a bagful of potatoes or did they take a canoe?
I know, I know. I’m sounding cynical again. Listen, I have nothing against 100 monkeys washing sweet potatoes or 2,000,000 people trying to save the world. (Oprah and Eckhart have at least that many tuning into their webcast.) The world certainly needs saving. But to cite some unscientific “proof” as to how it will happen is, in my opinion, just one more example of magical thinking clothed as spirituality. It’s not rational. And it’s the stuff of cults. (see Lifton’s work on mind control) Each one reach one makes sense to me but that’s been around a LONG time (see the Bible.) A New Earth is nothing new.
Sorry. I don’t mean to detract from a very exciting phenomenon – a spiritual awakening on the internet. But what about the poor souls who don’t partake, those who live on islands without the proverbial sweet potatoes, or those who are too old or too dumb or too skeptical to wash them in the ocean? They will forever be in the abyss of white potatoes and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Or perhaps God, like the scientists, will intervene and drop those sweet orange morsels from the sky. One can only hope. Til then, I’ll keep trying to engage my brain and look out to sea for a better idea. Perhaps one will come to me.