Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil

Today’s Bible or Not quote is well-known contemporary wisdom, but its origin goes back to ancient times. A universal concept throughout history is the idea to do those thing which are good, and to shun those things which are evil. The maxim of the 3 Wise Monkeys conveys this concept in a very simplified visual.

“Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.” – Bible or Not?

Hear No Evil Speak No Evil Hear No Evil

The Three 3 Wise Monkeys Carving at the Toshogu Shrine in Japan

No, the proverb of the 3 wise monkeys, namely “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” is not from the Bible. The origin of the quote, as depicted by the above ancient carving, goes back to the 17th century. But depending on your sources, its origin can also be traced as far back as the 8th century originating in China. The theory is that it originally came from Confucius’s Code of Conduct, but without the famous picture of the 3 monkeys. You can read more about the origins of the three monkeys maxim at Wikpedia.

So what does this quote have to do with the Bible? Well for sure, the Bible teaches to do no evil. As a matter of fact, in the book of Thessalonians we see, “Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 NKJV). Here are some particular verse that support each of the “do nots” of the three monkeys:

Hear No Evil
The Psalmist teaches us, in the very first verse of the Book of Psalms, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” – Psalms 1:1 NKJV. Therefore, do not listen to ungodly counsel, or in other words, hear no evil.

Speak No Evil
The Apostle Paul admonished the saints in Ephesus to speak purely: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29 KJV

See No Evil
Jesus Himself, when it comes  to “seeing no evil”, teaches us to go to extremes to keep our eyes from causing us to sin: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” – Matthew 5:29 NKJV

 So there we have it; the 3 wise monkeys in not in the Bible, but nevertheless, the saying itself has merit and can be supported by the Bible. Do you have any verses that support this? Feel free to leave additional Bible verses about hearing, speaking, seeing and doing no evil by submitting your comments.


Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil — 19 Comments

  1. Here’s another “speak no evil” verse from the Bible: Titus 3:1-2 says “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

  2. What about DO NO EVIL? Here’s what the Bible says – Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. – 2 Corinthians 13:7

  3. Thanks David, much appreciated. Sure, have fun and use what you want. If you use anything on a website, please be kind and share a link to our site.

  4. Here’s a verse that could be related, more about what TO DO rather than what NOT to do.
    “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
    And it comes with a promise: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
    – Philippians 4:8-9

  5. I think in this context that Paul was saying to speak no evil, meaning speak no slander, of others. But I’ll take your lead here and give my opinion. I believe the wicked are not exposed by the righteous calling names and pointing fingers. They are exposed by the righteous being righteous, and the contrast that the world sees will do the exposing.

  6. Isaiah 33:13-17

    13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my might.
    14 On Zion sinners are in dread, trembling grips the impious: “Who of us can live with the consuming fire? who of us can live with the everlasting flames?”
    15 He who practices virtue and speaks honestly, who spurns what is gained by oppression, Brushing his hands free of contact with a bribe, stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed, closing his eyes lest he look on evil–
    16 He shall dwell on the heights, his stronghold shall be the rocky fastness, his food and drink in steady supply.
    17 Your eyes will see a king in his splendor, they will look upon a vast land.

  7. What do the monkeys got to do with it? It is an almost impossible task..”seeing” how we live on this planet..”hearing” is an unfortunate part of life..but “speaking” is up to us…am I right? I guess I just love monkeys, tired of them gettin a “bad rap” “Oh I got a monkey on my back” I think that is giving monkeys a bad name…and Buddy and I ain’t having it!! Show some respect! Damnit!! xoxoxoxoxox

  8. Mary… sometimes hearing may be beyond our control, but other times we have the option to walk away, turn off the television, or turn off the radio. We are often exposed to evil and if we choose to partake in the listening when given the choice than we are willingly partaking in sin. We should try to make godly choices. We decide much of what we hear and see. Good choices are important for Christians for we represent Christ to unbelievers and could make an eternal difference for someone. Obviously, none of us will be without sin, but we should strive to be as close to Christ-like as possible. 🙂

  9. Prov 4:24-27 24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. KJV

  10. My daughter is a committed Christian. Her husband doesn’t help to keep the peace at home, turns up the TV to drown out kids’ squabbling etc., yells & swears, now their 2 year old does it too. Should she ignore it all or what?

  11. I think everything said made a ton of sense. But,
    what about this? what if you added a little content?

    I ain’t saying your information isn’t good., however what if you
    added a title that grabbed people’s attention? I mean Origin of Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil,
    See No Evil, Three 3 Wise Monkeys | Bible or Not Bible Quotes & Famous Sayings is kinda
    plain. You should look at Yahoo’s home page and watch how
    they create article headlines to get people to open the links.
    You might try adding a video or a related picture or two to get
    readers interested about what you’ve got to say.
    Just my opinion, it could make your posts a little bit more interesting.

  12. This is a tough one to answer from a blog. While I could attempt to provide some advice I think it best that your daughter should confide in her pastor for counseling and advice. And for those close to you and her, pray pray pray.

  13. In my opinion the true nature of the bible and all of its riddles attempt to cover all the ways of “seeing” that one can. In everything it attempts to cover the it is, it isn’t, it is both, it is neither. These are the only ways our simple mind may contend with god. And to me it seems he is saying the it is both it is neither. Which seems intuitively true, yet our small brain cannot comprehend neutrality. But neutrailty is freedom. Our only true state. To be free of evil and not rely on excuses to say this man did these things and therefore I had to make this choice. This is what the fire seeks to consume. All the beliefs that express partiality to him, which is in everything. And all that there is. When he says see no evil hear no evil speak no evil he is talking about non physical destinations or locations of our consciousness. Since we are creators we will make heaven or hell. I do not think that god is saying evil doesn’t exist. I think he is saying. Me you and everyone else is already evil. So why bother to ask that question of who is evil. When u know the truth. Also we search for whether or not we are the actual thing that creates or whether we must fall prey and adapt to the things around us. To this I say. If one believes in god, then he has faith. My faith is so terribly stubborn that I do not believe in evil. I cannot comprehend it, and therefore I do not see it. I know we are all made up of this idea we created. We saw it in us first (evil and the things that make us feel guilty) and then hated the reflections of ourself in other people. Trying to destroy ourselves by hurting others and not realizing it. To put it simply. If I have the most faith. I do not believe in evil because it does not concern me. Those beliefs do not belong to me. Because that is the true power. If I am like Jesus then I may see what we have chosen to define as evil, but if I am evils maker and creator, I am it’s destroyer. I personally need not worry about what other people have chosen to create. Because I am on a path of creating something else. It would be like Jesus asking people what they believe in instead of stating things with authority as a matter of fact. It wouldn’t matter what peoples small minds thought about whether or not god created them or if they believed in god or anything like that. Because he sees you stand before him. Clearly then you were made by god. Even those that have expressed evil. His soul belongs to them. Because he is quite jealous that others do not worship all the love he has to give. Even to those that appear evil, for the man who has come to save them will be persecuted. The man who loves even the people that do wrong will be the most hated. The one who knows them the most. Destroy your beliefs of dichotomy and your bridges will not be burned. Otherwise, his many messengers that you so fear will torment your soul, because you cannot let go of the idea “I deserve to feel this way”. So pathetic an idea that I laugh. Such small men we are. Do u not think god wants you to be happy? That he has said, only these great things are deserved for you? This is why I do not accept when someone complains about a situation. It is not that I do not understand. It is that I absolutely hate who speaks for the person complaining. I hate the person in between us. Who is translating for us. Because I must battle in my mind whether or not to listen and feel sorry. And then I realize. To feel sorry is like accepting that the person deserves this. And no one deserves anything but happiness and the power that has been given to them. So I do not accept complaints against the other man. Or against them or they. Because all those complaints hurt me. They are complaints against us, against we. And because I know what my own happiness is worth. I refuse to believe things that keep us from finding out who we truly are. Btw. The book provides great insight into these lost memories but it is written inside your soul. Jesus was a normal man. I know. Blasphemy. I tell u what tho. He was a normal man with extroadinary powers. But he still went to the bathroom people. He wasn’t even saying worship him as a person directly. He was saying. You are me. Be like me. Can’t you see the comedy? I mean do you really think god would ask his follower. What version of the one and only truth are you studying? And how come you are not reading my King James Version? Most accurate by a mans standards perhaps. But not my gods. He spoke and said let there be light. He makes time and space itself he doesn’t need a book. Trust me. Everything will go according to plan with or without it. Because all the bridges of our beliefs having been laid with a shoddy foundation will be purged. And the people that refuse to burn them will remain on their little island by themselves as their bridges to the true path of oneself are destroyed and they are consumed by their own fire. No offense. Just putting it into perspective. Much love and peace. Even to all those who think they understand but do not. For we have been deceived by those we trust and follow the most. But do not be confused brothers and sisters. Those that gave their love and power to hitler were the same people standing in the crowd. Normal people. Teenagers, families wives husbands even children. When we have given our love away and it has turned against us, who can we blame? When a man is responsible for a war crime who do we blame? We only see that one man. What we don’t see is who made him. And such is life. I cannot see myself without you. You are my reflection. The cause for my thoughts of why I would not do this evil to you, because it may be done to me as well. We are only part of one whole. Even though it has many parts. Has this message truly not gotten past our prideful and arrogant thoughts? We have truly been deceived. To me personally. My friends are my enemies and vica versa, for there is no difference in my brothers. And those of us that walk today as descendants of Cain bear a mark that others wish to destroy, without teaching us where we fell. For even in all our power for killing and domination we are the most weak and afraid inside. And we built huge walls to defend our heart. As our brothers walk on their perilous journey do not attack them. This is why they seem most fierce, and appear to have the most power that we are so afraid of. That they do not fear taking life because they do not fear death. They have done their duty well as messengers. I say messengers because god is not afraid of satan. He is his employer. No, satan is the adversary of man. Not god. Not of things he cannot touch or reach without god. God allows him to do this. Because people have allowed their own faith and belief to be tested by listening to others about what matters and who we should kill and why. This is your test. Even the words I say can never truly and accurately lead people through their own thoughts. The things we think we know with our words are small in comparison to what this reality actually is. To call something air does not mean you understand it. To define it is nothing but a way to access it. So you can begin to touch and work with the things you cannot see. We are not even close. Closer yet tho to being revealed as to who or what is the “evil” on the planet? If this were jeaproady the proper question would be.. Who am I?

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