See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil is a proverb that is hundreds of years old. We will examine the meaning of the expression see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, where it came, from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The phrase see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil has come to mean something different than was originally intended. In the West, the proverb see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil means to turn a blind eye to something that is legally or morally wrong. In this case, a person who will see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil pretends that he has not witnessed wrongdoing, and therefore abdicates all responsibility in righting a wrong. The proverb see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil is derived from a work of art. A seventeenth century carving above the door in Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan depicts three monkeys–one with his hands covering his eyes, one with his hands covering his ears, and one with his hands covering his mouth. The original meaning of the expression is that one should avoid evil. This sculpture is inspired by Confucius, who is believed to have said: “Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety”

Examples

Also painted on the instrument are three figures with spray paint, glasses and headphones, a callback to the proverbial “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” Underwood said. (The Indianapolis Star)

Earlier, it placed the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys political maxim with a banner saying ‘Omertà’ in front of the police headquarters in a protest stunt. (Times Malta)

The three-monkeys principle — see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil — was, in the areas of physical or sexual abuse, close enough to convention for many generations. (The Irish Examiner)

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