Three Wise Monkeys

Yutang Lin

Eyes grasp no form, free away from prejudices.
Ears make no distinction, spared futile chasing.
Mouth keeps silent, no contending pro and con.
Three monkeys set model of profound wisdom.


Dharma friends brought three wise monkeys,
Each not seeing, not hearing or not speaking.
Natural sense organs rather put to no misuse;
Wise ones react dully to attain emancipation.

The Ko family offered me a set of three wood-sculpture monkeys. Each one covers eyes, ears or mouth with both hands. I recognized the deeper significance of these gestures, and hence wrote this poem to expound on them.

Years ago while I was visiting Buddhists in Malaysia a Buddhist there offered me a small clay statue of "Covering-face Buddha." It was a blessing amulet made by an "Emperor of Monks" in Thailand. Its gesture of covering the face with both hands signifies the covering of all hindrances.

Written in Chinese and translated on August 15, 2003
El Cerrito, California

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