There are various ideas regarding the origin of these monkeys--or rather, the idea they represent--but that's not our concern at this time. I believe we can learn some important spiritual lessons from this picture. We'll devote one major point to each of the three monkeys.
1. HEAR NO EVIL.
Admittedly, this is nearly impossible unless one is deaf! Yet, we should try to dismiss any evil thing that our ears pick up, and not let it dwell in our minds--unless it pertains to a matter we are obligated to correct. Even then, we should not go around listening for evil or seeking it out in order to correct it. But, when it falls into our lap, we should deal with it appropriately.
The world in which we live is wicked. There is no denying this. It's filled with evil speech, cursing, inappropriate jokes, slander, and gossip. You're likely to hear it wherever you go--at school, on the job, while running errands, etc. But friends, there is a difference between hearing evil accidentally and purposefully seeking it out! There may not be a lot you can do if the person behind you in the supermarket checkout lane is cursing up a storm on his phone, but there is a lot you can do when lewd language comes up on the radio or a television program--change the channel!
Like the first monkey, we ought to symbolically plug our ears to help keep out evil influences as much as we can. The one who thinks he can listen to a steady stream of filth and not be affected is only deceiving himself, not God! Consider Romans 12:1,2 - "I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." As Christians, we are to live for God! Every aspect of our existence should be holy and acceptable to Him; we should be living sacrificially for the Lord. If we are seeking out wicked influences to absorb via our ears, we are being conformed to the world. This is a tragic mistake. Let me plead with you to reflect upon the music, TV, and movies you digest--and get rid of the filth (as I had to do during my college years). Let us seek that which is pure and strive to hear no evil.
We'll continue this study in our next lesson.