Response paper: Monkey Journey to the West - Essay Example

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Though this story may seem more of a fairytale, the tale is deeply rooted in Buddhism and Daoism. The story is filled with a lot of satire and comics and…
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Response paper: Monkey Journey to the West
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An Allegorical Perspective of Monkey Journey to the West Monkey Journey to the West is a ical tale of a supernatural monkey with a lot of power to even defeat gods in combat. Though this story may seem more of a fairytale, the tale is deeply rooted in Buddhism and Daoism. The story is filled with a lot of satire and comics and may be confused as a child’s book. However, it is also filled with cryptic messages that are envisaged in Buddhism. This was through the use of allegory and symbolism throughout the play.
One such instance is when Kuan-yin, the Bodhisattva volunteers to look for a holy man who would seek wisdom from the Western continent and then bring it back to the sinful people of the Southern continent. During her search for the holy man, she encounters three monsters, Zhu Bajie- a pig monster, a dragon and Wu Kong- the monkey that had been trapped in the mountain by Lord Buddha. She convinces them to join her mission and they accept. Later, the three monsters also accompany Xuan Zang- the holy man on his trip to the West. (Shepard, 2008)
The story is mostly centered along this journey. The journey is used allegorically to showcase the spiritual growth that humans experience in their lifetimes. The growth of spiritual wisdom is directly linked to the maturation of human personality. The four pilgrims represent a different facet of human life enjoined together by the journey. Zhu Bajie, the pig monster represents greed and materialism, Xuan Zang represents holiness and naivety, Wu Kong represents power and selfishness while the dragon stood for submission. None of the pilgrims could have survived this journey alone. Monkey, though very strong, would have been side-tracked due to his hasty decisions and anger. The pig monster would have fallen victim to his own sensual appetites while the dragon would have lacked direction as he is good at taking orders but not making them.
Xuan Zang is actually the weakest member of the group. This is because he is too good and trusts everyone. He is unable to separate the good from evil since he views people and situations from the positive aspect. When confronted by the evil tigers, he does not know what to do and ends up crying. However, for the journey (which symbolizes life) to be successful, these four characters have to be entwined. As much as the West represents India in the story, it also symbolizes sunset- the end of the physical world and the dawn of a spiritual world. The Tripitika, or the Indian wisdom would illuminate their souls to heavenly glory. Xuan is selected by Kuan-yin because he is not soiled by earthly vices. He is a grown man with a child’s mind; he does not know lust, greed, vanity and other desires. He has the character of the Tripitika. (Shepard, 2008)
The other three pilgrims are sinful. All demonized in a heavenly court due to their evil deeds. As they agree to pursue the wisdom, they abandon their evil ways in search of higher, illuminated natures. Once in a while they would shift to bestiality and forget their pledges, but then again they would return to the mission. This is a clear indication about the nature of man. While the story may have been written many centuries ago, the human nature will always be split between goodness and badness. This is contrary to the popular belief of the Tripitika that there are good natured people and bad natured people. The fact is all people possess goodness and badness. This is easily seen when the three demons give in to their appetites and also sacrifice their appetites for the well being of others. In conclusion, all men and instincts can be altered to a good purpose or a bad one.
Shepard, Aaron. The Monkey King, Skyhook Press, 2008. Print. Read More
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