The Magical Monkey King Gets Judged by The Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tau

Anirudh Nistala T2

Sun WuKong, or the Monkey King, is a well Known CHARACTER in Chinese mythology, and is the focus point of numerous Movies and Plays to this day

His actions and adventures have created an infinite number of interpretations in accordance to the three main religions or belief systems of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daosim. Although, most historians agree that he wasn't doing very well in following any of the basic beliefs and values.

Though his naughtiness and lack of thought does not mirror any core values or beliefs, it doesn't mean that one can't learn from his Wrongdoings.

Monkey King's Report Card



Overall, Monkey King is not a very well represented character according to the core values taught in day to day life in Eastern Asia. His actions have caused him great trouble and anger to his peers and the gods, and he should not be looked upon as a outstanding role model. When it comes to Confucianism, Monkey King is a big warning looking at how he treats his elders. In fact, disrespecting those above him is one of Monkey King's core ideologies, whether the reader likes it or not.

Confucianism's core values are centered around social hierarchy. Followers of this belief system value their social elders, and respect their position by being a good model to those who look up to them. Aside from this, their beliefs overlap those of Daoism and Buddhism. Confucians believe in order in nature and society as well. In the novel, Monkey King trashes these beliefs over and over, showing how divergent and unique he is from any other being in the book.

One of the earliest examples of Monkey Kings behavior is when he meets the Sage. As soon as the Sage meets Monkey King, he realizes that he will be trying to teach a restless student. Knowing this, he tests Monkey, asking him whether he would like to learn about things that are unrelated to becoming immortal, and see if he will willingly comply to learning them. Monkey, not acting in any way like a Confucian, says no openly to all these ideas, pursuing only enlightenment and nothing else.

Another prominent example is when Monkey King goes to the Peach Banquet. There, he tricks one of the minor goddesses into going somewhere else, and pretends to be her. He also drinks a laughing liquid, which he was not supposed to even if he was invited. This event plus the one including the Sage show how easily Monkey will not listen to his elders, and solely seeks prosperity for himself. Since throughout the novel Monkey doesn't show much hint of complying to his elders, and enforces that facts by willingly not listening to them, I would assume Confucius would give him one of the lowest grades out of the three religions. Personally I think he deserves a D-, perhaps being generous.



Unfortunately, as Monkey progresses throughout his journey, his habits do not progress in the right direction over time. In fact, one could argue that they get worse. In regards to Buddhism, Monkey King shows to the readers that he is full of desires. He wants and wants until he gets, and that part of his personality drives him forward until the end. This feeling of 'want' is a total opposite of what a Buddhist values, and Monkey has proven once again to stir from the path.

Buddhism is a religion based on the journey and achievement of Nirvana, or enlightenment. A Buddhist would not desire more than their basic needs, and one would not care for fame or recognition, for they poison the mind. One would cleanse itself from all other outside interactions, and continue this process over multiple rebirths which would eventually lead to Nirvana. Monkey King does throughout the book desire the need for immortality, but doesn't try to achieve it in the patient, care stricken way that a Buddhist would.

Throughout his journey, Monkey King is very impatient, and desires the need for everything right away, easy and quick. This is easily represented in his experience with the Dragon King. Monkey realizes that since he is now a ruler, he will need some sort of weapon to protect himself, and not always be forced to use a stick. So he visits the Dragon King in hope of finding one. During this process, Monkey is presented with multiple heavenly weapons, but he always seems to have an excuse for them. Finally he sees the pillar that keeps the island from floating away. Totally disregarding this point, Monkey besides to shrink the pillar and use that as his magical weapon. Even after all the Dragon King's begging, Monkey was set on taking the pillar without giving any thought to anyone or anything around it.

Another great example of Monkey's foolhardiness is when he becomes in charge of the Jade Emperor's Heavenly Peach Garden. Monkey is stricken with the fact that there are thousands of his favorite fruit that he has to take care of by himself, and some of them will make him immortal faster than studying or asking. So, his constant desire once again overtakes him, and Monkey starts eating f the peaches in the garden and can't control himself after that. Both these situations show how Monkey King's desire really take over his decisions over right and wrong. To Monkey King, his decisions are made over want and work. Overall, the Buddha would not grade Monkey favorably. I thought he deserves a D, similar to what I presume Confucius would have given him.

Also, the fact that he decided to mark his territory on the Buddha's fingers doesn't seem very favorable regarding mostly anyone's opinion...



Finally comes Daoism, where I feel that Monkey did the least amount of damage overall. Throughout the story, Monkey is very much affected by the nature around him, but it is more evident that he influenced the people around him more than he influenced nature. Though this is true, it cannot be said that Monkey would get a favorable grade in Lao Tzu's point of view.

Daoism is a religion based on nature. Its core values are in The Way or an invisible force that surrounds and binds all beings of the universe. A Daoist would study with their natural surroundings, and not be very favorable of human intervention in nature. Monkey does interact with his natural surroundings, but doesn't seem to leave much of an outlasting bad effect on them as most.

Sometimes in the novel, Monkey doesn't respect nature, but not to much extent. He eats all the fruit from the Peach Garden, with the desires to become immortal. He disrespects Dragon King and his warriors by fighting them for a sword he should not have. Finally, he believes he can jump out of Buddha's hand and to the end of the world, but only to no prevail. These experiences only cause hardship for him, but not as much as other more important wrongdoings. I would grade him a C, which is comparatively better than his other grades.

Thank you for reading our comments about Monkey King, now please read the following information for your benefit.

Confucianism - - - - - - Fail

Buddhism - - - - - - Fail

Daoism - - - - - Pass

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Grader / Translater / Interpriter / Writer were Anirudh N. (T2)

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