Monkey: Journey to the West is a story of an adventure for enlightenment to India in order to find ancient Buddhist scriptures. The story consists of Chinese legends, tales, and superstitions. Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism play a huge role throughout this story. Monkey: Journey to the West is a story that discusses religion, and moral issues. The monkey acts the way he does due to underlying religious themes played throughout the story. At first understanding why the Monkey acts the way he does may seem difficult. However, after reading deeper through the story one learns that social satire in the Monkey is what gives him his rebellious personality. The end of the story reveals the hidden spiritual meaning behind the monkeys change in actions. Monkey: Journey to the West is told in three major parts. The first being the monkeys early life history and spirit, and the second about Tripitakas family and history before leaving to obtain the religious Buddhist scriptures. The remaining section has to do with his three animal spirit disciples, monkey, pig, and a fish. The story of the Monkey shows the struggles of educating oneself on a spiritual path. The characters are representations of religious figures in Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. The Monkey represents restlessness and powerful energy, which has to be under control before the journey to the religious scriptures can start. After a while he becomes worried about the thought of death and reincarnation. Buddhists believe in cycle of birth, life and death in order to achieve what they call Nirvana. One must release their self desire in order to obtain the ultimate goal.
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The Monkey desires to be immortal, however Confucianism recognizes death to be one of the most important times in ones life. Monkey decides that he must explore the ends of the world in order to find a way to get around death and reincarnation because he is not happy with the ways on the three religions. His journey leads him across oceans and over mountains to the Cave of the Slanting Moon where the immortal Patriarch lives. Monkey decides to become a student of the Patriarch in order to gain his knowledge on becoming immortal. Monkey abuses the situation and he is let go by the patriarch due to his extremist actions. When Monkey learns ways of being immortal he returns home and he is more greedy than ever. Greed is looked down upon in Buddhism, Confuscism, and Taoism. Monkey then continues his journey to the dragons and takes their treasures in an ungrateful manner. He uses immoral and threatening actions to obtain his goals, which are clearly looked down upon. At this time the Monkey is beginning to upset a lot of people, and even the Jade Emperor of Heaven is becoming upset. Monkey totally disgregards everyones feelings and continues to act in such a rude and immoral manner. Monkey still has a desire for more so he eats the immortal fruits, drinks the immortal wine, and he even takes Lao Tzu’s special pills. At this point heaven is becoming even more angry over the Monkeys actions. The Monkey returns home and Heaven implements another attack on him. This attack was successful, Heaven defeated the monkey with the help of Buddha and Lao Tzu. In conclusion Monkey is imprisoned for 500 years. At the end of they story the Monkey has a huge change in mind set due to some help.. The Monkey changes when Hsuang-tsang gives him a second chance to prove himself. Hsuang-tsang stays within the same morals and values of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.
The qualities of forgivenes are in each path to reaching great peace. Monkey realizes the way he acted before being imprisoned was not suitable for his pilgrimage he set out on. Monkey becomes a student of Hsuang-tsang and joins his journey to India. The Buddha shows the Monkey. He explains to him how his spiritual mind has opened his inner soul to help interpret and accept forgiveness from others. Thus, helping Monkey reach his own spiritual purpose.