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The Name Makes the Man || Reading Notes: The Monkey King Sun Wu Kung Part A

Or monkey as the case may be...

  • These are some long-living monkeys.
    • Even though the Handsome Monkey King fears death, it seems like he's already lived a pretty long and happy life.
  • It's really interesting that there is such an importance of Buddhism in this story, even though Buddhism originated in India and spread to China.
    • The story says that only three beings are exempt from death:
      • The gods
      • The spirits
      • And....the Buddhas?
    • I guess they're really talking about exemption from the cycle of death and rebirth.
  • I like how the king does not take a large number of subjects or a retinue or anything with him. It's just him on his travels. Very hermit or sage-like.
  • This is, of course, immediately contrasted by the fact that he assaults and robs the first person he sees.
  • But it seems that he learns more or less the "rules" of polite society immediately following this transgression. 
  • That naming was kind of anti-climactic. I feel like a retelling could find a more creative way to elaborate on how Sun got his name.
  • 360 ways to reach the truth. I wonder why 360?
    • 360 degrees in a circle
      • The mandala is an important symbol of Buddhism and is purposefully circular.
      • But that seems kind of unlikely.
    • Close-ish to the number of days in a year.
      • Maybe one way for each day?
  • Where can I get me some mystical incantations?
    • They sound like fun.
  • Do a somersault on a cloud and travel 18000 miles?
    • Sounds legit to me.
  • Just a casual "Get the hell out and don't tell anyone you know me."
    • It's not very often that one is threatened with the possibility of having their soul locked up in a " nethermost hell, so that you cannot escape for a thousand eternities."
  • The Devil-King of Chaos. There's a kick-ass name if ever there was one.
  • The Devil-King laughs at Sun and mentions says that Sun isn't even 30 years old. 
    • But isn't Sun already a few hundred years old?
  • How does one burn a cave to the ground?
  • The whole turning a single hair into a thousand little monkeys thing seems a little overpowered to me but oh well.
  • Okay, so he definitely is over 300 years old. He was supposed to live to 324. But he just removed himself (and the entire branch of apes?) from the literal book of life.
  • It seems that Sun is causing a lot of complaints to the Lord of the Heavens.
  • So it was a dream but it was also real.

Monkey King by Ghostexorcist on DeviantArt

Photo Credits:

Story: The Ape Sun Wu Kung
From: The Chinese Fairy Book
By: R. Wilhelm
Translator: Frederick H. Martens


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