The ancient literature writers developed their fictional works based on the events identified in their society. In the literary work, "The Journey to the West" by Wu Cheng'en initially published in the 16th century is an example of literature articles developed reflecting on the historical, traditional, and social elements of the Ming dynasty in that ancient era. The author of the novel indulges the character, Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk into a long pilgrimage journey to the West to retrieve "the sacred texts" symbolic of Chinese religious practice and belief. In developing the novel, Cheng'en constructed characters and employed both the real aspects of the Chinese society practicing Buddhist religion, the surreal method of allegory where the events narrated seem magical but help the community explain some unnatural phenomena experienced, believed, or practiced.
The author effectively relates the real and unreal clues of the universe of which the story identifies in a mythical existence of characters-the creation of the "Sun Wukong" actor, a monkey king born from a magical stone egg. "When the wind blew on this stone, it turned into a stone monkey, complete with five senses and four senses" (Wu). The mysteriousness of the monkey's existence was neutralized by its capacity to coexist with other animals but had to learn and understand "Taoist" a Chinese way of life, making it not an ordinary monkey like the others. In the process of determining the Buddhist religion, Sun Wukong strategizes to become immortal. The power is only attributed to Buddha, a powerful being of the Buddhist Chinese religion (Wu). Immortality in the real Chinese world is sacred, and violation leads to punishment like the way Buddha trapped the monkey king for an extended period because of defying religious teachings.
Another instance of the real and surreal events in the novel is the mythical representation of Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk on a journey to retrieve a religious scripture hidden by Buddha a long time ago in the West. The scripture was to be retrieved by a monk as Buddha prophesized that someone of religious worth will journey through hardship to retrieve the manuscript, which is a symbol of faith belief to the Chinese (Wu). The tale may be mythically attributed to some "religious messiah," which is philosophical but has an impact on the belief of the Buddhist religion followers.
When Xuanzang embarks on the epic journey to recover the Buddha's scriptures, he encounters hardships that are threatening to his life. The character takes the "Asian silk road" manifested with threatening abnormal forces of magicians and demons accompanied by other physical threats like an attack by fellow human beings. When journeying towards religious redemption, Xuanzang is protected by sacred beings like "the goddess of mercy" and the "monkey king," which makes his journey a success whereby he retrieves the manuscript to bring salvation to the Chinese Buddhist believers and their gods (Wu). The connection between the magical and the real world, in this case, is the real comfort the Buddhist believers obtain from the = mythical religious practices which are still meaningful in the contemporary world of Buddhism.
In summary, the novel "Journey to the West" is a tale that establishes reality and magic through religious beliefs and practices of the Buddhist Chinese religion. The author uses mystical stories to create ideal circumstances like the monkey born from a stone in the real world. Some religious phenomena make no sense but with illustrations like those in the novel help us to understand how some spiritual theories come into existence in society.
Wu, Cheng'en, Anthony C. Yu, and Anthony C. Yu. The journey to the West. 1977. Print.
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