|The Crow Demon – part of Chinese myth [Source*]|
Mahayana and Theravada differences
The Buddhists who follow the "purer" Theravadin path say that this is the long way to salvation, and that failing to attempt to correct imperfect interpretations of the human condition is a dereliction of duty.
The Mahayana response is to point out that in attempting to correct those views, confusion is also bound to arise if the Buddhist devotee is not intellectually or spiritually ready to accept the more sophisticated approach. Consequently, gods and demons exist for as long as people need to believe in them.
In Buddhism, the boundaries between life and death, so stark in the Western tradition, are not so absolute. Death is no more than a transition to a new state of being. In destruction, something new is inevitably created.
|Yulan demon [Source*]|
So it is with Monkey, and perhaps this is a partial resolution at least of the contradiction apparent in the violent scenes so fascinating to many of the children. Why then, does Tripitaka denounce Monkey's killing of demons?
The Ultimate Message
|Calling up the Cloud Chariot [Source*]|
As Tripitaka would say, let them disappear by themselves, at the appropriate time, merely by correcting our perception of the nature of this world. The taking of life in any form is a violation of the laws of karma, a crime against the universe. There is no justification in Buddhism strong enough for that, and no encouragement should be given to any tendencies which promote slaughter.
|Tripitaka as we know him best [Source*]|
Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy are the latent strengths and weaknesses within that same self; pride, greed, wantonness, and yearning to be something other than what it is. The voyage is the journey through life, its danger as real as ignorance of the true nature of things allows them to be.
It will be a long and difficult pilgrimage, with experience doing most of the teaching, and the wise words of the better self contributing the remainder. Viewed this way, Monkey gives its admirers no more and no less than they are capable of comprehending, but from the youngest to the oldest, they must surely learn some of the essential truths of this very sophisticated religion.
*Modified. Unmodified illustration source: http://www.greatsage.net