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Chinese Mythology, Religion and History: Look At The Journey to The West

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  1. Introduction
  2. Considering the historical context
  3. The birth of Sun Wu'kung
  4. Other mythological figures that appear in the book
  5. The religious context of The Journey to the West
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

Often times, there is a distinct line between fact and fiction ? between history and mythology, and even religion. However, in many of China's classic novels this line is blurred to the point of non-existence. A perfect example of this is Wu Cheng'en's The Journey to the West. Wu Cheng'en combined elements of Chinese history and mythology with aspects of the three traditional Chinese religions (Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism) to create a story based on the historical figure Hsüan-tsang and the mythological figure Sun Wu'kung (also known simply as Monkey.)
key words- Hsüan-tsang, Buddhist demonology, Jade Emperor, Chinese Buddhism and Siddh?rtha Gautama

[...] In fact, although the story begins with a simple Buddhist theme, it gradually becomes a ?complex and profound allegory of the process of spiritual cultivation? (Miller, 283) that incorporates all three of the major Chinese religions of the time: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Much of the religious context of The Journey to the West is very straightforward and easy to understand. For example, on more than one occasion Sun Wu'kung actually enters heaven, where he meets various religious figures. Many of these were mentioned as mythological figures, such as the Jade Emperor. [...]


[...] Characters in the story showing that religion affects their day- to-day lives, like this, is evidence that religion is an omnipresent theme in The Journey to the West, The different elements of religion, history and mythology, on their own, can not possibly comprise a book as well-received and celebrated as The Journey to the West. However, the way they have been so superbly combined to create a masterpiece is remarkable. For example, the epic battles sprinkled liberally throughout the story certainly would not be possible without mythological presence. [...]

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