Transcribed (with 1 slight alteration) above is what you will hear in the introduction of a TV show from the late 70s called Monkey. Much of the show is summarised in the introduction. My Dad first showed me this show when I was 8. I loved this show at the time for it was very exciting. The show has lots of action. There are no guns in Monkey; the 'place was like ancient China' after all. The action consisted of choreographed fighting with spears, swords, and who can forget, Monkey's magic staff that could shrink so small that he could conceal it in his ear, and extend to a size suitable for a giant. 10 years later I obtained both series 1&2 on DVD. It's interesting re-watching it as an 18 year old. I've noticed that the English dubbing, while not terrible, is far from spectacular. The show can be a bit silly at times, but that doesn't spoil it for me. Monkey has more philosophical teachings than any other television show or movie that I know of. These teachings are primarily coming from Buddha, and are interweaved in the story as well as verbalised by the narrator.
The plot is very much based off the classical novel Journey to the West. Monkey, whom refers to himself as "King Monkey, the Great Sage, the Equal of Heaven", was summoned to Heaven for doing too much fighting and being too noisy on Earth. After breaking Heavens most sacred law of eating all the fruit from the tree of life, the Buddha created a stone mountain and imprisoned Monkey inside it as punishment. Pigsy and Sandy were offices in the grand army of Heaven. Sandy was exiled to Earth as the spirit of a fish for his carelessness and selfishness. Pigsy was exiled to earth for his greed, and thus became the spirit of a pig. 500 years later, Buddha assigned a young Buddhist priest named Tripitaka, who had little experience in practical affairs but was so holy that he even prayed at the death bed of the man who murdered his farther, to find Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy, and begin a pilgrimage quest of redemption. They were to travel on foot from China westward, to the far off land of India. There they would retrieve sacred scrolls and take them back to Beijing. Once this quest was completed, Monkey will be granted his freedom and Pigsy and Sandy will be granted gateway back to Heaven.
This show is cram packed with eastern philosophy and spiritual teachings, particularly the teachings of Buddha. Transcribed below are some of the shows teachings that I personally found most engaging.
"A man may waste a lifetime growing rich or gaining power. What is a life that's not wasted? Perhaps one in which we learn a little."
Experiences in life are what helps us to develop as humans. What would be the point of living if you were to experience nothing? If you are learning from your time on this Earth, then you are living a life of great value.
"Sometimes, to make the stupid grow, discipline is essential."
It took me some time to realise that discipline is sometimes required to help people grow. I suppose that's why people hire personal trainers. They are not disciplined themselves so they pay someone else for the installation of discipline.
"The wrong in stealing something as useless as jewels is less that they belong to someone else and more that you offend against yourself by craving them at all."
To do something such as steeling jewels shows a lack of spirituality, a lack of inner growth. Jewels are materials. The ego craves materials, not the pure self. Put simply, this teaching ask's: if you feel compelled to steal things, how spiritual are you? How much have you really grown?
"If it is love that holds so many different people together, there are surely many kinds of love. Which is right and which is wrong? Is a rose better than a daffodil? Of all the loves, the first love is self. Until you learn to love yourself, you cannot learn to love one another. We are all much more than we think, but, are we perfect? It is necessary for us to change and grow. There is a right time for this, neither too early nor too late. That time is now."
I really love this quote. It summarises a large portion of the human journey of self discovery. That the concept of good and bad is not the reality, it is the perceived reality. That we first must learn to love our selves before we can share love with others. That we often don't realise our own potential. What is self perfection? That we must change throughout our lives. It is impossible not to do so. That the time of change is now. In the past, it was now. In the future, it will be the now for then. Now it is now.
"We are all much more than we know. We are all Buddha. But we live by illusions and only see through our senses. So we cannot know how much we are. No one can know himself. There for people will live behind many masks and control themselves by many names. When all that matters is the effect we have on others, thus even a monster may want to be kind, friendly and gentle."
This quote serves it's context, episode 43 Such a Nice Monster, very well. It is difficult to explain what it means outside of the context of the story. But as I interpret it; every human being on this Earth has the potential to be as awakened as Buddha. We live by illusions. The illusions that humanity has created such as nationality. We see and analyse through our bodily sensors, but don't often think holistically. The result is a sense of self separation from nature, from the universe. There for people often live behind many masks and control themselves by many names, for example; believing that ones occupation defines who they are. When all that matters is the effect we have on others, thus even a monster [the stories un-literal analogy for an unenlightened person] may want to be kind, friendly and gentle.
"Monsters are illusions created inside ourselves."
I interpret the monster as the uncontrolled ego. Trees have no ego; well, as far as I know. Water has no ego. Rocks have no ego. It seems to only exist inside ourselves, thus we must control it and prevent it from consuming us and turning us into monsters ourselves.
"Illumination means to give up all knowledge of your own ego."
Illumination, self actualisation and enlightenment are the same thing. When someone is enlightened, his ego is no longer in control. If an individual is controlled by his ego, he is not illuminated, he is in darkness.
"Take care what you think. Only the ululant can know reality. Wanting nothing from the world they are still here with everyone and less certain than we. Take care what you do. All the harm that is done in the world, is done because someone is certain of something. It is sometimes better to follow the sign posts than to lose yourself making new paths. There is a path, give up certainty, try to do good and good will be done."
The path that you take in life is beautiful and at the same time, must be treaded with cortion. To be certain of something is to not have a completely open mind. It's important to keep an open mind. I find that doing so helps to maintain emotional balance in life.
"Feelings are important and it is wrong to neglect them. But feelings are only a part of us. They can be masted, or the tale can wag the dog. Sometimes people are as different as ice and fire come together. Why not? A fire will burn on ice, if one is strong and the other is firm enough."
Act on your emotions my friend. But never react to your emotions. It's kind of like something Bruce Lee once said. If you are completely about emotions in regards to ones martial expression, you'd be like some sort of animal. On the other hand, if your martial expression is strictly logical, you'd be like some sort of mechanical man. A Martial Artist combines the two and achieves balance. People's motives are backed by emotions and they must be consciously aware about how they express them. This is because if one reacts on his emotions, he could get into all sorts of trouble. Emotions should be expressed, but with a certain degree of control. Again, it's a balance.
"When a little fox comes to cross a frozen lake he is very careful. He tests the ice and walks quickly and lightly all the way across. When the pilgrims are close to India, will the little fox stop before the end and fall through the ice?"
This one makes me think of giving something one's full dedication. Kind of like choosing to walk on one side of the road or the other. If you walk in the middle, you might get squashed like a grape or in the foxes case, fall through the ice.
"Happiness is nothing you can take or own. Few know this. Thus people cannot live together without laws, and laws can sometimes be harsh. But however gentle the judge, he must be harsh when the laws demand or the laws will not work. This is so even for the Buddha. Even for the Buddha in us all."
We must have discipline within ourselves to control our ego if we are to walk the path of a sage.
"Sometimes fighting evil only strengthens it, while gentleness can transform it into good. The further Buddha does not judge, we judge ourselves, and this is difficult to do. It is difficult because we will stand on our heads to feel we are right. It is dangerous because we know we must be wrong and we are angry with ourselves. The difficult and the dangerous are no different from everything else in the universe. They must be faced with strength and gentleness together. There are no extremes that are right. There is only one way and it is in the middle."
An equivalent way of saying the first sentence is "Fighting Yang with Yang only strengthens it like adding fuel to a fire. Adding Yin to the Yang can transform it into good as it restores balance." I haven't come across a teaching saying that the balance of the YinYang is not the way.
"The blows of life transform us. Life will give us many forms. After Heaven and Earth exist, individuals develop to fill a space in between. The birth is always difficult. We all need help to change and grow, and what if there is no help? No failure is for ever. There is always change and a new beginning."
The first sentence reminds me that a man is the sum of his own memories. The present is always a new beginning. That is why it is a gift.
These teachings were not taken from a book. They were taken from this television show. It's not often I can say that. If you wish to explore Monkey further, click/touch here to take a look at The Complete First Series of Monkey. If you want to view series 1 in order, I recommend viewing episode 1: Monkey Goes Wild about Heaven.
I'd also like to share with you 2 of my favourite episodes - the episodes I recommend the most. The teachings in these 2 stories are very pliable to life.
Monkey isn't the most well known show. It does however, have valuable teachings that can help people attain higher levels so spirituality. I made this post to raise an awareness of this. There is more that can be dissected from the teachings I transcribed, so if you pick up on anything or if any of these teachings bear relevance in your life, please do let me know. If you end up taking a look at any of the 2 episodes that I've directly shared or if you've taken a look at the first series of Monkey, I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on it.