‘The Monkey King 2’ is YET another creative retelling of ‘Journey To The West’. Even though such films tend to detour much from the original novel’s storyline, since it is in essence a spiritual quest, albeit with many colourful physical subplots, most adaptations still have some lessons to offer.
Despite fears of dangers in retrieving the Buddhist scriptures, the quest is undertaken as the sutras were too valuable to miss. Of course, the sutras represent truth, teachings that lead to liberation. If this journey is not taken, there would still be recurring existential fears. Even with supernormal powers and enlightened assistance, journeying was needed to clear negative karma by overcoming obstacles, and to create merits to deserve the ‘treasure’.
The arduous journey which requires a great deal of selflessness to cross ‘a thousand mountains and ten thousand rivers’ is really a pilgrimage to overcome self-centredness. Ironically, though we have ease of access to many sutras via the Internet today, such convenience lessens our cherishing of the Dharma, while we forget how even short sutras were difficult to come by in ancient times. This becomes our modern-day obstacle from truly reaching the truths in the sutras, with them physically so close yet so spiritually far!
On deluded demonisation versus naming the actual demons… If others are wrongly seen as demons by us, are we not the demons too then, for demonising them? They might totally be non-demons, or at least not as demonic as imagined. Yet, some really might be demons, as recognised by those with clearer vision than us. Never demonise those who sincerely warn!
The disciples of ‘Master Xuanzang’ (who personifies Buddha-nature) were initially demon-like too, representing the Three Poisons of greed (Pigsy), hatred (Sandy) and delusion (Wukong). (Which character resembles you most?) Realising their Buddha-nature amidst the struggle against many inner and outer demons, they overcame their illusory ‘demon-nature’ to recognise the Buddha-nature in others too. Such is essential on the way to Buddhahood.