China’s history and culture impacting Leadership - 2

Journey to the WestThe second example from China’s history for an outstanding leadership can be taken from the novel: Journey to the West. The main character is Sūn Wùkōng, Brother Monkey or Great Sage. The narrative uses a lot of symbolism and is based on the Daoist philosophy. Brother Monkey represents the heart and resides in fire, which is a fifth Daoist element. He was born from a stone and acquired supernatural powers through Daoist practices on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits, which is the source of yīn and yang. The whole settlement and the place represent the Daoist theory of five elements where the other four are: Fruit and Flowers represent wood, Water Curtain where Brother Monkey hides refers to water, Iron-Plated Bridge leading to his camp refers to metal, and Rocky hill refers to earth. 

Water CurtainMonkey is loyal, unafraid, dauntless, cheerful, and a tireless prime fighter, selfless to the point of risk by using potentially destructive powers and dangerous forces, controlled by a Tang priest through the golden band around Monkey’s head. He doesn't care about his prestige or even refer to it except when it helps the cause. In the beginning of Monkey’s career he was a king of the monkeys on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits who rebelled twice against Heaven. After that he is subdued for five hundred years and was saved by a Tang priest with whom he joins and later on parts for a journey to fetch the Buddha scriptures.

Brother Monkey or Great SageThe tale is a long series of adventures, where Monkey has to save a country or a Tang priest from monsters. Most of the journey episodes deal with monsters living in the wilderness. The monsters capture the Tang priest with one of the disciples to be eventually subdued either by Monkey’s power or intelligence. But, the monsters have to be dealt with, if the journey is to continue. Monkey, although having formidable powers, also has limits. Although none of the monsters can kill him, he cannot subdue them only with brute force. Into the play comes another of his talents that turns out to be at least as important as others, if not more. It is his strength, speed and power of transformation—it is his understanding of the ways of human, of the heavenly and demonic worlds.

The essence of the story is not what Monkey can do, but it is the expertise of knowing the right people and knowing how to find out what everybody’s background is that gives him the most power and enables him to beat the monsters. Because of his good deeds at the end of the story, Monkey rises above the world’s troubles as a Buddha. The novel can be summed up in a few words - ‘seek your abandoned heart!’ – a tool of an outstanding leader to embrace people’s interests, knowledge and their abilities.

Continues …

1 comment:

  1. It is his strength, speed and power of transformation—it is his understanding of the ways of human, of the heavenly and demonic worlds. - */S.Y\ The Demonic Understanding of TRANSFORMATION.

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