Exploring "Journey to the West" (7)

Chuan Jiang

PureInsight | October 8, 2007


The Three Disciples

Tang Xuanzang's three disciples were Sun Wukong, Zhu Wuneng, and Sha Wujing.

Wukong means enlightening to emptiness. Wuneng means enlightening to capabilities. Wujing means enlightening to cleanliness.


It has been said that many things within the three realms are
incorrect. In Buddhism, everything before enlightenment is false. Human
beings are attached to falsehood due to their limited
perceptions.  Whatever they have seen adds to their speculations,
which can turn into untruth. In cultivation, truthfulness is highly
emphasized. Only if one can let go of the attachment to falsehood, can
one obtain enlightenment and wisdom.

Wukong is in the highest realm. Emptiness and nothingness are terms
from the community of cultivators. When one is empty, one can resist
the worldly temptations and be close to one's true self. Emptiness or
nothingness is a state of mind. When one can let go of all attachments,
one has reached emptiness and can return to one's true self.

Wuneng is in the next realm, not quite empty, where one still wants to
do something. He has many supernormal capabilities. For the ordinary
people, that is incredible, but for cultivators, it is nothing

Wujing's level is the lowest. He cannot reach the state of emptiness
and has no supernormal capabilities. He wants to maintain a clean mind.
For the ordinary people, it is very good indeed to have a selfless

Therefore, these three names represent different cultivation levels and
states. Whenever Tang Xuanzang encountered a demon, Wukong could defeat
the demon and Wuneng could help. Wujing could only faithfully follow.
As a result, he and Xuanzang were most likely to be captured by the

*"Journey to the West" is a
classic novel of Chinese mythology. The Buddhist monk Tang Xuanzang and
his three disciples went to India to obtain the Buddhist Scriptures. On
the surface, it is a novel about the adventures of a monkey with
unsurpassed supernormal capabilities battling demons of all sorts.
Underneath, it is a story about cultivation and tells the attachments
that cultivators have to overcome one by one.

Translated from:


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