revise paper

Hi, do you remember the research paper you wrote for me about the “Journey to the west”.The professor gives back the feedback based on the proposal I provided for him.1. He asked me write more on specific aspects, for example, focus more on the religious aspect in the paper. Also delete the sequel section which makes the paper not concentrated and too scattered.2. He also provided three more resources (attached) for your references.3. And make it to the 12 pages in total.4. I attached the research paper and I made a little revision. Just revise on this paper.Thanks!


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Tracing the textual development: a look into â??Journey to the westâ?
Sun Qiang
Thank you for sending me the updated version of your proposal.
If I understand your proposal correctly, you are going to look at the formation or of
the novel, i.e. to trace down the historical, environmental, and religious origins of the
In theory, it can be a very interesting topic. But because of the sheer scope as well as
the abstract nature of the topic, Iâ??m afraid that you probably will have to summarize
lots of secondary scholarship on the topic and will not be able to have a chance to
discuss the topic in concrete terms.
Keep in mind that other things being equal, a well-focused paper with depth is much
better than a broad and sketchy one.
Perhaps it would be a better idea to focus on only one of the three aspects that you
mentioned in your proposal. Reading the novel from a â??religiousâ? perspective seems
to me a good and workable idea.
You may briefly mention the first two aspects in your introduction, and make it clear
that you are going to focus on only one of three aspects of the novel.
You might want to say something about the religious origin of the novel, that is, how
does the novel come into being from a religious context. Then I would encourage you
to cite a paraphrase or two from the novel (in translation), and do a close reading
analysis of the cited part. Explain and analyze the religious aspect of the text.
I have attached a few articles that you might find useful:
1. Anthony Yu, â??The Formation of Fiction in the â??Journey to the West, â??â?Asia Major,
Vol. 21, No. 1, (2008), pp. 15-44
2. Francisca Cho Bantly, â??Buddhist Allegory in the Journey to the West Author(s)â?
The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 48, No. 3 (1989), pp. 512-524
3. Anthony Yu, â??Two Literary Examples of Religious Pilgrimageâ? History of
Religions, Vol. 22, No. 3 (1983), pp. 202-230.
I think it will turn into a very interesting and promising paper, and I certainly look
forward to reading your draft soon.
Buddhist Allegory in the Journey to the West
Author(s): Francisca Cho Bantly
Source: The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 48, No. 3 (Aug., 1989), pp. 512-524
Published by: Association for Asian Studies
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Buddhist Allegory in the
Journey to the West
THE NARRATIVE RICHNESS of the Chinese Ming (1368-1644) novel known as the
Hsi-yu chi, or The Journey to the West, presents a daunting challenge to the interpreter.
The bewildering array of cultural lore-especially from the three major religious traditions of China (Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism)-is so diverse and boldly
interwoven that it almost appears as “simply furniture thrown in to impress, or mock,
the reader” (Plaks 1977:181). Thus any interpretation faces the danger of exaggerating
the importance of these cultural and religious elements, only to discover that the author
offered them in jest.
Fully recognizing the potential pitfalls of unearthing hidden or systematic patterns
of meaning in the Journey, modern interpreters beginning with Hu Shih at the turn
of the century have tended to accept the novel at its surface narrative level. They
therefore proclaim it to be nothing more than it appears to be: a corking good read.1
More recent scholarship has taken a different tack. C. T. Hsia, for example, is content
to leave the three teachings in a state of “unreconciled tension,” crediting this condition for the stimulating effects of the best of Ming and Ch’ing novels. Recognizing,
however, that this positive valuation of cultural diversity does not amount to an interpretive strategy, Hsia offers up a different principle-“the total acceptance of life
in all its glory and squalor” (1968:21)-as the unifying social reality of the storyteller’s
audience that historically informed the development of the Chinese novel.
Andrew Plaks picks up on a similar. theme of all-encompassing meaning, although
he does this at a different level altogether. What he terms “the intelligibility of the
whole” describes the Chinese religiophilosophical universe and forms the basis for his
theory of Chinese allegory (Plaks 1977). The broader significance of this interpretation
is his contention that the three-teachings rhetoric should be taken seriously: far from
comprising mere literary ornamentation, the religious elements form deliberate and
intelligible patterns of meaning, central to the structure of the novel as a whole.
Scholars such as Hsia and Plaks, then, attempt to exorcise the specter of the redfaced hermeneut by turning the original problem into a solution. The diversity of
religious lore in theJourney no longer poses the problem of meaninglessness; rather, it
offers a special meaning consonant with what modern scholarship has revealed about
the nature of syncretic Ming literati society.
While bearing these points in mind, the body of this article argues that despite
the concrete presence and reflection of a syncretic culture in the novel, the most com-
pelling reading of theJourney is an explicitly Buddhist one. This is perhaps a polemical
Francisca Cho Bantly is a graduate student at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
‘I owe this colorful phrase to New Testament scholar Arthur Droge.
The Journal of Asian Studies 48, no. 3 (August 1989):5 12-24.
? 1989 by the Association for Asian Studies, Inc.
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way of raising the question of why, despite the unequivocally Buddhist theme of the
novel (the journey of five pilgrims to India for the purpose of obtaining Buddhist
scriptures), scholastic interpretations of the Journey have by and large avoided a serious
and thoroughgoing Buddhist reading of its subject. Beyond literary criticism, historical
research on the origins of the Chinese novel by scholars such as Victor Mair, Jaroslav
Prusek, and Glen Dudbridge have positively linked Buddhist sutras to popular tales
and early Chinese fiction. Thus it is curious that even the latest literary interpretations
of theJourney (the work of Plaks is the most prominent example) are still overtly NeoConfucian in orientation. My arguments here attempt to counterbalance this continuing
interpretive trend.
In arguing for a Buddhist interpretation of the Journey, much of my analysis uses
Plaks’s own work as a foil. His new book, Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel, is a
significant contribution to the study of Chinese narrative and destined to become a
classic in the field. The major thrust of his interpretation is a readily identifiable one,
however, which filters the diversity of the three teachings through the “syncretic
breadth of Ming Neo-Confucianism” (Plaks 1987:233), especially as formulated in
the “philosophy of mind” (hsin hsiieh) of the sixteenth century (Plaks 1987:241). This
Neo-Confucian strategy of envelopment not only denies a full-bodied representation of
Buddhist allegory in the novel, but it also (at least in Plaks’s version) challenges the
authenticity of the Buddhist themes present in it. A significant example of this is
Plaks’s dismissal of the spiritual significance of the Journey as a tale of religious pilgrimage. My attempt to counter this view frames the following discussion of Buddhist
allegory in the Journey.
This Buddhist reading of the Journey stems from more than a desire to give the
Buddhist tradition its just representation. My focus is on the integration of Buddhist
concepts into the structure of the novel itself, especially by its literary techniques.
Although the Buddhist doctrine utilized by the story is a standard Mahayana version,
the text embodies these religious tenets in a new way: the familiar concepts of karma,
compassion (karund), emptiness (ffinya), and skillful-means (updya) take the form of
literary figures and plot structure. The successful demonstration of this integration of
doctrine and literary form should lead not only to a convincing plea for a Buddhist
reading of the Journey but also to a deeper appreciation of the technical virtuosity of
the text.
Finally, this integration suggests a fruitful reevaluation of the issue of textual
genres. Can we not say that, because the Journey gives form to the content of Buddhist
teachings, it is itself a religious text? Ultimately, the justifications for this conclusion
are generated by such Buddhist concepts as the insubstantiality of distinctions between
history and fiction or between canon and popular literature. By exploring such issues
in the context of the journey, I hope to raise questions of concern to all religious
communities with a textual tradition and a history of textual criticism.
A proper illumination of Buddhist allegory in theJourney must take into account
Plaks’s general characterization of Chinese allegory. Observing that the foundations of
Western allegory, derived from the Christian tradition, simply do not apply to the
Ming masterworks, he suggests that one difference between China and the West is
rooted in their divergent religiophilosophical traditions. Christianity tends overwhelmingly toward what Plaks terms “ontological dualism” -a vertical disjunction between
evil and good, imperfection and truth, damnation and salvation. This theological reasoning, he points out, is worked out “through the logic of narrative . .. in the sense
that meaning is something higher than, or at least separate from, the configurations
of surface texture alone” (1977:166). The Western tradition of allegory began with
Platonic reflections on cosmic dualism and was then appropriated by the exigencies of
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Christian scriptural analysis. The exegetical tradition in turn reinforced cosmic dualism
by reiterating the ineffability of higher truths, which must then be mediated by the
mundane plane of narrative.
In China, on the other hand, dualism of the radical and ontological kind seems
to be of little philosophical interest. The dualistic structures that do exist-yin and
yang, essence (t’i) and function (yung)-are characterized by their interdependency.
Rather than a system of radical disjunction and the ensuing problem of moving from
one ontological state to the other, we find a “logical interpenetration of latent and
manifest phases of being” (Plaks 1977:169) and a sense of the folly of making ultimate
This observation leads Plaks to a conception of the Chinese universe that forms
the matrix of allegorical meaning: “a universe with neither beginning nor end, neither
eschatological nor teleological purpose, within which all of the conceivable opposites
of sensory and intellectual experience are contained, such that the poles of duality emerge
as complementary within the intelligibility of the whole” (1977:168). Indeed, the
“intelligibility of the whole” provides the locus of allegorical meaning. The vast array
of narrative elements, which seem to mock the reader, can be viewed sensibly only
within “larger patterns and cycles of recurrence that, taken as a whole, bear the meaning
of the work” (1977:168). In this case, allegory is necessary not so much because of
the ineffability of truth as because of the “sheer vastness” of the universe, which
demands a certain economy of expression in order to be comprehensible. Rather than
provide a medium for transcendent truths, an author structures the internal elements
of a text into an intelligible world of meaning.
Although the distinction between Western and Chinese allegory is obvious, Plaks
makes a questionable assumption about a fundamental difference between the two: the
presence in the West and the absence in China of spiritual progress as the subject of
allegorical meaning. Plaks argues for this distinction at the structural level, focusing
on the absence of ontological dualism in the Chinese setting. This dualism, as we
have seen, automatically implies the problematic of moving from one condition (sin
and depravity) to the other (enlightenment and salvation). Thus, movement, or spiritual
progress, is the pivot on which Western allegory turns. The all-encompassing Chinese
universe, on the other hand, renders the notion of progression illogical. Given the lack
of ontological disunities, there is really nowhere to go.
Appropriately, for the discussion of allegory, much of the problematic in the Buddhist Mahayana tradition is concerned with the externalization of salvation into manifest
religious practices and techniques. The hero of theJourney himself, Tripitaka, embodies
this concern as a well-meaning practitioner whose obsession with the outward forms
of piety hinders him from true perception. Thus he cannot recognize the malicious
forces that appear to him in pleasant guises. More important, he cannot see beyond
the appearance of all forms to their innate insubstantiality-a lesson he needs to apply
to his own religious techniques.
The recurring theme of the illusory nature of all phenomena in the novel suggests
the soteriological dilemma that Tripitaka personifies. Here Buddhist soteriology con-
forms well with Plaks’s interpenetrating Chinese universe by pointing to the multiplicity of forms and the problems they present for spiritual progress. The repetitious
encounters with demons and monsters, for example, consistently prove to be false
obstacles in that these creatures are ultimately unreal beings. In addition, standard
Buddhist precepts themselves become spiritual hindrances. Nowhere is this clearer
than at the very beginning of the journey, in chapter 14, when Tripitaka becomes
infuriated with the perspicacious Monkey for unceremoniously slaying the six robbers
who were threatening them. Tripitaka scolds, “How can you be a monk when you
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take life without cause?” (2:308).2 Tripitaka’s mulish adherence to the injunction
against killing is doubly damning here. First, he is blind to the very real menace of
the robbers. Second, this menace is his own shortsightedness, which is embodied in
the robber figures: they are blatant personifications of the six senses, which in the
Buddhist system imbue phenomena with a false sense of substantiality. Tripitaka’s
adherence to the virtue of noninjury only succeeds in blinding him to the deeper nature
of all forms.
Because both the standard religious tenets and the pilgrimage trials lead to de-
lusion, the pilgrimage itself appears as a futile exercise- it would have been better
just to stay at home. But when we apply an overtly Buddhist analysis to this bewildering
universe, we begin to see how the situation actually makes spiritual realization certain
rather than impossible. Such an analysis develops from an altered rendition of the
differences between Chinese polysemous and Christian dualist cosmologies. The distinction is so polarized that it can be approached by way of typologies describing the
continuity or discontinuity of salvation with the cosmos. Christian ontological dualism
opts for the discontinuity of the world, where the really real lies in a distinct, separate
realm from mundane existence. The resulting soteriological struggle, as Plaks has
informed us, is the move from the lower realm into the higher. Buddhist soteriology,
on the other hand, affirms the continuity of the cosmos. Salvation does not lie beyond
in a nether realm; it is merely obscured in the present world. Thus spiritual opacity
inheres in faulty knowledge rather than in ontological bifurcation. Buddhist spiritual
realization is not, however, devoid of existential movement. Because truth cannot save
beings if it remains latent, proper knowledge-even knowledge of a condition already
there for the taking-is soteriologically transforming.
Although Plaks is correct in suggesting that ontological dualism is absent from
the allegory of the Journey, nevertheless epistemological dualism is present. This dis-
tinction is vital to the Buddhist salvational schema. If we do not take its presence into
account, then Plaks’s “interpenetrating Chinese universe” is very bland indeed. The
pilgrims might as well have stayed at home. The problem of how to bridge the episte-
mological gap without violating the ontological reality of nondualism provides the
essential problematic of both Mahayana soteriology and The Journey to the West.
The tantalizingly immanent yet easily concealed quality of Buddhist realization
is often suggested by the language of mind cultivation. As Monkey reminds the pouty
Tripitaka toward the end of their journey, “Seek not afar for Buddha on Spirit Mount;
Mount Spirit lives only in your mind.” Monkey goes on to elaborate: “Maintain your
vigilance with the utmost sincerity, and Thunderclap will be right before your eyes.
But when you afflict yourself like that with fears and troubled thoughts, then the Great
Way and, indeed, Thunderclap seem far away” (4:159).
These lines use images of the simultaneous proximity and remoteness of their
to reveal the vexing dual nature of Buddhist salvation. The images are appropriate
a tale of both allegorical and physical travels that in turn reinforce the primacy
spiritual progress in the novel. Although in Buddhist soteriology the goal of the
itual journey is not external to oneself, the goal of transformation through correct
knowledge is nevertheless pivotal. The virtue of the Journey as a novel is its ability
concretely to demonstrate how this process might work. More specifically, the Buddhist
concept of emptiness frequently adduced from the novel supplies the key tool of interpretation.
2All citations are taken from Anthony C. Yu’s four-volume translation and edition of the
Hsi-yu chi; see Yu 1977-83.
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To perceive properly the subtle workings of the emptine
we must return to the question of the true meaning of the pilgrimage. Plaks chooses
to see the journey as meaningless, citing each pilgrim’s lack of spiritual development
and the anticlimactic finale: “The final irony of the ‘wordless scriptures’ is a rather
transparent joke, unless we choose to emphasize the proverbial desirability of ’empty’
scriptures in Chinese philosophical discourse, in which case the final restoration of the
‘real’ scripture itself further diminishes the ultimate attainment of the quest”
(1987:243). Plaks concludes that the only method of salvaging the pilgrimage narrative
is to internalize it into a “pilgrimage of the mind.” Or, he continues, one can take
the deliberate meaninglessness of the scripture quest as the didactic message “that the
illusion of progress may itself be the greatest impediment to ultimate attainment”
The thrust of Plaks’s analysis reveals his own entanglemen …
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