Education is something I care passionately about. I love to learn new things, I love to share the things I learn with others; I feel fortunate to follow a career which allows me to do something I love doing for my job!
Journeys of the mind
These are factors which fit well with IT as my subject domain; computers and the net are great tools to facilitate independent, autonomous learning, the web has made it much easier to participate in distributed communities, both formal and informal, and the interactive, provisional nature of computer based work facilitates an iterative process of development. Enjoyment features highly too in my experience of technology, and my aspirations for IT education.
So, to begin at the beginning. School, I think, took a while to get used to: we were quite an insular family and I think it took me a while to make friends. I remember being frustrated by how easy much school work seemed — my impression is one of purposeful activity rather than new learning, by and large.
I recall working on wonderfully baroque designs and stories, which would extend well beyond the time of a single lesson. Learning beyond the school curriculum became increasingly important to me as I moved up through primary and secondary school, not always to good effect. I suffered somewhat from a butterfly approach, becoming almost obsessively fascinated about with one area or another for a while before moving on to another.
I fear I lacked the self-discipline to pursue a single area with the focus necessary to develop expertise beyond competence. Brown University Chinese literature scholar David Lattimore states: "The Ambassador's confidence was quite unjustified. What the gazetteer says is that Wu wrote something called The Journey to the West.
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It mentions nothing about a novel. The work in question could have been any version of our story, or something else entirely. Translator W. Jenner points out that although Wu had knowledge of Chinese bureaucracy and politics, the novel itself does not include any political details that "a fairly well-read commoner could not have known". Yu states that the identity of the author, as with so many other major works of Chinese fiction, "remains unclear" but that Wu remains "the most likely" author.
Regardless of the origins and authorship, Journey to the West has become the authoritative version of these folk stories,  and Wu's name has become inextricably linked with the book.
Journeys of the Mind - Destinations
The novel Journey to the West was based on historical events. Motivated by the poor quality of Chinese translations of Buddhist scripture at the time, Xuanzang left Chang'an in , in defiance of Emperor Taizong of Tang 's ban on travel. He then crossed what are today Kyrgyzstan , Uzbekistan , and Afghanistan , into Gandhara , reaching India in Xuanzang traveled throughout the Indian subcontinent for the next thirteen years, visiting important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, studying at the ancient university at Nalanda , and debating the rivals of Buddhism. Xuanzang left India in and arrived back in Chang'an in Although he had defied the imperial travel ban when he left, Xuanzang received a warm welcome from Emperor Taizong upon his return.
The emperor provided money and support for Xuanzang's projects. With the support of the emperor, he established an institute at Yuhua Gong Palace of the Lustre of Jade monastery dedicated to translating the scriptures he had brought back.
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His translation and commentary work established him as the founder of the Dharma character school of Buddhism. Xuanzang died on 7 March The Xingjiao Monastery was established in to house his ashes.
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Popular and story-teller versions of Xuanzang's journey dating as far back as the Southern Song dynasty include a monkey character as a protagonist. The novel has chapters that can be divided into four unequal parts. The first part, which includes chapters 1—7, is a self-contained introduction to the main story.
His powers grow to match the forces of all of the Eastern Taoist deities, and the prologue culminates in Sun's rebellion against Heaven, during a time when he garnered a post in the celestial bureaucracy.
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Hubris proves his downfall when the Buddha manages to trap him under a mountain, sealing it with a talisman for five hundred years. The second part chapters 8—12 introduces the nominal main character, Tang Sanzang , through his early biography and the background to his great journey. The third and longest section of the work is chapters 13—99, an episodic adventure story in which Tang Sanzang sets out to bring back Buddhist scriptures from Leiyin Temple on Vulture Peak in India, but encounters various evils along the way.
The section is set in the sparsely populated lands along the Silk Road between China and India, including Xinjiang , Turkestan , and Afghanistan. The geography described in the book is, however, almost entirely fantasy; once Tang Sanzang departs Chang'an , the Tang capital, and crosses the frontier somewhere in Gansu province , he finds himself in a wilderness of deep gorges and tall mountains, inhabited by demons and animal spirits, who regard him as a potential meal since his flesh was believed to give immortality to whoever ate it , with the occasional hidden monastery or royal city-state amidst the harsh setting.
Episodes consist of 1—4 chapters and usually involve Tang Sanzang being captured and having his life threatened while his disciples try to find an ingenious and often violent way of liberating him. Although some of Tang Sanzang's predicaments are political and involve ordinary human beings, they more frequently consist of run-ins with various demons, many of whom turn out to be earthly manifestations of heavenly beings whose sins will be negated by eating the flesh of Tang Sanzang or animal-spirits with enough Taoist spiritual merit to assume semi-human forms.
Chapters 13—22 do not follow this structure precisely, as they introduce Tang Sanzang's disciples, who, inspired or goaded by Guanyin , meet and agree to serve him along the way in order to atone for their sins in their past lives. Chapter 22, where Sha Wujing is introduced, also provides a geographical boundary, as the river that the travelers cross brings them into a new "continent". Chapters 23—86 take place in the wilderness, and consist of 24 episodes of varying length, each characterised by a different magical monster or evil magician.
There are impassably wide rivers, flaming mountains , a kingdom with an all-female population, a lair of seductive spider spirits, and many other fantastic scenarios. Throughout the journey, the four brave disciples have to fend off attacks on their master and teacher Tang Sanzang from various monsters and calamities. Some of the monsters turn out to be escaped celestial beasts belonging to bodhisattvas or Taoist sages and deities. Towards the end of the book there is a scene where the Buddha literally commands the fulfillment of the last disaster, because Tang Sanzang is one short of the 81 tribulations he needs to face before attaining Buddhahood.
In chapter 87, Tang Sanzang finally reaches the borderlands of India, and chapters 87—99 present magical adventures in a somewhat more mundane though still exotic setting. At length, after a pilgrimage said to have taken fourteen years the text actually only provides evidence for nine of those years, but presumably there was room to add additional episodes they arrive at the half-real, half-legendary destination of Vulture Peak , where, in a scene simultaneously mystical and comic, Tang Sanzang receives the scriptures from the living Buddha.
Chapter , the last of all, quickly describes the return journey to the Tang Empire, and the aftermath in which each traveller receives a reward in the form of posts in the bureaucracy of the heavens. He is just called Tripitaka in many English versions of the story. In return, the disciples will receive enlightenment and forgiveness for their sins once the journey is done.
Along the way, they help the local inhabitants by defeating various monsters and demons who try to obtain immortality by eating Tang Xuanzang's flesh. Sun Wukong is the name given to this character by his teacher, Subhuti , the latter part of which means " Awakened to Emptiness " in the Waley translation, Aware-of-Vacuity ; he is called Monkey King.
He is born on Flower Fruit Mountain from a stone egg that forms from an ancient rock created by the coupling of Heaven and Earth. He first distinguishes himself by bravely entering the Water Curtain Cave on the mountain; for this feat, his monkey tribe gives him the title of "Handsome Monkey King". This job is a very low position, and when he realises that he was given a low position and not considered a full-fledged god, he becomes very angry.
Upon returning to his mountain, he puts up a flag and declares himself the "Great Sage Equal to Heaven". Then the Jade Emperor dispatches celestial soldiers to arrest Sun Wukong, but no one succeeds. The Jade Emperor has no choice but to appoint him to be the guardian of the heavenly peach garden.
The peach trees in the garden bear fruit every 3, years, and eating its flesh will bestow immortality, so Sun Wukong eats nearly all of the ripe peaches. Later, after fairies who come to collect peaches for Xi Wangmu 's heavenly peach banquet inform Sun Wukong he is not invited and make fun of him, he starts causing trouble in Heaven and defeats an army of , celestial troops, led by the Four Heavenly Kings , Erlang Shen , and Nezha. Sun Wukong is kept under the mountain for years, and cannot escape because of a seal that was placed on the mountain. He is later set free when Tang Sanzang comes upon him during his pilgrimage and accepts him as a disciple.
His primary weapon is his staff, the " Ruyi Jingu Bang ", which he can shrink down to the size of a needle and keep in his ear, as well as expand it to gigantic proportions. The rod, which weighs 17, pounds, was originally a pillar supporting the undersea palace of the Dragon King of the East Sea , but he was able to pull it out of its support and can swing it with ease. The Dragon King had told Sun Wukong he could have the staff if he could lift it, but was angry when the monkey was actually able to pull it out and accused him of being a thief; hence Sun Wukong was insulted, so he demanded a suit of armour and refused to leave until he received one.
The Dragon King, unwilling to see a monkey making troubles in his favourite place, also gave him a suit of golden armour. These gifts, combined with his devouring of the peaches of immortality, three jars of elixir, and his time being tempered in Laozi 's Eight-Trigram Furnace he gained a steel-hard body and fiery golden eyes that could see very far into the distance and through any disguise. He is therefore always able to recognise a demon in disguise while the rest of the pilgrimage cannot.
However, his eyes become weak to smoke , makes Sun Wukong the strongest member of the pilgrimage by far. Besides these abilities, he can also pluck hairs from his body and blow on them to convert them into whatever he wishes usually clones of himself to gain a numerical advantage in battle. The monkey, nimble and quick-witted, uses these skills to defeat all but the most powerful of demons on the journey. Sun's behavior is checked by a band placed around his head by Guanyin , which cannot be removed by Sun Wukong himself until the journey's end. Tang Sanzang can tighten this band by chanting the "Ring Tightening Mantra" taught to him by Guanyin whenever he needs to chastise him.
Tang Sanzang speaks this mantra quickly in repetition. Sun Wukong's childlike playfulness is a huge contrast to his cunning mind.
This, coupled with his great power, makes him a trickster hero.
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