Discussions of law, art, and contemporary culture tossed together with observations about Waco, Texas.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Trials of Monkey King: self-improvement and the mentor relationship
An odd aspect of "Journey to the West / Monkey King" is that it is a story about Tripitaka's pilgrimage, yet the first 7 chapters are about Monkey. The initial connection the reader forms with Monkey inevitably shapes the later story, like the theme in a Wagnerian opera. Monkey's theme is desire and failure.
At the end of chapter 7, Monkey was finally trapped by Buddha under Five Elements Mountain. Monkey returns to the story in Chapter 14 when he meets Tripitaka. Monkey beseeches Tripitaka to release him from his prison. "Buddha promised me that if I amend my ways and faithfully protect the pilgrim along his journey, I was to be released, and afterwards would finally find salvation." Shortly after being released, Monkey returned to his old ways and abandoned his new master. To assist in Monkey's self-improvement, Tripitaka implemented a magical form of corporal punishment. Eventually, Monkey was "reformed" and achieved enlightenment.
The mentor/mentee relationship, like that between Tripitaka and Monkey, is often imposed in large organizations to help new recruits adjust and succeed in a new environment. Such programs are used at Baylor University for both new students and new faculty. What do you think are key characteristic of a successful mentor/mentee relationship? Is punishment necessary for self-improvement? If "yes", what types of punishment? If "no," why not?