Wukong’s Dilemma


In the famous Chinese novel The Journey West a mischievous monkey named Sun Wukong turns the heavenly kingdom upside down. As punishment, he is banished and forced to live fused to a mountain, immovable, forever. After 500 years, he is released so that he can accompany Tang Xuan(san)zang eastward in order to procure numerous sacred writings. However, he isn’t granted total freedom. Instead, a golden band is placed around his head. Whenever he misbehaves, his master, Xuanzang, will recite a mantra and the band will immediately tighten, causing Wukong excruciating pain. Because of this, Wukong must “be good”.

So what is Wukong’s dilemma?

Personally speaking, Wukong seems to be a very appropriate personification of Buddhism, a system of religious thought that requires its adherents to live in conformity to the rules laid down by its founder and later “masters” — or else. Because of particular teachings, like karma, reincarnation, and a vast array of “hells”, the motives of even the most genuine adherents become suspect to accusations of selfishness and self-interest. That is, you do good things to increase your karma so that you can escape this “nightmare” called life. You avoid doing bad things so that you will not be punished in one of the numerous hells (Naraka) accordingly.

So, Wukong’s dilemma could be summed up in a single question: Is Wukong serving his master out of genuine affection or fear of punishment? For that matter, are people executing religious duties out of a sincere heart or fear of punishment and retribution?

What are your thoughts? What is your motivation, fear or love?

Sun Wukong

Wukong’s Dilemma


Christianity and Economic Success?


A scholar suggests that the China government credits Christianity for the economic success of Western nations:

God, China, & Capitalism: Is Christianity in China the Key Ingredient for Economic Success? [MP3]

Scholar: China Notices Link Between Christianity, U.S. Economic Success [online article]

Discussion Questions

1) What do you think about the claim that Christianity is responsible for the economic success of Western nations? How could it be evidenced?

2) Was the original intent of the founders / leaders of Western nations economic success?

3) If the original intent of the founders / leaders of Western nations was not economic success, what could be the hidden dangers of approaching Christianity as a tool for economic success?

4) Why would the Chinese government fear that Christianity could be an ingredient for economic success, but may also be the ingredient to overthrow the government itself? Is Christianity inherently anti-government? Explain.

Thank you,


A Buddhist’s Objections to Christianity


Below is a translation I did of a posting made by a Buddhist on an Internet message board. (A link to the original post in Mandarin is at the bottom for you other Sinologists to critique the translation, if necessary.) Here is what an objection to Christianity by an average Buddhist might sound like:

A Refutation of the Article “How to Share the Gospel with Buddhists”

When I read “How to Share the Gospel with Buddhists” recently I was totally disappointed.


It’s because some Christians use the name of Jesus to go to “heathen” places and people to preach and continually destroy other people’s religious freedom and peace. Have you seen other religions going to “heathen” places and people to preach? As it is, only Christians go about destroying the religious freedom and peace!

A true Buddhist would never accept any other evil, foreign “truth”, but would instead learn the truth about life and the world from Buddha. So, the benefits of being a Buddhist far outnumber a Christian’s. Why keep trying to coerce other people to leave Buddhism? Is it that the more you preach, the more protection you get from Jesus Christ?

And actually Christianity doesn’t abide by the five precepts of Buddhism at all.

1) Don’t kill. (YHWH massacred innocent people.)
2) Don’t steal. (The Bible has stolen all the works of ancient and modern sages and integrated them into itself.)
3) Don’t engage in improper sexual conduct. (Passages in The Bible have a lot of obscene things in them.)
4) Don’t make false statements. (Some Christians use the name of Jesus to go to “heathen” people and places to praise the “greatness of the Lord”.)
5) Don’t drink wine or alcohol. (The Bible doesn’t advocate that people not drink wine.)

So, how in the world can a religion that is not better than Buddhism have the right to say that Buddhism is wrong, or contradicts this-and-that, or it’s nonsense?

Though I’m not trying to attack Christianity, after seeing how some Christians use the name of Jesus to go to “heathen” people and places to preach, I feel lucky to have never “believed in the Lord”!

Well, I hope that everybody can understand all of the truth, reject Christianity, and become rational, accomplished people!

source: http://bbs.qoos.com/thread-1375628-1-19.html

I haven’t personally read the article that the post’s author refers to, “How to Share the Gospel with Buddhists”, because there is more than one with the same name online. Have you? It would be interesting to see what methods they suggest and whether or not those methods have been practiced in the real world of people (and their results). However, let me pose questions to you, the reader, for your consideration. (Please feel free to add your own.)

Questions to Consider

1) Do Christians merely “go to ‘heathen’ places and people to preach”? Or have they, in fact, done much more than that, historically speaking?

For example, how many hospitals, schools, and orphanages have been started by Christians who, when encountering suffering in life didn’t just throw their hands up and resign from the world, but, instead, went about to be part of the solution to that suffering that even Buddhists rightly noticed?

2) Does Christianity really destroy “religious freedom and peace”? What are some examples, if any?

3) How can someone learn about “life” from any monk, who, by definition, is someone who retires from the real world to live in solitude from it?

4) Do genuine Christians try to “coerce” people to leave Buddhism?

5) What part does the individual’s decision play in conversion?

6) Who thought up the 5 Precepts of Buddhism and why should I listen to them?

7) Why stop at just 5 when you’ve got 8 precepts and 10 precepts and some more strict sects have thousands of rules to follow? (Different Buddhist sects have their own lists.)

8) The original author uses the phrase “all of the truth” (Mandarin: 「一切的真理」) in his closing sentence. What if that “truth” excludes the claims of Buddha, but establishes the claims of Jesus?

9) What are the benefits of being a Buddhist?

10) Do those benefits really amount to benefits?

11) What motivation does a Buddhist have for following the 5, 8, 10 or more precepts of Buddhism? Are not they, in the final analysis, merely selfish?

A Few Thoughts

The Bible, in fact, does not prohibit drinking wine, but it does speak out against drunkenness (Luke 21:34; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10; Gal 5:21; Eph. 5:18; 1 Tim. 3:2–3; Tit. 1:7–8; 2:2–3). The Bible does have a lot of obscene things in it. The same is true of the evening news. A person can’t make a genuine record of humanity without recording the obscene the infects it.

If you’re a practicing Buddhist of any branch, feel free to share your thoughts.

If you’re a Christian, how would you approach someone with the reaction above?

Thank you,


The Purpose

What makes this or that person tick? Why believe this over that? How does Buddhism compare to Christianity? Perhaps more importantly, how does Buddha compare to Jesus? Did Buddha ever exist? Is it an “either or”? Why or why not? What was Confucius ultimately getting at? If so, what does that mean in the great scheme of things? How do Far Eastern religions view evidence? Where’s the line where evidence ends and faith begins? Can faith exist without evidence?

Those are thoughts that motivate me. And since it seems that the attitude of a successful apologist is that he or she genuinely cares about the people who are the aim of their efforts, it’s only right to investigate, compare, contrast, debate, and learn from the teachings that they hold dear. And, indeed, that’s why I have set up this small blog and will be posting content to it: to help me understand the religious thoughtlife of the people who I encounter on a daily basis living in the Far East. Yet, ultimately, I aim to show how that through all the religious traditions and the superstitious mire that taints the history of the nations of the Far East, God has not left Himself without a witness. Yes, that witness is a lone, dim lantern, but it still shines. He has never forgotten about its people either. In fact, the facts might just show they are an intricate part of His Plan.

Here I’ll be posting exclusive translations and tidbits on these subjects for your consideration. You’ll hear from the frontline — from Buddhists, Daoists, and others of all degrees of sincerity and how they relate and/or compare with the claims of Jesus and Christianity.

Welcome! Let’s learn together…

Joshua Warren

editor / translator Red Lantern Resources