256*
* ” ESHU … The Monkey King” … 
Sun Wukong 
… was hatched from a magical egg on a mountain top, which had been weathered and fertilised by the elements over many centuries. Made of stone and virtually indestructible (although he still feels pain), he was crowned the Monkey King after he proved to be the only monkey on the Mountain of Fruit and Flowers to dare go through the Water Curtain and set up a kingdom on Earth. … He is immortal, having gorged himself on the life-giving peaches of the Jade Emperor’s sacred garden. He is also extremely smart - he learned all the magic tricks in the world from a master Taoist, so that he is now able to transform himself into seventy-two different images such as a tree, a bird, a beast of prey or a bug as small as a mosquito so as to sneak into an enemy’s belly to fight him inside or out. He can employ clouds as vehicles allowing him to travel 180,000 miles in a single somersault. He uses a Wishing Staff he got from the Dragon Kings of the Oceans as his favorite weapon - it can expand or shrink at its owner’s command (he normally stores it in his earlobe). He can turns clumps of his hair into any object he desires …[and]… can see through most illusions …
The combination of Monkey’s Taoist skills, the Peaches of Immortality, the Wine of Heaven, the food and the five bowls full of the Elixir of Long Life he consumed, had made him truly indestructible. Even when Lao Tsu put him into his Crucible of the Eight Trigrams and heated him with alchemic fire for 49 days, the only effect it had was to make Monkey’s eyes permanently red. Monkey escaped and … demanded the title “Great Sage - Equal of Heaven” - which he got (but with no salary to go with it) as it was decided the easiest way to contain his mischief was to trick him into staying in Heaven …
At this point the Buddha intervened. The Buddha made a wager with Monkey, betting him that he could not jump out of Buddha’s hand. Should Monkey win, he demanded the Jade Emperor’s job; should he lose, then he would be banished to Earth for centuries to learn some humility.
Monkey cloud-flew to the end of the universe, where he saw five pink pillars, which he took to be the end of the world. On the middle pillar he wrote “The Great Sage Equal of Heaven reached this place”, to prove beyond any doubt he had reached this spot … he also urinated at the base of the first pillar. Then he returned to face the Buddha. To his shock, the Buddha informed him he had never left Buddha’s hand - and to prove it, showed Monkey the writing on his middle finger and the distinctive smell at the bottom of his smallest digit. … Buddha pushed him out of the Gate of Heaven, then Buddha changed his five fingers into the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth). They became the five-peaked mountain under which Monkey was trapped, leaving only his head and hands exposed. After 500 years he was granted a chance to redeem himself by accompanying holy man Tripitaka on a journey to the West as his companion and guard. In order to keep him under control, a band of metal was put on his head that Tripitaka could cause to tighten by muttering a chant - while this couldn’t hurt the indestructible imp, it would cause him extreme pain. …
The story of the Monkey King was recorded in the epic tale “Journey to the West” by Wu Ch’eng-en (1500?-1582), a scholar-official. It is one of the best known classical Chinese novels, replete with Chinese fables, fairy tables, legends, superstitions, popular beliefs and monster stories. It was based on a true story of a famous Chinese monk, Xuan Zang (602-664). Over the space of many years he made his way on foot to what is today India, birthplace of Buddhism, where he sought the Sutra, the Buddhist holy book. On his return to China, known at that time as the Great Tang, he began to translate the sutras into Chinese, making a significant contribution to the development of Buddhism in China. …”.
"… According to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (head of Harvard’s African American Studies program), the Signifying Monkey is a trickster figure of Yoruba mythology (Esu-Elegbara in Nigeria and Legaba among the Fon in Dahomey), who became Exu in Brazil, Echu-Elegua in Cuba, PapaLegba in the pantheon of the loa of Vaudou in Haiti, and Papa La Bas in the loa of Hoodoo in the United States). …”.
"… the Yoruba deity Eshu-Elegbara (or Eshu for short), perhaps the world’s most sophisticated Trickster figure … a very similar figure, Legba, exists among the Fon in neighboring Benin … He is … one of the orisha… While he embodies many obvious trickster elements— deceit, humor, lawlessness, sexuality—Eshu-Elegbara is also the god of communication and spiritual language. He is the gatekeeper between the realms of man and gods, the tangled lines of force that make up the cosmic interface, and his sign is the crossroads. … Eshu has a subtle and complex relationship with the Yoruba (and, subsequently, Fon) system of divination, Ifa. The process of the divination itself is eerily similar to that of the I Ching: The babalawo, or diviner, quickly passes sixteen palm nuts between his hands, and depending on how many are left, he draws either a broken or solid line in powder. He … draws two groups of four lines each to create one of 256 possible patterns. … In Haiti and Cuba, Legba is not the devil, but is syncretized with other saints, particularly St. Anthony, St. Lazarus (who is old and walks with a cane), and, sometimes St. Peter, the gate-keeper. Again, these correspondences are not fixed in stone, but seem to mutate as the context of the world changes. … In his book Count Zero , science fiction writer William Gibson put the orisha in the heart of cyberspace, his computer-generated astral data plane, and it worked far better than any hoary Egyptian deity or Irish fairy would have. Gibson, who tossed in those gods when he was bored with his book and happened to open a National Geographic article on voodoo, told me in an interview that he felt “real lucky, because it seemed to me that the original African religious impulse really lends itself much more to a computer world than anything in Western religion…It almost seems as though those religions are dealing with artificial intelligence.”. Gibson also pointed out how similarvévés are to printed circuits. …”.

* ” ESHU … The Monkey King” …

Sun Wukong

… was hatched from a magical egg on a mountain top, which had been weathered and fertilised by the elements over many centuries. Made of stone and virtually indestructible (although he still feels pain), he was crowned the Monkey King after he proved to be the only monkey on the Mountain of Fruit and Flowers to dare go through the Water Curtain and set up a kingdom on Earth. … He is immortal, having gorged himself on the life-giving peaches of the Jade Emperor’s sacred garden. He is also extremely smart - he learned all the magic tricks in the world from a master Taoist, so that he is now able to transform himself into seventy-two different images such as a tree, a bird, a beast of prey or a bug as small as a mosquito so as to sneak into an enemy’s belly to fight him inside or out. He can employ clouds as vehicles allowing him to travel 180,000 miles in a single somersault. He uses a Wishing Staff he got from the Dragon Kings of the Oceans as his favorite weapon - it can expand or shrink at its owner’s command (he normally stores it in his earlobe). He can turns clumps of his hair into any object he desires …[and]… can see through most illusions …

The combination of Monkey’s Taoist skills, the Peaches of Immortality, the Wine of Heaven, the food and the five bowls full of the Elixir of Long Life he consumed, had made him truly indestructible. Even when Lao Tsu put him into his Crucible of the Eight Trigrams and heated him with alchemic fire for 49 days, the only effect it had was to make Monkey’s eyes permanently red. Monkey escaped and … demanded the title “Great Sage - Equal of Heaven” - which he got (but with no salary to go with it) as it was decided the easiest way to contain his mischief was to trick him into staying in Heaven …

At this point the Buddha intervened. The Buddha made a wager with Monkey, betting him that he could not jump out of Buddha’s hand. Should Monkey win, he demanded the Jade Emperor’s job; should he lose, then he would be banished to Earth for centuries to learn some humility.

Monkey cloud-flew to the end of the universe, where he saw five pink pillars, which he took to be the end of the world. On the middle pillar he wrote “The Great Sage Equal of Heaven reached this place”, to prove beyond any doubt he had reached this spot … he also urinated at the base of the first pillar. Then he returned to face the Buddha. To his shock, the Buddha informed him he had never left Buddha’s hand - and to prove it, showed Monkey the writing on his middle finger and the distinctive smell at the bottom of his smallest digit. … Buddha pushed him out of the Gate of Heaven, then Buddha changed his five fingers into the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth). They became the five-peaked mountain under which Monkey was trapped, leaving only his head and hands exposed. After 500 years he was granted a chance to redeem himself by accompanying holy man Tripitaka on a journey to the West as his companion and guard. In order to keep him under control, a band of metal was put on his head that Tripitaka could cause to tighten by muttering a chant - while this couldn’t hurt the indestructible imp, it would cause him extreme pain. …

The story of the Monkey King was recorded in the epic tale “Journey to the West” by Wu Ch’eng-en (1500?-1582), a scholar-official. It is one of the best known classical Chinese novels, replete with Chinese fables, fairy tables, legends, superstitions, popular beliefs and monster stories. It was based on a true story of a famous Chinese monk, Xuan Zang (602-664). Over the space of many years he made his way on foot to what is today India, birthplace of Buddhism, where he sought the Sutra, the Buddhist holy book. On his return to China, known at that time as the Great Tang, he began to translate the sutras into Chinese, making a significant contribution to the development of Buddhism in China. …”.

"… According to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (head of Harvard’s African American Studies program), the Signifying Monkey is a trickster figure of Yoruba mythology (Esu-Elegbara in Nigeria and Legaba among the Fon in Dahomey), who became Exu in Brazil, Echu-Elegua in Cuba, PapaLegba in the pantheon of the loa of Vaudou in Haiti, and Papa La Bas in the loa of Hoodoo in the United States). …”.

"… the Yoruba deity Eshu-Elegbara (or Eshu for short), perhaps the world’s most sophisticated Trickster figure … a very similar figure, Legba, exists among the Fon in neighboring Benin … He is … one of the orisha… While he embodies many obvious trickster elements— deceit, humor, lawlessness, sexuality—Eshu-Elegbara is also the god of communication and spiritual language. He is the gatekeeper between the realms of man and gods, the tangled lines of force that make up the cosmic interface, and his sign is the crossroads. … Eshu has a subtle and complex relationship with the Yoruba (and, subsequently, Fon) system of divination, Ifa. The process of the divination itself is eerily similar to that of the I Ching: The babalawo, or diviner, quickly passes sixteen palm nuts between his hands, and depending on how many are left, he draws either a broken or solid line in powder. He … draws two groups of four lines each to create one of 256 possible patterns. … In Haiti and Cuba, Legba is not the devil, but is syncretized with other saints, particularly St. Anthony, St. Lazarus (who is old and walks with a cane), and, sometimes St. Peter, the gate-keeper. Again, these correspondences are not fixed in stone, but seem to mutate as the context of the world changes. … In his book Count Zero , science fiction writer William Gibson put the orisha in the heart of cyberspace, his computer-generated astral data plane, and it worked far better than any hoary Egyptian deity or Irish fairy would have. Gibson, who tossed in those gods when he was bored with his book and happened to open a National Geographic article on voodoo, told me in an interview that he felt “real lucky, because it seemed to me that the original African religious impulse really lends itself much more to a computer world than anything in Western religion…It almost seems as though those religions are dealing with artificial intelligence.”. Gibson also pointed out how similarvévés are to printed circuits. …”.











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