The Monk, The Monkey God and a Video Game Called Dragon Ball Z
Using animation and other modern tools to revive an oft forgotten religion called humanity
It is 16th century China. During the reign of the Ming dynasty, Wu Cheng’ en writes a masterpiece Journey To The West. The legend represents one of the four great novels of classical Chinese literature. The book describes the journey of a monk Xuanzang who travels westwards towards India in search of Buddhist scriptures. He is said to have been accompanied by a powerful monkey god called Sun Wokung.
What is striking is the influence of the monkey god Hanumana ( a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana) on the characterization of Sun Wokung.
The Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic. Some estimate it to be written around 500 years BCE. Others put its age around 1800 years BCE with its main protagonist Rama considered to have lived around 7000 years BCE.
Fast forward to the twentieth century, a Japanese anime series Dragon Ball created by Akira Toriyama (1988–1995) contains a character Son Goku. Son Goku is based on Sun Wokung who in turn is considered to be influenced by Hanumana. Is it hard to imagine three icons of heroism in three different countries i.e. China, India and Japan connected by a single strand. In addition, Buddhism had a prominent influence on all three continents.
One can observe such parallels in western mythology also. Every Roman god has a corresponding representation in Greek mythology. For instance the Roman god Mars is identified with the Greek god Ares.
Ancient Norse mythology talks about Thor, god of thunder. Thor wields a hammer called Mjolnir. There is a striking similarity between Mjolnir and Hanumans weapon the Gada (mace) in terms of symbolism. While some religions shun idolatory, being human is always emphasized in all religions.
Ancient clues beg the question: Is there a single common thread binding all world cultures, civilizations and citizens of earth?
Is the world one giant jigsaw puzzle waiting to be glued together just like a modern day Gondwanaland.
There certainly is a single link and that link is called humanity. Certain concepts are universally accepted and are as old as the human race itself. Chief amongst them is humanity.
There is a need to catch children while they are young. The ability to write software code is considered important to competence in the new world order. However, I would argue that nothing needs to be ingrained in the minds of children more than the edict of humanity. The survival of the human race could very well depend on an education in humanity.
In 1992, Yugo Sako directed an Indo-Japanese traditional animated film called Ramayana which was a beautiful representation of Ramayana in animated form. Films such as these could spur appreciation of other cultures and could foster a sense of a common identity.
Philanthropy needs to be directed towards subsidizing primary education for underprivileged children across the world. Technology can help defray costs and bring in efficiencies.
A global collective think tank (which can be an open source organization) devoted to creation of content that espouses and spreads the message of humanity through music, animation, mobile applications, artificial intelligence could be a welcome beginning.
Imagine if outstanding animators such as Studio Ghibli (Japan) and Neil Gaiman could combine creative forces to make humanistic education fun and accessible to young children. Modern media, including social media, needs to broadcast humanistic content through interactive and fun programming.
An articulation of the code of humanity: Leaders across the world need to collaborate and create a definitive document that espouses the religion of humanity. This document called the Book of Humanity should be a constitution that defines human behavior.
Formal education in humanity is a must. Messages could be direct or subliminal. But, a global collaboration towards a single agreed upon textbook is needed to standardize content.
The solutions discussed above might sound esoteric, impractical and generic. However, there is a need to begin discussions on solutions instead of highlighting issues and fractures in society.
As much as a lot of the thinking above can be considered wishful thinking, it could also be viewed as a call to action to collect a list of ingredients for a recipe called survival and growth.
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