Chinese Heaven .:. Immortals
The Chinese Heaven is very different from the Western conception of Heaven. There
are no choirs of angels and heavenly light, although even is still a place of beauty and
elegance it's important to remember that the Chinese Heaven is modeled after the
government on earth. The Jade Emperor is considered to be the perfect counterpart of
the Chinese Emperor on earth. Furthermore every position in the government on earth
is mimicked by a similar position in heaven. So if there's a Minister of Finance on
Earth than there is one in Heaven. Although the Chinese Heaven is supposed to
be a perfect place it is just as despotic and cruel as the one on earth. Alchemists who
were considering becoming heavenly immortals had to be sure to secure a large quantity of
gold so that they could bribe their way into a good position within the beaurocracy.
Hell is the same way. It is through kings, guards, clerks that Monkey
has to fight in order to erase his name from the records of the Underworld.
One wrong step or insult could earn you a great punishment. Take both Pig and
Sand Monk. They were both kicked out of Heaven and then sentenced to cruel
punishements. The Sand Monk was sent to earth and kept in misery by a sword that was
sent by the Jade Emperor to peirce his chest a hundred time severy day. His crime?
He broke a single jade cup while at a feast. Pig's crime? He hit
on the Moon Goddess. Even the Tang Monk wasn't immune to heavenly wrath. The
whole story is centered around how the Tang Monk is the reincarnation of the Golden
Cicadia, but do you know why this holy heavenly creature is down on earth? He feel
asleep during one of the Buddha's lectures.
Some of the monsters and demons that we meet in Journey to the West are actually
fugitives from this heavenly place. Many of the demons only submit to being
captured because otherwise they would be killed and all of them have been striving for
thousands of years to attain longevity and wealth.
Chinese people don't usually pray directly to the Jade Emperor. They make
their complaints or needs known to lesser gods who would either take action themselves or
take the suit of the petitioner to the Jade Emperor for them. Monkey is brave
enough to make his petition directly known to the Jade Emperor, but even he needs to write
a memorial and present it in the proper fashion.
Chinese Immortality is also different from the Western perception. Chinese
immortality doesn't necessarily mean immunity to death. It usually implies
that aging has ceased and that with continued practice of some kind of spiritual alchemy,
or with the eating of special foods that confer longevity, the person can effectively live
This does not mean that they cannot be killed. Monkey kills many demons
that would have been considered Immortals. Immortality was also believed to be
conferred by the practice of Taoism and Alchemy which will be discussed later.
Immortality wasn't really that, it was really an extraordinarily extended life to the
point where worrying about death was unnecessary unless one engaged in fighting.
This does explain why Monkey could terrorize everyone in heaven, since they feared that he
would kill them since his magic power and intelligence could surpass any who fought him.