I must be sincere. Before this course was coming I didn’t even know that “The 36 Strategies” existed. I read a lot about “The Art of War” because it is world famous and very extended. So, What makes “The 36 Strategies” so special?
Answer 2 by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
In the world the Art of War is more famous, but in Chinese societies both inside and outside China the Thirty Six Strategies are more well-known. During conversations, Chinese often mention the names of some of the strategies, such as Rob While Fire is Burning or Borrow Knife to Kill Another like common sayings though they may not know about the strategies.
Strategies in the Thirty Six Strategies are different from strategies in the Art of War. The 36 strategies are called ji in Chinese, which means tricks for particular occasions. The strategies in the Art of War are called fa, which means overall plans of action.
The Thirty Six Strategies are special because they consist of 36 different tricks of an extensive variety that spanned across many centuries. One learns not just 36 tricks themselves but the principles behind the tricks that give rise to countless other tricks which because of their extensive variety can be used for any situations. In other words when you are familiar with these 36 tricks and their principles, you can have any tricks for any occasions.
Let us take an example of the trick, Rob While Fire is Burning. This strategy came from the famous novel, Journey to the West. While journeying to India to get sutras back to China, the Venerable Tripitaka and his disciple, the Monkey God, stayed a night in a temple in a wilderness. The abbot knew that Tripitaka had a magnificent robe presented to him by the Tang Emperor. He requested Tripitaka to show him the robe. But seeing the robe was so magnificent that he became greedy and wanted the robe for himself.
He thought of a trick. He said that he was old and feeble and could not see the robe properly. He requested that Tripitaka lend him the robe for a night so that he could admire it in his own room. Being an embodiment of kindness, Tripitaka consented.
The abbot called his monks together to scheme to have the robe for himself. A monk suggested that they set on fire the room in which Tripitaka and Monkey God were sleeping. While the monks were preparing the fire, Monkey God changed himself into a bee, flew out of the room and discovered the scheme. With a few somersaults he landed in heaven and borrowed a fire-prevention shield from a Heavenly Kings.
With the fire-protection shield, no fire could harm Tripitaka and Monkey God. Monkey God decided to play a little prank on the monks. He gently blew on the fire with the result that now the whole temple was on fire with the monks busy attempting to stop it.
In a nearby cave, known as Black Wind Cave, lived a titan called Black Wind Titan. This titan was a friend of the abbot and frequently visited the temple. Seeing the temple on fire, he flew over to help to put out the fire. But he chanced upon the magnificent robe. He too became greedy. He just leisurely took the robe while the fire was burning.
The temple was burnt to the ground. Of course Tripitaka and Monkey God were safe. Eventually Monkey God got back the magnificent robe for his master.
Cao Cao, the famous prime-minister-cum-general of the Three Kingdom Period made good use of this strategy, Rob While Fire is Burning. He led an attack on the territories of Yun Tan. Yun Tan sought the help of his younger brother, Yun Xiang. Despite numerous attempts, Cao Cao could not defeat the combined armies of Yun Tan and Yun Xiang. So Cao Cao and the attacking force left.
Soon disagreement broke out between Yun Tan and Yun Xiang. It became so bad that Yun Tan sought the help of Cao Cao to protect him. Cao Cao exploited the situation. Pacifying Yun Tan, Cao Cao led his attacking force against Yun Xiang and vanquished him. Later, using an excuse he also vanquished Yun Tan.
In the Art of War, Sun Tzu described this principle as “luan er bai zi”, which literally means “troubled, then defeat it”. When a state is in trouble, it is good time to vanquish it. Sun Tzu categorized three types of trouble — internal disorder, external attack, and combination of internal and external trouble. I learned an invaluable lesson while studying ancient world history in Form Six. The great Roman Empire fell because of internal disorder and external attack. Internal disorder was the more important factor. External attack just sealed its fall.
We should all learn an invaluable lesson from here. In future if Shaolin Wahnam ever crumbled, it would be due to internal disorder. We must all guard against this.
It is a great joy to be a husband and father — an old picture showing Grandmaster Wong, his wife and their three eldest children in the garden of the house where they are still staying
You said that becoming a wife/husband and mother/father is one of the most spiritually fulfilling things in this world. But spiritual fulfillment isn’t a given if I have to sacrifice so much and the man doesn’t. A relationship is made of two people, so both should strive to be the best they can be and sacrifice all they can. Not only the women, and not only the men either. How can a relationship be wholesome if that were so?
— Fabienne, Switzerland
Ask not what your husband and children can do for you. Ask what you can do for your husband and children. You and not they practice our elite arts.
Spiritual fulfillment is not a given attainment. You have to make effort and sacrifice to attain it.
While a relationship of husband and wife is made up of two people, and ideally both should strive for family happiness, you need not wait for the other person to make this come true. As an elite person who has practiced our Shaolin Wahnam arts, you take the lead.
If your thought, speech and action are appropriate, the other will follow, and both will contribute to the family happiness. It does not matter even when the other person does little work, or not at all, but you still need him to make a rewarding relationship.
While doing further research in Buddhism and its origins, I didn’t have to look far at all to find other offending examples of women being treated like lesser beings and/or being reduced to tools of convenience and satisfaction.
Can you please tell me what you think about these examples?
My main comment is that society and customs at the time of the Buddha were vastly different from those of ours. By the standard of Buddha’s time, what the Buddha did to women was extremely generous.
My other comments follow each of your examples.
Your Example (1) The most advanced Buddhist nuns had to sit behind the most novice monks simply because their body was deemed inferior. It is our body that is able to grow and give life.
My Comment: At that time in India, no matter how accomplished women were, they were still considered inferior to males.
Your Example (2) The Buddha himself was against teaching women at first. He refused to teach his own aunt, the woman that nursed and raised him when he was but a small and defenceless child. If it weren’t for the Venerable Ananda, women probably never would’ve been taught by the Buddha himself, and I am forever grateful for that. If “not teaching women” was for the sake of monks not being distracted or tempted, then the monks were much more at fault than the nuns. Men should be able to control themselves, a sentiment which is blissfully ignored by many males in our society.
My Comment: It was a custom at the time to teach only males. The Buddha’s teaching of women was unprecedented.
Not teaching women for the sake of the monks was only one of a few reasons. The main reason for not teaching women was due to culture and custom.
If a beautiful woman temptingly stripes in front of a man, it is not easy for him to resist the temptation even when he can otherwise has good control of his sexual desires.
Xi Shi, one of the four most beautiful women of China
Past kings and emperors had multiple wives. What purpose did that serve except prestige? The beauty of women as a means of manipulation is even present in the 36 Strategies (“From Nothing is born Something”). Don’t you think that men who are easily manipulated by the beauty of women are disgraceful?
The purpose of having multiple wives was more than just prestige. A Chinese emperor was required by rites and customs to have more than a thousand wives, irrespective of whether he liked it or not, but it so happened that usually he liked it.
One important reason, besides the obvious variety of sexual pleasure an emperor could enjoy, was to ensure he had a male heir to succeed him.
There is nothing wrong to use the beauty of women in strategies. Some women, like the famous beauties of China, Xi Shi and Diao Chan, were proud to be able to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the country, and the people sincerely honoured them.
A well known strategy of the 36 Strategies is simply called “Beauty Strategy”. Many famous strategists used this strategy elegantly and successfully.
You may be pleased to know that there is a Chinese saying as follows. “Even heroes may not escape the temptations of beautiful women.” When heroes can fall to beauties, mere mortals stand little chance of survival.
I don’t think that men who are easily manipulated by the beauty of women are disgraceful. I think they are normal.
The great sage, Confucius, advises, “Food and sex are normal instincts.”
While talking to a very close friend of mine, it occurred to us that certain monastic rules and explanations of Buddhist cosmology and reincarnation state that people are born a woman because of some bad karma. Is this true? If so, that’s heart-breaking.
I try hard to be the best I can be, so I try and look at this as a blessing in disguise. As a woman, I might be better suited to clear deep-rooted, emotional or even karmic problems. According to my friend, a senior instructor in our school mentioned that women tend to be more sensitive and able to pass certain “milestones” in Kung Fu and Qigong more quickly. But still, it sucks to be told that I might be inferior.
In any case, I feel torn between righteous fury because of this caveman-ish injustice being prevalent to this day (sometimes even in Shaolin Wahnam, of all places), and grief for all the oppression and lost potential that women had to deal with ever since known history. Will it boil down to the fact that, as a woman, I have to make a very hard choice? Either reach high achievements or become a wife and mother?
It was true that in the past at a time when women’s position was inferior to men’s, many people believed that to be born a woman was due to bad karma. But this was relative. It was bad karma compared to being born as gods, or even as men. But it was good karma compared to being born an animal, or even a very beautiful female titan. Yet the very same people would probably think that being born a woman in a noble family was due to better karma than being born a male slave.
But conditions are different today. Even when Chinese culture prefers sons to daughters, many Chinese families I know prefer to have daughters than to have sons. When they are married, daughters with their husbands stay with the parents; or at least return home frequently, whereas the sons when married together with their wives are lost to their in-laws.
Hence, you should not be heart-broken, but instead take being born a woman as a blessing.
Indeed, to be born human, male or female, is a great blessing. He or she must have accumulated a lot of good karma in the past. To be born wholesome is a greater blessing. The blessing to be born in a highly civilized society like yours is even greater. And the greatest blessing is to be born human, male or female, wholesome in a civilized society and be exposed to spiritual teaching like ours in Shaolin Wahnam. We have a lot to be grateful for.
Don’t just try to be the best person you can be, do it. Don’t strive but enjoy your cultivation. While whether women are better suited than men to clear emotional and karmic problems, and pass milestones in kungfu and qigong training is debatable, there is no doubt that women today, especially in Western societies, enjoy privileges men normally don’t, like having their heavy luggage carried by men, and their food served to them first while their man friends may still mouth-water, provided that these women don’t mistake women equality to be female chauvinism.
Your righteous fury, sense of caveman-ish injustice, and grief of oppression and lost potential of women, are all the result of your imagination. Since known history, women never had such opportunities and benefits as they have today. Women in the past did not go to school or even out of their house, had no opportunities of employment, and could not choose their own husbands. Now you can reach high achievements and at the same time become a wife and mother. You should celebrate instead of groan over your opportunities.
I love my wife for who she is, not what I want her to be
Sigung, may I please know how you feel about this issue? Do you feel like females are worth less than male beings, be it animal or human? Or did I just misunderstand your intentions behind the article you wrote about becoming a good wife? Do you love your own wife so much because she manipulated you into doing what she wants (even if she did it sweetly), or because she was supportive, sincere, loving and strong?
My feeling about this issue is very clear — to myself as well as to others. Definitely I do not feel females are worth less than males, animal or human. I regard them as equal, but not the same.
During question time, for example, when both male and female students asked questions about the same time, I always practiced “lady’s first”.
During demonstration I usually chose male students or instructors. Some people mistook this gesture as my disregard for women. It was just the opposite. It was my regard for them that I chose male demonstrators. I did not want to take advantage of their feminine beauty, or let other people have this impression, especial in the West where many masters, unfortunately, exploit their female students.
These may be little gestures, but they demonstrate my high regards for women.
You misunderstood my intentions behind the article I wrote about becoming a good wife. My intentions are noble, and are aimed at helping women get the men they love. They are too many eligible, loveable but unmarried women, as well as too many unmarried men who are scared to get married, in the West.
I love my wife very much for what she is, including her many faults. She did not manipulate me into doing what she wants, even in a sweet way. If she did, I would have sufficient ways to counter it, also in a sweet way. She does not need to do so because she is appreciative, sincere, loving and strong.
She has to be very strong, bringing up five lovely children at a time when I was financially poor, not only without any complaints but also with love and devotion. Now I earn more money, I like spending it on her to make her happy, but she spends it on our children and grandchildren, and that wisely and not lavishly, and our children have to say, “Papa and mama, we have enough money to be comfortable.”
While with Shaolin Wahnam, I learned that we are all part of the same universe and that our world is an illusion, influenced by our perception. Why can’t this simple principle be applied to such a natural, sacred and simple bond as marriage, for example? Shaolin Wahnam gets so many aspects about daily life perfectly right, yet misogyny is still observable. Shouldn’t we stand above this petty differentiation?
For example, we are making the difference between hard and soft chi for the sake of understanding. We can do that with the concept of men and women, too. But only for the sake of understanding and explanation. It should flow into each other and ultimately be one. Men and women can’t be without each other in the long run (for the simple sake of continuously populating this planet), so let’s make it an equal business. Based on love and respect, not on superiority and manipulation.
You have highlighted a very important point that can bring meaning and happiness to our daily life. Our phenomenal world, which is an illusion, is much influenced by our perception. My article on Perception and Reality illustrates this very important point.
Paradoxically, your problem in this issue is due to your perception. The reality is the same, that men and women can’t be without each other, and their mutual well-being should be based on love and respect, and not on superiority and manipulation. This is the theme in my article you mentioned, How to Trap a Good Husband and be a Good Wife, as well as in the teaching of Shaolin Wahnam.
However you interpreted my article from a different perspective. I advise that to get a husband whom she has found lovable and eligible, the woman should fulfil the qualities that he wants in his wife. He wants his wife to be attractive, feminine and yielding. But you thought, wrongly, that if a woman conforms to these qualities, she would make herself inferior as well as manipulate him to marry her.
Although you may not have explicitly said it, you imply that to demonstrate your superiority, or at least your equality, you need not confirm to his likings. If you are already attractive, feminine and yielding, that is fine. You already process qualities that he likes. But, for the sake of illustration here, if you were unattractive, dominating and demanding, you need not make yourself attractive, feminine and yielding to win him. He has to accept you for what you are.
You consider, again wrongly, that if you have to make yourself attractive, feminine and yielding to win him, you will be manipulative. This is your flawed perspective. A better perspective is that you make a sacrifice to attain a greater mutual goal.
An example will make this point clearer. Suppose you are a manufacturer producing red T-shirts. A customer orders blue T-shirts. This is his likes. But you think that if you conform to his likes, you are demeaning yourself and accepting your inferiority. But if you conform to his likes, you are manipulative to win his sale. You can choose to be stubborn and clinch onto your flawed perspective, but you will lose the sale or your man whom you feel will make a good husband. Your perspective is flawed because you confuse woman equality with being dog-headedness, and confuse sacrifice with manipulation.
This principle of fulfilling the needs of the other person and making sacrifice for greater mutual benefit can be applied to marriages as well as all other aspects of life. To implement this principle successfully, you have to be clear in your vision and direction, and noble in your perspective. Marrying any man that comes your way is not being clear in your vision and direction. Being stubborn even when your views are flawed and mistaking sacrifice to be manipulation is being unclear in your perspective.
Misogyry, or hating women, is definitely not a trait in Shaolin Wahnam. We have many perfect husbands in our school. Some men in our school may not be perfect husbands, but certainly they don’t hate women. If you feel that misogyny is observable in our school, for your own sake, you really have to examine your mind-set. Ironically, it is you who need to clear yourself from this mess of petty differentiation.
Besides better understanding, differentiating between hard and soft, or men and women, also enables us to be cost effective and bring us a lot of benefits. You are the one who can’t differentiate between men and women. Although you may differentiate them by sex, you fail to differentiate them by their roles and aspirations. You seem to treat women as men.
Men and women cannot ultimately be one. A man is a man, and a woman is a woman. It is utterly unnatural if anyone of them become a man-woman, or for the female chauvinists, a woman-man. Playing their roles and fulfilling their aspirations also cannot be equal business. Whether in love making, rearing children or any other aspects of family life, men perform their roles and fulfil their aspirations as men, and women as women. In love making, for example, by instinct, a man’s aspiration is his immediate pleasure, whereas a woman’s aspiration is to have love.
Five-Animal Play — the Monkey
Sigung, you are the greatest person and teacher I have ever known and probably ever will. Your opinion matters a lot to me. This subject is very dear to my heart and highly important for my own future. I am terrified that you might push a very out-dated opinion of women and marriage onto students who won’t think twice about the wisdom you generously share and will simply accept it as fact.
I know at least three married couples in Wahnam where the wife does not adhere to your standard of what a “good wife” should be like. Yet they are all wonderfully happy. On the other hand, I see many Wahnam women with high achievements being unmarried to this day. I don’t know if that is their personal choice or simply their adapting to current circumstances.
They are all inspirations to me, yet I absolutely do wish to get married and have children one day. But not when things are still like this. The status quo scares me and makes me hold onto my personal freedom and joy and open way of expression even more.
I guess I just wish to know why these kinds of things are still happening the way they are. It breaks my heart to think that, no matter how high my achievements might be in the future, I’ll never be deemed “as good” as male students, simply because I’m a woman.
If that were the case, and knowing my passion and deep emotions, I might just become that bitter kind of “liberated” woman you said men are scared of. As of now, I am still very young, optimistic and eager to learn. I hope this issue can be resolved. If not in today’s society, then at least let it be resolved in my heart!
Thank you very much for your patience and I will be forever grateful (even more so than I already am) if you could help me break through this blockage. I also hope that my sincere, yet still somewhat critical inquiry won’t result in me not being welcome in Shaolin Wahnam anymore.
Thank you for your very kind words.
One of the proudest achievements of our school is that our teaching has enabled our family members, single or married, to enrich their daily lives. This achievement is more important than being extremely combat efficient, developing tremendous internal force, or even overcoming pain and illness and attaining good health, vitality and longevity.
Our teaching, including that of happy marriage, is successfully time-tested. You view the issue in a matter of 30 years; I view it over many centuries. Even in a short period of 30 years, your perspective has proven to be unsuccessful, resulting in many people remaining unmarried though they are eligible and lovable.
I do not push my teaching onto our students. I always encourage them to assess any teaching to the best of their understanding and experience.
You have misconceived my advice on what a good wife should be like. You wrongly think that a good wife should abandon her ability and wisdom and follow her husband blindly. I advise that a good wife should use her ability and wisdom to make her family happy.
Even if we presume that the three married couples you mentioned do not adhere to my advice on being a good wife, if they and their husbands and children are happy, I am happy for them. In fact I would advise them to carry on what they have been doing, and don’t follow what I mentioned in the article. The article is not for them. It is meant for women who want to but have not accomplished a happy family.
If those Shaolin Wahnam women with high achievements choose not to have a family they need not follow my advice in the article. If they wish to have a happy family, my advice will be very useful.
Getting married and having children is a woman’s instinct. It is also a wonderful thing to do. Never before in history have women this golden opportunity to be married and have children, and still have freedom, joy and open way of expression. You are living in this golden age but you don’t realize it.
Your problem and heart-breaking situation is the result of your own faulty imagination. Change your perspective from a negative way to the Shaolin Wahnam way and you may see the golden age you are in.
Why should you choose to be a bitter liberated woman whom men are scared of, when you can be a sweet liberated woman whom men adore? Becoming such a sweet, liberated and adorable woman is not by fancy. You have to put in a lot of hard work. Following my advice in the article you mentioned, after you have realized your previous faulty perspective, will provide a practical way to achieve your goal.
Of course you will be welcome in Shaolin Wahnam, more so after you have raised these interesting questions that will benefit many men and women.
Can children practice the Five-Animal Play?
— Konchia, Spain
Yes, they can if they have competent teachers. Nowadays, competent teachers teaching Five-Animal Play or other types of chi kung are rare. Most teachers teach chi kung techniques as gentle physical exercise, and not as chi kung.
Gentle physical exercise works on the physical body, whereas chi kung works on energy. Gentle physical exercise cannot overcome pain and illness, and cannot enable practitioners to have more energy and mental clarity, but chi kung can.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at email@example.com stating your name, country and e-mail address.
The famous Tang general, Xue Ren Gui, who originated the strategy “Deceiving Heaven to Cross Sea”
It would be great to hear some of your experiences using the 36 strategies. Do you have any particularly memorable moments when you applied them, whether with patients, in work or in combat?
Answer 1 by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Although I know the 36 strategies well, interestingly I do not consciously apply them to solve problems. A main reason is that since actively putting our Shaolin Wahnam philosophy into daily life, I do not have any problems. What other people regard as problems, I regard as opportunities for improvement, which is quoted from Emiko who mentioned this some years ago.
Another important reason is that, regardless of whether we call them problems or opportunities for improvement, I look at them with a Zen state of mind. The solution often appears immediately, without the need to think of suitable strategies.
But this does not mean that it is not useful to learn the Thirty Six Strategies. In fact, it is because I know the strategies very well that solutions appear easily to me. Just like in our kungfu and chi kung training. I have learnt so many kungfu and chi kung techniques, that now I can respond spontaneously to any attack or meet any chi kung need without having to think of what techniques to use.
Knowing these 36 strategies is also very useful in a reverse manner, i.e. you can quickly know if someone attempts to use any tricks on you.
I recall an interesting occasion many years ago when a salesman tried to sell something to me. He said he had a present for me. I told him straight away that I didn’t want the present. He was shocked. “Don’t you want a present?” he asked, “it’s free.” “No, thank you. I’m not interested in the present.” He was trying to use the trick, Deceive Heaven to Cross Sea, on me, though he probably did not know the name of the strategy. He might not even know he was using a strategy; he just followed the training he was given.
In my younger days, some masters would tell me that other masters criticized my kungfu behind my back. “What do you think of my kungfu?” I asked. “Of course, it is very good,” they said. “That is good enough for me,” I said, “I don’t have to worry about what the other masters said.” I knew they were using the strategy, Borrow Knife to Kill Another.
Yet, looking back with hindsight in my healing work I often use the strategy, Deceive Heaven to Cross Sea. The title of this strategy is not quite appropriate here as it connotes a sense of deception. It would be more appropriate to call it Admire Plum Quench Thirst, which connotes a sense of inspiration, and is actually another name for this type of strategy. When someone couldn’t stand unassisted, I told him to imagine how wonderful if would be when he could walk and run unaided.
In combat, the strategy I use often is Sound East Strike West. It is extremely effective. In the no-shadow kick, which is one of my specialties, I could kick slowly yet hit an opponent when I use this strategy effectively.
An old picture showing Grandmaster Wong demonstrating a no-shadow kick on a student
The Thirty Six Strategies are actually not strategies in the sense of overall plans of action, but rather ruses or tricks to overcome particular problems. In Chinese, the 36 strategies are called ji, whereas the strategies in the Art of War, for example, are call fa. There 36 strategies or tricks were used at different times in history by strategists, generals and important people, but are collected into a book by an unnamed author.
The 36 strategies are conveniently classified into six groups as follows. Like Shaolin kungfu patterns, the titles of the 36 strategies are poetically described in four characters.
1. Deceive Heaven to Cross Sea
2. Surround Wei to Save Zhao
3. Borrow Knife to Kill Another
4. Use Rest to Wait for Labour
5. Rob while Fire is Burning
6. Sound East Attack West
7. From Nothing Born Something
8. Secretly Escape via Chen Cang
9. Across Beach Watch Fire
10. Knife Hidden in Smile
11. Plum Sacrifices for Peach
12. Snatch Goat Along Way
13. Hit Grass Startle Snake
14. Borrow Body to Reincarnate
15. Trick Tiger Leave Mountain
16. To Catch So Release
17. Throw Stone Attract Jade
18. Catch Bandits Catch Leader
19. Beneath Cauldron Withdraw Firewood
20. Troubled Water Catch Fish
21. Golden Cicada Sheds Shell
22. Close Door Catch Thief
23. Far Befriend Near Attack
24. Borrow Passage Attack Guo
25. Steal Beam Change Pillar
26. Point Mulberry Scold Acacia
27. Fake Madness Not Insane
28. Ascend Roof Remove Ladder
29. Tree Top Blossom Flowers
30. Turn Guest Become Host
I am sure we shall have a lot of fun as well as benefit from the answers to the questions submitted.
Some of us may have the impression that the 36 strategies are tricks to deceive other people. As scholar-warriors we want to defeat our opponents in honorable ways, which was the tradition of great masters in the past. So some of us may think the 36 strategies are not suitable. But this is not so. In fact, knowing the 36 strategies help us to win honorably.
Firstly, we are aware of tricks our opponents may use on us. The 36 strategies are comprehensive, and so include any tricks opponents may think of, regardless of whether they know the 36 strategies. This is following the advice of the great strategist, Sun Tze, i.e. know your enemy and know yourself, and you will win hundred battles out of hundred. Sun Tze himself used these tricks frequently. These 36 tricks are effective tools to implement the strategies described in the Art of War.
Secondly, tricks by themselves are neutral. It is the intention behind that makes our action facilitated by the tricks noble. You will be pleased to know that the great Guan Yin Bodhisattva used the first of these 36 strategies, Deceive Heaven to Cross Sea, on Monkey God. The result is that not only it brought a lot of benefit to the Monkey God, but also it brings a lot of benefit to people all over the world, including us.
After being released by the Venerable Xuan Zhang, or Tripitaka, from the Five-Finger Mountain which imprisoned Monkey God, he became a disciple of Xuan Zhang to protect the master in the journey to the West to bring sutras back to China for translation. (If this did not happen, most of the Buddhist sutras which were originally written in Sanskrit would be lost.) But Monkey God was mischievous and would not always listen to Xuan Zhang.
So Guan Yin Bodhisattva appeared as an elderly lady with a crown in the form of a golden ring and a magnificent robe, and presented them to Monkey God who gladly wore them. Then Guan Yin Bodhisattva taught Xuan Zhang a ring-tightening mantra. Whenever Monkey God did not follow Xuan Zhang’s instructions, the master would recite the mantra, which would tighten the ring on Monkey God’s head causing him inextricable pain. Monkey God knew 72 transformations. He could, for example, change himself into a fly, but the ring would contract accordingly. The pain would stop only when Xuan Zhang stopped chanting the mantra.
In fact two of the 36 strategies originated from the stories of Monkey God and Immortal Li, namely Rob While Fire is Burning and Borrow Body to Reincarnate. We shall read about these interesting stories in the relevant answers.
This itself makes the Thirty Six Strategies Course very special. Monkey God and Immortal Li, who have frequently guided, protected and blessed us, are the source of two of the Thirty Six Strategies.
So the Thirty Six Strategies Course during the Valentine Festival in Ireland is not about learning how to trick people doing something which they would not normally do, but about learning to be cost effective so as to enrich our lives and the lives of other people. These strategies, collected over many centuries, are still being actively used by military strategists, business leaders and top people all over the world today.
Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
10th January 2013
Guan Yin Bodhisattva and Monkey God
A course on the Thirty Six Strategies was held on 22nd and 23rd August 2015 in Ireland. Please see Harvest Festival 2015 for details.