The Wise Monkey

In ‘The Dragon Prince’, Jiang is asked why he named his ship The Wise Monkey. By way of explanation, he tells this story:

Very long ago, before there was an empire, there was a JinTo priest who left his city and went into the forest because he believed that it would teach him the secret of life. He found a clearing and sat down, closing his eyes. He waited for a revelation. He sat there a long time, but he was a patient man, and prepared to wait. After a while a monkey saw him and came and sat in front of him.

‘What are you doing?’ the monkey asked.

The priest opened his eyes and regarded the monkey.

‘I have come to learn the secrets of life,’ he said.

‘That’s easy,’ the monkey said.

‘Tell me,’ replied the priest.

The monkey sat back on his haunches.

‘It is this,’ he said. ‘Stay alive, eat enough food, drink enough water, be good to other monkeys and try to have as much sex as possible.’

‘That is too simple,’ the priest said.

‘But it’s true,’ the monkey replied. ‘And if you want to learn more, just watch the older monkeys. They know everything there is to know.’

The priest laughed at so simple a creature.

‘You are a foolish monkey,’ he said. ‘Even I know far more than the oldest monkeys, and I am but a poor priest.’

The monkey shrugged and climbed a few feet up the nearest tree, but he stopped and looked back.

‘You’d better get up a tree,’ he said. ‘Why?’ the priest asked. ‘You hear that noise? That is the older monkeys. They are telling me that a tiger is coming this way. If you do not know that, how can you be wise like me?’

So the priest climbed a tree and watched the tiger walk by beneath him, and he realised that he had received his revelation. The monkey was wise in the forest, and he was wise in the city, but the secret of life was pretty much the same in both.

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