The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Drunken Monkey Part Two

We may have an answer!  I sent a request to my dear friend, literary lion, Sanscrit scholar  and and long-time Buddhist Charles Johnson asking him about the derivation of the term "Drunken Monkey" and he answered as follows:

and a quite reasonable Chinese gentleman wrote to say that this was not a Chinese concept at all.  I was very surprised, and am wondering now if it is a legitimate Buddhist concept at all, or a fortune cookie aphorism I picked up somewhere.  Can  you help a brother out here?

Dear Steve:

      It's Hindu (India), not Chinese. The great Indian philosopher Vivekananda discusses it at length and with much humor in his book
Raja Yoga.

So there we have it.  Clearly, it is possible that someone misattributed the expression.  Whether the "Drunken Monkey" concept exists in Indian or Tibetan Buddhist thought is a question that will remain for wiser minds than mine.  I am, however, relieved to see that my basic thought, that this is an ancient term and not some New Age 60's psychadelic b.s., was correct.  Whew!


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