Recently, I saw the 2011 film Chinese film The Sorcerer and the White Snake. At first, it seemed to have the usual good versus evil theme. But, the movie ended up to be a depiction of my very thoughts regarding taking the left- or right-hand path.
Based on a Chinese legend, the film essentially started with Xu Xian, a physician, falling deep into a lake. All along, the White Snake and the Green Snake had been watching nearby in female human form. The White Snake decided to jump in and save Xu Xian with a kiss which allowed vital essence to flow from her to him. Xu Xian woke up to his friends reviving him, but distinctly remembering the kiss and even looking for the woman whom he didn't find.
During a lantern festival, the snakes, who are sisters, came in human form to watch the festivities. The White Snake was also eager to get another glimpse of Xu Xian and asked the Green Snake to find and bring him to her, which she did by pushing Xu Xian's boat to where the White Snake was with Xu Xian in it, scared and helpless.
Upon meeting, the White Snake revealed herself to Xu Xian by pushing him into the lake and kissing him anew after jumping in as Xu Xian said he could not recall the face of the woman who rescued him previously. As it turned out, Xu Xian had been longing to meet his rescuer again. The two decided to live together in Xu Xian's abode far from the city.
The city, meanwhile, became beset by a bat demon king and his cohorts by spreading insanity, illness, and death among humans as they feed off bodily energies. Xu Xian came up with a medicine, not knowing that the White Snake breathed into them to make them work as she was determined to make things easier for Xu Xian.
Fahai, a demon hunter monk, recognized what was contained in the medicine and left Xu Xian a spirit blade. Fahai then met the White Snake on the street and warned her to leave Xu Xian or not be spared. By this time, Fahai's assistant, Neng Ren, had been bitten by the bat demon, turning into a bat demon himself.
Fahai and his monks then follow Xu Xian to his house to confront the White Snake who opted to stay. Turning into a snake, they battle. Xu Xian comes into the room, finds the snake and Fahai, sees the spirit blade, and mortally wounds the snake with it, not knowing who the snake really is. The snake shed a tear before Xu Xian and escaped into the water. Fahai told Xu Xian what the woman really is.
Seeing Xu Xian deeply saddened, one of the White Snake's friend, a mouse, advised Xu Xian to save the White Snake with a spirit herb—the only one of its kind—which can be found in a pagoda, guarding demons trapped inside. Xu Xian retrieves the herb, but not without releasing the now unguarded demons which proceeded to possess him.
Hearing the pagoda's bell which heralded that the demons had been released, Fahai comes and brings Xu Xian to his temple to release him from the demons. The snake sisters came to the temple, flooded it by means of controlling the lake, and took Xu Xian. Xu Xian could not recognize the White Snake though as the spell to release him had not been completed following the snake sisters' arrival.
Fahai then comes and battles with the sisters again. He then sees Neng Ren flying around to save the monks who are drwoning in the flood. Next, he manages to imprison the White Snake in the pagoda. Inside, the White Snake begged the Buddha to let her see Xu Xian one last time. As mercy would have it, the Buddha allowed Fahai to let the White Snake out. Another kiss allowed Xu Xian to remember everything. But, an instant after recognition, the White Snake was sucked back into the pagoda as a fulfillment of her plea to see Xu Xian one last time. The White Snake's imprisonment told us that no matter what kind of being we are, we are still subject to the laws of the universe.
Fahai is clearly on the extreme right-hand path, serving Buddha and the light by banishing demons. The White Snake, on the other hand, was called a demon, but was capable of good deeds by virtue of her love for Xu Xian. Even Neng Ren had the heart to save the monks.
The film saw righteousness repeatedly changing sides—and colors—if you will. Fahai was against the deception of humans and the union of beings not of the same kind. The White Snake saw Fahai as evil for keeping her and Xu Xian apart. The bat demon Neng Ren opted to stay by the demon hunter's side in the end. The bat demon king and his cohorts showed a great deal of malevolence. But, what if, in their perspective, they were only in need of sustenance? Good versus evil might not be as black or as white as we were conditioned to believe it is.
Here, we see characters in different paths. But, all were driven by love: Fahai and Neng Ren by their love for humans and the White Snake by her love for Xu Xian. Why, even the mouse exhibited love for the White Snake by wanting to keep her alive! We see here how love, in different forms, can be found in any being regardless of his path. Even the film's alternate title is It's Love. And last time I checked, love is a far cry from evil.
So, does it matter which path we are on? It could truly just be a matter of perspective. What is important is that we choose a path and follow it righteously to where it leads. After all, I have an inkling that no matter how diverse our paths appear to be, we will all come upon the same destination after traversing all the necessary dimensions because we are all One with specific and different lessons to learn.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Venus Cruz or Venus BC is a magazine writer and editor. Other than her magazine career, she also takes writing projects for various NGOs. She belongs to a non-sectarian group that believes in giving, at least, a tenth of one’s resources, time, or abilities to helping others each day.