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Venerable Xuanzang: – For Wisdom Look East

Venerable Xuanzang: – For Wisdom Look East


Venerable Xuanzang: – For Wisdom Look East publication is a reboot of the history section under Art & Culture. Written with a mix of fiction and fact with Ven. Xuanzang as the protagonist, the publication looks at civilizations, wisdom, and learnings from history for a better tomorrow. The read works on qualities that stand the test of time without any religious affiliation and takes a philosophical note on the travels of Xuanzang. The publication includes a brief on Chinese history, an outline of a fictional account of Xuanzang’s journey that is the foundation of a short documentary and policies from the present times that lie at an intersection of history, thought leadership, foresightedness, sustained inventiveness and wellbeing. Creative with artistic flair, the work is extensive with more than 6000 words.

Venerable Xuanzang, is also known as Hiuen Tsang, was a Buddhist monk, traveler, scholar, linguist, debater, writer and humanitarian par excellence. He traveled through the silk route to India during the 7th century when King Harshavardhana, ruled the northern part of India. Xuanzang’s journey to India and back to China lasted seventeen years from 629 and 645. Hiuen Tsang was not the first monk to travel to India from China, Ven Faxian preceded him, however, Xuanzang’s mark on history remains impeccable and eternal. Born during the Tang dynasty, Hiuen’s journey is well chronicled in the book Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, written on the suggestion of Emperor Taizong. A folk hero and highly revered within the Chinese culture, Xuanzang is immortalized in the heroic Ming novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. The journey remains hugely significant on multiple dimensions especially in understanding the prevailing art, culture, and religious practices in India. According to Dorothy Wong, an expert on Buddhist art in medieval China; Xuanzang, a highly revered figure in China is credited with translating Yogacara, which became the foundation for Nara Buddhism in Japan.

Pic: Venerable Xuanzang Wikipedia 

# 600 BC onwards Chinese History in a Nutshell

The Chinese civilization embodies benevolence, wisdom, discipline, self-respect, family values, and constant innovation as some of its guiding principles for long-lasting propagation. The Han dynasty was not the first imperial kingdom to unite China, it was The Qin Dynasty. But historians consider the Han dynasty as the first breakout dynasty within the imperial saga, laying down the structure of an enduring civilization. The emergence of imperial China is marked by the birth of other major dynasties around the world that are either contemporaries or founded before the advent of the Han dynasty. Cyrus the Great, founded The Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian empire and the largest in the ancient world. Alexander The Great, brought the Greek civilization to its high point leaving a legacy as a General to be only matched by Julius Caesar. Caesar remains one of the most followed Generals even today. Caesar’s assignation led to the genesis of the Roman empire. The Maurya Empire (established in 322 BC) in India like the Han empire, characterizes the Golden age of Indian civilization and remains one of the greatest civilizations of all time. The Mayans in Mesoamerica captivated the world through art, culture, and the best sustainable agricultural practices in the world. Mayan civilization remains one of the most peaceful civilizations of the world, an apogee of wonder, engineering, and connectedness. Among the major philosophers, Confucius’s contribution to society is perhaps the greatest considering his teachings are the bedrock of the foundation of the Chinese civilization.

Han empire’s first emperor, Gaozu revived Confucianism, and Wu the Great cemented Confucius thought as the central tenet of Imperial China.  

Over the last 2500 years, the Chinese civilization has produced formidable dynasties, art, culture, and technological advancement matching the best in class in different eras. The Han empire’s longevity was about 400 years interrupted by a brief interlude with the Xin dynasty, the Han empire remains the foci of the Chinese civilization matched in grandeur by the Tang and Ming dynasty. Tang dynasty might be the zenith in terms of opulence, the richest civilization during its time (citation needed). The Ming dynasty is one of the earliest dynasties with super naval power reaching its high point under the leadership of Zheng He. Yuan dynasty is the first foreign dynasty of China founded by Kublai Khan following the Mongol invasion of China. Mongols under Genghis Khan controlled more territory than any other empire, more than the British empire. Genghis is one of the greatest barbarians in history. Kublai Khan’s contribution is looked at positively in China. The idea is not to promote negative connotation but to highlight the thought process prevailing at that time. Why did Genghis Khan not attack India is a key question that has perplexed historians? The Qing dynasty, the final imperial dynasty, ruled by Manchurians is another multicultural Chinese kingdom whose earlier part of the rule is considered significant but the later part marred with opium wars leading to the decadence of the imperial empire.

Sun Tzu known as Master Sun was a Military Strategist, Thought Leader, General, Author, and Philosopher. His teachings are used by businesses today to work out strategies for competitive advantage, business development and for sustaining organizations. His book Art of War lays down key insights on warfare and ways to avoid a direct conflict yet gain an advantage over competitors. Master Sun mentions “In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment, or a company entire than to destroy them.”

This an entirely different takeaway from what we have seen in history laid down with brutality and massacres. Sun proposed about 2500 years ago the art of not having a direct conflict but to focus on alliances and other techniques like spies for gaining a favorable position viz a viz the enemy. Sun was keener on the holistic and betterment of society rather than riches when he wore the hat of a military strategist and commander. Sun recommended to treat captured prisoners with the utmost care. A visionary, he understood the misfortune of extended wars and history has shown that some of the mightiest civilizations fell due to prolonged conflicts that became pyrrhic victories in the long run. In ancient and medieval times, transportation was expensive, food for soldiers a nightmare causing a colossal impact on the exchequer. To balance expensive wars, the kings always increased taxation of the common people leading to social unrest, widening inequalities within the civic societies. Nobility got more powerful amplifying the exploitation of commoners, leading to manipulation by the powerful.

Prolonged wars give ideas to people or hidden enemies, who used structural faults to attack empires at their most vulnerable moments. As brutalities rise during times of conflicts with enslavement as a common practice, Sun thinking to assimilate captured people stands as a social good within the parlance of time discussed herein. By giving equal rights and bestowing empathy to the vanquished, a sense of obligation prevails among the fallen people. Captured people would be forever grateful, provide food and taxes to the victor and in terms of future wars provide manpower i.e. soldiers, commanders in infantry who would fight tooth and nail against a common enemy.

Sun might be recorded in history as a military commander but he was a Spiritualist at heart, a hallmark of the Chinese civilization. Chinese is one of few surviving civilizations that didn’t use slavery as a means of subjugation. As thought leaders, Chinese implemented the first rule of defence. Fortification against invasions; World built castles; China went one step further; they built the Great Wall. A wall that still stands in all its glory even today.  As wars ravaged Europe and other parts of the world during the medieval age, China had an uncanny ability to maintain peace and harmony with its neighbours. The Tang empire had excellent relations with the Sasanian Empire, the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire. Vivid descriptions of trade between the two magnificent kingdoms are recorded in history. The silk route used by Hiuen Tsang remains one of the most prolific trade routes enabling trade between China and multiple countries. Chinese invented paper, discovered fossil fuel much before anyone understood its implications, earliest civilization to learn the art of manufacturing Silk, and one of the earliest to use both bronze and iron ore for decoration and military purposes. So how did the Chinese remain ahead of the curve, in inventiveness, diplomacy, art, creativity, and science for more than two Millennium? This is a story of Values and Ideology.

 Isn’t it Ironic?

Isn’t it Ironic that Cleopatra, perhaps the most well-known and mystic Queen from antiquity, was not an ethnic Egyptian but from the Greek line of the Ptolemy dynasty? Julius repeatedly saved Brutus despite Brutus fighting against him; Brutus led the team of Caesar assassins, driving the fatal blow to a shocked Julius. Ironically the last words of Caesar were in Greek, Kai Su, teknon? (Even you, my child?) ignoring the telltale signs that Brutus had betrayed Caesar before siding with rebels. Brutus’ very existence was due to the largesse of Julius Caesar.  

Ven Xuanzang name is frequently substituted with traveler, monk, young man and Hiuen Tsang to promote fluidity of the storyline. Devas and Angels are used interchangeably within the storyline. Devas are celestial/divine beings.  

# Sometime in 629 AD: Xuanzang enroute to India from China 

Fiction Story: Tired, exhausted, and thirsty, Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) walked slowly through the desert with earnest anticipation. He was all alone and not sure whether he was walking in the right direction. Desperately looking for water, he thought he spotted a pool of water ahead. He knew the mind plays tricks and this could be a mirage-like the one before. He hurried forward only to be disappointed and fell down exhausted; he had been walking without water for two days. The Devas (Angels) from heaven were walking along keeping a watchful eye on Xuanzang as did The Devil. Determined to succeed in his mission, the Devil cast himself on Xuanzang manifesting negativities from within. Slowly doubts began to emerge. It had been a long arduous journey and he was not even halfway through his journey. But Xuanzang was no stranger to hardships. Many had dissuaded Xuanzang to not proceed on his trip to India and yet he was determined. As he took a deep breath, he reflected back in time. Brought on the tenets of Confucius, Xuanzang grew up to be a strict disciplinarian. Meticulous to a point, deeply ideological, Hiuen Tsang epitomized the values of the Chinese civilization. Coming from the land of superlative thought leaders, philosophers, and spiritualists like Confucius, Sun Tzu, and Lao Tzu whose teachings are still used as guidance among many facets of society, he espoused true grit. Xuanzang smiled back as he stood back on his feet for the long journey. He felt weak and fragile from his journey but memories brought back inspiration and determination. Hiuen Tsang smiled to himself and took a small step ahead and with each small step his confidence grew and the Devil got weaker. He was on a mission; he symbolized the DNA of the Chinese civilization. Civilizations are not made in a day but take centuries to take shape. Ideology is the foundation on which structure is built. Ideologies stand the test of time setting up a vision for civic societies to follow. Walking with aplomb and cheerfulness, Xuanzang embodied benevolence in every step he took. Xuanzang’s benevolence captivated everyone making him popular beyond any measure including King Harshavardhana.  

King Harsha, a just ruler was a patron of arts and the first Indian king to send out an ambassador to China. Sadly, by the time the Chinese ambassador arrived from the Tang kingdom, Harsha had died. The new Indian king did not welcome the Chinese ambassador. King Harsha deeply admired Xuanzang and his death sadly changed the course of history in India marked by social and political instability within his empire and ending the diplomatic route between India and China for sometime. 

 # Ideology

Durable civilizations take qualities that last the breath of their existence. For Romans, it was courage, artistic brilliance, and architecture, for Mayans its was peace and best sustainable practices that led them to form one of the better agrarian economies in the world, for Greeks it was wisdom and philosophy. Ideologies both at the personal and national level define the character of people and societies. Among the many virtues that the Chinese civilization took, benevolence stands supreme. Ideologies are centrifugal forces that imbibe values that form a beacon or paradigm for a long-term vision for society. The Chinese civilization took benevolence, wisdom, courage, discipline, education, self-respect, and constant innovation as some of its guiding principles for long-lasting propagation. Herein Confucianism is a metaphor for a benevolent scholarly approach, a broadminded well-rounded perspective for the future. Ideologies are the pillars that give direction to civilizations in the long term.




Confucius “Kongfuzi or Kongzi” is one of the most prominent Philosopher, Scholar, Thought leader, Sage, Educator, Humanitarian, and Author in recorded history. A spiritualist & visionary, Master Kong, lived a moral and virtuous life. A paragon of a gentleman, he gave a lot of prominence to benevolence (jen) explained in the Analects of Confucius. Confucius known as K’ung Ch’iu was born in 552 BC or 551 BC, and though of noble lineage, orphaned at an early age, grew up in hardship. Brought up by his loving mother, not much is known about Confucius’s life, as his biography Ssu-ma Ch’ien’s shi (Records of the Historian) was written in the first century BC. Confucius gave prestige to benevolence according to his analects. Confucius mentions benevolence as the most significant moral quality for a man based on the book The Analects Confucius by DC Lau. Benevolence is used conversely with Gentleman “a gentleman is free from worries and fears”. “Wisdom, Benevolence and Courage, these three virtues universally acknowledged in the Empire” based on Confucius’s words in the Chung yung (The Mean). These words are the cornerstone of understanding the essence of a high-level morality. A benevolent person has both wisdom and courage yet someone blessed with courage and wisdom need not have benevolence and herein lies the greatness of Master Kong.  For Confucius morality was supreme, there is a lot of stress on words like hsin, yen and ching. In the parlance of the present times and not taking into account prevailing rites in antiquity, these words could be inferred as being mindful of your words, being reliable in your claims and commitments backed by ching (reverence) being grateful and respectful in conduct. Referring to T C Lau’s interpretation, hsin alludes to commitment i.e. words or promises backed by deeds. In the olden days, lack of codified laws promoted a word of honor, words or promises were honor codes among men, people lived and died by them. History is replete with examples of the importance of these qualities as hallmarks of valued people. These qualities enable thoughtful actions, mindfulness, and modesty stratified with the courage to implement promises.  

Analects of Confucius are not only blessed with wisdom but inked with underlying humor. When a man from a village asked Master (honorific title for Confucius) that he has wide learning but has not made a name for himself in any field; The Master replied to the man and his disciples “What should I make myself proficient in? In driving? Or in archery? I think I would prefer driving.” a 

The middle Road interpretation: Confucius good natured reply gave prominence to versatility. Philosophers and Great thinkers like Aristotle and Leonardo Da Vinci displayed multifaceted approach to life. As a sage and leader, Confucius stood as a beacon and teacher for others as a role model propagating pearls of peripatetic wisdom oozing with originality. I better wear many hats to help society rather than be codified into one specific skill set. Archery, a metaphor for a specific skillset. A brilliant mathematician, the Master remains one of the most significant educators showcasing quality education as a leveler among the masses complemented with intellectual exuberance, humility, courage, artistic fair few could match. One of Confucius’s core tenet is filial piety; a mark of respect for parents, with a focus on family values. Shang dynasty, the earliest known Chinese civilization had ancestral worship as part of their culture.

Ending the note on Confucius with one of his evergreen quotes: I refuse to entertain conjectures or insist on certainty, I refuse to be inflexible or be egotistical.

# Clean Plates Campaign: A Blast from The Past

An excellent example of thoughtful, well informed and know your roots policy in recent times is the “Clean Plates Campaign implemented in China last year to curb food wastage. A wholesome and well thought policy with an overarching aim to minimize food wastage, Clean Plates Campaign took inspiration from a saying in the Tang Dynasty “know that each grain on your plate comes from the labor of peasants” words used by Mr. Xi Jinping, a Global Thought Leader, to motivate people to temper their food eating habits. This policy is specially chosen to signify the importance of impact of history within our lives, its emotive value in pushing us to be better humans, and its sublime message of minimalizing our food habits. Global leaders and thought gurus go back to their history to inspire and coalesce civic societies for a long-term outlook change.  Clean Plates Campaign showcases the strength within alpha civilizations to withstand temporary storms that become untenable over time. The pandemic should teach us the importance of a minimalistic approach towards many elements of life, a fact still missing among many leading economies today.  The policy uses simplistic approach for catalyzing moderation within our lives, connecting dots from the past yet elegant in fostering patriotism and togetherness for a wholesome outcome.

Food wastage is a Universal phenomenon, according to Food and Agricultural Organization, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally every year, one third of all food produced for human consumption. This amounts to $2.6 trillion annually, enough to feed 815 million people about 4 times over. Food wastage is different from food loss, food wastage pertains to food thrown away in super markets or by consumers while food loss is related to loss of food in the earlier stages of production.

Keen insight is that economies at all stages of development have a similar level of food loss or waste, low income economies have higher degrees of food loss while high-income economies have higher food wastage due to extravagant lifestyle or food eating habits. The per capita production of food in poor economies is about half of the rich economies. An improvement of infrastructure is highly significant to reduce food loss but mindfulness while eating needs discipline that can be built over time without spending any monetary expense. Take the impact of food wastage on natural resources. Production of an Apple requires 125 liters of water, numbers run into thousands of liters for meat and other animal-based food according to FAO analysis. A critical customer insight shares a stunning behavioral perspective. According to European Union, 10% of the annual 88 million tonnes of food wastage generated annually is due to date marking. Best before or Use by is often misused or misunderstood and often not regulated in many countries opening floodgates for manipulation. Freebies especially one on one are nudges often used to facilitate unintended purchases enhancing food wastage among perishable goods. These are low hanging fruits and can be rectified through policy directives.

Fictional Story: The Devil grew desperate, knowing none of his tactics were working. Despite numerous hurdles, he had failed to break the resolve of Xuanzang. The Devil thought maybe I can make life more difficult for Xuanzang by creating external obstacles. The desert journey is highly treacherous, so let’s make it more painful. Using supernatural powers, the Devil cropped up a dust storm. Suddenly a massive windstorm started in a distance. As the Devil was machinating devilish schemes to undermine Hiuen, the Devas came running to help. Led by cute Deva, the team of celestial beings conjured up a plan to help Hiuen fight The Devil as the storm grew to biblical proportions. Xuanzang realized there was no way to avoid the sandstorm even if he changed routes, the storm was at best 10 minutes away. Dust storms are usually more common in the sub-Saharan and Arabian region with thickness reaching 1 mile in length.  As he scanned the vast landscape to figure the best way to deal with the storm, calmness, and radiance emitted on Xuanzang’s face. Not far away was a huge boulder that could serve as a barrier to the upcoming storm. Dust storms are caused by winds beating down particles into smaller particles through a process known as Saltation, creating a static electric field by friction with a negative charge. With utmost tranquility, Hiuen Tsang scanned the landscape for a competitive advantage against the oncoming storm. Analyzing the rock from a distance, Hiuen evaluated that the rock would withstand the storm, a safe haven for him but the probability of reaching it in time extremely unlikely unless he started his walk immediately. Wearing only sandals, with increasing low visibility, the monk hurried towards the rock.  The heavens applauded the traveler’s wisdom, intellectual vigor, and foresightedness, a cornerstone of his upbringing. 

 #  Global Policy Ideology, Wisdom at its Best

Ideological policies drive a vision of grandeur that is achievable and measurable, setting up a defining position within the global ecosystem. Global ideological policies go to the very root of a country’s culture, sits on the pinnacle of the think tank and know-how pyramid, motivating people to attain a world-class vision over time.  John F Kennedy’s mission of sending an American safety to the moon before the end of the decade is one such policy.  The Americans were leaders in technology in the 60s, with a thriving technological habitat augmented by great universities and research centers. Motivated to counter the rising power of the Soviet Union in space technology, putting a man on the moon became an obsession for JFK and one of the most decisive social good policy taken by Americans. Global ideological policies rest on three pillars: the policies personify the character of a nation with a set goal defined over time, empowers civic societies to achieve the goal, and strengthens an ecosystem to permit the achievement of the goal. The policy directly advocates progress of radical technology that leaps a country into another sphere synthesizing the country to achieve the vision. The policy motivates the world to recheck their priorities making the bellwether initiative a sense of global pride, making it replicable in various ways for Universal good.

Made in China is another such initiative. The ingenuity of this reform-driven policy lies in its ability to effectively transit the country into a high-tech economy, be more self-reliant in the value chain and avoid the pitfalls of a middle-income trap. The strategy sets a structure of measures and key performance indicators to achieve the stated goal. Before we understand the term middle income trap, high tech herein refers to a very large-scale integration process of manufacturing integrated chips, a fact perfected by companies like Intel and Qualcomm. In the last decade, China has emerged as a leader in digitalization, digital payment, digital transformation, Artificial Intelligence especially facial recognition, big data, clean tech among others. Made in China will increase the productivity of China due to the sophistication of work and output boosting wages, though initially among a small proportion of workers but gradually over a larger population as projects would proliferate globally. This policy was mired in controversy, attacked by the Trump administration as a weapon to put China on the back foot. The middle Road ranks this policy as a Global Policy Ideology, thrusting China as a technology thought leader percolating down to its cultural roots. The policy is global since it is replicable in parts, suggesting a paradigm change for other countries to follow similar steps depending on its outcome in China. The middle Road interprets the attack on a particular policy or Huawei by the US worrisome majorly on two accounts. First, it implies a market leader is worried about the rise of a major competitor underlying the issue of the fallibility of America in technology which a few years back looked improbable. Second, it is one of the worst examples of policymaking as it promotes skewed interests of stakeholders in the tech industry. Keeping other factors constant, Huawei R&D investment stood among the top 5 in the world; 4th in 2018 and 5th in 2019 based on Bloomberg data and reports published on the web. A close inspection of the middle-income trap theory suggests that China might have already escaped the trap. Coined by Indermit Gill and Homi Kharas of World Bank, the term middle-income trap’s premise lies that countries transit from low income (agrarian oriented) to middle-income status through the use of highly productive manufacturing export-driven model encounter lower growth when they become middle-level economies. This theory holds true to some extent for Latin American countries and the middle east however selected countries have been an exception to the rule. China has a lot of things in its favor to escape the trap.

“Venerable Xuanzang journey to India and back took 16 years. He travelled more than 10,000 miles, covering about four countries and resided majorly in the great Nalanda University.  Xuanzang brought back 657 Buddhist texts from India to China in 520 cases.”  

In the research paper The Middle-Income Trap: Myth or Reality? By Greg, Norman and Michael; out of 101 middle income countries in 1960, approximately 13 became high income based on per capita income level relative to the United States in 2008 including China. China has a dominant position in manufacturing, refer to the publication on Inequalities by The middle Road. China built one of the best deep tech companies in the world. Example, Huawei revolutionized 5G technology despite the existence of prominent technology companies in the telecommunication sector. China’s foray into deep space with a mission to land rover on Mars cements the country’s position as a technology superpower beyond doubt. The fact that the country achieved stupendous success with limited collaboration from the external environment highlights the glowing halo around the Han civilization. Based on the Morgan Stanley report, critical variables that impede countries catapulting into high income status are high inflation and debt, lack of entrepreneurship ecosystem, high income inequality and educated human capital and knowledge diffusion. China’s inflation is under control. Further, China has a sustainable and world beating entrepreneurship ecosystem especially for nurturing high-tech companies, and a highly educated and trained workforce. China stood remarkably resolute during the pandemic with little stimulus required compared to peers to boost the economy. Its Gini coefficient, a parameter of income inequalities within societies, lower than many countries. The middle-income trap is more profound for low and middle level middle income countries whereas China is on the higher end of middle-income countries bracket.  The policies in China aid the emergence of middle class, are reform centric, enhanced by thriving world class academic universities. (World Bank’s latest report on Malaysia suggest its going to be a high income economy between 2014 and 2018 depending on some critical steps example enhanced social contract to promote development: Read Aiming High Navigating the next stage of Malaysia’s development).

Fictional story: Applauding the equanimity and intellectual foresight of Hiuen, the angels surrounded the monk to divert any dust by forming an invisible bubble that worked as a cloak blocking winds. As the traveler hurried towards the boulder, he was surprised the distance suddenly seemed much closer without understanding the supernatural forces at work. Cute Angel realized the enormity of the situation, it is next to impossible to survive such an unnatural storm, started working on his plan to save the monk. The celestial being started working on a counter thrust with a positive charge to attenuate the roaring storm. As the fight began between good and evil, Hiuen Tsang sat down next to the boulder calmly taking care of his only possession, a small bag containing scriptures. Sadly he had lost the only water flask he was carrying. As the crescendo of the storm grew higher and higher, Xuanzang delved into the impermanence of the situation. He took a deep breath, undeterred by his surrounding went into meditation knowing he had done whatever he could and leaving rest to nature. 15 feet above both The Devil and Cute Deva set facing each other. The Devil enraged that his devilish plan had failed took a fearsome guise. As laws of physics fought each other, the storm slowly started to lose steam like a repulsive discordant Cacophony reaching its crescendo. The celestial beings and The Devil observed in awe and respect the calm demeanour of Xuanzang, it suddenly dawned to The Devil he had failed miserably in his attempt to instill fear, anxiety within the young scholar. Oozing with respect for the traveler, The Devil gave up and came back to his normal guise as the storm subsided. Good had won over evil at least for now.

China is replete with an abundance of intellectual capital, one of the qualities that built the Chinese civilization through ages. The middle Road defines as well-rounded human capital having both technical and artistic fair as critical ingredients for supporting sustained growth in intellectual exuberance. The fertility rate, an enabler for sustained growth for intellectual capital, is not worrisome for China despite its one-child policy negating fears of labor dependency due to old age as experienced in countries like Canada and Japan. Chloé Zhao, Golden Globe award winner for best director for Nomadland is a nudge in the positive direction. Not to undermine the existing creative zeal among the Chinese, the award is a global recognition of the arrival and a trendsetter for greater things to come from The middle Kingdom. Second, an existing but fluid ecosystem that can fine-tune its processes and change gears based on the situation at hand. Third, have a mindset and leadership to take decisive steps at achieving the goal. The first two factors can be built over decades but the third factor symbolizes ideological underpinnings that delve deep into civilizations that cannot be replicated soon. China is one of the few existing civilizations to have the DNA to succeed. Look at the increase in the urbanization rate in China.

In 2019, China was 60.6% urbanized up from 19.39% in 1980, an astonishing rate for any country. (GDP per capita is not the best way of looking at value creation within a country looking at the size of China’s population. Statistics at best can be confusing if not interpreted within the broader spectrum of variables.) Using its effective Solow model, this decade the urbanization rate could go between 70% to 75%, leading to an increase in productivity. Urbanization brings workers into the organized sector from an unorganized sector kicking in a sound macro and structural foundation.

According to a report by Morgan Stanley, a 75% urbanization rate in China by 2030 would bring 220 million new urban dwellers into cities, with half of the population settling in the top 5 city clusters; with populations larger than Germany, UK, and France. Further, according to the report, China plans to invest $800 billion in high-speed rail, smart city grids, 5G telecom rollout, big data technologies, etc. by 2030, and these various initiatives expected to more than double China’s per capita income in 2030 from that of 2018.

Fictional Story: As The Devil and Cute Deva faced each other, both realizing how much similar they looked. Bounded in an endless fight, one was the mirror image of the other, for one the atoms moved in clockwise direction and for the other in anticlockwise direction.  As The Devil and The Cute Deva confronted each other, timeless nemesis of each other, a constant fight between good and evil, an endless ying yang duality for life emerged.

  •  The Devil:  We meet again. Do not let this victory please you. The fight has just begun.
  • Cute Deva (Angel):  Sure. No worries
  • The Devil: I will be back. Another time, Another place. Farewell my friend as the endless struggle continues.   

The Devil looked down at the handsome face of the young traveler, paid his homage, and disappeared into thin air. The angels came together waiting for Hiuen to come back from his deep meditative contemplation. When Xuanzang opened his eyes, it was another day with lovely weather. Sunny but pleasant, a middle road between the harsh extremes of the desert. Surprisingly Xuanzang felt refreshed despite being without water for three days. It has been two days since he had eaten anything yet with fantastic alacrity, he scanned the horizon to understand the next steps. He had carefully observed the sunrise the previous day and from his mental calculation worked out the west direction. He quickened his pace knowing the weather won’t hold long so it was best to make use of the time at hand. Recalling from his photographic memory and reworking the map in mind, Xuanzang knew he was on course to the foothills of the mountains. As the day wore on, on his last remnants of strength, the young monk thought he had finally reached an oasis in a distance. Knowing the fallacy from his previous experience, he prodded with measured caution. Nearing the waterhole, the traveler realized it was water. Joyful but patient, he lowered his mouth to gulp water without losing the equanimity of the mind. It was time to bathe, rest, and have fruits that were readily available. However, there was no time to waste. After adequate rest, fully hydrated, refilling supplies for the journey ahead, the young monk got up to begin his journey little knowing that he was half a day away from the foothills of the mountain. 

Cute Deva looked down as Venerable Xuanzang walked on his superlative journey, knowing that he had witnessed history that will stand the test of time. Every step Xuanzang took, was the testimony of the Civilization he represented, every step the Ideology he endorsed, every step the Discipline and Benevolence he personified, every step filled with Equanimity, Courage, and Wisdom. The Cute Deva reflected on which quality of Xuanzang stood out. He knew the monk; a scholar knew all the Buddhist scripts taught to him by heart. Inspired and backed by an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, Xuanzang took the journey despite a travel ban by the Tang king. Using his divine futuristic vision, Cute Deva knew that Xuanzang would excel in his quest, become cherished by many in India including the Great King Harsha. In the future, Xuanzang would be conferred the epithet Tripitaka, an honor for his mastery and articulation of Buddhist scriptures. The young man exemplified remarkable courage and equanimity, knowing that with all probability he will not succeed yet he ventured in his journey coming on top of all obstacles thrown by The Devil. Benevolence, Wisdom, Discipline, Courage all qualities embodied the monk and it suddenly dawned on him. Hiuen Tsang aka Xuanzang was deeply ideological, he preferred to take an unimaginable risk so it could have a chance to know more about what he believed in. Xuanzang had to know more about what he believed in; he was deeply ideological about his values. For him it was everything. The divine being reflected the holistic foundation of distinguished civilizations; they are ideological with a revolving theme of spirituality. This makes civic societies go that extra mile. A smile broke out on Deva’s face. Well done Hiuen Tsang. As the heavens rejoiced and showered their blessings on the young traveler, The Deva realized that it was time to go as the image of Xuanzang became a distant blur, leaving for the heavenly realms. 

 Invigorated from the refreshments, Xuanzang quickened his pace gradually. He came across scrubs and as vegetation grew, he knew he was close to the foothills of a hill. In a few moments he came across a stream. A smile lit up on his charming boyish face, Xuanzang knew water is the genesis of civilization, he had to just follow the water and leave the rest to nature.

In the fictional story; The Devil inspired by the concept of Mara in Buddhism. The script is designed to be made into short documentary film on this subject and does not cover the full breath of the actual script. The story is loosely inspired by Ven Xuanzang’s travel to India and in the above case refers to the journey from China to India. Xuanzang travelled through the Taklamakan Desert. The concept of duality is depicted through The Devil and The Cute Deva; it also symbolizes the concept at a meta physical level.


Authored, scripted and directed by Nishant Malhotra founder of Middle Road OPC Pvt Ltd | The middle Road, this is the first featured publication that explicitly uses creative writing as part of the read.  A though leader platform, The middle Road is designed to integrate various facets of social impact for a discernable outcome through e-publications, articles, snippets, online tutorials, podcasts, videos and consulting.  



  • Dorothy Wong  | The makings of a saint: Images of Xuanzang in East Asia    
  • Britannica


    • a. The Analects Confucius D C Lau
    • b. Sun Tzu Lionel Giles

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