It’s week six of my Class Showcase series, where I take a class from D&D and give three examples from popular culture. This week: Monks.
#3 Caine (Kung Fu / Kung Fu: The Movie / Kung Fu: The Legend Continues)
Most people of my generation remember the character of Cain popularized by David Carradine. Caine was a Shaolin Monk who forsook the monastic life to travel the Western United States in search of his long lost half-brother. His soft-spoken voice, sage wisdom, and impressive unarmed combat skills were very admirable. The series was kicked off by a two hour movie-of-the-week in 1972 and ran for 63 episodes until 1975. It was later revived into a movie in 1986 and again as a new series called Kung Fu: The Legend Continues in 1993 which ran for 88 episodes until 1997. Although I have no real proof to back this claim up, I fully believe that this series was the inspiration for the Monk Class in the original D&D release. That being said, have a peek at this series if you've ever wondered how a monk should be played.
#2 Yoda (Star Wars Universe)
There is a strong argument to be made that Jedi are more psionicists than monks. However, especially in Yoda’s case, I lean more toward monk in my thinking and here are my reasons why: he spends a great deal of time meditating; he is a philosopher and well spoken; he has a strong (almost spiritual) connection to the force; and he is well trained in combat. Combine all of this with his adeptness to train others and empathize with their wants and needs, and monk seems to be the best option for our little green Jedi Master. I also think it is important to note that many of the principals observed by the Jedi and Jediism have been derived from Buddhism and the teachings of Buddhist monks.
#1 Neo (The Matrix Trilogy)
If you can imagine for a moment that technology can have its own kind of spirituality and that the inter-connectivity of our digital world will one day be just as diverse as the natural world, then the idea of Neo being a kind of Techno Monk makes a lot of sense. It’s not just that he knows Kung Fu or that he struggles to preserve/improve mankind. It is his philosophical quest for understanding and his desire to learn about life. It is his balanced approach to listen to both sides of the argument, human and machine, and find the common ground between them. It is his ability to cling to the one principal that guides all living things: choice. That is what makes him a monk.