Journey to The West



Part 2







All things are born from the Three Positives;
The magic stone was quick with the essence of sun and moon.
An egg was turned into a monkey to complete the Tao;
He was lent a name so that the elixir would be complete,
Looking inside he perceives nothing because he has no consciousness of his existence,
Outside he uses his intelligence to create visible things,
Men have always been like this:
Those who are called Saints and sages do just as they wish.  

Taking control of his host of monkeys, apes, gibbons and others, the Handsome Monkey King divided them into rulers and subjects, assistants and officers. In the morning they roamed the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit and in the evening they settled down for the night in the Water Curtain Cave. They made a compact that they would not join the ranks of the birds or go with the running beasts. They had their own king, and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  

In spring they picked flowers for food and drink,
In summer they lived on fruit.  
In autumn they gathered taros and chestnuts,
They got through the winter on Solomon's-seat  

The Handsome Monkey King's innocent high Spirits could not, of course, last three or four hundred years. One day he suddenly felt depressed during a banquet with his monkey host, and he started to weep. The startled monkeys crowded round, bowed to him and asked, "What's the matter, Your Majesty?" "Although I'm happy now," the Monkey King replied, "I'm worried about the future. That's what's getting me down." The other monkeys laughed and said, "Your Majesty is being greedy. We have parties every day; we live in a mountain paradise, in an ancient cave in a divine continent. We are spared the rule of unicorns, the domination of phoenixes, and the restraints of human kings. We are free to do just as we like--- we are infinitely lucky. Why make yourself miserable worrying about the future?" To this the Monkey King replied, "Yes, we don't have to submit to the laws and regulations of human kings, and we don't live in terror of the power of birds and beasts. But the time will come when we are old and weak, and the un­derworld is controlled by the King of Hell. When the time comes for us to die, we won't be able to go on living among the Blessed, and our lives will have been in vain." All the monkeys covered their faces and wept as everyone of them thought about death.  

Suddenly a gibbon jumped out from their ranks and shriek­ed in a piercing voice, ¡°If Your Majesty is thinking so far ahead, this is the beginning of enlightenment. Now of the Five Creatures, there are only three that do not come under the jurisdiction of the King of Hell." "Do you know which they are?" asked the Monkey King. "Yes,¡± the ape replied. "They are the Buddha, the Immortals and the Sages. They are free from the Wheel of Reincarnation. They are not born and they do not die. They are as eternal as Heaven and Earth, as the mountains and the rivers." "Where do they live?" the Monkey King asked. "Only in the human world," the ape replied, ¡°in ancient caves on magic mountains."  The Monkey King was delighted to hear this. ¡°I shall leave you all tomorrow¡± he said, "and go down the mountain. If I have to, I'll roam the corners of the oceans and go to the edge of the sky to find these three kinds of beings and discover the secrets of eternal life that will keep us out of the clutches of the King of Hell for ever.¡± Goodness! Because of these words he was to learn how to be free from the Wheel of Reincarnation and become the Great Sage Equaling Heaven. All the monkeys clapped with approval and said, "Great! Great! Tomorrow we'll climb all over the mountain and get lots of fruit to give Your Majesty a really big banquet to send you off.¡±  

The next day the monkeys set out to pick magic peaches, gather rare fruits, dig out yams, and cut Solomon's-seal. Magic fungus and fragrant orchid were collected and everything was set on the stone benches and the stone tables, with fairy wine and dishes. You could see  

Golden pills and pearl pellets,
Bursting red and plump yellow.
The golden pills and pearl pellets were winter cherries, beautiful and sweet;
The burning red and plump yellow were ripe plums,
 tasty and sharp.
Fresh, sweet-fleshed longans with thin skins.
Fiery lichees with tiny stones in a red sack.
Branch after branch of crab-apples,
Yellow-skinned loquats with their leaves on.
Rabbit-head pears and chicken-heart jujubes
To quench your thirst, remove your cares, and sober you up.
Fragrant peaches and tender apricots.
As sweet and luscious as jade wine.

Crisp plums and arbutus,
As sharp as glistening yoghurt.
Ripe melons with red coats and black seeds,
Big, four-sectioned persimmons with yellow skin.
Bursting pomegranates:
Cinnabar pip, shining like fire-crystal pearls.
Opened water-chestnuts
With firm round flesh like golden agate.
Walnuts and gingko fruits to eat with tea;
Coconuts and grapes to make into wine,
Dishes loaded with pine cones, yew-nuts, filberts, and crab-apples;
Tangerines, sugar-cane and oranges covering the table.  
Hot roast yam,                                   
Tender boiled Solomon's-seal.
Pounded china-root and Job's tears.
Simmered in soup in a stone-pot.
Although we humans have rare delicacies to eat,
We are no happier than those monkeys in the mountains.  

The host of monkeys ushered the Handsome Monkey King to the seat of honor and sat down below him according to age. Each of them took it in turns to bring him wine, flowers, and fruit, and they drank hard for a whole day. The next morning the Handsome Monkey King got up early and ordered, ¡°Children, tear down some old pines and make me a raft. Find a bamboo pole to punt with and load it up with fruit. I'm go­ing.¡± He went aboard the raft all by himself, pushed off with all his might, and floated off towards the waves of the ocean. He intended to sail with the wind and cross over to the South­ern Jambu Continent.  

The heaven-born monkey, whose conduct was so noble,
Left his island to drift with heaven's winds.
He sailed oceans and seas to find the Way of Immortality,
Deeply determined to do a great deed.
The predestined one should not have vulgar longings;
He can attain the primal truth without care or worry.
He is bound to find a kindred spirit.
To explain the origins and the laws of nature.  

He had chosen just the right time for his journey. After he boarded his raft the southeastern wind blew hard for days on end and bore him to the northwestern shore of the Southern Continent. Testing the depth of the water with his pole he found that it was shallow, so he abandoned the raft and jumped ashore. He saw humans by the coast, fishing, hunting geese, gathering clams, and extracting salt. He went up to them, leaping around and making faces, which so scared them that they dropped their baskets and nets and fled in all directions as fast as they could. The Monkey King grabbed one of them who was a poor runner, stripped him of his clothes, and dressed himself in them like a human. He swaggered through the prov­inces and prefectures, learning human behavior and human speech in the market places. Whether he was eating his breakfast or going to bed at night he was always asking about Buddha, Immortals and Sages, and seeking the secrets of eternal life. He observed that the people of the world were too con­cerned with fame and fortune to be interested in their fates.

When will the struggle for lame and fortune end?
Toiling from morning till night, never resting yourself one moment.
Those who ride donkeys long for stallions,
The Prime Minister always wants to be a prince.
They only worry about having to stop work to eat or dress;
They never fear that the King of Hell will come to get them.
When trying to ensure their sons and grandsons inherit their wealth and power,
They have no time to stop and think.  

Although he asked about the way of the Immortals, the Monkey King was unable to meet one. He spent eight or nine years in the Southern Jambu Continent, going through its great walls and visiting its little counties.  When he found that he had reached the Great Western Ocean he thought that there must be Sages and Immortals on the other side of it, so he made himself another raft like the last one, and floated across the Western Ocean until he came to the Western Continent of Cattle-gift.  He went ashore and made extensive and lengthy enquiries until one day he came upon a high and beautiful mountain, thickly forested on its lower slopes. Not fearing wolves, and undaunted by tigers or leopards, he climbed to the summit to see the view. It was indeed a fine mountain

A thousand peaks brandishing halberds,
Screens ten thousand measures tall
In the sunlight the mountain haze is lightly touched with blue;
Alter the rain the black rocks look coldly green.
Withered creepers coil round ancient trees,
And the old ford marks the bounds of the mysterious.
Strange flowers and precious plants,
Flourishing in all four seasons, rivaling fairyland.
The nearby cry of a hidden bird,
The clear running of a spring.
Valley upon valley of mushroom and orchid,
lichen grows all over the cliffs.
The range rises and dips in dragon-like majesty.
Surely there must be lofty hermits here.
As he was looking at the view the Monkey King heard a human voice coming from the depths of the forest. He rushed into the trees, and when he cocked his ear to listen he heard a song.  
¡°Watching the chess game I cut through the rotten,
Felling trees, ding, ding,
Strolling at the edge of the cloud and the mouth the valley,
I sell firewood to buy wine,
Cackling with laughter and perfectly happy.
I pillow myself on a pine root, looking up at the moon.
When I wake up it is light.
Recognizing the old forest
I scale cliffs and cross ridges,
Cutting down withered creepers with my axe.
When I've gathered a basketful
I walk down to the market with a song,
And trade it for three pints of rice.
Nobody else competes with me,
So prices are stable.
I don't speculate or try sharp practice,
Couldn't care less what people think of me,
Calmly lengthening my days.
The people I meet
Are Taoists and Immortals;
Sitting quietly and expounding the book Yellow Court."
The Monkey King was overjoyed to hear this, and he said with glee, ¡°So this is where the Immortals have been hiding." He hounded deeper into the woods for a closer look and saw that the singer was a woodcutter cutting firewood.  He was wearing the most unusual clothes:  

On his head be wore a hat
Woven front the first skin shed by new bamboo shoots.
The clothes on his body
Were made of yarn from the wild cotton-tree.
The belt round his waist
Was of silk from an old silkworm.
The straw sandals under his feet
Had straps torn from rotten sago trees.
In his hand he held a steel axe
On his hack he carried a hempen rope
At climbing pines and felling dead trees,
Who was a match for this woodcutter?

The Monkey King went closer and called to him, "Old Immortal, your disciple greets you." The woodcutter dropped his axe in astonishment and turned round to say, "No, no. I don't even have enough to eat or drink, so how can I possibly let you call me an Immortal?" "If you're not an immortal," the Monkey King said, "why do you talk like one?" "I don't talk like an Immortal." the woodcutter said.  "At the edge of the wood just now," the Monkey King replied, "I heard you say, ¡°The people I meet are Taoists and Immortals, sitting quietly and expounding the Man Tingfang¡± The Mantingfang contains the truth about the Tao, so if you're not an Immortal, what are you?" The woodcutter laughed. "It's quite true that the song is called 'The Fragrance of the Mantingfang' and an Im­mortal who lives near my hut taught me it.  He said he saw how hard I had to work and how I was always worried, so he made me sing this song when things were getting me down. It lightens my cares and makes me forget my weariness. I was singing it just now because I had some problems on my mind, and I never imagined that you would be listening." "If you've got an Immortal for a neighbor, you ought to learn from him how to pursue Tao and get him to teach you a rec­ipe for eternal youth." "I've had a hard life," the woodcutter replied. "My mother and father brought me up tilt I was about eight and just when I was beginning to know about life my father died. My mother remained a widow, and I had no broth­ers or sisters. As I was the only child I had to look after my mother morning and night. Now she is old that I can't possibly leave her. Our land is so overgrown that I can't grow enough to feed and clothe both of us, so I have to cut a couple of bundles of firewood to sell in the market for a handful of coppers to buy the few pints of rice that I cook for myself and for my mother. That's why I can't practice to pursue Tao."  

"From what you say," the Monkey King replied, "you're a filial son and a gentleman---you're bound to be rewarded for it one day. But I'd be grateful if you could show me where that Immortal lives, so that I can go and pay him my respects." The woodcutter said, "It's not far from here. This mountain is the Spirit Tower Heart Mountain, and in it there is the Cave of the Setting Moon and the Three Stars. In that cave lives an Immortal called the Patriarch Subhuti. I don't know how many disciples he has trained---there are thirty or forty of them pursue Tao with him at the moment. If you take that path south for two or three miles you'll reach his home." The Monkey King tugged at the woodcutter and said, "Take me there, Elder Brother.  If I get anything out of this, I won't forget your kindness."  "You idiot," the woodcutter replied. "didn't you understand what I told you just now? If I went with you I wouldn't be able to earn my living, and who would look after my poor old mother then? I've got to get on with my woodcutting. Go by yourself."  
After hearing this the Monkey King had to take his leave. He came out of the forest and found the path, which led up a mountain slope for two or three miles, when he saw the cave. He pulled himself up to his full height to take a look, and it was a really magnificent place:


Misty clouds scattered colors,
Sun and moon shimmered bright.
A thousand ancient cypresses,
Ten thousand lofty bamboos.
A thousand ancient cypresses,
A soft green drawing the rain from the sky.
Ten thousand lofty bamboos,
And a misty valley is azure blue.
Outside the gate rare flowers spread brocade:
Beside the bridge wafts the scent of jade flowers.
Rocky crags jut, glossy with green moss;
On overhanging cliffs blue lichen grows.
Sometimes the call of the crane is heard
And often you see the phoenix soar.
The call of the crane
Echoes beyond the Ninth Heaven and the Milky Way.
When the phoenix soars,
The brilliance of its wings colors the clouds.
Black apes and white deer can be just made out;
Golden lions and jade elephants prefer to keep hidden.
If you look closely at this happy land,
You will see that it rivals paradise.

He saw that the doors of the cave were shut fast, and that everything was still, with no signs of any people.  He turned round and noticed that there was a stone tablet about thirty feet high and eight feet wide at the top of the cliff. On it was carv­ed in enormous letters: SPIRIT-TOWER HEART MOUN­TAIN, CAVE OF THE SETTING MOON AND THE THREE STARS, The Monkey King exclaimed with delight, "The people here really are honest.  The mountain and the cave do exist." He took a good long look, but did not date to knock on the door.  He climbed to the end of a pine branch and ate some pine seeds to amuse himself.  
Before long the doors of the cave opened with a creak, and an immortal boy came out. In the nobility of his bearing and the exceptional purity of his features he was completely different from an ordinary boy.  

His hair was bound with a pair of silken hands,
His flowing gown had two capacious sleeves.
His face and body were naturally distinguished;
His mind and appearance were both empty.

For many years a guest beyond the world of things,
An eternal child amid the mountains.
Untouched by any speck of dust,
He let the years go tumbling by.
When this boy had come out he shouted, "Who's making that row out here?" The Monkey King scampered down the tree, went up to him, and said with a bow, "Immortal child, I am a disciple who has come to ask about the Way and study under the Immortal. The last thing I'd do would be to make a row here?" The boy laughed. "So you've come to ask about the Tao, have you?" "Yes," the Monkey King replied. "Our master has just got up," the boy said, "and has now mounted the dais to expound the Tao. Before he had started to explain about origins he told me to open the door. He said, 'There is someone outside who wants to pursue Tao.  Go and welcome him.' I suppose he must have meant you.   'Yes, he meant me," the Monkey King said with a smile. "Come with me," the boy said.  

The Monkey King straightened his clothes and followed the boy deep into the depths of the cave. He saw majestic pavilions and towers of red jade, pearl palaces and gateways of cowrie, and countless rooms of silence and secluded cells leading all way to a jasper dais. He saw the Patriarch Subhuti sitting on the dais and thirty-six minor Immortals standing below it.  
An Immortal of great enlightenment is free from any dust,
Subhuti, the marvel of the Western World.
Neither dying nor born, he practises the triple medita­tion,
His spirit and soul entirely benevolent.
In empty detachment he follows the changes;
Having found his true nature he lets it run free.
As eternal as Heaven, and majestic in body.
The great teacher of Nature is enlightened through aeons.
As soon as the Handsome Monkey King saw him he bowed low and knocked his head on the ground before him many times, saying, ¡°Master, master, your disciple pays his deepest respects.¡± ¡°Where are you from?¡± the Patriarch asked, ¡°You must tell me your name and address before you can become my pupil.¡± ¡°I come from the Water Curtain Cave in the Flowers and Fruit Mountain in the land of Aolai in the Eastern Con­tinent of Superior Body,¡± replied the Monkey King.  ¡°Throw him out,¡± the Patriarch roared. ¡°He's a liar and a cheat, and even if he tried cultivating his conduct he would get nowhere.¡± The Monkey King desperately kept hitting his head on the ground and said, ¡°Your disciple spoke the truth.  I promise I wasn't lying.¡± The Patriarch asked, "If you were speaking the truth, why did you say that you came from the Eastern Con­tinent of Superior Body? Between here and the Eastern Con­tinent there are two seas and the Southern Jambu Continent, so how could you possibly have come here from there?" The Monkey King, still kowtowing, replied, "I sailed across seas and oceans, crossed frontiers and wandered through many coun­tries for over ten years before I arrived here."  

"So you came here by stages," the Patriarch remarked. "What is your surname?"  "I'm not surly," the Monkey King replied. ¡°If people call me names it doesn't bother me, and if they bit me I don't get angry. I'm just polite to them and that's that. I've never been surly."  "I didn't ask if you were surly. I wanted to know the surname you inherited from your parents." "I didn't have any parents, the Monkey King replied.  "If you had no parents, did you grow on a tree?" "I grew not on a tree but in a stone," the Monkey King replied. "All I re­member is that there was a magic stone on the top of the Flower and Fruit Mountain, and that one year the stone split open and I was born." Concealing his delight at hearing this, the Patriarch remarked, "In other words, you were born of Heaven and Earth. Walk around for a moment and let me have a look at you.  The Monkey King leapt to his feet and shambled round a couple of times.  The Patriarch smiled and said, "Though you have rather a base sort of body, you look like one of the rhesus monkeys that eat pine seeds, and I ought to give you a surname that fits your appearance and call you Hu ('Macaque'). The elements that make up the character Ru are 'animal', 'old' and 'moon'.  What is old is ancient, and the moon embodies the Negative principle, and what is ancient and Negative cannot be transformed. But I think I would do much better to call you Sun ('Monkey').  Apart from the 'animal' element, the character Sun has one part implying male and one part suggesting a baby, which fits in with my basic theories about children. Your surname will he Sun."  

When the Monkey King heard this he kowtowed with delight and said, "Great! Great! Now I have a surname. I am eternally grateful to you for your mercy and compassion, master. I beg you to give me a personal name to go with my new surname, then it will be much easier to address me. "There are twelve words within my sect," said the Patriarch, "which I give as names.  You belong to the tenth generation of my disciples."  "What are these twelve words?" asked the Monkey King.  "Broad, great, wisdom, intelligence, true, likeness, nature, sea, bright, awakened, complete and enlightenment.  If we work out the generations of disciples, then you should have a name with Wu ('Awakened') in it.  So we can give you the Dharma-name Sun Wukong, which means 'Monkey Awakened to Emptiness'. Will that do?" "Marvelous, marvelous," said the smiling Monkey King. "From now on my name will be Sun Wukong."  Indeed, 

When the Great Vagueness was separated there were no surnames;
To smash dead emptiness he had to be awakened to live emptiness.

If you want to know what success he had in pursuing Tao you must listen to the explanation in the next installment.

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