Journey to the West (vol. 3)
When the Heart Spirit Stays in the Home the Demons Submit
The Mother of Wood Helps Bring Monsters to the Truth
The story tells how after the Great Sage had struggled in his stomach for a while the senior demon collapsed in the dust. He made no sound and was not breathing either. As he said nothing Monkey thought the demon was dead, so he stopped hitting him. When the demon chief recovered his breath he called out, “Most merciful and most compassionate Bodhisattva, Great Sage Equaling Heaven.”
“My boy,” said Monkey when he heard this, “don't waste your effort. You could save yourself a few words by simply calling me Grandpa Sun.”
Desperate to save his skin, the evil monster really did call out, “Grandpa! Grandpa! I was wrong. I shouldn't have eaten you, and now you're destroying me. I beg you, Great Sage, in your mercy and compassion take pity on my antlike greed for life and spare me. If you do I'll escort your master across the mountain.”
Although the Great Sage was a tough hero he was most eager to help the Tang Priest in his journey, so on hearing the evil monster's pathetic pleas and flattery he decided once more to be kind.
“Evil monster,” he shouted, “I'll spare your life. How are you going to escort my master?”
“We don't have any gold, silver, pearls, jade, agate, coral, crystal, amber, tortoiseshell or other such treasures here to give him, but my two brothers and I will carry him in a rattan chair across the mountain.”
“If you could carry him in a chair that would be better than treasure,” said Monkey with a smile. “Open your mouth: I'm coming out.”
The demon then opened his mouth, whereupon the third chief went over to him and whispered in his ear, “Bite him as he comes out, brother. Chew the monkey to bits and swallow him. Then he won't be able to hurt you.”
Now Monkey could hear all this from inside, so instead of coming straight out he thrust his gold-banded cudgel out first as a test. The demon did indeed take a bite at it, noisily smashing one of his front teeth in the process.
“You're a nice monster, aren't you!” exclaimed Monkey, pulling his cudgel back. “I spare your life and agree to come out, but you try to murder me by biting me. I'm not coming out now. I'm going to kill you. I won't come out! I won't!”
“Brother,” the senior demon chief complained to the third one, “what you've done is destroy one of your own kind. I'd persuaded him to come out but you would have to tell me to bite him. Now I'm in agony from my broken tooth. What are we to do?”
In the face of the senior demon chief's complaints the third demon chief tried the method of making the enemy lose his temper.
“Sun the Novice,” he yelled at the top of his voice, “you have a thundering reputation. They tell of how mighty you were outside the Southern Gate of Heaven and at the Hall of Miraculous Mist. I'd heard that you've been capturing demons along your way to the Western Heaven. But now I see that you're only a very small-time ape.”
“What makes me small-time?” Monkey asked.
“A hero who only roams three hundred miles around will go three thousand miles to make his fame resound,” the third chief replied. “Come out and fight me if you're a real tough guy. What do you mean by messing about in someone else's stomach? If you're not small-time what are you?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” thought Monkey when he heard this. “It wouldn't be at all difficult for me to tear this demon's bowels to bits, rip up his liver, and kill him,” the Great Sage shouted. “But I'd destroy my own reputation in the process. I'll have to forget about it. Open your mouth and I'll come out and fight you. The only problem is that this cave of yours is much too cramped for me to use my weapons. We'll have to go somewhere where there's more room.”
On hearing this the third demon chief mustered all the demons young and old from all around. There were over thirty thousand of them armed with the finest and sharpest weapons who came out of the cave to form a line of battle symbolizing heaven, earth and mankind. They were all waiting for Monkey to come out of the senior demon's mouth before rushing him. The second demon chief then helped the senior demon out through the entrance of the cave, where he shouted, “Sun the Novice! If you're such a tough guy, come out. There's good battlefield here for us to fight on.”
The Great Sage could tell that this was an open area from the calls of crows, magpies and cranes that he could hear in the monster's belly. “If I don't come out I'll be breaking faith with them,” he thought. “But if I do these demons are beasts at heart behind their human faces. They tried to lure me out and bite me when they promised to carry the master across the ridge. Now they've got their army here. Oh well! I'll let them have it both ways. I'll go out but I'll leave a root in his stomach too.”
With that he put his hand behind him to pluck a tiny hair from his tail, blew on it with magic breath, called “Change!” and made it into a string as fine as a hair but some four hundred feet long. As the string came outside it grew thicker in the wind. One end Monkey fastened round the evil monster's heart in a slip-knot that he did not tighten-if he had it would have caused great pain. The other end he held in his hand as he said to himself, “If they agree to escort my master across the ridge when I come out this time I'll leave it at that. But if they refuse and go for me with their weapons so hard that I can't cope with them I'll just need to pull this rope. I'll get the same results as if I were still inside.”
He then made himself tiny and crawled up as far as the throat, from where he could see that the evil spirit had opened his mouth wide. Rows of steel teeth were set above and below like sharp knives. “This is no good,” he thought at once, “no good at all. If I take this rope out through his mouth and he can't stand the pain he'll be able to cut through it with a single bite. I'll have to go out where there aren't any teeth.” The splendid Great Sage paid out the string as he crawled up the demon's upper palate and into his nostril, which made his nose itch. The demon sneezed with a loud “atchoo,” blowing Monkey out.
As he felt the wind blowing him Monkey bowed and grew over thirty feet long, keeping the string in one hand and holding the iron cudgel in the other. The wicked monster raised his steel sword as soon as he saw Monkey appear and hacked at his face. The Great Sage met the blow one-handed with his cudgel. Then the second demon chief with his spear and the third chief with his halberd went for him furiously. The Great Sage relaxed his pull on the rope, put his iron cudgel away and made off at speed by cloud, afraid that he would be unable to fight properly when surrounded by so many young devils. Once he had leapt out of the demons' camp he brought his cloud down on a spacious and empty mountain top and pulled with both hands on the rope as hard as he could. This gave the senior demon a pain in the heart. The demon struggled upwards in agony, whereupon the Great Sage pulled him down again.
As they all watched from afar the junior demons all shouted: “Don't provoke him, Your Majesty! Let him go. That ape has no sense of when things ought to be done. He's flying a kite before the beginning of April.” When the Great Sage heard this he gave a mighty stamp, at which the senior demon came whistling down out of the sky like a spinning-wheel to crash into the dust, making a crater some two feet deep in the hard earth at the foot of the mountain.
This gave the second and third demon chiefs such a fright that they landed their clouds together and rushed forward to grab hold of the rope and kneel at the foot of the mountain. “Great Sage,” they pleaded, “we thought you were an immortal of vast and boundless generosity. We'd never dreamed that you would be as small-minded as a rat or a snail. It's true that we lured you out to give battle, but we never expected that you would tie a rope round our eldest brother's heart”
“You're a thorough disgrace, you damned gang of demons,” said Monkey with a laugh. “Last time you tried to trick me into coming out so you could bite me and this time you've lured me out to face an army ready for battle. It's obvious that you've got tens of thousands of soldiers here to tackle me when I'm alone. Most unreasonable. I'll pull him away. I'm going to drag him off to see my master.”
“If in your mercy and compassion you spare our lives, Great Sage,” the demons said, all kowtowing together, “we vow to escort your master across this mountain.”
“If you want to live all you have to do is cut the rope with your sword,” said Monkey with a laugh.
“My lord,” the senior monster said, “I can cut the rope outside, but it's no good having the length inside that's tied round my heart. It sticks in my throat so uncomfortably that it makes me feel sick.”
“In that case,” said Monkey, “open your mouth and I'll go back inside to undo the rope.” This alarmed the senior demon, who said, “If you don't come out when you go in this time I'll be in a mess, a real mess.”
“I know how to undo the end of the rope that's in you from the outside,” Monkey replied. “But when I've undone it will you really escort my master across?”
“We will as soon as you've undone it,” the senior demon chief replied. “I wouldn't dare lie about this.” Now that he had satisfied himself the demon was telling the truth Monkey shook himself and put the hair back on his body, whereupon the monster's heart pains stopped. It was the Great Sage Sun's transforming magic that had tied the hair round his heart in the first place, which was why the pain ended as soon as the hair was put back on Monkey.
The three demon chiefs then rose up into the air to thank him with the words, “Please go back now, Great Sage, and pack your luggage. We will carry a chair down to fetch him.” The demon horde then all put their weapons down and went back into the cave.
Having put his rope away the Great Sage went straight back to the Eastern side of the ridge, and when he was still a long way away he saw the Tang Priest lying on the ground, rolling around and howling. Pig and Friar Sand had opened the bundles of luggage and were dividing it up.
“Don't tell me,” thought Monkey with a quiet sigh. “No doubt Pig has told the master that I've been eaten up by evil spirits. The master's sobbing his heart out because he can't bear to be without me and the idiot's dividing the things ready for us all to split up. Oh dear! I can't be sure, so I'd better go down and give the master a shout.”
Bringing his cloud down, Monkey shouted, “Master!” As soon as Friar Sand heard this he started complaining to Pig.
“All you want is to see people dead, just like a coffin stand,” he said. “Our elder brother wasn't killed but you said he was and started this business here. Of course he's bound to kick up a row.”
“But I saw him with my own eyes being eaten up by the evil spirit in one mouthful,” Pig replied. “I'm sure we're just seeing that ape's spirit because it's an unlucky day.”
Monkey then went up to Pig and hit him in the face with a slap that sent him staggering. “Cretin!” he said. “Is this my spirit you can see?”
Rubbing his face, the idiot replied, “But the monster really did eat you up, brother. How can you-how can you have come back to life?”
“Useless gumboil!” said Monkey. “After he ate me I grabbed his bowels, twisted his lungs, tied a rope round his heart and tore at him till he was in horrible agony. Then they all kowtowed and pleaded with me, so I spared his life. Now they're bringing a carrying-chair here to take the master over the mountain.”
As soon as Sanzang heard this he scrambled to his feet, bowed to Monkey and said, “Disciple, I've put you to enormous trouble. If I had believed what Wuneng said we would have been finished.”
“Chaff-guzzling idiot,” Monkey said abusively, taking a swing at Pig with his fist, “you're thoroughly lazy and barely human. But don't get upset, Master. The monsters are coming to take you across the mountain.” Friar Sand too felt deeply ashamed, and quickly trying to cover it up he packed up the luggage and loaded the horse to wait on the road.
The story returns to the three demon chiefs, who led their devilish hosts back into the cave. “Elder brother,” said the second demon, “I'd imagined that Sun the Novice had nine heads and eight tails, but he turns out to be nothing but that pipsqueak of a monkey. You shouldn't have swallowed him. You should have fought him. He'd have been no match for us. With our tens of thousands of goblins we could have drowned him in our spit. But by swallowing him you let him use his magic and cause you agony, so that you didn't dare have it out with him. When I said we'd take the Tang Priest across the mountains just now I didn't mean it. It was only a way of luring him out because your life was in danger. I most certainly won't escort the Tang Priest.”
“Why not, good brother?” the senior demon chief asked.
“If you and I draw up three thousand junior devils ready for battle I can capture that ape,” the second demon replied.
“Never mind about three thousand,” the senior demon chief said. “You can have our whole force. If we capture him it'll be a credit to us all.”
The second demon chief then mustered three thousand junior demons whom he led to a place beside the main road, where they were put into battle formation. He sent a herald with a blue flag to carry a message.
“Sun the Novice,” the herald said, “come out at once and fight His Second Majesty.”
When Pig heard this he said with a laugh, “As the saying goes, brother, liars don't fool the people at home. You lied to us when you came back, you trickster. You said you'd beaten the evil spirits and that they'd be bringing a carrying-chair to take the master across. But here they are challenging you to battle. Why?”
“The senior demon did surrender to me,” Monkey replied, “and he wouldn't dare show his face. The sound of my name alone is enough to give him a headache. The second demon chief must be challenging me to battle because he can't bring himself to escort us across. I tell you, brother, those three evil spirits are brothers and they have a sense of honour. We're three brothers but we don't. I've beaten the senior demon, so the second demon's come out. There's no reason why you shouldn't fight him.”
“I'm not scared of him,” Pig said. “I'll go and give him a fight.”
“If you want to, go ahead,” Monkey replied.
“Brother,” said Pig with a laugh, “I'll go, but lend me that rope.”
“What do you want it for?” Monkey asked. “You don't know how to get into his belly or tie it to his heart, so what use would it be to you?”
“I want it tied round my waist as a lifeline,” replied Pig. “You and Friar Sand are to hold on to it and let it out for me to fight him. If you think I'm beating him pay more rope out and I'll capture him, but if he's beating me, pull me back. Don't let him drag me off.”
At this Monkey smiled to himself and thought, “Another chance to make a fool of the idiot.” Monkey then tied the rope round Pig's waist and sent him off into battle.
The idiot lifted his rake and rushed up the steep slope shouting. “Come out, evil spirit! Come and fight your ancestor Pig!” The herald with the blue flag rushed back to report, “Your Majesty, there's a monk with a long snout and big ears here.” The second demon chief came out of the encampment, saw Pig, and without a word thrust his spear straight at Pig's face. The idiot raised his rake and went forward to parry the blow. The two of them joined battle in front of the mountainside, and before they had fought seven or eight rounds the idiot began to weaken. He was no longer able to hold the evil spirit off.
“Brother,” he shouted, turning back in a hurry, “pull in the lifeline, pull in the lifeline!” When the Great Sage heard this from where he stood he loosened his hold on the rope and dropped it. The idiot started to run back now that he was defeated. At first he had not noticed the rope trailing behind him, but after he turned back, relaxing the tension on it, it started to get tangled round his legs. He tripped himself over, climbed to his feet and tripped over again. At first he only staggered, but then he fell facedown into the dust. The evil spirit caught up with him, unwound his trunk that was like a python, wrapped it round Pig and carried him back in triumph to the cave. The devilish host chorused a paean of victory as they swarmed back.
When Sanzang saw all this from the foot of the slope he became angry with Monkey. “Wukong,” he said, “no wonder Wuneng wishes you were dead. You brother-disciples don't love each other at all. All you feel is jealousy. He told you to pull in his lifeline, so why didn't you? Why did you drop the rope instead? What are we to do now you have got him killed?”
“You're covering up for him again, Master,” said Monkey, “and showing favoritism too. I'm fed up. When I was captured it didn't bother you at all. I was dispensable. But when that idiot gets himself caught you blame me for it. Let him suffer. It'll teach him how hard it is to fetch the scriptures.”
“Disciple,” said Sanzang, “was I not worried when you went? I remembered that you could change into other things, so I was sure you would come to no harm. But the idiot was born clumsy and can't transform himself, which makes this a very dangerous business. You must go and rescue him.”
“Stop complaining, Master,” said Brother Monkey. “I'll go and save him.”
Monkey rushed up the mountain thinking resentfully, “I'm not going to make life easy for that idiot if he wishes me dead. I'll go and see what the evil spirits are doing with him. Before I rescue him I'll let him suffer a bit.” He then made magic with his hands, said the words of a spell, shook himself, turned into the tiniest of insects and flew into the cave, where he landed at the bottom of one of Pig's ears to be taken inside with the evil spirit. The second demon chief had led his three thousand junior devils trumpeting and drumming loudly to the cave, where they stopped.
He now took Pig inside and said, “I've got one, elder brother.”
“Show me,” the senior demon replied.
Unwinding his trunk the second demon chief flung Pig to the ground and said, “There he is.”
“That one's useless,” said the senior demon.
“Your Majesty,” put in Pig when he heard this, “if I'm no use let me go and find a more useful one to capture.”
“He may not be any use,” said the third demon chief, “but he is the Tang Priest's disciple Zhu Bajie. Tie him up and put him to soak in the pool at the back. When his bristles have been soaked off we can open his belly up, salt him and dry him in the sun. He'll go down well with some wine on a rainy day.”
“That's that then,” exclaimed Pig in horror. “I've fallen into the clutches of a demon who's a salt-pork peddler.” The demon hordes fell on him, tied his hands and feet together, carried him to the pool at the back, pushed him in and went back.
When the Great Sage flew there to have a look he saw the idiot with his four limbs pointing upwards and his snout downwards as he half floated and was half sinking, grunting through his snout. He really was a ridiculous sight, like a big blackened frost-bitten lotus pod that has shed its seeds in September or October. Seeing his face the Great Sage felt both loathing and pity for him.
“What shall I do?” he wondered. “After all, he is another member of the Dragon Flower Assembly. I just wish he wouldn't keep trying to divide up the luggage, split our band, and incite the master to say the Band-tightening Spell. The other day I heard Friar Sand say that he'd stashed some money away for himself. I wonder if it's true. I'll give him a scare and find out.”
The splendid Great Sage flew down to his ear and called in a disguised voice, “Zhu Wuneng, Zhu Wuneng.”
“This is terrible,” thought Pig in alarm, “Wuneng is the name the Bodhisattva Guanyin gave me. I've been called Zhu Bajie all the time I've been with the Tang Priest. How can there be anyone here who knows my name is Wuneng?” So he could not restrain himself from asking, “Who's that calling my Buddhist name?”
“Me,” said Monkey.
“Who are you?” the idiot asked.
“I'm a catcher,” Monkey replied.
“Where from, sir?” asked Pig in terror.
“From the Fifth King of the Underworld, and he's sent me to fetch you,” said Monkey.
“Then please go back and ask the Fifth King as he's such a good friend of my senior fellow-disciple Sun Wukong to give me a day's grace. You can come for me tomorrow.”
“You're talking nonsense,” Monkey replied. “If King Yama of Hell decides you're to die in the third watch nobody will keep you till the fourth. Come with me at once if you don't want me to put a rope round your neck and drag you off.”
“Do me a favour,” said the idiot. “Even with a face like mine still want to go on living. I'll certainly die if I have to, but give me a day till these evil spirits have captured my master and the rest of us, so I can see them again before we're all done for.”
“Very well then,” said Monkey, grinning to himself. “I've got about thirty people to capture around here in this batch. When I've caught them I'll come back for you. That'll give you a day's grace. Give me some money. I'm sure you've got some.”
“Oh dear,” said Pig, “we monks don't have money.”
“If you haven't then I'm dragging you off,” said Brother Monkey. “Come with me.”
“Don't be so impatient, sir,” said the idiot, panicking. “I know that rope of yours is what they call the life-taking rope. Once It's round you you're dead. Yes, I have got some money. I've got a bit, but not much.”
“Where is it?” Monkey demanded. “Give it me at once.”
“Oh dear, what a pity!” said Pig. “From when I became a monk right up till now the kind people who feed monks have given me a bit more alms than the others because my belly's so big. I saved all the little bits of silver till I had about half an ounce. They were awkward to keep, so when we were in a city some time ago I asked a silversmith to melt them all together. The wicked man stole a few grains of it, so the ingot he made only weighed forty-six hundredths of an ounce. Take it.”
“The idiot hasn't even got his trousers on,” grinned Monkey to himself, “so where can he have hidden it? Hey, where's your silver?”
“It's stuffed inside my left ear,” Pig replied. “I can't get it myself because I'm tied up, so take it out yourself.” When Monkey heard this he put his hand out and took the silver from inside Pig's ear. It was indeed an ingot shaped like a saddle that weighed only forty-five or forty-six hundredths of an ounce. As he held it in his hands Monkey could not help roaring with laughter.
Recognizing Monkey's voice the idiot started cursing him wildly from the water: “Damn and blast you, Protector of the Horses, for coming to extort money from me when I'm in such misery.”
“I've got you now, you dreg-guzzler!” said Monkey. “Goodness only knows what I've had to suffer for the sake of protecting the master, while you've been making your fortune.”
“Nonsense!” Pig retorted. “Call this a fortune? It's just what I've scraped off my teeth. I resisted spending it on my stomach, so I saved it to buy myself some cloth to get a tunic made. You've got it out of me by intimidation. You ought to share it with me.”
“You won't get a cent of it,” Monkey replied.
“I've paid you to spare my life,” said Pig, “so now you damn well ought to rescue me.”
“Don't be so impatient,” said Monkey. “I'll rescue you all in good time.” Putting the silver away he turned back into himself and used his cudgel to bring Pig close enough to grab him by his feet, drag him ashore and untie him. Pig then sprang up, took off his clothes, wrung them out, shook them, and draped them still dripping wet over his shoulders.
“Brother,” he said, “open the back gates. Let's go.”
“There's no glory in sneaking out the back way,” replied Monkey. “We'll leave by the front gates.”
“My feet are still numb after being tied up,” said Pig. “I can't run.”
“Buck up and come with me,” said Monkey.
The splendid Great Sage charged out, clearing his way by swinging his cudgel. The idiot had no choice but to endure the pain and keep close to him. When he saw the rake propped up by the second pair of gates he went over to it, pushed the junior devils aside, retrieved it and rushed forward, lashing out wildly. He and Brother Monkey charged through three or four pairs of gates, and goodness only knows how many junior devils they killed.
When the senior demon chief heard all this he said to the second chief, “You captured a fine one! A fine one indeed! Look! Sun the Novice has rescued Pig and they've wounded or killed the juniors on the gates.” The second demon at once sprang to his feet and rushed out through the gates brandishing his spear.
“Damned macaque,” he shouted at the top of his voice. “What a nerve! How dare you treat us with such contempt!” As soon as the Great Sage heard this he stopped still. The monster thrust his spear straight at him without allowing any argument. With the unhurried skill of the expert Monkey raised his iron cudgel to hit back at the demon's face. The two of them fought a splendid battle outside the entrance to the cave:
The yellow-tusked elephant in human form
Had sworn brotherhood with the Lion King.
Persuaded by the senior monster
They plotted together to eat the Tang Priest.
Huge were the powers of the Great Sage, Heaven's equal,
Who helped the good against the bad and killed off demons,
The incompetent Pig had met with disaster,
So Monkey saved him and led him outside.
When the demon king pursued them with great ferocity
The spear and the cudgel each showed off its powers.
The spear moved like a snake in the woods;
The cudgel arose like a dragon from the sea.
Where the dragon emerged the clouds were thick;
Dense hung the mist where the snake went through the woods.
It was all for the sake of the Tang Priest
That they fought each other with ferocity and hatred.
When he saw the Great Sage start fighting the evil spirit, Pig stood on the spur, his rake upright. Instead of joining in to help, he watched with stupefied amazement. Monkey's cudgel was so powerful and his martial skills so faultless the evil spirit used his spear to parry Monkey's blows while unrolling his trunk to wrap round him. As Monkey knew about this trick he held his gold-banded cudgel out horizontally in both hands and raised them. The evil spirit's trunk caught Monkey round the waist but missed his hands. Just watch how Monkey belabors the evil spirit's trunk with his cudgel.
When Pig saw this he beat his chest and said, “Oh dear! That monster's got lousy luck. When he caught me he got my arms too because I'm so clumsy, but he didn't when he caught that slippery character. He's got his cudgel in both hands, and all he needs to do is shove it up the monster's trunk to give him such a pain in the nostrils that it'll make the snot run. The monster'll never be able to hold him.”
Monkey had not thought of this before Pig gave him the idea, but now he waved his cudgel to make it as thick as a hen's egg and over ten feet long and actually did shove it hard up the monster's trunk. This gave the evil spirit such a shock that he unraveled his trunk with a swishing noise. Monkey brought his hand round to grab the trunk and drag it forcefully towards him. To spare himself any more agony the monster stepped out and moved with Monkey's hand. Only then did Pig dare approach, raising his rake to hit wildly at the monster's flanks.
“No,” said Brother Monkey, “that's no good. The prongs of your rake are so sharp they might break his skin. If he starts bleeding heavily and the master sees it he'll say we've been killing again. You'd better turn it round and hit him with the handle.”
The idiot then raised the handle of his rake and struck the monster at every step while Monkey dragged him by the trunk. They looked like a pair of elephant boys as they led him down to the foot of the mountain, where Sanzang could be seen gazing with concentration at the two of them coming noisily towards him.
“Wujing,” he said to Friar Sand, “what is it Wukong is leading?”
“Master,” replied Friar Sand when he saw them, “big brother is dragging an evil spirit here by the nose. He really enjoys slaughter.”
“Splendid, splendid,” said Sanzang. “What a big evil spirit, and what a long nose! Go and ask him if he's happy and willing to escort us over the-mountain. If he is he must be spared and not be killed.”
Friar Sand at once rushed straight towards them shouting, “The master says you mustn't kill the monster if he's really willing to escort him across the mountain.” As soon as he heard this the demon fell to his knees and promised to do so in a very nasal voice. His voice was like this because Monkey was pinching his nostrils shut, making it sound as though he had a heavy cold.
“Lord Tang,” he said, “I'll carry you across by chair if you spare my life.”
“My master and we disciples are good people.” Monkey replied. “As you've said this we'll spare your life. Fetch the chair at once. If you break your word again we most certainly won't spare your life when we catch you next time.” The freed monster kowtowed and left. Monkey and Pig went to report to the Tang Priest on everything that had happened to them. Pig was overcome with shame as he spread his clothes out to dry in the sun while they waited.
The second demon chief returned trembling and shaking to the cave. Even before his return some junior devils had reported to the senior and the third demon chiefs that Monkey had dragged him off by the trunk. In his anxiety the senior demon had led his hosts out with the third demon when they saw the second chief coming back alone. As they brought him inside and asked him why he had been released the second chief told them all about Sanzang's words of mercy and goodness. They looked at each other, at a loss for words.
“Elder brother,” said the second demon chief, “shall we take Sanzang across?”
“What a thing to say, brother,” replied the senior chief. “Sun the Novice is a monkey who shows the greatest benevolence and sense of justice. If he had wanted to kill me when he was in my stomach he could most certainly have done so. He only grabbed your trunk. He might have dragged you off and not let you go. All he did was to pinch your trunk and break its skin, and that's given you a scare. Get ready at once to take them across.”
The third demon chief smiled and said, “Yes, yes, yes!”
“From the way you're talking, my good brother,” said the senior demon, “it sounds as though you're reluctant to let the Tang Priest go. If you don't, we'll take him across.”
The third demon chief smiled again and said, “Elder brothers, it would have been luckier for those monks if they hadn't asked us to escort them but had slipped quietly across instead. By asking us to escort them they've fallen in with our plan to lure the tiger down from the mountain.”
“What do you mean by 'luring the tiger from the mountain?'“ the senior demon asked.
“Summon all the demons in our cave,” the third demon chief continued. “Choose one thousand from the ten thousand of them, then a hundred from the thousand, then sixteen and thirty from the hundred.”
“Why do you want sixteen and thirty?” the senior demon asked.
“The thirty must be good cooks,” the third demon chief replied. “Give them the best rice and flour, bamboo shoots, tea, gill fungus, button mushrooms, beancurd and wheat gluten. Send them to put up a shelter seven to ten miles along the way and lay on a meal for the Tang Priest.”
“And what do you want the sixteen for?” the senior demon asked.
“Eight to carry the chair and eight to shout and clear the way,” the third demon replied. “We brothers will accompany them for a stage of their journey. About 150 miles West of here is my city, and I've plenty of troops there to greet them. When they get to the city we'll do such and such and so on… The Tang Priest and his disciples won't be able to see what's happening to them. Whether we catch the Tang Priest or not depends completely on those sixteen demons.”
The senior demon was beside himself with delight on hearing this. It was as if he had recovered from a drunken stupor or woken up from a dream. “Excellent, excellent,” he said, whereupon he mustered the demons, chose thirty to whom he gave the food and another sixteen to carry a rattan chair. As they set out the senior demon gave the following instructions to the rest of the demons: “None of you are to go out on the mountain. Sun the Novice is a very cautious ape, and if he sees any of you around he'll be suspicious and see through our plan.”
The senior demon then led his underlings to a place beside the main road, where he called aloud, “Lord Tang, today's not an unlucky one, so please come across the mountain straight away.”
“Who is that calling me, Wukong?” Sanzang asked when he heard this.
“It's the demons I beat,” Monkey replied. “They're bringing a chair to carry you.”
Putting his hands together in front of his chest Sanzang looked up to the sky and said, “Splendid, splendid! But for my worthy disciple's great abilities I could not proceed on my journey.” He then walked forward to greet the demons with the words, “I am most grateful for the consideration you gentlemen are showing. When my disciples and I return to Chang'an we will praise your admirable achievements.”
“Please get into the carrying-chair, my lord,” the demons said, kowtowing. Having mortal eyes and body Sanzang did not realize that this was a trick. The Great Sage Sun, a golden immortal of the Supreme Monad with a loyal nature, thought that because he had captured and released the demons they were now won over. He never imagined that they had other plots in mind, so he did not investigate closely but went along with his master's ideas. He told Pig to tie the luggage on the horse and keep close to the master with Friar Sand while he cleared the way with his iron cudgel, watching out to see if all was well. While eight devils carried the chair and eight shouted in turn to clear the way the three demon chiefs steadied the poles of the chair. The master was delighted to sit upright in it and go up the high mountain by the main track, little realizing that
Great grief would return in the midst of rejoicing;
“Extremes,” says the classic, “create their negation.”
Fated they were to meet with disaster,
A star of ill-omen to mark desolation.
The band of demons worked with one mind to escort them and serve them diligently at all times. After ten miles there was a vegetarian meal and after fifteen more miles another one. They were invited to rest before it grew late, and everything along their way was neat and tidy. Each day they had three most satisfactory and delightful meals and spent a comfortable night where they were able to sleep well.
When they had traveled about 150 miles West they found themselves near a walled city. Raising his iron cudgel the Great Sage, who was only a third of a mile ahead of the carrying-chair, was so alarmed by the sight of the city that he fell over and was unable to rise to his feet. Do you know why someone of his great courage was so frightened by what he saw? It was because he saw a very evil atmosphere hanging over the town.
Crowds of evil demons and monsters,
Wolf spirits at all four gates.
Striped tigers are the commanders;
White-faced tiger-cats are senior officers.
Antlered stags carry documents around;
Cunning foxes walk along the streets.
Thousand-foot pythons slither round the walls;
Twenty-mile serpents occupy the roads.
At the base of high towers gray wolves shout commands;
Leopards speak in human voices by pavilions.
Standard-bearers and drummers-all are monsters;
Mountain spirits patrol and stand sentry;
Crafty hares open shops to trade;
Wild boars carry their loads to do business.
What used to be the capital of a heavenly dynasty
Has now become a city of wolves and tigers.
Just as he was being overcome by terror the Great Sage heard a wind from behind him and turned quickly to see the third demon chief raising a heaven-square halberd with a patterned handle to strike at his head. Springing to his feet, the Great Sage struck back at the monster's face with his gold-banded cudgel. Both of them were snorting with rage and fury as they ground their teeth and fought a wordless struggle. Monkey then saw the senior demon chief giving out orders as he lifted his steel saber to hack at Pig. Pig was in such a rush that he had to let the horse go as he swung his rake around to hit wildly back. Meanwhile the second demon chief was thrusting with his spear at Friar Sand, who parried with his demon-quelling staff.
The three demon chiefs and the three monks were now all fighting in single combat, ready to throw away their lives. The sixteen junior devils obeyed their orders, each giving play to his talents as they grabbed hold of the white horse and the luggage and crowded round Sanzang, lifting up his chair and carrying him straight to the city.
“Your Senior Majesty, please decide what to do now we've captured the Tang Priest,” they shouted. All the demons of every rank on the city walls came rushing down to throw the city gates wide open. Every battalion was ordered to furl its flag, silence its drums, and on no account shout war-cries or strike gongs.
“His Senior Majesty has given orders that the Tang Priest is not to be frightened. He can't endure being scared. If he is, his flesh will turn sour and be inedible.” The demons were all delighted to welcome Sanzang, bowing and carrying him into the throne hall of the palace, where he was invited to sit in the place of honour. They offered him tea and food as they bustled around him in attendance. The venerable elder felt dizzy and confused as he looked about and saw no familiar faces.
If you don't know whether he was to escape with his life listen to the explanation in the next installment.
The Demon Host Mistreats the Fundamental Nature
The One Body Pays His Respects to the Buddha
We will tell now not of the sufferings of the venerable Tang Elder but of the three demon chiefs in strenuous combat with the Great Sage and his two brother disciples in the low hills to the East outside the city. It was indeed a good hard battle, like an iron brush against a copper pan:
Six types of body, six types of weapon,
Six physical forms, six feelings.
The six evils arise from the six sense organs and the six desires;
The six gates to nirvana and the six ways of rebirth are struggling for victory.
In the thirty-six divine palaces spring comes of itself;
The six times six forms do not want to be named.
This one holding a gold-banded cudgel
Performs a thousand movements;
That one wielding a heaven-square halberd
Is exceptional in every way.
Pig is even more ferocious with his rake;
The second demon's spear-play is superb and effective.
There is nothing commonplace about young Friar Sand's staff
As he tries to inflict a blow that is fatal;
Sharp is the senior demon's saber
Which he raises without mercy.
These three are the true priest's invincible escorts;
The other three are evil and rebellious spirits.
At first the fight is not so bad,
But later it becomes more murderous.
All six weapons rise up by magic
To twist and turn in the clouds above.
They belch out in an instant clouds that darken the sky,
And the only sounds to be heard are roars and bellows.
After the six of them had been fighting for a long time evening was drawing in, and as the wind was also bringing clouds it became dark very quickly. Pig was finding it harder and harder to see as his big ears were covering his eyelids. His hands and feet were besides too slow for him to be able to hold off his opponent, so he fled from the fight, dragging his rake behind him. The senior demon chief took a swing at him with his sword that almost killed him. Luckily Pig moved his head out of the way, so that the blade only cut off a few of his bristles. The monster then caught up with Pig, opened his jaws, picked Pig up by the collar, carried him into the city and threw him to the junior demons to tie up and take to the throne hall. The senior demon chief then rose back into the air by cloud to help the other two.
Seeing that things were going badly Friar Sand feinted with his staff and turned to flee only to be caught, hands and all, when the second demon unraveled his trunk and noisily wrapped it round him. The demon took him too into the city, ordering the junior demons to tie him up in the palace before rising up into the sky again to tell the others how to catch Monkey. Seeing that both his brother disciples had been captured Monkey realized that it was going to be impossible for him to hold out single-handed. Indeed:
A couple of fists can defeat a good hand,
But cannot a competent foursome withstand.
With a shout Brother Monkey pushed the three demons' weapons aside, set off his somersault cloud and fled. When the third demon chief saw Monkey ride off by somersault he shook himself, resumed his real form, spread his wings and caught up with the Great Sage. You may well ask how the demon could possibly catch up with him. When Monkey made havoc in heaven all that time ago a hundred thousand heavenly soldiers had failed to capture him. Because he could cover 36,000 miles in a single somersault of his cloud, none of the gods had been able to catch up with him. But this evil spirit could cover 30,000 miles with one beat of his wings, so that with two beats he caught up with Monkey and seized him. Monkey could not get out of the demon's talons no matter how hard he struggled or how desperately he longed to escape. Even when he used his transformation magic he still could not move. If he made himself grow the demon opened his grip but still held firmly to him; and if he shrank the demon tightened his clutch. The demon took him back inside the city, released his talons, dropped him into the dust, and told the fiendish hordes to tie him up and put him with Pig and Friar Sand. The senior and the second demon chiefs both came out to greet the third chief, who went back up into the throne hall with them. Alas! This time they were not tying Monkey up but sending him on his way.
It was now the second watch of the night, and after all the demons had exchanged greetings the Tang Priest was pushed out of the throne hall. When he suddenly caught sight in the lamplight of his three disciples all lying tied up on the ground the venerable master leaned down beside Brother Monkey and said through his tears, “Disciple, when we meet with trouble you normally go off and use your magic powers to subdue the monsters causing it. Now that you too have been captured can I survive, poor monk that I am?” As soon as Pig and Friar Sand heard their master's distress they too began to howl together.
“Don't worry, Master,” said Monkey with a hint of a smile, “and don't cry, brothers. No matter what they do they won't be able to hurt us. When the demon chiefs have settled and are asleep we can be on our way.”
“You're just making trouble again, brother,” replied Pig. “We're trussed up with hempen ropes. If we do manage to work them a bit loose they spurt water on them to shrink them again. You might be too skinny to notice, but fat old me's having a terrible time. If you don't believe me take a look at my arms. The rope's cut two inches deep into them. I'd never get away.”
“Never mind hempen ropes,” said Monkey with a laugh, “even if they were coconut cables as thick as a rice-bowl they'd be no more than an autumn breeze to me. What's there to make a fuss about?”
As master and disciples were talking the senior demon could be heard saying, “Third brother, you really are strong and wise. Your plan to capture the Tang Priest was brilliant and it worked.”
“Little ones,” he called, “Five of you carry water, seven scrub the pans, ten get the fire burning and twenty fetch the iron steamer. When we've steamed the four monks tender for my brothers and me to enjoy we'll give you juniors a piece so that you can all live for ever.”
“Brother,” said Pig, trembling, when he this, “listen. That evil spirit's planning to steam and eat us.”
“Don't be afraid,” said Monkey. “I'm going to find out whether he's an evil spirit still wet behind the ears or an old hand.”
“Brother,” said Friar Sand, sobbing, “don't talk so big. We're next door to the king of Hell. How can you talk about whether he's wet behind the ears or an old hand at a time like this?” The words were not all out of his mouth before the second demon chief was heard to say, “Pig won't steam well.”
“Amitabha Buddha!” said Pig with delight. “I wonder who's building up good karma by saying I won't steam well.”
“If he won't steam well,” the third chief said, “skin him before steaming him.” This panicked Pig, who screamed at the top of his voice, “Don't skin me. I may be coarse but I'll go tender if you boil me.”
“If he won't steam well,” the senior demon chief said, “put him on the bottom tray of the steamer.”
“Don't worry, Pig,” said Monkey with a laugh, “he's wet behind the ears. He's no old hand.”
“How can you tell?” Friar Sand asked.
“Generally speaking you should start from the top when steaming,” Monkey replied. “Whatever's hardest to steam should be put on the top tray. Add a bit of extra fuel to the fire, get up a good steam and it'll be done. But put it at the bottom and lower the steam and you won't get the steam up even if you cook it for six months. He must be wet behind the ears if he says that Pig should be put on the bottom tray because he's hard to cook.”
“Brother,” Pig replied, “if he followed your advice I'd be slaughtered alive. When he can't see the steam rising he'll take the lid off, turn me over and make the fire burn hotter. I'll be cooked on both sides and half done in the middle.”
As they were talking a junior devil came in to report that the water was boiling. The senior chief ordered that the monks be carried in, and all the demons acted together to carry Pig to the lowest shelf of the steamer and Friar Sand to the second shelf.
Guessing that they would be coming for him next Brother Monkey freed himself and said, “This lamplight is just right for some action.” He then pulled out a hair, blew on it with magic breath, called, “Change!” and turned it into another Monkey he tied up with the hempen rope while extracting his real self in spirit form to spring into mid-air, look down and watch. Not realizing his deception, the crowd of demons picked up the false Monkey they saw and carried him to the third tray of the steamer, near the top. Only then did they drag the Tang Priest to the ground, tie him up, and put him into the fourth tray. As the dry firewood was stacked up a fierce fire blazed.
“My Pig and Friar Sand can stand a couple of boilings,” sighed the Great Sage up in the clouds, “but that master of mine will be cooked tender as soon as the water boils. If I can't save him by magic he'll be dead in next to no time.”
The splendid Great Sage made a hand-spell in mid-air, said the magic words “Om the blue pure dharma world; true is the eternal beneficence of Heaven,” and summoned the Dragon King of the Northern Ocean to him.
A black cloud appeared among the other clouds, and from it there came at once an answering shout, “Ao Shun, the humble dragon of the Northern Ocean, kowtows in homage.”
“Arise, arise,” said Monkey. “I would not have ventured to trouble you for nothing. I've now got this far with my master the Tang Priest. He's been captured by vicious monsters and put into an iron steamer to be cooked. Go and protect him for me and don't let the steam harm him.” The dragon king at once turned himself into a cold wind that blew underneath the cooking pot and coiled around to shield it from all the heat of the fire. Thus were the three of them saved from death.
As the third watch was drawing to an end the senior demon chief announced a decision. “My men,” he said, “we have worn out brains and brawn to capture the Tang Priest and his three disciples. Because of the trouble we went to in escorting them we have not slept for four days and nights. I don't think that they'll be able to escape now that they're tied up and being steamed. You are all to guard them carefully. Ten of your junior devils are to take it in turns to keep the fires burning while we withdraw to our living quarters for a little rest. By the fifth watch, when it's about to get light, they're bound to be cooked tender. Have some garlic paste, salt and vinegar ready and wake us up; then we'll be able to eat them with a good appetite.” The devils did as they had been ordered while the three demon chiefs returned to their sleeping chambers.
Up in the clouds Brother Monkey clearly heard these instructions being given, so he brought his cloud down. As there was no sound of voices from inside the steamer he thought, “The fire is blazing away and they must be feeling hot. Why aren't they afraid? Why aren't they saying anything? Hmm… Could they have been steamed to death? Let me go closer and listen.” The splendid Great Sage shook himself as he stood on his cloud and turned into a black fly. As he alighted on the outside of the iron steamer's trays to listen he heard Pig saying inside, “What lousy luck! What lousy luck! I wonder whether we're being closed-steamed or open-steamed.”
“What do you mean by 'closed' and 'open,' brother?” Friar Sand asked.
“Closed steaming is when they cover the steamer and open steaming is when they don't,” Pig replied.
“Disciples,” said Sanzang from the top tray, “the cover is off.”
“We're in luck!” said Pig. “We won't be killed tonight. We're being open-steamed.” Having heard all three of them talking Monkey realized that they were still alive, so he flew away, fetched the iron steamer lid and placed it lightly on the steamer.
“Disciples,” exclaimed Sanzang in alarm, “they've covered us up.”
“That's done it,” said Pig.
“That means closed steaming. We're bound to die tonight.” Friar Sand and the venerable elder started to sob.
“Don't cry,” said Pig. “A new shift of cooks has come on duty.”
“How can you tell?” Friar Sand asked.
“I was delighted at first when they carried me here,” Pig replied. “I've got a bit of a feverish chill and I wanted warming up. But all we're getting at the moment is cold air. Hey! Mr. Cook, sir! What are you making such a fuss about putting more firewood on for? Am I asking for what's yours?”
When Monkey heard this he could not help laughing to himself. “Stupid clod,” he thought. “Being cold is bearable. If it got hot you'd be dead. The secret will get out if he goes on talking. I'd better rescue him… No! I'd have to turn back into myself to rescue them, and if I did that the ten cooks would see me and start shouting. That would disturb the old monsters and I'd be put to a lot more trouble. I'll have to use some magic on the cooks first.” Then a memory came back to him.
“When I was the Great Sage in the old days I once played a guessing game with the Heavenly King Lokapala at the Northern Gate of Heaven and won some of his sleep insects off him. I've got a few left I can use on them.” He felt around his waist inside his belt and found that he had twelve of them left.
“I'll give them ten and keep two to breed from,” Monkey thought. Then he threw the insects into the ten junior devils' faces, where the insects went up their nostrils, so that they all started feeling drowsy, lay down and went to sleep. One of them, however, who was holding a fire-fork slept very fitfully, kept rubbing his head and face, pinching his nose and continuously sneezing. “That so-and-so knows a trick or two,” thought Monkey. “I'll have to give him a double dose.” He threw one of his remaining insects into the demon's face.
“With two insects the left one can go in when the right one comes out and vice versa,” Monkey thought. “That should keep him quiet.” With that the junior demon gave two or three big yawns, stretched himself, dropped the fork and slumped down, fast asleep. He did not get up again.
“What marvellous magic; it really works,” said Monkey, turning back into himself. Then he went close to the steamer and called, “Master.”
“Rescue me, Wukong,” said the Tang Priest when he heard him.
“Is that you calling to us from outside?” Friar Sand asked.
“If I weren't out here would you prefer me to be suffering in there with you?” Monkey replied.
“Brother,” said Pig, “you slipped off and left us to carry the can. We're being closed-steamed in here.”
“Stop yelling, idiot,” said Monkey with a laugh. “I'm here to rescue you.”
“Brother,” said Pig, “if you're going to rescue us do it properly. Don't get us put back in here for another steaming.” Monkey then took the lid off, freed the master, shook the hair of his that he had turned into an imitation Monkey and put it back on his body, then released Friar Sand and Pig, taking one tray at a time. As soon as he was untied, the idiot wanted to run away.
“Don't be in such a hurry!” said Monkey, who recited the words of a spell that released the dragon before going on to say to Pig, “We've still got high mountains and steep ridges ahead of us on our way to the Western Heaven. The going's too heavy for the master-he isn't a strong walker. Wait till I've fetched the horse.”
Watch him as with light step he goes to the throne hall, where he saw that all the demons young and old were asleep. He undid the rope attached to the horse's reins, being even more careful not to alarm him. Now the horse was a dragon horse, so had Monkey been a stranger he would have given him a couple of flying kicks and whinnied. But Monkey had kept horses and held the office of Protector of the Horses, and this horse was besides their own. That was why the animal neither reared nor whinnied. Monkey led the horse very quietly over, tightened the girth and got everything ready before inviting his master to mount. Trembling and shaking, the Tang Priest did so. He too wanted to go.
“Don't you be in such a hurry either,” Monkey said. “There'll be plenty more kings along our journey West and we'll need our passport if we're to get there. What other identity papers do we have? I'm going back to find the luggage.”
“I remember that when we came in the monsters put the luggage to the left of the throne hall,” said the Tang Priest. “The loads must still be there.”
“Understood,” said Monkey, who sprang off at once to search for it by the throne hall. When he suddenly saw shimmering lights of many colours Brother Monkey knew that they came from the luggage. How did he know? Because the light came from the night-shining pearl on the Tang Priest's cassock. He rushed towards it and found that their load was unopened, so he took it out and gave it to Friar Sand to carry. While Pig guided the horse, the Great Sage took the lead.
They were hurrying to go straight out through the main Southern gate when they heard the noise of watchmen's clappers and bells. They found the gates locked and paper seals over the locks.
“How are we going to get out if the place is so closely guarded?” Monkey wondered.
“Let's get out the back door,” said Pig. With Monkey leading the way they rushed straight to the back gates.
“I can hear clappers and bells outside the back gates as well, and they're sealed too,” Monkey said. “What are we to do? If it weren't for the Tang Priest's mortal body it wouldn't bother us three: we could get away by cloud and wind. But the Tang Priest hasn't escaped from the Three Worlds and is still confined within the Five Elements. All his bones are the unclean ones he got from his mother and father. He can't lift himself into the air and he'll never get away.”
“No time for talking now, brother,” said Pig: “Let's go somewhere where there aren't any bells, clappers or guards, lift the master up and climb over the wall.”
“That won't do,” said Monkey. “We could lift him over now because we've got to, but you've got such a big mouth you'd tell people everywhere when we're taking the scriptures back that we're the sort of monks who sneak over people's walls.”
“But we can't bother about behaving properly now,” replied Pig. “We've got to save our skins.” Monkey had no choice but to do as he suggested, so they went up to wall and worked out how to climb over.
Oh dear! Things would have to work out this way: Sanzang was not yet free of his unlucky star. The three demon chiefs who had been fast asleep in their living quarters suddenly awoke and, fearing that the Tang Priest had escaped, got up, threw on their clothes and hurried to the throne hall of the palace.
“How many times has the Tang Priest been steamed?” they asked. The junior devils who were looking after the fires were all so soundly asleep because the sleep insects were in them that not even blows could wake them up.
The chiefs woke up some others who were not on duty, who answered rashly, “Ss…ss…seven times.” Then they rushed over to the steamer to see the steamer trays lying scattered on the floor and the cooks still asleep.
In their alarm they rushed back to report, “Your Majesties, th…th…they've escaped.”
The three demon chiefs came out of the throne hall to take a close look around the cauldron. They saw that the steamer trays were indeed scattered on the floor, the water was stonecold and the fire completely out. The cooks supposed to be tending the fire were still so fast asleep that they were snoring noisily.
The fiends were all so shocked that they all shouted, “Catch the Tang Priest! At once! Catch the Tang Priest!” Their yells woke up the demons senior and junior all around. They rushed in a crowd to the main front gates carrying their swords and spears.
Seeing that the sealed locks had not been touched and that the night watchmen were still sounding their clappers and bells they asked the watchman, “Which way did the Tang Priest go?”
“Nobody's come out,” the watchmen all replied. They hurried to the back gates of the palace, only to find that the seals, locks, clappers and bells were the same as at the front. With a great commotion they grabbed lanterns and torches, making the sky red and the place as bright as day. The four of them were clearly lit up as they climbed over the wall.
“Where do you think you're going?” the senior demon chief shouted, running towards them and so terrifying the reverend gentleman that the muscles in his legs turned soft and numb and he fell off the wall to be captured by the senior demon. The second demon chief seized Friar Sand and the third knocked Pig over and captured him. The other demons took the luggage and the white horse. Only Monkey escaped.
“May Heaven kill him,” Pig grumbled under his breath about Monkey. “I said that if he was going to rescue us he ought to do a thorough job of it. As it is we're going to be put back in the steamer for another steaming.”
The monsters took the Tang Priest into the throne hall but did not steam him again. The second demon chief ordered that Pig was to be tied to one of the columns supporting the eaves in front of the hall and the third chief had Friar Sand tied to one of the columns holding up the eaves at the back. The senior chief clung to the Tang Priest and would not let go of him.
“What are you holding him for, elder brother?” the third demon asked. “Surely you're not going to eat him alive. That wouldn't be at all interesting. He's no ordinary idiot to be gobbled up just to fill your stomach. He's a rare delicacy from a superior country. We should keep him till we have some free time one rainy day, then bring him out to be carefully cooked and enjoyed with drinking games and fine music.”
“A very good suggestion, brother,” replied the senior demon with a smile, “but Sun the Novice would come and steal him again.”
“In our palace we have a Brocade Fragrance Pavilion,” said the third demon, “and in the pavilion is an iron chest. I think we should put the Tang Priest into the chest, shut up the pavilion, put out a rumour that we have already eaten him half raw and get all the junior devils in the city talking about it. That Sun the Novice is bound to come back to find out what's happening, and when he hears this he'll be so miserably disappointed that he'll go away. If he doesn't come to make trouble for another four or five days we can bring the Tang Priest out to enjoy at our leisure. What do you think?”
The senior and second demon chiefs were both delighted. “Yes, yes, you're right, brother,” they said. That very night the poor Tang Priest was taken inside the palace, put into the chest and locked up in the pavilion. We will not tell how the rumour was spread and became the talk of the town.
Instead the story tells how Monkey escaped that night by cloud, unable to look after the Tang Priest. He went straight to Lion Cave where he wiped out all the tens of thousands of junior demons with his cudgel to his complete satisfaction. By the time he had hurried back to the city the sun was rising in the East. He did not dare challenge the demons to battle because
No thread can be spun from a single strand;
Nobody can clap with a single hand.
So he brought his cloud down, shook himself, turned himself into a junior demon and slipped in through the gates to collect news in the streets and back alleys. “The Tang Priest was eaten raw by the senior king during the night,” was what all the people in the city were saying wherever he went. This made Brother Monkey really anxious. When he went to look at the throne hall in the palace he saw that there were many spirits constantly coming and going. They were wearing leather and metal helmets and yellow cotton tunics. In their hands they held red lacquered staves, and ivory passes hung at their waists.
“These must be evil spirits who are allowed in the inner quarters of the palace,” thought Monkey. “I'll turn myself into one, go in and see what I can find out.”
The splendid Great Sage then made himself identical to the demons and slipped in through the inner gates of the palace. As he was walking along he saw Pig tied to one of the columns of the throne hall, groaning.
“Wuneng,” Monkey said, going up to him.
“Is that you, brother?” asked the idiot, recognizing his voice. “Save me!”
“I'll save you,” said Monkey. “Do you know where the master is?”
“He's done for,” Pig replied. “The evil spirits ate him raw last night.” At this Monkey burst into sobs and the tears gushed out like water from a spring.
“Don't cry, brother,” said Pig. “I've only heard the junior devils gossiping. I didn't see it with my own eyes. Don't waste any more time. Go on and find out more.” Only then did Monkey dry his tears and go to search in the inner part of the palace.
Noticing Friar Sand tied to a column at the back of the palace he went up to him, felt his chest and said, “Wujing.”
Friar Sand also recognized his voice and said, “Brother, is that you here in disguise? Save me! Save me!”
“Saving you will be easy,” said Monkey, “but do you know where the master is?”
“Brother!” said Friar Sand in tears. “The evil spirits couldn't even wait to steam the master. They've eaten him raw.”
Now that both of them had told him the same story the Great Sage was cut to the heart. Instead of rescuing Pig and Friar Sand he sprang straight up into the sky and went to the mountain East of the city, where he landed his cloud and let himself weep aloud.
“Poor Master,” he said:
“I fought against heaven, was caught in its net,
Till you came along and delivered me, Master.
It became my ambition to worship the Buddha;
I strove to eliminate fiendish disaster.
“I never imagined that now you'd be murdered
And I would have failed on your journey to keep you.
The lands of the West were too good for your fate.
Your life's at an end: in what way can I help you?”
Deep in misery, Monkey said to himself, “It's all the fault of our Buddha, the Tathagata, who had nothing better to do in his paradise than make the three stores of scriptures. If he really wanted to convert people to be good he ought to have sent them to the East himself. Then they would have been passed on for ever. But he couldn't bring himself to part with them. He had to make us go to fetch them. Who'd ever have thought that after all the trouble of crossing a thousand mountains the master would lose his life here today? Oh well! I'll ride my somersault cloud to see the Tathagata Buddha and tell him what's happened. If he's willing to give me the scriptures to deliver to the East then the good achievement will be propagated and we'll be able to fulfil our vow. If he won't give me them I'll get him to recite the Band-loosening Spell. Then I can take the band off, return it to him and go back to my own cave to play the king and enjoy myself again.”
The splendid Great Sage jumped to his feet and went straight to India on his somersault cloud. In less than a couple of hours he could see the Vulture Peak in the near distance, and an instant later he had landed his cloud and was heading straight for the foot of the peak. He looked up and saw the four vajrapanis blocking his way and asking him where he was going.
“There's something I want to see the Tathagata about,” Monkey replied with a bow.
Next he was faced by the Vajrapani Yongzhu, the indestructible king of Golden Glow Ridge on Mount Kunlun, who shouted, “Macaque, you're an outrage! When the Bull Demon King was giving you such terrible trouble we all helped you, but now you've come to see us today you're showing no manners at all. If you're here on business you should submit a memorial first and wait till you're summoned before going any further. This isn't like the Southern Gate of Heaven, where you can come and go as you please. Clear off! Out of the way!”
Being told off like this when he was feeling so depressed drove Monkey into thundering roars of fury, and his uncontrollable shouts and yells soon disturbed the Tathagata.
The Tathagata Buddha was sitting on his nine-level lotus throne expounding the sutras to his eighteen arhats when he said, “Sun Wukong is here. You must all go out to receive him.” In obedience to the Buddha's command the arhats went out in two columns with their banners and canopies.
“Great Sage Sun,” they said in greeting, “the Tathagata has commanded us to summon you to his presence.” Only then did the four vajrapanis at the monastery gates step aside to let Monkey enter. The arhats led him to the foot of the lotus throne, where he went down to kowtow on seeing the Tathagata. He was sobbing and weeping.
“Wukong,” said the Buddha, “what makes you weep so miserably?”
“Your disciple has often received the grace of your instruction,” Brother Monkey replied, “and has committed himself to the school of Lord Buddha. Since being converted to the true achievement I have taken the Tang Priest as my master and been protecting him on our journey. No words could describe what we have suffered. We have now reached the city of Leonia near Lion Cave on Lion Mountain where three vicious monsters, the Lion King, the Elephant King and the Great Roc, seized my master. All of us disciples of his were in a very bad way too, tied up and put in a steamer to suffer the agony of fire and boiling water. Fortunately I was able to get away and summon a dragon king to save the others. But we could not escape our evil star: the master and the others were recaptured when I was trying to sneak them out last night. When I went back into the city this morning to find out what had happened I learned that those utterly evil and ferocious monsters ate my master raw during the night. Nothing is left of his flesh and bones. On top of that my fellow-disciples Wuneng and Wujing are tied up there and will soon be dead too. I'm desperate. That's why your disciple has come to visit the Tathagata. I beg you in your great compassion to recite the Band-loosening Spell so that I can take the band off my head and give it back to you. Let your disciple go back to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit and enjoy himself.” Before he had finished saying this the tears welled up again. There was no end to his howls of misery.
“Don't upset yourself so, Wukong,” said the Tathagata with a smile. “You can't beat those evil spirits. Their magical powers are more than you can handle. That is why you are so unhappy.”
Monkey knelt below the Buddha and beat his breast as he replied, “Truly, Tathagata, I made havoc in Heaven all those years ago and was called Great Sage. Never in all my life had I been beaten before I met these vicious monsters.”
“Stop being so sorry for yourself,” said the Tathagata. “I know those evil spirits.”
“Tathagata!” Monkey suddenly blurted out. “They say those evil spirits are relations of yours.”
“Wicked macaque!” said the Tathagata. “How could an evil spirit be any relation of mine?”
“If they're not relations of yours how come you know them?” retorted Monkey with a grin.
“I know them because I see them with my all-seeing eyes,” the Buddha replied. “The senior demon and the second demon have masters. Ananda, Kasyapa, come here. One of you is to take a cloud to Mount Wutai and the other to Mount Emei. Summon Manjusri and Samantabhadra to come and see me.” The two arhats left at once as they had been commanded. “They are the masters of the senior and the second demon chiefs. But the third demon does have some connection with me.”
“On his mother's or his father's side?” Monkey asked.
“When the primal chaos was first separated the heavens opened up in the hour of the rat and the earth at the hour of the ox,” the Buddha replied. “Mankind was born at the tiger hour. Then heaven and earth came together again and all living creatures were born, including beasts that walk and birds that fly. The unicorn is the most senior of the beasts that walk and the phoenix is the most senior of the birds that fly. When the phoenixes combined their essential spirit they gave birth to the peafowl and the Great Roc. When the peafowl came into the world she was the most evil of creatures and a man-eater. She could devour all the people for fifteen miles around in a single mouthful. When I was cultivating my sixteen-foot golden body on the peak of the snowy mountain she swallowed me as well. I went down into her belly. I wanted to escape through her backside, but for fear of soiling my body I cut my way out through her backbone and climbed Vulture Peak. I would have killed her, but all the Buddha host dissuaded me: to kill the peahen would have been like killing my own mother. So I kept her at my assembly on Vulture Peak and appointed her as the Buddha-mother, the Great Illustrious Peahen Queen Bodhisattva. The Great Roc was born of the same mother as she was. That is why we are relations of a kind.”
When Monkey heard this he said with a smile, “By that line of argument, Tathagata, you're the evil spirit's nephew.”
“I shall have to go and subdue that demon in person,” the Tathagata said. Monkey kowtowed as he respectfully replied, “I beg you to condescend to grant us your illustrious presence.”
The Tathagata then came down from his lotus throne and went out through the monastery gates with all the Buddha host just as Ananda and Kasyapa arrived bringing Manjusri and Samantabhadra. These two Bodhisattvas bowed to the Tathagata, who asked them, “How long have your animals been away from your mountains, Bodhisattvas?”
“Seven days,” said Manjusri.
“A mere seven days on your mountains is several thousand years in the mortal world,” the Tathagata replied. “Goodness knows how many living beings they have destroyed there. Come with me to recapture them at once.”
The two Bodhisattvas traveled at the Buddha's left and right hand as they flew through the air with the host. This is what could be seen:
The shimmering clouds of blessing parted for Lord Buddha
As in his great compassion he came down from his shrine.
He taught the truth about all beings since creation,
Explaining how everything had been transformed in time.
Before him went five hundred holy arhats;
Behind him were three thousand guardians of the faith.
Ananda and Kasyapa were both in close attendance;
Samantabhadra and Manjusri came to conquer monsters.
The Great Sage had been granted this favour and succeeded in bringing the Lord Buddha and his host with him. It was not long before the city was in sight. “Tathagata,” said Monkey, “that's Leonia, where the black vapors are coming from.”
“You go down into the city first,” said the Tathagata, “and start a fight with the evil spirits. Do not win. You must lose and come back up. Leave it to us to recapture them.”
The Great Sage then brought his cloud straight down to land on the city wall, where he stood on the battlements and shouted abusively, “Evil beasts! Come out and fight me at once!” This caused such consternation among the junior demons in the towers on the wall that they jumped straight down into the city to report, “Your Majesties, Sun the Novice is on the wall, challenging us to battle.”
“That ape hasn't been here for two or three days,” the senior demon replied. “Now he's back challenging us to battle. Can he have fetched some reinforcements?”
“He's nothing to be scared of,” said the third demon chief. “Let's all go and have a look.” The three chieftains, all carrying their weapons, hurried up on the wall where they saw Monkey. Without a word they raised their weapons and thrust at him. Monkey held them off by swinging his iron cudgel. When they had fought seven or eight rounds Monkey feigned defeat and fled.
“Where do you think you're going?” the demon king asked with a mighty shout, and with a somersault Monkey sprang up into mid-air. The three spirits went after him on clouds, but Monkey slipped aside and disappeared completely in the Lord Buddha's golden aura.
All that could be seen were the images of the Three Buddhas of Past, Future and Present, the five hundred arhats and the three thousand Protectors of the Faith who spread all around, encircling the three demon kings so closely that not even a drop of water could leak through.
“This is terrible, my brother,” said the senior demon chief, lashing out wildly, “that ape is a really sharp operator. How did he manage to bring my master here?”
“Don't be afraid, elder brother,” said the third demon. “If we all charge together we can cut down the Tathagata with our swords and spears and seize his Thunder Monastery.” The demons, who had no sense of proper behavior, really did raise their swords to charge forward, hacking wildly.
Manjusri and Samantabhadra recited the words of a spell and shouted, “Won't you repent now, evil beasts? What else do you hope for?” The senior and the second demon chiefs gave up the struggle, threw down their weapons, rolled and reverted to their true images. The two Bodhisattvas threw their lotus thrones on the demons' backs and flew over to sit on them. The two demons then gave up and submitted.
Now that the blue lion and the white elephant had been captured only the third evil monster was still unsubdued. Spreading its wings it dropped its heaven-square halberd and rose straight up to try to catch the Monkey King with a swing of its sharp talons, but as the Great Sage was biding in the golden aura the demon dared get nowhere near him. When the Tathagata realized what it was trying to do he made his golden aura flash and shook his head, the supreme meditator in the wind, to turn the creature into a bright red lump of bloody meat. The evil spirit seized it with a flourish of its sharp talons, whereupon the Lord Buddha pointed upwards with his hand, destroying the muscles in the monster's wings. It could not fly or get away from the top of the Buddha's head, and it reverted to its true appearance as a golden-winged vulture.
Opening its beak it said to the Buddha, “Tathagata, why did you use your great dharma powers to catch me like this?”
“You have been doing much evil here,” the Tathagata replied. “Come with me and you will win credit for a good deed.”
“You eat vegetarian food in great poverty and suffering at your place,” the evil spirit replied, “but here I can eat human flesh and live in no end of luxury. If you kill me by starvation you'll be guilty of a sin.”
“In the four continents I control countless living beings who worship me,” the Buddha replied, “and whenever they are going to perform a service to me I shall tell them to make a sacrifice to you first.” The Great Roc would have escaped and got away if it could. As it was he had no choice but to accept conversion.
Only then did Monkey emerge to kowtow to the Tathagata and say, “Lord Buddha, today you have captured the evil spirits and removed a great bane, but my master is dead.”
At this the Great Roc said bitterly as it ground its teeth, “Damned ape! Why did you have to bring these ferocious men here to persecute me? I never ate that old monk of yours. He's in the Brocade Fragrance Pavilion now, isn't he?” When Monkey heard this he quickly kowtowed to thank the Lord Buddha. Not daring to release the Great Roc, the Buddha made him into a guardian of the dharma in his brilliant halo then led his host back to his monastery on their clouds. Monkey landed his cloud and went straight into the city, where there was not a single junior demon left. Indeed:
A snake cannot move without its head;
A bird cannot fly without its wings.
They had all fled for their lives when they saw the Buddha capturing their evil kings.
Monkey then freed Pig and Friar Sand, found the luggage and the horse, and said to his fellow-disciples, “The master hasn't been eaten. Come with me.” He took the two of them straight into the inner compound where they found the Brocade Fragrance Pavilion. Opening the door and looking inside they saw an iron trunk from which could be heard the sound of Sanzang weeping.
Friar Sand used his demon-quelling staff to open the iron cage over the chest and raise its lid. “Master,” he called.
At the sight of them Sanzang wept aloud and said, “Disciples, how were the demons beaten? How did you manage to find me here?” Monkey told him all the details of what had happened from beginning to end and Sanzang expressed boundless gratitude. Then master and disciples found some rice in the palace and ate their fill of it before packing their things and leaving the city along the main road West. Indeed:
Only a true man can find the true scriptures;
The will's shouts and the heart's labors are in vain.
If you don't know when on this journey they were to see the Tathagata listen to the explanation in the next installment.
In Bhiksuland the Hidden Gods Are Sent on an Errand of Mercy
In the Palace the Monster Is Revealed and the Way Discussed
A single thought at once disturbs a hundred monsters;
The hardest efforts are all to no avail.
One can only wash away each speck of dust,
Tidy everything and polish well.
Sweep all causation away and come to nirvana;
Waste no time and destroy the thousand demons.
You surely will be free from obstructions,
And rise to the Daluo Heaven when your deeds are done.
The story tells how the Great Sage Sun used all his ingenuity to fetch the Tathagata to subdue the demons and rescue Sanzang and the other two disciples, after which they left the city of Leonia and headed West. When they had been travelling for several more months it was winter, and this is what could be seen:
The plum on the ridge was like broken jade
As the water in the pond slowly turned to ice.
All the red autumn leaves had fallen,
And the green of the pine looked fresher than ever.
The pale and scudding clouds were on the point of snowing;
Flat lay the withered grass upon the hills.
As far as the eye could see was chilly brightness
As the unseen cold went right into the bone.
Master and disciples braved the cold, sleeping out in the rain and dining off the wind, until as they were walking along another walled and moated city came into sight. “What sort of place is that over there, Wukong?” Sanzang asked Monkey, who replied, “We'll know when we get there. If it's the capital of a Western kingdom we'll have to present our passport to be inspected and returned. If it's a prefecture or county town we'll go straight through.” Before master and disciples could finish their conversation they had arrived at the city gates.
Sanzang dismounted and the four of them went in through the curtain wall outside the gates. Noticing an old soldier sleeping shielded from the wind under the South-facing wall, Brother Monkey went up to him, shook him and said, “Sir!”
When the old soldier awoke with a start to open his bleary eyes and see Monkey he fell to his knees to kowtow and say, “My Lord!”
“There's no need for such alarm,” said Monkey. “I'm no evil god, so why call me your lord?”
“Aren't you Lord Thunder God?” the old soldier asked, kowtowing again.
“What a thing to say,” Monkey replied. “We're monks from the East on our way to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. We've just arrived here. Could I ask what this place is called?” This answer finally eased the old soldier's mind.
With a yawn he got back on his feet, stretched and said, “Please forgive me, reverend gentlemen. This country used to be called Bhiksuland but its name has been changed to Boytown.”
“Do you have a king?” Monkey asked.
“Yes, yes,” the old soldier replied.
Monkey then turned to report to the Tang Priest, “This country used to be called Bhiksuland but the name's been altered to Boytown, though I don't know what the change signifies.”
“If it was Bhiksuland before why is it Boytown now?” the Tang Priest wondered.
“I expect there was a King Bhiksu who died,” said Pig, “and they changed the name to Boytown when a boy succeeded him.”
“Impossible,” said the Tang Priest, “impossible. Let's go in and make some enquiries in the street.”
“That's right,” said Friar Sand. “The old soldier wouldn't have known anyhow, and on top of that elder brother gave him such a fright that he talked nonsense. We'll ask some more questions in the city.”
When they had gone through the third pair of gates they came to a great market on a main street. The people were well-dressed and their bearing distinguished.
A hubbub of voices came from bar and music hall;
High hung the curtains outside splendid shop and teahouse.
Business was good in firms by the thousand;
Wealth flowed free in shopping street and market.
The dealers in metal and silk were swarming like ants,
Caring only for money while struggling for fame and wealth.
With these noble manners, magnificent scenery
And peaceful waters it was a time of prosperity.
The master and his three disciples, who were leading the horse and carrying the baggage, spent some time walking around the streets as they admired the general air of prosperity. In the entrance to every house there was a basketwork coop of the sort geese are kept in. “Disciples,” said Sanzang, “why do all the people here put coops in their gateways?” Pig's response to this was to look around and see that there were indeed lines of coops hung with satin curtains of many colours. “Master,” said the idiot with a smile, “today must be a lucky one for weddings and celebrations. Everybody's having a wedding.”
“Nonsense,” said Monkey. “How could every single family possibly be having a wedding? There must be some other reason for this. I'm going over to take a look.”
“You're not to go,” said Sanzang, grabbing hold of him. “You look so ugly that people might take offence.”
“I'll go as something else,” Brother Monkey replied.
Making a spell with his hands the splendid Great Sage said the words of a spell, shook himself, turned into a bee, spread his wings, flew to one of the coops and slipped in through the curtains to take a look. A little boy was sitting inside. Monkey looked inside another family's coop and there was a child in that too. He inspected eight or nine households and all of them had a child. All were boys: there was not a single girl. Some were sitting up in their coops and playing and some were crying; some were eating fruit and some were snoozing.
His inspection over, Monkey turned back into his normal self and reported to the Tang Priest, “There are little boys in the coops. The oldest is under six and the youngest only four. I don't know why they're here.” Sanzang wondered what the explanation could be.
Turning a comer they saw the gateway to an official building. It was a government hostel with golden pavilions. The venerable elder was delighted.
“Disciples,” he said, “we will go into this hostel. We can find out where we are, give the horse a rest and put up for the night.”
“Yes, that's right,” said Friar Sand. “Let's go straight in.” This the four of them happily did, a fact that the officials there reported to the hostel's superintendent.
When the superintendent had led them inside greetings had been exchanged and they had all sat down, the superintendent asked, “Where have you come from, reverend sir?”
“I am a monk sent by the Great Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven,” Sanzang replied. “Now that we have arrived at this excellent establishment I will of course present my passport for inspection. Could we, I wonder, impose on your hospitality for the night?”
The superintendent ordered tea, and when it had been drank he saw to their entertainment and told the staff who were on duty to look after the pilgrims. After thanking him for this Sanzang went on to ask, “Could we go to the palace today to see His Majesty and have our passport inspected?”
“That will not be possible this evening,” the superintendent replied. “It will have to wait until tomorrow morning. I hope that you will spend a comfortable night in this humble hostel.”
A little later, when all had been prepared, the superintendent of the hostel invited the four travelers to take a vegetarian meal with him. He also told his staff to sweep out the guest rooms for them to spend the night in. Sanzang expressed endless gratitude. When they were all seated the venerable elder said, “I wonder if I could trouble you for information on something that I cannot understand. How do you raise children in your country?”
“People are the same the whole world over, just as there are never two suns in the sky,” the superintendent replied. “Children are born when their time comes after the father's seed has joined with the mother's blood and they have been in the womb for ten lunar months. After they are born they are suckled for three years and their bodies gradually grow. Everybody knows that.”
“What you tell me is no different from how they grow in my humble country,” Sanzang replied. “But when we came into the city we saw a goose coop with a little boy inside in front of every house in the street. This is something I cannot understand, which is why I ventured to raise the question.”
“Ignore that, reverend sir,” whispered the hostel superintendent into Sanzang's ear. “Don't ask about it. Put it out of your mind. Don't even mention it. Would you like to settle down for the night before starting your journey again tomorrow morning?” Sanzang's response was to seize hold of the superintendent and demand an explanation.
“Watch your words,” the superintendent replied, shaking his head and wagging his finger, but Sanzang was not going to drop the matter. He insisted on being told all the details. The superintendent had no choice but to dismiss all the staff on duty.
When they were alone under the lamplight he whispered to Sanzang, “The goose coops you asked about are there because our king is a bad ruler. Why ever do you have to keep asking about it?”
“How is he a bad ruler?” Sanzang asked. “I will not be able to set my mind at ease until you give me an explanation.”
“This country is really called Bhiksuland,” the superintendent replied. “Boytown is only what the people have started calling it. Three years ago an old man dressed as a Taoist came here with a girl just fifteen years old. She was a ravishing beauty, just like a Bodhisattva Guanyin. He presented her to our present king, who was so smitten by her charms that she became the favorite of all his women. She was given the title Queen Beauty. For some time now he's had no eyes for any of his other queens or consorts. He's so insatiable that he's been at it day and night. The result is nervous exhaustion and physical collapse. He's eating and drinking next to nothing. He might die at any moment. The Royal College of Physicians has tried every possible medicine without any success. The Taoist who presented the girl to the king was rewarded with the title of Elder of the Nation. He has a secret foreign formula for making people live a great deal longer. He's been to ten continents and the three magic islands to collect the ingredients. Everything is ready. The only problem is that it needs a terrible adjuvant to help it-a potion made from the hearts of 1,111 little boys. When he's taken it he'll have a thousand years of vigorous life ahead of him. All the little boys being kept in the coops are the ones that have been chosen. Their parents are so afraid of the king that none of them dares weep. That's why they've put out the story that this place is now called Boytown. When you go to the palace tomorrow morning, reverend sir, you must only present your passport to be inspected and returned. Say nothing about any of this.” When he had said all this he left them.
Sanzang was so horrified by what he had heard that his bones turned soft and his muscles went numb. He could not help the tears that streamed down his face as he started sobbing aloud. “Foolish king,” he exclaimed, “foolish king. Your lechery has ruined your health, and now you are planning to destroy all those young lives. How could you? What misery! The pain of it all is killing me.” There is a poem about it that goes:
The wicked monarch's folly makes him forget the truth;
His health is ruined by his unbridled lusts.
Pursuing eternal life by killing little children,
He slaughters his subjects to avoid Heaven's punishment.
This is all more than the merciful monk can bear:
He cannot accept the official's worldly wisdom.
Long are his sighs as he weeps in the lamplight;
Stricken with grief is the Buddha worshipper.
“Master,” said Pig, going up to him, “what's the matter with you? What you're doing is like taking a stranger's coffin to your own home and weeping over it. Don't upset yourself like that. As the rhyme goes,
When a monarch insists that his subjects will die
None that are loyal to live will aspire;
When a father commands his own offspring to perish
Any dutiful son will most surely expire.
The people he's going to kill are his own subjects. What are they to you? Take off your clothes, get some sleep and 'don't worry about the ancients.'”
“Disciple,” said Sanzang, his tears still flowing, “you haven't a shred of compassion. The most important thing for us monks as we accumulate good deeds is to help others. How could this deluded king be so set in his wickedness? Never have I ever heard that eating human hearts could prolong life. How could something so terrible not grieve me?”
“Don't grieve so, Master,” said Friar Sand. “When you present our passport tomorrow and seethe king you can talk to him about it. Even if he doesn't accept your advice you'll be able to see what the Elder of the Nation looks like. Probably he's an evil spirit who's thought all this up because he wants to eat human hearts.”
“Wujing is right,” said Brother Monkey. “Go to bed now, Master, and tomorrow morning I'll go to court with you to see what this Elder of the Nation is like. If he's human he's probably a heretic who doesn't follow orthodox ways but believes in drugs, and I'll convert him with the essential teachings of intrinsic nature. If he's an evil spirit I'll catch him, show the king what he is, and urge the king to control his desires and build up his strength. Whatever happens I won't let him kill those children.”
As soon as he heard this Sanzang bowed to Monkey with great courtesy and said, “What an excellent suggestion! But when we see the deluded king we must say nothing about this in case he thinks we are guilty of not knowing our place and spreading slander. What could we do if that happened?”
“I've got my magic powers,” Monkey replied. “First of all I'm going to get the little boys in the coops away from the city so that he'll have nobody to take the hearts out of tomorrow. The local officials will of course report this and the king will be bound either to order a discussion with the Elder of the Nation or else to demand more information. This will give us a chance to submit our memorial without getting ourselves into trouble.” Sanzang was very pleased.
“How are you going to get the children out of the town now?” he asked. “If you really can rescue them you will be doing the greatest of good deeds, worthy disciple. But do it quick, because if you lose any time you may be too late.”
Summoning up his might Monkey stood up and gave Pig and Friar Sand their parting instructions: “Sit here with the master while I do my stuff. If you notice a magical wind blowing that'll be the boys leaving the city.”
Sanzang and the other two disciples said, “We invoke the Saviour Bhaisajya-guru Buddha. We invoke the Saviour Bhaisajya-guru Buddha.”
Once outside the doors the Great Sage whistled, rose into mid-air, made a spell with his hands and said the magic words, called out “Om pure dharma world,” and summoned the city god, the local deities, the officiating immortals, the Protectors of the Faith of the four quarters and the center, the Four Duty Gods, the Six Dings and the Six Jias and the Guardians of the Teaching.
They all came to him where he was in midair, bowed and said, “Great Sage, what is the urgent business on which you have summoned us in the middle of the night?”
“My journey has brought me to Bhiksuland,” Monkey replied, “where the king is a bad one who believes in evil doctrines. He wants to take the hearts out of little boys to make the adjuvant to a medicine that he hopes will make him live for ever. My master finds this utterly horrible and has asked me to rescue the boys and destroy the demon. That is why I've asked all you gentlemen here. I want you to use your magical powers to lift all the little boys, coops and all, over the city wall into a mountain hollow or somewhere deep in a forest. Keep them there for a day or two. Give them fruit to eat and don't let them go hungry. Keep watch over them in secret and don't frighten them or make them cry. When I've eliminated the evil, brought the country back to good government and persuaded the king to mend his ways and am about to leave, you must bring them back to me.”
The gods all listened to their orders then brought their clouds down to land so that they could use their magical powers. The city was filled with a blustering negative wind that brought with it an all-pervasive and sinister fog.
All the stars in the sky were obscured by the negative wind;
The moon was blacked out by the magical fog for many a mile.
At first the wind was gusty,
And then it blew like a hurricane.
When it was gusting
All ran to the gateways to rescue their children;
Then in the hurricane
They wanted to save their own flesh and blood in the coops.
The air turned so chilly that none dared show their heads;
The cold was so piercing that clothes froze like iron.
Vainly did parents look all around;
The families all were stricken with grief.
The sinister wind blew right across the land
As the boys in their baskets were carried off by the gods.
Although that was a night of bereavement and grief
Joy was coming to all the next day.
There is another poem about it that goes:
Compassion has always been strong in the Sakyamuni faith;
The achievement of goodness explains the Great Vehicle.
A multitude of holy ones all accumulate goodness;
For the Three Refuges and Five Precepts harmony is needed.
The land of Bhiksu was not to be ruined by its monarch
When a thousand little boys were to forfeit their lives.
Monkey and his master had brought them to safety,
Which conferred more merit than the Great Wisdom.
By the third watch of the night the gods had carried all the coops off and hidden them in all the safe places. Monkey then landed his auspicious light and went straight back to the government hostel, where to his secret delight he could hear the other three still chanting, “We invoke the Saviour Bhaisajya-guru Buddha.”
“Master,” he said, going up to them, “I'm back. What was the negative wind like?”
“Terrific,” said Pig.
“How did the rescue of the children go?” Sanzang asked.
“Every single one of them has been saved,” Monkey replied. “They'll all be brought back when we set out again.” The master thanked him over and over again before finally going to sleep.
When Sanzang awoke at dawn he dressed himself in his best vestments and said, “Wukong, I am going to the early audience to present our passport.”
“If you go by yourself, Master,” Monkey replied, “I'm afraid that you won't be able to manage. Let me go with you. Then I'll be able to find out about the evil in this country.”
“If you go you will refuse to pay homage,” said Sanzang, “and the king may well take it amiss.”
“I won't be seen,” said Monkey. “I'll go with you in secret and protect you.” This pleased Sanzang very much. He had told Pig and Friar Sand to look after the luggage and horse and was just about to set out when the superintendent of the hostel came in to see him. The superintendent was struck by the difference between vestments he wore this day compared with what he had been wearing the day before.
His cassock was of brocade, set with exotic gems;
On his head he wore a gold-topped Vairocana mitre.
He held a nine-ringed monastic staff
And hid a divine radiance in his breast.
The passport was fastened tightly to his body,
Wrapped in brocade inside another cloth.
He moved like an arhat come down to earth;
His face was truly that of a living Buddha.
When the superintendent had greeted Sanzang courteously he murmured into his ear advice against meddling in matters that were none of his business. Sanzang nodded and assented. The Great Sage stole to a place by the gate, said the words of a spell, shook himself and turned into the tiniest of insects that flew with a high-pitched hum to Sanzang's mitre.
Sanzang left the government hostel and headed straight for the palace.
Arriving at the palace gates Sanzang saw a eunuch officer to whom he bowed and said, “This humble monk has been sent by the Great Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. Now that I have reached your distinguished country I must present my passport to be inspected and returned. I beg Your Excellency to report this to His Majesty.” This the eunuch duly did.
The king was very pleased. “A monk from afar must be a holy man,” he said, ordering that Sanzang be asked in. When the venerable elder had paid his respects at the foot of the steps of the throne hall he was invited to enter the hall and take a seat. Sanzang thanked the king and sat down. The king looked weak and enervated. When he raised his hands to make a polite salutation he could not do so properly, and he was incapable of continuous speech. His right was so blurred that he had to make several attempts to read the document that Sanzang handed to him before he could sign, seal and return it to the Tang Priest, who put it away again.
The king was just about to ask why they were fetching the scriptures when one of his aides reported, “His Excellency the Elder of the Nation is here.” Leaning on one of his young eunuch attendants the king struggled down from his throne to greet the Elder. Sanzang hastily got to his feet, stood to one side and looked round to see that the Elder of the Nation was an aged Taoist who advanced with a swagger towards the steps of the throne.
On his head he wore a goose-yellow silken cap,
Round his body a scented cloak of silk and crane feathers,
And at his waist a triple sash of blue velvet.
On his feet were sandals of hemp and grasscloth;
At the top of his rattan stick coiled a dragon.
The pouch at his chest was embroidered with dragon, phoenix and flowers.
His jadelike face radiated well-being;
A gray beard blew about his chin.
Flames shot from golden pupils
In eyes even longer than his eyebrows.
Clouds followed his steps
As he wandered through incense-laden mists.
The officials below the steps received him with obeisances,
Announcing the presence of the Elder of the Nation.
When he reached the throne hall the Elder of the Nation performed no obeisance but arrogantly strode straight in. The king leaned forward in a bow and said, “We are most fortunate that you have condescended to make your immortal way here, Elder of the Nation.” He ordered that an embroidered stool be set on his left for the Elder to sit on.
Taking a step forward Sanzang bowed and said, “Greetings, Elder of the Nation.” The Elder sat majestically on his seat, but instead of returning Sanzang's courtesy he turned to the king and asked, “Where's this monk from?”
“He has been sent by the Tang court in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven,” the king replied, “and is here to present his passport for inspection.”
“The road West is dark and dismal,” said the Elder of the Nation with a smile. “There's nothing good about it.”
“The West has always been a land of bliss,” Sanzang replied. “How could it not be good?”
“There is an old saying we once heard that monks are disciples of the Buddha,” said the king. “I wonder whether it is true that by being a monk and turning to the Buddha one can live for ever.” When Sanzang heard this he put his hands together and replied:
“One who becomes a monk gets away from all kinds of causation. By understanding nature he learns that all dharmas are empty. Great wisdom is casual and drifts in non-living. The true secret is hidden; it wanders in extinction. When the three worlds are empty all origins are ordered; when the six sense-organs are purified all troubles are finished. To be resolute, single-minded and enlightened one must understand the heart. When the heart is purified it can shine alone; when the heart is sincere all regions are imbued with it. The true appearance has neither deficiency nor excess and can be seen in life. The images of illusion always decay. Why seek what is beyond one's lot? The way to enter meditation is through meritorious deeds and by sitting in silence; the root of cultivating one's conduct truly is charity and kindness. Great skill appears as clumsiness and knows that all deeds are achieved through inaction. The finest plans involve no calculation; everything must be left alone. It only needs one heart not to move for every action to be perfect. It is truly absurd to try to strengthen the male by drawing on the female and nonsensical to try to extend one's years by taking elixirs. The only essential is that all the causation of every speck of dust must be discarded and that every type of matter should be empty. Live plain and pure; let your desires be few. Then naturally you will enjoy life without end for ever.”
When the Elder of the Nation heard this he laughed at it. “Phooey,” he said, pointing at the Tang Priest, “phooey! You're talking a load of rubbish, monk. Fancy you talking about understanding nature, and you a member of the faith that preaches nirvana. You don't have any idea of where nature comes from. Sitting still like a dead tree to enter dhyana is wasted effort as far as self-cultivation and tempering are concerned. In the words of the saying,
Sit, sit, sit;
Your backside's split.
The fire's too hot;
Good that's not.
What you don't realize at all is this:
“One who cultivates immortality has strong bones; one who attains the Way has the most magical spirit. Carrying his bowl and ladle he goes into the mountains to visit his friends; he picks every kind of herb to succor humanity. He makes a rainhat from immortal flowers, plucks the fragrant orchid to make his bed. He sings, claps and dances, then goes to sleep. When expounding the Way he teaches the doctrines of the Supreme One; he eliminates the evil of the human world with holy water. He takes the finest breath of heaven and earth, gathers the essence of the sun and moon. By controlling the negative and positive forces he creates the elixir; through the mastery of fire and water the foetus is formed. On the sixteenth day of the month the negative is eliminated, hazily and obscurely. In the twenty-seventh day of winter the positive begins to grow, darkly and mysteriously. He gathers the herbs of each of the four seasons, refining his elixir to nourish the nine transformations. Astride his blue phoenix he ascends to the purple palace; riding his white crane he goes to the jasper capital. He visits all the splendors of Heaven, showing the efficacy of the wonderful Way. Just compare it with the dhyana teachings of your Sakyamuni, your elimination of atman and your nirvana that enables you to shuffle off your stinking husk. None of this lifts you out of the worldly dust. Among the Three Teachings it is supreme; the Way alone has always been esteemed.”
The king was delighted to hear this exposition, and all the court officials exclaimed with admiration, “That's splendid, 'the Way alone has always been esteemed.'“ Sanzang was overcome by humiliation at all this praise going to his rival. The king then told his department of foreign relations to lay on a banquet of vegetarian food for the monks from a far country when they left the city to travel West.
Sanzang thanked the king for his kindness and withdrew. As he was leaving the throne hall and going out of the palace Monkey flew down from the top of his mitre to say into his ear, “Master, the Elder of the Nation is an evil spirit, and the king has been bewitched. Go back to the hostel and wait for your meal while I get some information here.”
Sanzang understood this and left through the main gates of the palace.
Of him we will say no more. Watch Monkey as he flies straight to a jade screen in the throne hall and lands on it. From the ranks of officials the military commanders of the capital stepped forward to report, “Your Majesty, last night a cold wind carried away the little boys in their goose coops from every house in every ward of the city. They have vanished without a trace, coops and all.”
This report both alarmed and angered the king, who said to the Elder of the Nation, “Heaven must be destroying us. We had the good fortune to be given the formula for your elixir after months of serious illness that the royal physicians have been unable to cure. We were preparing to have the boys cut open at noon today and their hearts taken out to be made into the adjuvant for the elixir. Never did we imagine that a cold wind would blow them all away. If this is not Heaven destroying us what is it?”
“Don't upset yourself,” the Elder of the Nation replied with a smile. “By blowing them away Heaven is giving Your Majesty eternal life.”
“How can you maintain that Heaven is giving me eternal life when they have just been blown away?” the king asked.
“When I was coming to court this morning,” the Elder of the Nation replied, “I saw a uniquely marvellous adjuvant that will be far superior to 1,111 little boys' hearts. They would only lengthen Your Majesty's life by a thousand years, but if you take my elixir with this other adjuvant you can live for a hundred million years.”
The king was mystified about what this adjuvant could be, but only after repeated questions did the Elder of the Nation reply, “The monk from the East who is being sent to fetch the scriptures has pure organs and regular features. His is the body of one who has cultivated his conduct for ten lifetimes. He has been a monk since childhood and has preserved his masculine purity, which all makes him ten thousand times better than those little boys. If you can make a decoction from his heart with which to take my elixir I can guarantee you an extremely long life.”
When the deluded king heard this he believed it completely. “Why didn't you tell us before?” he said to the Elder of the Nation. “If it's as good as you say we should have kept him when he was here just now and not let him go.”
“This will present no problem,” the Elder of the Nation said. “You have already told the department of foreign relations to give him a vegetarian banquet. He can't possibly leave the city before eating the meal. Urgent orders must be issued to have the gates firmly closed. Send troops to surround the government hostel and bring that monk here. First we will try to win his heart by treating him with courtesy. If he agrees we will cut it out and give him a royal burial, build him a temple and make offerings to him. If he will not agree we'll use rough methods. We can tie him up and cut it out. There will be no problem.” The deluded ruler accepted this suggestion and ordered that all the gates be closed. He then sent the officers and men of the royal guard to surround the hostel.
Having found all this out Monkey flew straight to the hostel, turned back into himself and said to the Tang Priest, “Something terrible's happened, Master, something terrible.” Sanzang had just begun to eat the king's vegetarian banquet with Pig and Friar Sand when this sudden announcement scattered his three bodily spirits and made smoke come out of his seven orifices. He collapsed in the dust, pouring with sweat, and unable to see clearly or speak.
Friar Sand was so alarmed he came forward to help him back to his feet, calling, “Wake up, Master, wake up.”
“What's so terrible?” Pig asked. “What's so terrible? You should have broken the news gently instead of giving the master such a scare.”
“When the master left the palace I went back to keep an eye on things,” Monkey replied. “That Elder of the Nation is an evil spirit. A moment later the city garrison came to report about the cold wind carrying the little boys away. This upset the king, but the Elder of the Nation cheered him up by saying that this was Heaven giving him eternal life. He wants to use your heart as an adjuvant for the elixir of immortality, Master. The deluded king has accepted this wicked suggestion and ordered his best troops to surround this hostel. He's also sent an aide to ask you for your heart, Master.”
“What a merciful and compassionate chap you are,” said Pig with a laugh. “You saved the boys and made the wind blow all right, but now you've got us in this disastrous mess.”
Trembling and shaking, Sanzang dragged himself to his feet, seized hold of Monkey and said imploringly, “Good disciple, how are we to get out of this?”
“If you want to get out of this,” said Monkey, “there'll have to be a switch.”
“What do you mean by a switch?” Friar Sand asked.
“If you want to survive,” Monkey replied, “the disciple will have to become the master and the master the disciple. Do that and we'll be safe.”
“Save my life,” said Sanzang, “and I will gladly become your disciple or even your disciple's disciple.”
“In that case there must be no hesitation,” Monkey replied, continuing, “Pig, mix up some mud at once.” The idiot loosened some earth with his rake then, not daring to go outside for water, lifted his tunic to make some water himself. With this he mixed up a lump of foul-smelling mud that he handed to Monkey. Monkey had no option but to beat it out flat and press it against his face so that it looked like a monkey's face. Then he told his master to stand up and neither move nor say anything while he placed the mask on his face, said the words of a spell, blew a magic breath and said, “Change!”
The venerable elder now looked just like Monkey. He took off his own clothes and put on Monkey's while Monkey dressed in his master's clothes, made a spell with his hands, said the magic words, shook himself and made himself look just like the Tang Priest. Even Pig and Friar Sand could not tell that he really was not.
Just when they had completed the disguises together there came the sound of gongs and drums as a dense forest of spears and swords appeared. The commanders of the royal guard had surrounded the hostel with their three thousand men. A royal aide came into the main hall of the hostel to ask, “Where is the reverend gentleman from the Tang court in the East?”
The superintendent of the hostel anxiously fell to his knees and said, pointing, “In the guest room over there.”
The aide then went into the room and said, “Venerable elder from Tang, His Majesty has sent for you.”
Pig and Friar Sand stood on either side of the imitation Monkey to guard him while the imitation Tang Priest went out through the door, bowed and said, “Your Excellency, what does His Majesty wish to say to me? Why has he sent for me?” The aide stepped forward to grab hold of him and say, “You and I are going to the palace. His Majesty must have some use for you.” Alas!
Wickedness was stronger than goodness and mercy;
Goodness and mercy only led to catastrophe.
If you don't know whether they were to survive this departure listen to the explanation in the next installment.
Searching the Cave to Capture the Fiend They Meet Longevity
The Reigning Monarch Saves the Little Boys
The story tells how the royal aide dragged the imitation Tang Priest out of the government hostel and marched him, heavily surrounded by royal guardsmen, straight to the gates of the palace, where he said to the eunuch gate officer, “Please be so good as to report to His Majesty that we have brought the Tang Priest.” The eunuch officer hurried into the palace to pass this on to the deluded king, who ordered that they be brought in.
All the officials knelt at the foot of the steps to the throne hall, leaving the imitation Tang Priest standing alone in the middle of them.
“King of Bhiksuland,” he shouted, “what have you summoned me here to say to me?”
“We are sick with a chronic illness that has dragged on for many a day without any improvement,” the king replied. “Now the Elder of the Nation has to our good fortune presented us with a prescription that has been made up. All that is needed now is an adjuvant. The reason we have sent for you, reverend sir, is to ask you for the adjuvant. If we recover we will build a temple to you in which offerings will be made in all four seasons and incense will be burnt to you in perpetuity by our country.”
“I am a man of religion,” the imitation Tang Priest replied, “and have brought nothing with me. I do not know what adjuvant the Elder of the Nation has told Your Majesty you need.”
“Your heart, reverend sir,” the deluded monarch replied.
“I will be frank with Your Majesty,” the imitation Tang Priest said. “I have a number of hearts. I don't know which you want.”
“Monk,” pronounced the Elder of the Nation, who was standing beside the king. “I want your black heart.”
“Very well then,” the imitation Tang Priest replied. “Produce your knife at once and open up my chest. If there is a black heart there I shall offer it to you obediently.”
The deluded monarch thanked him delightedly and ordered an official in attendance to bring a small knife with a blade shaped like a cow's ear that was handed to the imitation Tang Priest. Taking the knife, the imitation Tang Priest undid his clothes, thrust out his chest, pressed his left hand against his abdomen and cut the skin of his stomach open with the knife in his right hand. There was a whoosh, and out rolled a whole pile of hearts. The civilian officials all turned pale with fright; the military officers were numbed.
When the Elder of the Nation saw this from inside the throne hall he said, “This monk is a suspicious-minded character. He has too many hearts.”
The imitation Tang Priest then held up the hearts one by one, each dripping with blood, for all to see. They included a loyal red heart, a pure white heart, a yellow heart, an avaricious heart, a fame-hungry heart, a jealous heart, a calculating heart, an over-competitive heart, an ambitious heart, an overbearing heart, a murderous heart, a vicious heart, a frightened heart, a cautious heart, a heretical heart and a heart full of indefinable gloom. There was every kind of evil heart except a black one. The deluded ruler was horror-struck, unable to speak until he said in trembling tones, “Put them away! Put them away!”
The imitation Tang Priest had taken as much as he could, so he put his magic away and turned back into himself to say to the deluded monarch, “Your Majesty, you're not at all perceptive. We monks all have good hearts. It's only this Elder of the Nation of yours who has a black heart. His would make a good adjuvant for the medicine. If you don't believe me I'll take his out to show you.”
When the Elder of the Nation heard this he opened his eyes wide to take a careful look. He saw that the monk's face had changed to something quite different. Heavens! Recognizing him as the Great Sage Monkey who had been so famous five hundred years ago he made a getaway by cloud. Monkey did a somersault and sprang up into mid-air to shout, “Where do you think you're going? Take this from me!” The Elder used his stick with a dragon on its head to meet the blow from Monkey's cudgel. The two of them fought a fine battle up in the sky:
The As-You-Will cudgel
And the dragon stick
Making clouds up in the sky.
The Elder of the Nation was really an evil spirit,
Using his fiendish daughter's seductive charms.
The king had made himself ill through his lust;
The monster wanted to butcher the boys.
There was no escape from the Great Sage's divine powers
To catch demons and to rescue their victims.
The cudgel's blows to the head were really vicious;
Splendid was the way in which the stick met them.
They fought so hard that the sky was full of mist,
Casting city and people into darkness and fear.
The souls of civil and military officials went flying;
The faces of the queens and concubines turned pale.
The deluded king tried desperately to hide,
Trembling and shaking, unable to do anything.
The cudgel was as fierce as a tiger from the mountains;
The staff whirled round like a dragon leaving the sea.
Now they made havoc in Bhiksuland
As good and evil were clearly set apart.
When the evil spirit had fought over twenty hard rounds with Monkey his dragon staff was no longer a match for the gold-banded cudgel. Feinting with his staff, the spirit turned himself into a beam of cold light and dropped into the inner quarters of the palace to take the demon queen he had presented to the king out through the palace gates with him. She too turned into cold light and disappeared.
Bringing his cloud down, the Great Sage landed in the palace and said to the officials, “That's a fine Elder of the Nation you have!” The officials, all bowed to him, thanking the holy monk.
“No need for that,” said Monkey. “Go and see where your deluded king is.”
“When our monarch saw the fighting he hid in terror,” the officials replied. “We do not know which of the palaces he is in.”
“Find him at once,” Monkey ordered them. “Perhaps Queen Beauty has carried him off.” As soon as the officials heard this they rushed with Monkey straight to the rooms of Queen Beauty, ignoring the fact that these were the inner quarters. They were deserted and there was no sign of the king. Queen Beauty was nowhere to be seen either. The queens of the main, the Eastern and the Western palaces and the consorts of the six compounds all came to kowtow in thanks to the Great Sage.
“Please get up,” Monkey said. “It's too early for thanks now. Go and find your sovereign lord.”
A little later four or five eunuchs appeared from behind the Hall of Caution supporting the deluded king. All the ministers prostrated themselves on the ground and called out in union, “Sovereign lord! Sovereign lord! We are grateful that this holy monk came here to uncover the impostor. The Elder of the Nation was an evil spirit and Queen Beauty has vanished too.” When the king heard this he invited Monkey to come from the inner quarters of the palace to the throne hall, where he kowtowed in thanks to Monkey.
“Venerable sir,” he said, “when you came to court this morning you were so handsome. Why have you made yourself look different now?”
“I can tell you for a fact, Your Majesty,” replied Monkey with a grin, “that the one who came this morning was my master Sanzang, the younger brother of the Tang Emperor. I'm his disciple Sun Wukong. There are two more of us disciples, Zhu Wuneng, or Pig, and Sha Wujing, or Friar Sand, who are both now in the government hostel. I turned myself into my master's double and came here to defeat the monster because I knew that you had been deluded by his evil suggestions and were going to take my master's heart to use as an adjuvant for your elixir.”
When the king heard this he ordered his ministers in attendance to go straight to the hostel to fetch Monkey's master and fellow-disciples. The news that Brother Monkey had turned back into himself and had fought the evil spirit in mid-air gave Sanzang such a fright that his souls scattered. It was lucky that Pig and Friar Sand were able to hold him up. His face was still plastered with stinking mud and he was feeling thoroughly depressed and miserable when he heard someone call, “Master of the Law, we are ministers in attendance sent by the king of Bhiksuland to invite you to court to receive His Majesty's thanks.”
“Don't be afraid, master,” said Pig, “don't be afraid. This time he's not sending for you to take your heart out. I'm sure that elder brother has succeeded and they're inviting you there to thank you.”
“Even if they have come to invite me there because he has succeeded I could not face anyone with this stinking mask on,” Sanzang replied.
“We've got no option,” said Pig. “We'll just have to go to see my elder brother. He's bound to have a solution.” The venerable elder really did have no choice but to go to the main hall of the hostel with Pig and Friar Sand carrying the luggage and leading the horse. When the ministers saw him they were all terrified.
“My lord,” they said, “they both have heads like monsters.”
“Please don't take offence at our ugliness,” Friar Sand replied. “Both of us have the bodies that were left after an earlier life. If my master could see my elder brother he'd become handsome straight away.”
When the three of them reached the palace they went straight to the throne hall without waiting to be summoned. As soon as Monkey saw them he turned round and came down from the hall to meet them. Pulling the mud mask off his master's face he blew on him with magic breath, called “Change!” and turned the Tang Priest back into himself. Sanzang was now in better spirits. The king came down from the throne hall to greet him as “Master of the Law” and “ancient Buddha.” Master and disciples then tethered the horse and went into the throne hall to be presented.
“Does Your Majesty know where the monsters came from?” Monkey asked. “Let me go and catch them both for you. Then we will have eliminated future catastrophe.”
When all the queens, consorts and concubines of the three palaces and six compounds, who were behind the screen of bright green jade, heard Monkey saying that he was going to eliminate future catastrophe they cast aside all their inhibitions about appearing in front of an outsider, and a male one at that, as they came out to bow to him and say, “We beg you, holy monk and venerable Buddha, to destroy them completely, root and branch, with your dharma powers. That would be an act of the greatest kindness, and we would of course reward you richly.” Quickly responding to their bows Monkey insisted that the king tell him where the monsters lived.
“We asked him when he came here three years ago,” the king replied shamefacedly, “and he told us that it was only some twenty miles to the South of the city, in Pure Splendor Grange on Willow Slope. The Elder of the Nation was old and had no son, only the daughter that his second wife had given him. She was just fifteen and unmarried. He offered to present her to us, and because we fancied the girl we accepted her. She was the favorite among all the palace women. We never expected that we would fall so ill that all the prescriptions of the Royal College of Physicians would be of no avail. Then he told us that he had a formula for an elixir for which a decoction of boiled little boys' hearts was needed as the adjuvant. In our folly we believed him and chose some boys from among the common people. At noon today we were going to operate and take out their hearts. We never expected that you would come down to us, holy monk, and that at that very moment all the boys would disappear in their coops. Then he said that as you were a holy monk who had cultivated the truth for ten lifetimes and not yet dissipated your primal masculinity your heart would be ten thousand times more effective than the little boys' ones. In our temporary delusion we did not realize that you would see through the evil monster, holy monk. We hope that you will make full use of your great dharma to eliminate any future catastrophe. All the wealth of the nation will be given to you as your reward.”
“I will tell you the truth,” Monkey replied. “Because my master took pity on the little boys in the coops he told me to hide them. Don't say anything about giving us wealth. When I capture the evil monsters that will be a good deed to my credit. Come with me, Pig.”
“Whatever you say, elder brother,” Pig replied. “The only thing is that I've got an empty belly: I'll be rather weak.” The king then ordered the department of foreign affairs to prepare a vegetarian meal at once. Before long the food arrived.
Having eaten his fill, Pig braced his spirits and rose by cloud with Monkey. The king, queens, consorts and civil and military officials were all so astonished that they all kowtowed to the sky, exclaiming, “They really are immortals and Buddhas come down to earth.” The Great Sage led Pig twenty miles due South, stopped their wind and cloud and started searching for the demons' home. All he could see was a clear stream running between banks on which grew thousands of willows: he had no idea where the Pure Splendor Grange might be. Indeed:
Endless expanses stretched out in his gaze;
The embankment had vanished amid willows and haze.
When he could not find the grange the Great Sage Sun made a spell with his hands, said the magic word “Om” and summoned the local deity, who approached shivering and shaking, fell to his knees and called out, “Great Sage, the local god of Willow Bank kowtows to you.”
“Don't be afraid,” Monkey said, “I'm not going to hit you. Tell me this: is there a Pure Splendor Grange on Willow Hill? And where is it?”
“There is a Pure Splendor Cave,” the local deity replied, “but there has never been a Pure Splendor Grange. I suppose you have come from Bhiksuland, Great Sage.”
“Yes, yes,” Monkey replied. “The king of Bhiksuland was hoodwinked by an evil spirit till I turned up, saw through the monster, defeated him and drove him away. He turned into a beam of cold light and I don't know where he went. When I asked the king of Bhiksuland about it he told me that when the demon first presented him with the girl three years ago he asked the spirit about his background. The demon said that he lived in Pure Splendor Grange on Willow Hill twenty miles South of the city. I've found this place with its wooded hill but can't see any Pure Splendor Grange. That's why I asked you about it.”
“I beg your forgiveness, Great Sage,” said the local god, kowtowing. “This is part of the domain of the king of Bhiksuland, and I should have kept a closer watch on things. But the evil spirit had such terrible magical powers. If I had given away what he was doing he would have come and given me a bad time. That is why he has never been caught. Now that you are here, Great Sage, you need only go to the foot of the nine-forked willow on the Southern bank, walk round it three times to the left and three times to the right, hit the tree with both hands and shout 'Open up' three times. The Pure Splendor Cave Palace will then appear.”
On learning this the Great Sage sent the local god away again, jumped over the stream with Pig and went to look for that willow tree. There was indeed a tree with nine forks on a single trunk. “Stand well back,” Monkey ordered Pig, “while I make the gates open. When I've found the demon and chased him out you're to help.”
In response to this order Pig took up his stand about three hundred yards from the tree while the Great Sage followed the local god's advice and went round the tree three times to the left and three times to the right then hit it with both hands, shouting, “Open up! Open up!” An instant later a pair of double doors opened with a noisy whoosh and the tree was nowhere to be seen. Inside the doors was bright light of many colours but no sign of human life. Confident in his divine might, Monkey charged in. He could see that it was a fine place:
Shimmering clouds, from which
Sun and moon stole their brightness.
White clouds billowing from the caves,
Bright green lichens running wild in the courtyard.
Along the path rare flowers competed in beauty,
While plants on the steps vied in fragrant blossom.
Warm was the air
Where it was ever spring.
This was just like a fairyland,
Or Penglai, the paradise of immortals.
Creepers grew all over the benches;
Vines ran wild across the bridge.
Bees flew into the cave carrying flowers;
Butterflies flirted with orchids as they passed the screen of stone.
Hurrying forward for a closer look Monkey saw that on the stone screen was carved IMMORTAL PALACE OF PURE SPLENDOR. Unable to restrain himself, he jumped over the stone screen to see the old monster embracing a beautiful woman and telling her breathlessly what had happened in Bhiksuland.
“That was our chance,” they said together. “Three years' efforts should have paid off today, but that ape's ruined everything.”
Monkey charged up to them, brandishing his cudgel and shouting, “I'll get you, you fools. What do you mean, that was your chance? Take that!” Pushing the woman aside, the old monster swung his dragon-headed stick to block the cudgel. It was a fine battle that the two of them fought in front of the cave, and quite unlike the previous one:
The upraised cudgel spat out golden light;
Vicious vapors came from the swinging staff.
The monster said,
“How dare you in your ignorance come to my home?”
“I intend to subdue evil monsters.”
Said the monster,
“My love for the king was no business of yours,
So why did you come to bully and interfere?”
“A compassionate monk should bring misrule to an end:
We could not endure the slaughter of children.”
As they flung words at each other hostility grew:
Staff parried cudgel as blows struck at the heart.
Precious flowers were destroyed as they fought for their lives;
Green moss became slippery when trampled underfoot.
Pale grew the light in the cave as they struggled:
Crushed were the fragrant blooms on the crags.
At the clash of their weapons the birds dared not fly;
Their shouts sent the beauties all running in terror.
Only the monster and Monkey were left
To stir up a hurricane that roared over the earth.
Slowly their battle took them out of the cave
Where Wuneng gave play to his mindless wrath.
The sound of the commotion they were making inside so excited Pig where he was waiting outside that his heart itched. As he could get no relief from scratching he raised his rake, smashed the nine-forked willow to the ground, then hit it several times so hard that blood gushed straight out with a barely audible sound. “This tree's become a spirit,” he said, “this tree's a spirit.” Pig had just raised his rake for another blow when he saw Monkey drawing the monster after him. Without another word the idiot rushed forward, raised his rake and struck. The old monster was already finding Monkey too much to cope with, so that Pig's rake made him more desperate than ever. Abandoning the fight he shook himself, turned back into a beam of cold light, and headed East again. The two of them would not let the demon go but headed Eastwards in pursuit.
Above the shouts of battle they heard the calls of the phoenix and the crane and looked up to see that it was the Star of Longevity from the Southern pole of the heavens. Placing a cover over the cold light the old man called out, “Don't be in such a hurry, Great Sage; stop chasing him now, Marshal Tian Peng. This old Taoist offers his greetings.”
Monkey returned his courtesy and asked, “Where have you come from, Longevity my brother?”
“You've capped the cold light, so you must have caught the monster, old fat chops,” said Pig with a grin.
“Here he is, here he is,” said the Star of Longevity, smiling back. “I trust you two gentlemen will spare his life.”
“The old devil's nothing to do with you, brother,” said Monkey, “so why have you come to plead for him?”
“He's a messenger of mine,” replied the star with a smile. “I carelessly let him escape to become a monster here.”
“Since he's yours make him turn back into what he really looks like for us to see,” said Monkey.
The Star of Longevity then let the cold light out and shouted, “Evil beast! Turn back into yourself at once if you want to be spared the death penalty.” The demon turned himself round and revealed that he was really a white deer. Picking the staff up the Star of Longevity said, “You've even stolen my staff, evil beast.” The deer lay down in submission, unable to speak, but only kowtowing and weeping. Look at him:
Brindled like a tablet of jade,
And carrying a pair of seven-branched antlers.
When hungry he used to find the herb garden;
On mornings when thirsty he drank from the misty stream.
In his lengthening years he had taught himself to fly
And through many a day had mastered transformation.
Now that he heard the call of his master
He resumed his own form and lay down in the dust.
Thanking Monkey, the Star of Longevity mounted his deer and was just leaving when Monkey grabbed hold of him and said, “Not so fast, brother. There are a couple more jobs still to be done.”
“What jobs?” the star asked.
“The girl hasn't been caught yet and I don't know what sort of monster she is,” Monkey replied. “We've also got to go back to Bhiksuland together to see the deluded ruler and show him what they really are.”
“In that case I'll be patient,” the star replied. “You and Marshal Tian Peng can go down into the cave to capture the girl and take her back to show the king what she really is.”
“Just wait a little while,” said Monkey. “We'll soon be back.”
Pig then summoned up his spirits and went straight into the Immortal Palace of Pure Splendor with Monkey. “Catch the evil spirit,” he shouted, “catch the evil spirit.” Hearing this great roar the beauty, who was trembling with fear and unable to escape, rushed behind the stone screen, but there was no rear exit.
“Where do you think you're going?” Pig shouted. “I'll get you, you man-trap, you whore spirit. Try my rake!” As the beauty was unarmed she could not fight back, so she dodged the blow and turned herself into a beam of cold light and fled, only to be stopped by the Great Sage, who with two thumping blows of his cudgel knocked her off her feet and laid her low in the dust. She turned back into her real form as a white-faced vixen. Unable to restrain himself, the idiot lifted his rake and struck her a blow on the head. The great beauty of so many smiles was now a hairy fox.
“Don't smash her to pulp,” Monkey said, “keep her in that shape to show her to the deluded king.” The idiot grabbed her by the tail, not minding the filth, and dragged her out through the cave entrance with Monkey. Here he saw the Star of Longevity stroking the deer's head and giving him a dressing-down.
“Evil beast,” he was saying, “why did you run away from me and come here to turn yourself into a spirit? If I hadn't turned up the Great Sage Sun would certainly have killed you.”
“What's that you're saying, brother?” asked Monkey, springing out of the cave.
“I was telling the deer off,” the star explained, “telling the deer off.”
Throwing the body of the dead fox in front of the deer, Pig said, “Your daughter, I suppose.”
The deer nodded then stretched its head out to sniff the body and whimpered as if with grief at its bereavement until the Star of Longevity cuffed its head and said, “Evil beast. You're lucky to have got away with your life. What are you sniffing her for?” He then took off the belt he wore round his gown, fastened it round the deer's neck, and led it off with the words, “Great Sage, let's go to Bhiksuland.”
“Wait a moment,” said Monkey, “I feel like cleaning the whole place up so that no other evil creatures can ever live here again.”
When Pig heard this he raised his rake and started to smash the willow down wildly. Monkey then said the magic word “ Om ” and summoned the local deity once more. “Gather some dried firewood,” Monkey ordered him, “and start a roaring fire that will rid this place of yours of evil. Then you won't be bullied any more.”
The local deity then turned around and with a roaring negative wind led his spirit soldiers to gather all sorts of withered vegetation that had dried out since the previous year: frostbitten grass, autumn grass, knotweed grass, mountain grass, dragonbone grass, rushes and reeds. Once set alight they would burn like oil or grease.
“There's no need to go knocking trees over, Pig,” said Monkey. “Fill the mouth of the cave with all this and set it alight: that'll burn the place clean out.” And indeed once they were lit they turned the evil demons' Pure Splendor home into a fiery furnace. Only then did Monkey dismiss the local god and go with the Star of Longevity as they dragged the fox to the steps of the throne hall where he said to the king, “Here's your Queen Beauty. Do you want to fool around with her now?”
This caused the king a terrible shock. At the sight of the Great Sage Monkey bringing the Star of Longevity with the white deer before the throne hall, monarch, ministers, consorts and queens all dropped to the ground to kowtow. Monkey went up to the king and held him up. “Don't kowtow to me,” he said with a smile. “This deer is the Elder of the Nation. It's him you should be kowtowing to.”
The king was now so overcome with shame that he could only say, “Thank you, holy monk, for saving the boys in my kingdom. It truly was an act of heavenly kindness.” He then ordered the department of foreign relations to prepare a vegetarian feast, had the Eastern hall of the palace opened up and invited the star, the Ancient of the Southern Pole, to take part in a thanksgiving feast with the Tang Priest and his three disciples. Sanzang bowed in greeting to the Star of Longevity, as did Friar Sand.
“If the white deer is one of your creatures, Star of Longevity,” they both asked, “how did he get here to become such a nuisance?”
“Some time ago the Lord of Eastern Splendor came to my mountain,” the Star of Longevity replied with a smile, “and I persuaded him to sit down for some chess. The wicked creature escaped before our first game was over. It was only when I couldn't find him after my visitor had gone that I worked out by calculating on my fingers that he must have come here. I had just reached here in my search for him when I met the Great Sage Sun using his mighty powers. If I had been any later this beast would be dead.” Before he could finish his remarks it was announced that the banquet was ready. It was a splendid vegetarian feast:
The room was overflowing with color;
Exotic fragrances filled the hall.
Embroidered hangings made the tables magnificent;
Red carpets on the floor shimmered like the glow of dawn.
From duck-shaped censers
Curled the scented smoke of eaglewood;
Before the king's place
Were fragrant vegetables.
See how high the towers of fruit were piled;
Sugar dragons and prowling animals.
Molded mandarin ducks,
Looking quite lifelike.
Shaped like the real thing.
Every kind of fruit in abundance,
Each exquisite dish a delicacy.
Giant longans and tender bamboo-shoots,
Fresh lichees and peaches.
Sweet smelled the jujubes and persimmon cakes;
More fragrant than wine were the pine-nuts and grapes.
Many a sweet dish made with honey,
Steamed pastries of various kinds,
Piled up like bouquets of flowers,
Mountains of rolls on golden dishes,
Fragrant rice heaped high in silver bowls,
Long bean noodles in hot chili soup,
Tasty dishes came in succession.
There was no end of button mushrooms,
Tender bamboo shoots,
Vegetables of many flavors,
A hundred kinds of rare delights.
They came and went in endless succession,
All the abundant dishes offered at the feast.
The seating was arranged on the spot, the seat of honour going to the Star of Longevity and the next best place to the Tang Priest. The king sat between them while Brother Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand sat at the side places. There were also three senior ministers present to keep them company, and the musicians and singers of the court theatre were ordered to perform. Holding his purple cloud goblet, the king, toasted them one by one.
The only person who would not drink was the Tang Priest. “Brother,” said Pig to Monkey, “I'll leave the fruit for you, but you must let me have a good feed of the soup, bread and rice.” With no further thought the idiot ate everything all at once. He devoured everything that was brought in and left nothing behind.
When the banquet was coming to an end the Star of Longevity took his leave of them. The king went up to him, knelt, kowtowed and begged the star to tell him the secret of eliminating disease and prolonging life. “I didn't bring any elixir as I was here to search for my deer,” the Star of Longevity replied. “I would like to teach you the techniques of self-cultivation, but you are so weak in body and ruined in spirit that you would not be able to convert the elixir. All I have in my sleeve is these three jujubes that I was intending to offer to the Lord of Eastern Splendor to take with tea. As they haven't been eaten I can offer them to you now.”
The king swallowed them, and he gradually began to feel lighter in body as the illness was cured. This was the origin of his later success in achieving immortality. As soon as Pig saw this he called, “Longevity, old pal, if you've got any fire jujubes give me some.”
“I didn't bring any,” the star replied, “but I'll give you several pounds of them next time.” The Star of Longevity then went out of the Eastern pavilion, expressed his thanks, called to the white deer, sprang on his back and departed by cloud. We will not relate how the king, queens and consorts in the palace and the common people in the city all burnt incense and kowtowed.
“Disciples,” said Sanzang, “let us pack up and take our leave of His Majesty.” The king pleaded with them to stay and instruct him. “Your Majesty,” said Monkey, “from now on you should be less greedy for your sexual pleasures and accumulate more hidden merit. In whatever you do you should use your strong points to make up for your weaknesses. This is the way to get rid of your illness and prolong your life. That's what we'll tell you.” Two dishes full of small pieces of gold and silver were then offered to the pilgrims to help with the expenses of their journey, but the Tang Priest refused to accept a single penny. The king then had no choice but to order the royal carriage and invite the Tang Priest to sit in the dragon and phoenix coach while he, his queens and his consorts pushed the wheels. Thus they escorted him out of the palace. In the streets and markets the common people also came with bowls of pure water and incense-burners to see them on their way from the city.
Suddenly there was the sound of a wind in the sky and 1,111 goose coops landed on both sides of the road. The little boys in them were crying. Unseen in the sky were the deities who had been looking after them: the city and the local gods, the deities of the altars, the True Officials, the Guardians of the Four Quarters and the Centre, the Four Duty Gods, the Six Dings and Six Jias, the Protectors of the Faith and the rest of them, who all responded with a loud shout of, “Great Sage, on your earlier instructions we carried the boys away in the goose coops. Now that we have learned of your success in your task and your departure we have brought every one of them back again.” The king, his queens and consorts and all his ministers and subjects fell to their knees to kowtow.
“Thank you for your efforts, gentlemen,” Monkey shouted to the sky. “Please all return to your shrines now. I'll get the people to make thanksgiving offerings to you.” With a soughing noise the magic wind then arose again and departed.
Monkey then told the people of the city to come and collect their children. The news was spread at once, and the people all came to claim the boys in the baskets. They were very happy indeed. Holding the boys in their arms they called them dear ones and darlings. Dancing and laughing they told their children to take hold of the lords from Tang and bring them home so that they could express their thanks for the boys' rescue. Nobody, young or old, male or female, was frightened by the disciples' ugly faces as they all carried Pig, Friar Sand, Monkey and the Tang Priest back to the city in the middle of a crowd that also brought their luggage and led the horse. The king could not stop them. Family after family laid on a banquet or a feast, and those who could not offer hospitality made monkish hats, shoes, tunics, cotton socks, and other inner and outer garments in different sizes that they presented to the pilgrims. Only when they had been entertained in this way for nearly a month were the travelers able to leave the city. Portraits of them were painted and tablets bearing their names set up; to these the people could kowtow, burn incense and make offerings. Indeed:
Great was the gratitude for their enormous kindness,
In saving the lives of infants by the thousand.
If you don't know what happened later listen to the explanation in the next installment.
The Young Girl Seeks a Mate to Build Up the Male
Protecting His Master the Mind-Ape Sees Through a Demon
The story tells how the king, ministers and common people of Bhiksuland escorted the Tang Priest and his three disciples out of the city. Seven miles later they were still unwilling to part from the pilgrims, but Sanzang insisted on getting out of the coach, mounting the horse and taking his leave of them. The people who had been seeing him off did not return to the city until the travelers had vanished from view.
When the four had been travelling for a long time the winter and the spring too were over. There was no end of wild flowers and mountain trees to be seen; fragrant blossoms filled the view. To Sanzang's alarm another towering mountain appeared in front of them.
“Disciples,” he asked, “is there a way across the high mountain before us? We must be careful.”
“Master,” laughed Brother Monkey, “that's not what a seasoned traveler should be saying. You sound much more like some pampered prince trying to look at the whole sky from the bottom of a well. As the old saying goes, a mountain can't stop the road: it can find its own way across. So why ask whether there's a way?”
“Even if this mountain cannot block the road,” Sanzang replied, “I am afraid that there may be monsters on the mountain precipices and evil spirits that will emerge from its deep recesses.”
“Don't worry,” said Pig, “don't worry. We're not far from Paradise here. I guarantee it'll all be nice and peaceful-there won't be any trouble.” As they were talking master and disciples reached the foot of the mountain without even noticing. Taking out his gold-banded cudgel Monkey climbed the rock-face.
“Master,” he called, “there's a path that goes round the mountain. The going's very easy. Hurry up!” The Tang Priest now put his worries aside and whipped the horse forward. “Carry the luggage for a while, brother,” said Friar Sand to Pig, who did so while Friar Sand held the horse's reins and the master sat in the carved saddle. They hurried along the main path up the steep slope after Monkey. This was what the mountain looked like:
The peak was wrapped in clouds;
Torrents rushed down ravines.
The paths were heavy with the scent of flowers,
And dense grew the countless trees.
Blue were the gages, white the plums,
Green the willows and red the peaches.
Spring was all but over where the cuckoo sang;
When fledgling swallows chirped the festival was finished.
Blue-green pines shaped like parasols.
The track leading across the ridge
Climbed high over a tracery of rocks;
The beetling precipice
Was overgrown with creepers, grass and trees.
Peaks like a row of halberds vied in elegance;
Far from the ocean wave streams competed in gullies.
As the master was taking an unhurried look at the mountain scenery he was moved to homesickness by the sound of a bird singing. “Disciples,” he said,
“After receiving His Majesty's command
I was given my passport in front of the brocade screen.
Watching lanterns on the fifteenth night I left the Eastern land,
And then was parted from the emperor of Tang.
Just when the dragon and tiger winds both met
I and my disciples had to struggle with the horse.
Twelve may be the peaks of Mount Wu;
But when shall I face and see you again?”'
“Master,” said Monkey, “you're always suffering from homesickness. You're not like a monk at all. Stop worrying and keep going: don't upset yourself so. As the old saying goes, you've got to work hard if you want to be rich and successful.”
“What you say is quite right, disciple,” said Sanzang, “but I do not know where the road to the West runs.”
“Master,” said Pig, “it's all because our Tathagata Buddha can't bring himself to give those scriptures away. He must have removed the path because he knows we're coming to fetch them. Why else can't we get to the end of the journey?”
“Don't talk such nonsense,” said Friar Sand. “Just keep going with big brother. As long as we stick with him we're bound to get there in the end.”
As they were talking master and disciples came in sight of a great expanse of dark pine forest. In his fear the Tang Priest called out, “Wukong, no sooner have we taken that precipitous track over the mountain than we come to this deep, dark pine forest. Why? We must be careful.”
“There's nothing to be scared of,” said Monkey.
“Nonsense,” said Sanzang. “Never trust what appears to be absolutely upright, and be on your guard against evil masquerading as goodness. I have been through quite a few pine woods with you, but never one as vast and deep as this. Just look at the trees:
Dense-packed to East and West,
In lines to North and South.
Dense-packed to East and West they reach the end of the clouds;
In lines to North and South they touch the azure firmament.
Thorns and brambles grow close-tangled all about;
Knotweed wraps itself around the branches.
Liana coils round kudzu vine,
Kudzu coils around liana.
Where liana coils around kudzu
Travelers cannot move between East and West;
Where kudzu coils round liana
Merchants may not ply between North and South.
In this forest
You could spend half a year,
Not knowing whether sun or moon was out,
Or travel for miles
And never see the stars.
Where the outlook is to the North the view is unbounded;
On Southern slopes the bushes are in flower.
There are thousand-year-old locust trees,
Pines that endure the winter cold,
Mountain peaches that bear fruit,
All growing in a close-packed profusion,
So wild that not even a god could paint it.
Bird-song could be heard:
Magpies in the branches,
Crows feeding their mothers,
Orioles with their aerial dance,
As the mynas adjust their voices.
Mynas imitating people,
And thrushes that could recite sutras.
Then there were:
Great beasts swishing their tails,
Tigers gnashing their teeth.
Aged foxes and raccoon-dogs disguised as ladies,
Ancient gray wolves at whose baying the forest shook.
Had the Pagoda-carrying Heavenly King come here
His power to suppress demons would have been of no avail.
The Great Sage Sun was unafraid. Clearing the way ahead with his cudgel, he led the Tang Priest into the depths of the forest.
They had been travelling in this carefree style for many hours without seeing any sign of a way out of the forest when the Tang Priest called out, “Disciples, we have been through no end of steep and dangerous mountain woods on our journey West. Thank goodness we have found this purity and elegance and a smooth path. The rare and unusual flowers here are truly delightful. I intend to sit here for a moment to let the horse have a rest. I am, besides, famished. Go and beg me some meat-free food from somewhere.”
“Master,” said Monkey, “please dismount while I go begging.” This the venerable elder did. While Pig tied the horse to a tree Friar Sand put the luggage down, brought out the begging-bowl and handed it to Monkey.
“Sit still here, Master,” Monkey said, “and don't even say the word 'fear'. I'll be back in a moment.” While Sanzang sat upright in the shade of the pines Pig and Friar Sand amused themselves looking for flowers and fruit.
Let us tell of the Great Sage who somersaulted into mid air, brought his cloud to a hall and looked back. All he could see coming from the pine forest were auspicious clouds and auras that coiled and spread all around. “Good, good,” he found himself saying. Do you know why? He was expressing his admiration for the Tang Priest, the reincarnation of the Venerable Golden Cicada and a holy man who had cultivated his conduct for ten successive lifetimes, which explained there was such an aura of good omen above his head.
“Five hundred years ago, when I made havoc in heaven,” Monkey thought, “I wandered to the very corners of the oceans and ran wild at the end of the sky. I led a host of spirits and called myself the Great Sage Equaling Heaven. We subdued dragons and tigers, and I took us off the registers of death. I used to wear a triple golden crown and a coat of golden mail, and with my gold-banded cudgel in my hands and my cloud-treading shoes on my feet I had 47,000 demons under me. They all used to call me Lord Great Sage. I really was someone in those days. But ever since being rescued from Heaven's punishment I've been a small-time nobody as his disciple. I reckon that as the master has such an aura of auspicious clouds over his head things are sure to turn out well for us on our way back to the East and I'm bound to win the true achievement.”
As Brother Monkey was congratulating himself along these lines he saw a column of black vapor rising from the South of the forest. “That black vapor means evil for sure,” he thought with alarm. “No black vapors could come from our Pig or Friar Sand.”
While the Great Sage was still trying to make out exactly what the vapors were coming from, Sanzang was sitting in the forest clarifying his mind and contemplating the Buddha-nature as he recited the Mahaprajnaparamita Heart Sutra when suddenly he heard a high-pitched cry of “Help!”
“This is all very well,” said Sanzang with astonishment, “but who could that be calling so deep in the forest?” It must be someone terrified by a wolf, a tiger, a leopard or some other wild beast. I shall go to take a look.” The venerable elder rose to his feet and walked through the thousand-year-old cypresses and even more ancient pines, holding on to vines and creepers, as he went close enough to see a woman tied to a big tree. The top half of her body was bound to the trunk with creepers and her lower half buried in the ground. Sanzang stopped to ask, “Why are you tied up here, lady Bodhisattva?”
It was quite obvious that the wretched creature was an evil monster, but with his mortal eyes in a worldling's body Sanzang was unable to perceive this. The monster's response to the question was to weep copiously. Just look at the tears rolling down her peachy cheeks. She was so lovely that fish would have sunk and wild geese fallen out of the sky at the sight of her; the beauty of her sorrowing and sparkling eyes would have made the moon hide away and put the flowers to shame. Sanzang did not dare go any closer to her as he opened his mouth to ask, “What crime have you committed, lady Bodhisattva? Tell me so that I can rescue you.”
The evil spirit then quickly put together a pack of lies as she replied, “Master, my home is in the country of Pinpo, which is some seventy miles from here. Both my parents are at home, and they are very great lovers of goodness. All their lives they have been on good terms with their relations and devoted to their friends. At the Clear and Bright Festival they invited all their relations and members of their own family to pay their respects at and sweep the ancestral graves. A whole procession of carrying-chairs and horses all went to the graves in the wilds outside the city. Here we set out our offerings and had just burnt the paper models of horses when a band of brigands sprang upon us with the sound of gongs and drums. They charged us shouting 'kill!' My parents and relations all got hold of horses and carrying-chairs and fled for their lives. Because I am so young I was too frightened to run: I just collapsed and was carried back to the mountains by the brigands. The top chieftain wanted me for his lady, the number two chieftain wanted me for his woman, and the third and fourth ones both fancied me for my looks. There were seventy or eighty of them all quarrelling over me and none of them would give way. So they tied me up here in the forest and broke up the band. I've been here for five days and five nights now and I'm only just alive now. I'll soon be dead. Goodness only knows which ancestor however many generations back accumulated the virtue that brought you here to me today, reverend sir. I beg you in your great mercy to save my life. I won't forget your goodness to me even when I lie dead under the nine springs of the underworld.” When she had finished speaking her tears flowed like rain.
As Sanzang really did have a merciful heart he could not help weeping and sobbing himself. “Disciples,” he shouted. Pig and Friar Sand were still looking for flowers and fruit in the forest when suddenly they heard their master's anguished cry.
“Friar Sand,” said the idiot, “the master's found a relation here.”
“What nonsense, brother,” said Friar Sand with a smile. “In all the time we've been going we haven't met a single good person, so where could any relation of his have come from?”
“If it's not a relation why's the master crying for them?” Pig asked, adding, “You and I had better go to take a look.” Friar Sand did indeed go back to where they had been before. Leading the horse and carrying the luggage they went up to the master and asked, “What's up, Master?”
The Tang Priest pointed at the tree as he replied, “Pig, untie this lady Bodhisattva and save her life.” Without caring whether this was the right or the wrong thing to do, the idiot set to.
The Great Sage meanwhile saw from up in the air the dense black vapors completely obscuring the auspicious glow. “This is bad,” he said, “this is bad. If the black vapors are covering the auspicious glow that means something evil is threatening my master. Never mind about begging for food-I'm going back to see the master.” He turned his cloud back and landed in the forest, where he saw Pig recklessly untying the ropes. Going up to him Monkey grabbed an ear and threw him to the ground. “The master told me to rescue her,” the idiot protested, looking up to see Monkey as he scrambled back to his feet, “so why did you push me over like that? You're just throwing your weight about.”
“Brother,” replied Monkey with a smile, “don't untie her. She's an evil spirit who's been putting on an act to fool us.”
“Wretched ape,” shouted Sanzang, “talking nonsense again. How can you possibly take a girl like this for an evil spirit?”
“There's something you don't know, Master.” Monkey replied. “In the old days I tried all these tricks myself when I wanted some human flesh. You couldn't possibly tell what she is.”
“Master,” said Pig, pouting sulkily, “don't let that Protector of the Horses take you in. She's a local girl. We've never had dealings with her before on our long journey from the East and she's no relation or in-law of ours, so how can you say she's an evil spirit? He's trying to get rid of us by making us go ahead so he can turn a somersault and get back here by magic. Then he's going to have a bit of fun with her and ruin our reputation.”
“You cretin,” shouted Brother Monkey, “stop talking such rubbish. I've never done any such outrageous thing on all our journey to the West. I reckon it must have been some reckless womanizer like yourself who forgot his principles when he saw a good chance. I expect you tricked some family into taking you as their son-in-law and tied her up here.”
“That's enough of that,” said Sanzang, “that's enough. Now then, Bajie. Your elder brother usually sees things very clearly. Ignore what he is saying. Let us be on our way.”
“Splendid,” said Monkey with great delight, “you have a good destiny, Master. Please mount. Once we're out of the pine forest there will be a house where we can beg for some food for you.” The four of them then pressed on together, leaving the monster behind.
The story tells how the monster gnashed her teeth with fury as she was left tied there to the tree. “I've heard tell of Sun Wukong's tremendous magic powers for years,” she said, “and now that I've seen him today I know that his reputation's well-founded. As that Tang Priest has been cultivating his conduct ever since he was a boy he has never lost a drop of his primal masculinity. I was longing to mate with him so that I could become a golden immortal of the Supreme Ultimate. I never expected that monkey to see through my magic and save him. If I'd been untied and released I could have carried him off whenever I chose and he'd have been mine. Now that Sun Wukong has made those damaging remarks and taken the Tang Priest away my efforts have all been for nothing. Let's see what happens when I give him another couple of shouts.”
Not shifting her ropes, the evil spirit made the most of the wind being in the right direction to carry some high-pitched words of morality into the Tang Priest's ear. Do you know what she was shouting? “Master,” she called, “if you forget your conscience and refuse to save a living being's life what's the use of your fetching the scriptures from the Buddha?”
When the Tang Priest heard this call he reined the horse in and said, “Wukong, go and rescue that girl.”
“You've started on your way, Master,” Monkey replied. “What made you think of her again?”
“She is shouting again there,” the Tang Priest said.
“Did you hear, Pig?” Monkey asked.
“My big lugs cover my ear-holes,” Pig replied, “and I didn't hear anything.”
“Did you hear, Friar Sand?”
“I was walking ahead, carrying the pole with the luggage,” Friar Sand replied. “I wasn't paying attention and I didn't hear anything either.”
“Neither did I,” said Monkey. “What did she say, Master? You were the only one who heard.”
“What she called was quite right,” the Tang Priest called. “She asked what was the use of fetching scriptures when I went to visit the Buddha if I forgot my conscience and refused to save a living being's life. To save a human life is better than building a seven-storied pagoda. Rescuing her straight away would be even better than worshipping the Buddha and fetching the scriptures.”
“If you're wanting to be charitable, Master,” Monkey replied, “you're incurable. Just think of all the demons you've met in all the mountains you've crossed on your journey West since leaving the East. They've often taken you into their caves and I've had to rescue you. I've killed tens of thousands of them with this iron cudgel of mine. So why can't you bring yourself to let a single devil die today? Why do you have to rescue her?”
“Disciple,” the Tang Priest replied, “there's an old saying, 'Do not fail to do a good deed because it is small; do not commit a bad deed because it is small.' You're still to go and save her.”
“If that's the way you're going to be, Master, I can't accept that responsibility,” Monkey replied. “You insist on rescuing her and I dare not try too hard to dissuade you. When I did make a little attempt to do so you lost your temper again. You can go and rescue her if you want to.”
“Watch your tongue, ape,” Sanzang retorted. “Sit here while Bajie and I go to rescue her.”
The Tang Priest went back into the forest and told Pig to undo the ropes around the top half of her body and dig the lower half out with his rake. The demon stamped her feet, fastened her skirt and happily followed the Tang Priest out of the pine forest. When she met Monkey all he did was to wear a mocking smile.
“Impudent ape,” said the Tang Priest abusively, “what are you smiling at?”
“I'm laughing at you,” Monkey replied:
“You meet up with good friends when your luck is going well;
And when it's going badly you find yourself a belle.”
“Impudent macaque!” said Sanzang, being abusive again. “What nonsense! I have been a monk ever since I came out of my mother's womb. I am now making this journey West at His Majesty's command with the devout intention of worshipping the Buddha and fetching the scriptures. I am not the sort of person to care about wealth and office, so what do you mean by my luck going badly?”
“Master,” replied Monkey with a grin, “you may have been a monk since you were a child, and you may be good at reading sutras and invoking the Buddha, but you have never studied the text of royal laws. This girl is young and beautiful. If monks like us travel with her we may well meet with evil people who arrest us and turn us in to the authorities. They won't care about worshipping Buddhas or fetching scriptures. They'll treat it as a case of illicit sex, and even if that isn't proved we'll still be convicted of abduction. You will lose your ordination license, Master, and be beaten half to death. Pig will be sent into exile and Friar Sand sentenced to penal servitude. Even I won't get off scot-free. No matter how I try to talk my way out of it I'll still be found guilty of wrongdoing.”
“Don't talk such rubbish,” Sanzang shouted. “After all, I did save her life. There will be no trouble. We are taking her with us. I will be responsible for whatever happens.”
“You may say you'll be responsible, Master,” Monkey replied, “but what you don't realize is that so far from rescuing her you're destroying her.”
“I saved her life by rescuing her from the forest,” said Sanzang, “so how can I be destroying her?”
“If she had stayed tied up in the forest without any food for three to five days, ten days or even half a month and starved to death,” said Monkey, “she would at least have gone to the Underworld with her body in one piece. But now you've taken her away from there. You're on a fast horse and travelling like the wind. The rest of us have to follow you. How will she be able to keep up on her tiny feet? She can barely walk. If she gets left behind and a wolf, a tiger or a leopard eats her up you'll have killed her.”
“You are right,” Sanzang said. “Thank you for thinking of it. What are we to do about it?”
“Lift her up and let her ride on the horse with you,” replied Monkey with a grin.
“I could not possibly ride on the same horse as her,” moaned Sanzang.
“Then how is she to travel?” Monkey asked. “Bajie can carry her on his back,” Sanzang replied.
“You're in luck, idiot,” said Monkey.
“There's no such thing as a light load on a long journey,” Pig replied. “Having to carry her isn't luck.”
“With your long snout you'll be able to turn it round and chat her up on the quiet while you're carrying her,” Monkey replied, “which will be very convenient for you.”
Pig's reaction to hearing this was to beat his chest and jump about in fury. “That's terrible,” he said, “that's terrible, I'd sooner put up with the pain of a flogging from the master. If I carry her I won't possibly come out of it clean. You've always been a slanderer. I'm not carrying her.”
“Very well then,” Sanzang said, “very well then. I can walk a little further. I shall come down and walk slowly with you. Bajie can lead the horse with nobody riding it.”
“You've got yourself a good bargain there, idiot,” said Monkey, roaring with laughter. “The master's done you a favour by letting you lead the horse.”
“You are talking nonsense again, ape,” said Sanzang. “As the ancients said, 'When a horse is to travel three hundred miles it cannot get there by itself.' If I walk slowly are you going to leave me behind? When I go slowly you will have to go slowly too. We shall all take the lady Bodhisattva down the mountain together. We can leave her in some convent, temple, monastery or house that we come to. Then we will still have rescued her.”
“You're right, Master,” Monkey replied. “Let's press on quickly.”
Sanzang took the lead while Friar Sand carried the luggage, Pig led the riderless horse and the girl, and Monkey carried his iron cudgel as they carried on together. Within seven to ten miles the evening was drawing in and a tall building came into sight.
“Disciple,” said Sanzang, “that must be a temple of some sort. We shall ask to spend the night here and be on our way first thing tomorrow.”
“What you say is right, Master,” said Monkey. “Let's all get a move on.”
They were soon at the gates, where Sanzang told them, “Keep well out of the way while I go in first to ask if we can stay for the night. If it looks suitable I shall send someone to call to you.” So they all stood in the shadows of the poplars while Monkey kept an eye on the girl, his iron cudgel in his hand.
The venerable elder walked forward to see that the gates were hanging crooked and falling to pieces. What he saw when he pushed the gates open chilled him to the heart:
The cloisters were deserted,
The ancient shrine left desolate.
The courtyard was overgrown with moss;
Sagebrush and brambles choked the paths.
The only lanterns came from the fireflies
While the croaking of frogs had replaced the water-clock.
The venerable elder started crying. Indeed:
The desolate halls were falling down,
The lonely cloisters collapsing.
Broken bricks and tiles lay in a dozen heaps,
And all the pillars and beams were askew.
Grass was growing all around;
The kitchens were crumbling and buried in dust.
In derelict towers the drums had lost their skins;
Broken was the glass lamp.
The color had gone from the Buddha's golden statue;
The figures of arhats lay strewn upon the floor.
Guanyin had turned to mud in the soaking rain,
Her pure vase with a willow spray fallen to the ground.
No monk was to be seen there by day,
And only foxes slept there at night.
As the wind roared with the sound of thunder
This was a place for tiger and leopard to shelter.
The walls around had collapsed
And no gates could be closed to guard it.
There is a poem about this that goes
For many a year had the temple been unrepaired;
In its derelict state it had gone from bad to worse.
The gales had destroyed the faces of the temple guardians,
And rainstorms had washed the heads off the Buddha statues.
The vajrapani had collapsed and been soaked through.
The local god had lost his shrine and stayed outside at night.
Two other things were even more depressing:
Bell and drums lay on the ground instead of hanging in their towers.
Summoning up his courage, Sanzang went in through the inner gates where he saw that the bell-tower and drum-tower had both collapsed, leaving only a single bronze bell planted in the ground, its bottom half the color of indigo. With the passage of the years the top half of the bell had been bleached in the rain while the earth's vapors had greened the lower part.
“ Bell,” Sanzang called aloud as he touched it,
“Once you roared from high in the tower,
Calling afar from the painted beam where you hung.
At cockcrow you used to ring in the dawn,
And at evening you announced the dusk.
Where now are the lay brothers who begged for the copper,
Or the craftsman who cast it to form you?
Both, I imagine, are now in the Underworld;
They have gone without trace and you are left silent.”
The venerable elder's loud sighs had by now disturbed someone in the monastery. A lay brother who was offering incense heard the voice, climbed to his feet, picked up a broken brick and threw it at the bell. The bell's clang gave the venerable elder such a fright that he fell over then scrambled up again to flee, only to trip over the root of a tree and go flying again.
As he lay on the ground Sanzang raised his head and said, “Bell,
I was just lamenting your fate
When suddenly you clanged.
On this deserted route to the West
Over the years you have turned into a spirit.”
The lay brother came over to Sanzang and steadied him as he said, “Please get up, reverend sir. The bell hasn't become a spirit. It was I who struck it just now.” Looking up and seeing how dark and ugly the other was Sanzang said, “I suppose you are a goblin or some other evil creature. I am no ordinary man. I come from Great Tang and I have disciples who can subdue dragons and tigers. If you run into them your life will be lost.”
“Don't be afraid, my lord,” replied the lay brother, falling to his knees. I'm no evil being. I'm a lay brother who looks after the incense here. When I heard those fine things you were saying just now I wanted to come out and welcome you but I was afraid that it might be some demon knocking at the gates. That was why I didn't dare come out until I'd thrown a piece of brick at the bell to calm my fears. Please rise, my lord.”
Only then did Sanzang calm himself sufficiently to reply, “Lay brother, that fright was almost the death of me. Take me inside.” The lay brother led Sanzang straight in through the third pair of gates. What the Tang Priest saw here was quite different from outside:
A cloud-patterned wall built of blue bricks,
Halls roofed with green glazed tiles.
The holy statues were sheathed in gold,
The steps made of pure white jade.
Blue light danced in the Buddha hall;
Fine vapors rose from the Vairocana chapel.
Above the Manjusri hall
Were decorations of flying clouds;
In the Library of Scriptures
Were patterns of flowers and green leaves.
On the roof above the triple eaves stood a precious jar;
In the Tower of Five Blessings embroidered covers were spread.
A thousand bright bamboos waved over the dhyana seat;
Ten thousand bluish pines threw their light on the gates.
Jade-coloured clouds reflected gold on this palace;
Auspicious clouds drifted round the woods full of purple mist.
Each morning the fragrant breezes could be smelled all around;
In the evening painted drums were heard on the high hills.
There should be morning sunshine to patch torn robes;
How can the sutra be finished by the light of the moon?
The courtyard at the back is lit by half a wall of lamps;
A column of fragrant smoke shines in the hall.
Sanzang saw this but did not dare go inside. “Lay brother,” he called, “why is the front of the monastery so dilapidated but the back so neat and tidy?”
“My lord,” said the lay brother with a smile, “these mountains are full of evil creatures and brigands. On clear days they roam the mountains to rob and on dull ones they shelter in the monastery. They knock the Buddha statues down to use as seats and burn the wooden pillars for firewood. The monks here are too feeble to argue with them, which is why they have abandoned the wrecked buildings at the front for the brigands to stay in. They have found some new benefactors to build the new monastery for them. Now there is one for the pure and one for the impure. This is how we do things in the West.”
“So that is the way things are,” said Sanzang.
As he walked further Sanzang saw written over the gate in large letters SEA-GUARDING MONASTERY OF MEDITATION. Only then did he stride in through the gates, where a monk appeared coming towards him. Just see what the monk looked like:
His hat of velvet and brocade was held with a pin,
And a pair of bronze rings hung from his ears.
His tunic was made of woolen stuff,
And his eyes were white and bright as silver.
He held in his hand a self-beating drum
As he recited scriptures in an unknown tongue.
Sanzang did not know before
That he was a lama on the road to the West.
As the lama came out he saw how very handsome and elegant Sanzang was: clear-browed and fine-eyed with a broad forehead and level top to his skull, ears hanging to his shoulders and arms so long they came below his knees. He looked like an arhat come down to earth. The lama, his face wreathed in smiles, went up to Sanzang chuckling with delight to grab hold of him, feel his hands and feet, rub his nose and tug at his ears as ways of showing his friendliness.
After leading Sanzang into the abbot's lodgings and going through the rituals of greeting the lama asked him, “Where have you come from, venerable Father?”
“I have been sent by His Majesty the Emperor of Great Tang in the East to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures from Thunder Monastery in India in the West,” Sanzang replied. “As we were passing this way when it was becoming dark I have come to your distinguished monastery to put up here for the night before leaving early tomorrow morning. I beg you to grant me this expeditious help.”
“You shouldn't say that,” replied the lama with a smile, “you shouldn't say that. We didn't really want to become monks. We were all given life by our mothers and fathers and only cut our ties with them because we had unlucky destinies and our families could not afford to keep us. Even though we are now disciples of the Buddhist faith you must not talk empty words.”
“I spoke in all sincerity,” Sanzang replied.
“However far is the journey from the East to the Western Heaven?” the monk said. “Along the way there are mountains, there are caves in the mountains and there are spirits in the caves. I don't think that a lone traveler looking as delicate as you could possibly be a pilgrim going to fetch the scriptures.”
“You are quite right, abbot,” Sanzang replied. “I could never have got here alone. I have three disciples who clear my way across the mountains and build me bridges over rivers. It is only because they have protected me that I have been able to reach your monastery.”
“Where are your three distinguished disciples?” the lama asked.
“Waiting outside the gates of the monastery,” Sanzang replied.
“Father,” said the lama with alarm, “you don't realize that there are dangerous tigers, wolves, evil bandits, ghosts and demons here. We don't dare roam far even by day and we shut the gates before nightfall. How can you leave people outside this late?” He then told his disciples to ask them in at once.
Two young lamas hurried outside. At the sight of Monkey they fell over, and then fell over again when they saw Pig. Scrambling to their feet they ran back in as fast as they could and said, “My lord, your luck is out. Your disciples have disappeared. There are only three or four evil monsters standing outside the gates.”
“What do they look like?” Sanzang asked.
“One has a face like a thunder god,” the young lamas replied, “one has a face like a tilt-hammer, and one has a green face and terrible fangs. There is a girl with them too-she has oiled hair and a powdered face.”
“You would not know who they are,” replied Sanzang with a smile. “The three ugly ones are my disciples and the girl is someone I rescued in the pine forest.”
“My lord,” the lama said, “how can a master as handsome as you have found yourself such ugly disciples?”
“Ugly they may be,” Sanzang replied, “but they are all useful. Ask them in straight away. If you take any longer the one who looks like a thunder god is a bit of a trouble-maker. He was not born to a mother and father and he will fight his way in.”
The young lamas then hurried outside again and fell to their knees, shivering and shaking, as they said, “My lords, Lord Tang invites you in.”
“Brother,” said Pig, “if he's invited us, that's that. Why are they shivering and shaking?”
“They're scared because we're so ugly,” Monkey replied.
“Rubbish,” said Pig. “We were born that way. None of us is ugly from choice.”
“Make yourself look a bit less ugly,” said Monkey, and the idiot really did tuck his snout into his tunic and keep his head down as he led the horse while Friar Sand carried the pole and Brother Monkey brought up the rear, holding his cudgel in his hand and dragging the girl along. They went past the ruined buildings and cloisters and in through the third part of gates. When they had tethered the horse they went into the abbot's lodgings to meet the lama and take their seats in order of precedence. The lama then went inside to lead seventy or eighty young lamas to greet them, tidy their rooms, give them a vegetarian meal and look after them. Indeed:
In storing up achievement be mindful of mercy;
When the Buddha's Dharma flourishes monks admire each other.
If you do not know how they left the monastery, listen to the explanation in the next installment.
The Mind-Ape Recognizes a Monster in the Monastery
The Three Search for Their Master in Black Pine Forest
The story tells how Sanzang and his disciples came to the Meditation Monastery where they met the lamas and were given a vegetarian meal. When the four of them had eaten the girl was also fed. By now night was gradually falling and the lamp was lit in the abbot's lodgings. The lamas, who wanted to ask the Tang Priest about why he was going to fetch the scriptures and were also eager for a look at the girl, stood packed together in rows under the lamp. “Abbot,” said Sanzang to the lama he had first met, “when we leave your monastery tomorrow what will the road West be like?” Before answering, the lama fell to his knees. Sanzang quickly helped him up and said, “Stand up, please. Why do you greet me in this way when I ask about the road?”
“When you travel West tomorrow, reverend sir, you will find that the road is level,” the lama replied. “There is no need to worry. There is just one thing at present that is rather awkward. I wanted to tell you about it as soon as you came in, but I was afraid that it would offend your distinguished self. I only venture to tell you now that the meal is over that you will be most welcome to spend the night in the young lamas' room after your long, hard journey from the East. But it would not be right for the lady Bodhisattva to do so. I don't know where I should invite her to sleep.”
“Your suspicions are not called for, abbot,” Sanzang replied, “and you should not suppose that my disciples and I have wicked ideas. When we were coming through Black Pine Forest this morning we found this girl tied to a tree. My disciple Sun Wukong refused to save her, but out of my enlightened heart I rescued her and have brought her here for you to put up, abbot.”
“As you have been so generous, reverend Father,” the abbot replied, “we can set out a straw mattress behind the devarajas in the Devaraja Hall for her to sleep on.”
“That's splendid,” Sanzang said, “splendid.” After this the young lamas took the girl to sleep in the back of the hall while in the abbot's lodgings Sanzang urged the officials of the monastery to put themselves at their ease, whereupon they all dispersed.
“We have had a hard day,” Sanzang said to Brother Monkey. “We must go to bed early and be up early in the morning.” They all slept in the same room, guarding the master and not daring to leave him. Later that night
The moon rose high and all was peaceful;
The Street of Heaven was quiet and nobody moved.
Bright was the Silver River; the stars shone clearly;
The drum in the tower hastened the changing watch.
We will say nothing more of the night. When Monkey rose at first light he told Pig and Friar Sand to get the luggage and the horse ready then urged the master to start out. But Sanzang wanted to sleep longer and would not wake up, so Monkey went up to him to call, “Master.”
The master raised his head but still could make no reply. “What will you say, Master?” Monkey asked.
“Why is my head spinning,” Sanzang replied, “why are my eyes swollen, and why an I aching all over from my skin to my bones?”
When Pig heard this he stretched out his hand to feel the master's body. It was feverish. “Now I understand,” said the idiot with a grin. “He had several bowls too many of last night's free rice and went to sleep head-down. It's indigestion.”
“Nonsense,” shouted Monkey, “Let me ask the master what's really the matter.”
“When I got up in the middle of the night to relieve myself,” Sanzang replied, “I did not put my hat on. I think I must have caught a chill in the wind.”
“I'm sure you're right,” said Monkey, “Can you travel now?”
“I cannot even sit up,” Sanzang replied, “let alone mount the horse. The journey will have to wait.”
“What a thing to say, Master,” said Monkey, “As the saying goes, 'A teacher for a day is one's father for life.' As your disciples we are like your sons. There's another saying that
A son does not have to shit silver or gold;
As long as be can do what's needed he'll be fine.
If you're not feeling well you shouldn't be worrying about the journey being delayed. There'll be no problem about waiting for a few days.” The three brother-disciples all looked after their master. The morning was followed by midday and dusk, and after a good night dawn returned. Time fled, and three days had soon passed.
The morning after that Sanzang tried to sit up, calling, “Wukong, as I have been very ill these last couple of days I have not asked you before: have people been giving food to the lady Bodhisattva we rescued?”
“What are you bothering about her for?” laughed Monkey, “What you should be concerned with is your own illness.”
“Yes, yes,” said Sanzang. “Help me up and fetch me paper, brush and ink. Borrow an inkstone here in the monastery.”
“What do you want them for?” Monkey asked.
“I want to write a letter,” Sanzang replied. “I shall seal it up with our passport and ask you to deliver it for me to His Majesty Emperor Taizong in Chang'an.”
“Easy,” said Monkey, “I may not be much good at anything else, but when it comes to delivering letters I'm the champion of the whole world. So wrap the letter up and give it to me. I'll take it to Chang'an in a single somersault, give it to the Tang Emperor, and come back with another somersault before your brush and inkstone have dried up. But why do you want to write a letter? Tell me what you want to say in the letter-you can write it down later.”
“This is what I will write,” said Sanzang, weeping:
“Your subject beats his head three times upon the ground,
With a triple shout of 'Long live Your Majesty' as I bow to my lord.
The civil and military officials ate all present,
And four hundred courtiers all listen to what is said.
Years ago I left the East on your command,
Hoping to see the Buddha on the Vulture Peak.
But on my journey I have met with obstructions;
And been delayed by unexpected disaster along the way.
My illness is grave; I cannot move one step;
The gate to Buddha is as distant as the gate to heaven.
I will not live to bring back the scriptures;
I submit with respect that a new envoy should be sent.”
When Monkey heard this he could not help bursting out into uproarious laughter. “You're hopeless, Master,” he said, “thinking that sort of thing after just a touch of illness. If you were seriously ill you'd only have to ask me to find out whether you were going to live or die. I have my own special way of dealing with it. I'd ask, 'Which king of the Underworld dared think of this? Which of the judges issued the warrant? Which demon messenger is coming to fetch him?' If they make me angry I'll lose my temper the way I did when I made havoc in Heaven, smash my way into the Underworld with my cudgel, capture the ten kings and rip the sinews out of every one of them. I'll show them no mercy.”
“Stop that boasting, disciple,” Sanzang replied. “I am very ill.”
“Brother,” said Pig, going up to him, “it's very awkward to have the master saying he's in a bad way and you insisting he isn't. Let's settle things as quickly as we can, sell the horse, pawn the luggage, buy a coffin to bury the master in and split up.”
“You're talking out of turn again, you idiot,” Monkey replied. “What you don't realize is that the master used to be our Tathagata Buddha's second disciple. His original name was the Venerable Golden Cicada. This is great hardship he has to endure because he once slighted the Buddha's Dharma.”
“But, brother,” Pig replied, “even if the master did slight the Buddha's Dharma he was exiled to the East and born into another body amid the sea of right and wrong and the battlefield of tongues. He swore an oath to go to the Western Heaven, worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. Every time he's met an evil spirit he's been tied up; and every time he's come across a monster he's been hung up. He's had to put up with every kind of agony. That should be enough. Why has he had to be ill as well?”
“This is something you wouldn't know about,” Monkey replied. “The master once dropped off to sleep instead of listening to the Buddha teaching the Dharma, and as he drowsed he trod on a grain of rice with his left foot. That is why he has to be ill for three days in the lower world.”
“So goodness only knows how many years someone who eats as messily as I do will have to be ill,” replied a shocked Pig.
“Brother,” Monkey replied, “the Buddha will spare ordinary creatures such as you. There's something else you don't know. As the poet said,
Hoeing millet in the noonday sun;
Sweat drops on the ground beneath the millet.
Who understands that of the food that's in the bowl,
Every single grain was won through bitter toil?
The master will only be ill today. Tomorrow he'll be better.”
“I am feeling different today from how I did yesterday,” said Sanzang. “My throat is absolutely parched. Go and find some cold water somewhere for me to drink.”
“Fine,” Monkey replied. “If water's what you want, Master, that means you're better. I'll go and fetch some.”
Monkey at once took the begging bowl and went to the kitchen at the back of the monastery, where he came across all the monks red-eyed and sobbing with grief. The only thing was that they dared not cry aloud.
“Don't be so petty, little monks,” said Brother Monkey. “Before we leave we'll thank you for the days we've spent here, and we'll pay for our cooking fuel and lighting by the day. You really shouldn't be such pustules.”
“We wouldn't dare accept it,” the lamas said at once, falling to their knees, “we wouldn't dare.”
“What do you mean, you wouldn't dare?” said Monkey. “It must be that long-snouted monk of ours who has an enormous appetite. He'd eat you out of house and home.”
“My lord,” the lamas replied, “there are over a hundred senior and junior lamas in this monastery. If each of us kept you for a single day we could afford to support you for over a hundred days. We're not the sort of skinflints who'd calculate what you will cost us in food.”
“If you're not working out the cost then why are you sobbing?” Monkey asked.
“Lord,” the lamas replied, “there's an evil monster in the monastery. We don't know which mountain it's from. Last night we sent two junior lamas to strike the bell and beat the drum. We heard the sound of the bell and the drum but the lamas never came back. When we looked for them the next day all we found were their monk's hats and shoes lying in the courtyard at the back and their skeletons. They had been eaten. In the three days you have been here six lamas have disappeared from the monastery. That's why we can't help being frightened and grieved. When we realized that your venerable master was ill we couldn't stop these tears stealing out even though we kept the news to ourselves.”
“Say no more,” said Brother Monkey, who was both shocked and delighted by what he heard. “It must be an evil monster who's killing people here. I'll wipe it out for you.”
“My lord,” the lamas replied, “any evil spirit worthy of the name has magical powers. It's bound to be able to ride clouds, come out of the underworld and disappear again. As the ancients put it so well, 'Trust not the straightest of the straight; beware of the inhuman human.' Please don't take offence, my lord, when we say that if you can rid our monastery of this scourge that would be a great happiness for us. But if you can't catch it things will be pretty difficult.”
“What do you mean by things being pretty difficult?” Monkey asked.
“We will be honest with you, my lord,” the lamas replied. “Although there are only a hundred or so of us lamas in this monastery we all became monks as children:
When our hair grows we have it shaved off;
Our clothes are patched with rags.
We rise in the morning to wash our faces,
Then bow with hands together
In submission to the Great Way.
At night we tidy up, burn incense,
And piously pray,
Chanting the name of Amitabha.
When we look up we see the Buddha
On his ninefold lotus throne
Well-versed in the Three Vehicles,
Riding in his mercy on clouds of dharma,
And we long to see the Sakyamuni in the Jeta park.
Looking down we see into our hearts,
Accept the Five Prohibitions,
Pass through a thousand aeons,
And live each life amid the countless dharmas,
Hoping to understand emptiness and the impermanence of matter.
When the benefactors come,
Old, young, tall, short, fat, thin,
We each beat wooden fish,
Strike bronze chimes,
Slowly and deliberately,
With the two rolls of the Lotus Sutra
And the short Litany of the Emperor of Liang.
When the benefactors do not come,
New, old, strange, familiar, rustic, smart,
We put our hands together,
Entering meditation on the rush mats,
Firmly closing the gates under the moon.
Let the orioles sing and other birds chirp in idle strife:
They cannot mount our expeditions and compassionate chariot of dharma.
This is why we cannot subdue tigers and dragons,
Or recognize monsters and spirits.
If, my lord, you provoked the evil monster,
To which we hundred and more lamas would be but a single meal,
All of us living creatures would fall to the wheel of rebirth,
This ancient monastery of meditation would be destroyed,
And finally there would be no light at the Tathagata's assembly.
This would cause great troubles.”
When Brother Monkey heard the lamas say this anger surged up from his heart and hatred from his gall. “What a stupid lot you lamas are!” he shouted at the top of his voice. “Are you only aware of those evil spirits? Do you know nothing of what I've done?”
“Really we don't,” the lamas replied in very quiet voices.
“Then I'll tell you briefly about it,” Monkey said.
“I used to subdue tigers and dragons on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit;
I once went up to Heaven and made great havoc in its palace.
When I was hungry I nibbled just two or three
Of Lord Lao Zi's elixir tablets;
When I was thirsty I sipped six or seven cups
Of the Jade Emperor's own wine.
When I glare with my golden eyes that are neither black nor white,
The sky turns deathly pale
While the moon is hidden in cloud.
When I wield my gold-banded cudgel that's the right length,
It strikes unseen
And leaves no trace behind.
What do I care about big or little monsters,
However rough or vicious they may be?
Once I go for them
They may run away, nimble about, hide or panic.
Whenever I grab one
They'll be filed down, cooked, ground to bits or pulverized in a mortar.
I'm like one of the eight immortals crossing the sea,
Each of whom gives a unique display of his magical powers.
Lamas, I'll catch that evil spirit and show it to you:
Then you'll know what sort of person this Monkey is.”
When the lamas heard this they nodded and said quietly, “From the way this damned baldy is shooting his mouth off and talking big there must be something behind it all.”
They all made polite noises of respectful assent except for the older lama who said, “Wait. Your master is ill, and catching the evil spirit is not as important as that. As the saying goes,
When a young gentleman goes to a feast
He either gets drunk or eats till he's filled.
When a strong warrior goes into battle
He either is wounded or gets himself killed.
If you two fight it out here you may well get your master into trouble too. It's not a sound idea.”
“You're right,” said Monkey, “you're right. I'll take my master a drink of cold water and be right back.” Picking up the begging bowl he filled it with cold water, went out of the monastery kitchen and back to the abbot's lodgings and called, “Master, cold water for you.” Sanzang, who was just then suffering torments of thirst, raised his head, held the bowl with both hands, and took only one sip of the water. It really was a case of
A drop when you're thirsty is just like sweet dew;
Get the right medicine and you'll feel good as new.
Seeing the venerable elder gradually recovering his spirits and looking less worried Monkey asked, “Could you manage some soup and other food, Master?”
“That cold water was a magical cure,” Sanzang replied. “I have already half recovered from my illness. I would like some food if there is any.”
“The master's better,” Monkey shouted repeatedly at the top of his voice. “He wants some soup and other food.” He told the lamas to arrange some at once. They washed and boiled rice, made noodles, cooked pancakes, steamed breadrolls, and prepared vermicelli soup. Four or five tables of food were carried in, but the Tang Priest ate only half a bowl of rice gruel, while Monkey and Friar Sand managed only a tableful between them. Pig gobbled up the rest. The dishes were then taken out, the lamp was lit, and the lamas dispersed.
“How long have we been here now?” Sanzang asked.
“Three whole days,” Monkey replied. “By tomorrow evening it will be four days.”
“We could have covered a lot of distance in three days,” Sanzang replied.
“Never mind about the distance, Master,” said Monkey. “We'll be on our way tomorrow.”
“Yes,” said Sanzang, “even if I am still a little poorly there is nothing that can be done.”
“If we're setting out tomorrow let me catch the evil spirit tonight,” said Monkey.
“What evil spirit?” Sanzang asked in astonishment. “There's an evil spirit in this monastery that I'm going to catch for them,” Monkey replied.
“But how can you be having ideas like that before I have even recovered from my illness?” Sanzang asked. “If that monster has magical powers and you fail to catch it, then it will kill me, won't it?”
“You're always running people down,” Monkey replied. “Wherever we go I subdue evil creatures. Have you ever seen me come off second best? That could only happen if I did nothing. If I act I'm bound to win.”
“Disciple,” said Sanzang, clutching him, “the saying is quite right that goes:
Do people a good turn whenever you can;
If it is possible treat them with mercy.
Worrying cannot compare with true kindness;
Better be patient than strive for supremacy.”
In the face of his master's impassioned pleas and refusal to allow him to subdue the monster, Monkey could only speak frankly.
“I'll be honest with you, Master,” he said. “The evil spirit has been eating people here.”
“Who has it eaten?” Sanzang asked with shock.
“In the three days we've been here it's eaten six of this monastery's young lamas,” Monkey said, to which Sanzang replied:
“Foxes will grieve at the death of the hare;
Creatures will all for their own kind show care.
As it has eaten monks from this monastery and I am a monk too I will let you go, but do be careful.”
“No need to tell me,” said Monkey, “I'll wipe it out the moment I get my hands on it.”
Watch him as he tells Pig and Friar Sand in the lamplight to guard the master. When he leapt happily out of the abbot's lodgings and went back to the Buddha Hall he looked and saw that though there were stars in the sky the moon had not yet risen and it was dark inside the hall. He breathed out some of his magic fire to light the glazed lamp then beat the drum that stood to the East and struck the bell to the West. That done, he shook himself and turned himself into a young lama of only eleven or twelve who was wearing a yellow silk shirt and a white cotton tunic, striking a wooden fish with his hand as he recited a sutra. He waited till the first watch without seeing anything happen. The waning moon rose only in the second watch. Then a roaring wind could be heard. It was a splendid wind:
Black mists cast the sky into darkness;
Gloomy clouds cover the earth with murk.
Inky black in every quarter,
All enveloped in indigo.
At first the wind raises dust and dirt;
Then it blows down trees and ravages woods.
Amid the dust and dirt the stars still shine;
When trees go down and woods are ravaged the moonlight is obscured.
It blows so hard the Moon Goddess holds tight to the sala tree
And the Jade Hare hunts all around for the medicine dish.
The Nine Bright Shiner star lords shut their gates;
The dragon kings of the four seas close their doors.
The city god in his temple looks for the little devils;
Immortals in the sky cannot ride their clouds.
The kings of the Underworld search for their horse-faced demons
While the panicking judges get their turbans in a tangle.
The wind blows so hard it moves Mount Kunlun 's rocks,
And churns up the waves on rivers and lakes.
As soon as the wind had passed by there was a fragrance of musk and incense and the tinkling of pendants. When Monkey looked up he saw that a woman of great beauty was going towards the Buddha Hall. Monkey mumbled the words of a sutra for all he was worth. The woman went up to him, put her arms around him and asked, “What's that sutra you're reciting?”
“One I vowed to,” said Monkey.
“But why are you still reciting it when the others are all asleep?” she insisted.
“I vowed to, so why shouldn't I?” Monkey replied.
Keeping a tight hold on him, the woman kissed his lips and said, “Let's go round the back for a bit of fun.” Monkey deliberately turned his head aside as he replied, “Stop being so naughty.”
“Do you know how to tell people's fortunes from their faces?” the woman asked.
“I know a bit about it,” Monkey replied.
“What can you tell about me?” she continued. “You look to me rather like someone who's been driven out by her parents-in-law for carrying on with strangers.”
“You're wrong,” she replied, “you're wrong.
I have not been driven out by my parents-in-law,
Nor have I carried on with strangers.
Because of my ill fate in an earlier life
I was married to a husband who is much too young
And can't do his staff in the candlelit bedroom:
That is the reason why I have left my husband.
As the stars and moon are so bright tonight and we are fated to come hundreds of miles to meet each other, let's go round to the garden at the back to make love.”
When Brother Monkey heard this he nodded to himself and thought, “So those stupid lamas all died because they were led astray by lust. Now she's trying to lure me. Lady,” he said in reply, “I'm a monk and still very young. I don't know anything about love-making.”
“Come with me and I'll teach you,” the woman replied.
“All right then,” Monkey thought with an inward smile, “I'll go with her and see how she fixes things.”
Shoulder nestling against shoulder and hand in hand the two of them left the Buddha Hall and went straight to the garden at the back. Here the monster tripped Monkey over and sent him to the ground. With wild calls of “My darling!” she made a grab for his crotch.
“So you really want to eat me up, my girl,” he said, seizing her hand and throwing her off balance so that she somersaulted to the ground.
“So you can throw your sweetie to the ground, can you, my darling?” she said.
“If I don't take this chance to finish her off what am I waiting for?” he thought. “As they say, hit first and win, strike second and lose.” He leaned forward with his hands on his hips, sprang to his feet and reverted to his own form. With a swing of his gold-banded iron cudgel he struck at the monster's head.
In her astonishment she thought, “What a terror this young monk is.” When she opened her eyes wide for a better look she realized that he was the Tang Priest's disciple Monkey, but she was not afraid of him. What sort of evil spirit was she, you may wonder.
A golden nose,
Snowy white fur.
She makes her home in a tunnel,
Where she is thoroughly safe.
Three hundred years ago, after training her vital forces,
She paid several visits to the Vulture Peak,
Carrying a full load of flowers and wax candles.
Tathagata sent her down from Heaven.
She was a beloved daughter to the Pagoda-carrying Heavenly King;
Prince Nezha treated her as his own sister.
She was no bird that fills up the sea,
Nor was she a tortoise carrying mountains on its back.
She did not fear Lei Huan's swords
Nor was she afraid of Lu Qian's blade.
She came and went
Flowing like the mighty Han and Yangtse;
Moved up and down,
Even up a peak as high as Mounts Taishan and Heng.
Seeing the charming beauty of her face
You would never know she was a mouse-spirit with great powers.
In the pride in her enormous magic powers she held up a pair of swords that rang out as she parried to left and right, moving East and West. Although Monkey was rather stronger he could not overpower her. Then magic winds arose on all sides, dimming the waning moon. It was fine battle they fought in the garden at the back:
Evil winds blew from the ground;
Dim was the light of the waning moon.
Deserted was the hall of the Brahma Kings,
And the devils' cloister could not be clearly seen.
The back garden saw a battle Between the warrior Sun,
A sage in Heaven, And the furry girl,
A queen among women,
Both competing in magical powers and refusing to submit.
One turned her heart in anger from the dark-skinned baldy;
The other glared with his all-seeing eyes at the finely dressed woman.
With swords in her hands,
She is no female Bodhisattva.
The blows of the cudgel
Were as fierce as a living vajrapani's.
The resounding golden band flashed like lightning;
For an instant the iron shone white as a star.
In fine buildings they grabbed at the precious jade;
In golden halls the mandarin duck figurines were smashed.
As the apes howled the moon seemed small;
Vast was the sky as wild geese called.
The eighteen arhats
Applauded in secret;
Each of the thirty-two devas
Was struck with panic.
The Great Sage Monkey was in such high spirits that his cudgel never missed. Realizing that she was no match for him, the evil spirit frowned suddenly and thought of a plan as she extricated herself and made off.
“Where do you think you're going, you baggage?” Monkey shouted. “Surrender at once.”
The evil spirit paid no attention and fled. When she was hard-pressed by Monkey's pursuit she took the embroidered shoe off her left foot, blew on it with a magic breath, said the words of a spell, called out, “Change!” and turned it into a likeness of herself that came back at him waving a pair of swords. Meanwhile she turned her real body with a shake into a pure breeze and went.
This was Sanzang's star of disaster. She headed straight for the abbot's quarters, lifted Sanzang up into a cloud, and, on the instant, before anyone could see anything, she was back at Mount Pitfall and inside the Bottomless Cave, where she told her underlings to prepare a vegetarian marriage feast.
The story switches back to Brother Monkey, who fought with desperate anxiety until he was able to seize an opening and smash the evil spirit to the ground with a single blow, only to find that she was in fact an embroidered shoe. Realizing that he had fallen for a trick he went straight back to see the master. But was the master there? There were only the idiot and Friar Sand muttering together. His chest bursting with fury, Monkey put all thought of what he ought to do out of his head and raised his cudgel to lay about him.
“I'll kill the pair of you,” he shouted, “I'll kill the pair of you.”
The idiot was desperate, but there was no way for him to escape. Friar Sand, however, as a general from the magic mountain who had seen a great deal, adopted a very mild and conciliatory approach when he stepped forward, knelt down and said, “Elder brother, I understand. I'm sure that after you've killed us two you intend to go straight back home instead of rescuing the master.”
“When I've killed you two I'm going to rescue him myself,” Monkey retorted.
“How can you say that?” replied Friar Sand with a smile. “Without us two it would be a case of
You can't spin a thread from only one strand
Or clap with the palm of a single hand.
Who'd look after the luggage or the horse for you? We'd do much better to forget our differences and fight side by side like Guan Zhong and Bao Shuya than to have a battle of wits like Sun Bin and Pang Juan. As the old saying goes,
To kill a tiger you need your brothers' help;
Have fathers and sons fight together in battle.
I hope you will spare us, brother, so that tomorrow morning we can all work together with a single mind in our search for the master.” Although his magical powers were tremendous Monkey knew what was right and needed at the time, so that Friar Sand's entreaties made him change his mind.
“Get up, Pig and Friar Sand,” he said. “But when we hunt for the master tomorrow you'll have to make a real effort.” The idiot was so grateful at being let off that he would gladly have promised Monkey half the sky.
“Brother,” Friar Sand said, “leave it all to me.” The three brother disciples were so anxious that none of them could sleep. They wished they could make the sun rise in the East with a nod of the head and blow all the stars out of the sky with a single breath.
After sitting there till dawn the three of them packed up and were about to get out, only to find the gateway barred by one of the lamas, who asked, “Where are you going, gentlemen?”
“This is most embarrassing,” Monkey replied with a smile. “Yesterday I boasted to all the monks that I'd capture the evil spirit for them. So far from me capturing her she's made my master disappear. We're off to look for him.”
“My lord,” said the lamas with horror, “our trivial problem has got your master involved. Where will you look for him?”
“I know where I'll look,” Monkey replied.
“Even though you're going please don't be in such a hurry,” said the lamas. “Have some breakfast first.” Two or three bowls of hot gruel were brought in that Pig cleaned up with great gusto.
“What fine monks,” he said. “When we've found the master we'll come back here to see you again.”
“What you mean is come back to eat their food,” said Monkey. “Go and see if the girl is still in the devarajas' hall.”
“She's gone, my lord,” the lamas said, “she's gone. She has spent only one night there and is gone the next morning.” Monkey cheerfully took his leave of the lamas and made Pig and Friar Sand lead the horse and carry the luggage as they headed back East.
“Brother,” said Pig, “you're wrong. Why are we going East?”
“You wouldn't know,” said Monkey. “That girl who was tied up in the Black Pine Forest the other day-I saw through her with my fiery eyes and golden pupils, but you all thought she was a good person. And now it's her who's eaten the monks and her who's carried the master off. You all did a fine thing rescuing that 'lady Bodhisattva'. As she's carried the master off we're going back the way we came to look for her.”
“Good, good,” sighed the other two with admiration. “You're much cleverer than you look. Let's go.”
The three of them hurried back into the forest, where this was what could be seen:
Piles of cloud,
Many a layer of rock,
A twisting path.
The tracks of foxes and hares cross each other;
Tiger, leopard, jackal and wolf move in and out of the undergrowth.
With no sign of a monster to be seen in the wood
They do not know where Sanzang might be found.
In his anxiety Monkey pulled out his cudgel, shook himself and made himself look as he had when he made great havoc in Heaven, with three heads, six arms and six hands wielding three cudgels. With these he lashed out furiously and noisily among the trees.
“Friar Sand,” said Pig when he saw this, “not finding the master has made him go off his head.” In fact Monkey had beat a way through the trees and flushed out two old men-the mountain god and the local deity-who went up to him, knelt down and said, “Great Sage, the god of this mountain and the local deity pay their respects.”
“That rod certainly gets results,” said Pig. “He clears a path with it and flushes out the mountain god and the local deity. If he cleared another path he'd even flush out an evil star.”
“Mountain god, local deity,” said Monkey, “you're a disgrace. You're hand in glove with the bandits here. When they make a good haul they buy pigs and sheep to sacrifice to you. On top of that you're accomplices of the evil spirit. You helped her kidnap my master and bring him here. Where's he being hidden? If you want to be spared a beating tell me the truth right now.”
“Great Sage,” the two gods said with alarm, “you are misjudging us. The evil spirit doesn't live on our mountain or come within our jurisdiction. But when the wind blows at night we have heard a thing or two about her.”
“Tell me everything you know,” said Monkey.
“The evil spirit carried your master off to a place over three hundred miles due South of here,” the local deity replied. “There's a mountain there called Mount Pitfall with a cave in it called the Bottomless Cave. He was taken there by a disguised evil spirit from that cave.” This news gave Monkey a shock that he did not reveal.
Shouting at the mountain god and the local deity to dismiss them he put his magical appearance away, turned back into himself and said to Pig and Friar Sand, “The master's a long way from here.”
“If it's a long way let's go there by cloud,” Pig replied.
The splendid idiot went ahead on a wild wind followed by Friar Sand on a cloud. As the white horse had originally been a dragon's son he too came by wind and mist as he carried the luggage on his back. The Great Sage set off by somersault as he headed due South, and before long a high mountain came into view that was blocking the way for the clouds.
The three of them took hold of the horse and stopped their clouds. This is what the mountain looked like:
The summit touched the azure sky,
Its peaks joined with the blue of the heavens.
Trees by the million grew on every side,
While flying birds sung noisily all around.
Tigers and leopards moved in packs,
Water deer and roebuck walked through the bushes.
On the Southern slopes rare flowers bloomed fragrant;
On the Northern side the snow never melted.
Steep and craggy were its ridges,
Sheer were its overhangs and rockfaces.
Pinnacles shot straight up
And deep ravines curved all around.
It was dark green among the pines,
And the rocks were jagged.
It struck fear into the traveler's heart.
No sign could be seen of woodcutters,
And the immortal boys picking herbs had vanished.
The tigers and leopards here could make mists,
And all the foxes set winds roaring.
“Brother,” said Pig, “this mountain's so high and sheer there must be evil on it.”
“Goes without saying,” Monkey replied. “High mountains all have monsters; there's never a steep ridge without spirits. Friar Sand,” he called, “you and I are going to stay here while we send Pig into the mountain hollows to look around and find out the best way for us to take. If there really is a cave palace he must discover where the entrance is. Find everything out so that we can go in together to find the master and rescue him.”
“Just my lousy luck,” said Pig, “having to go first and take the brunt.”
“Last night you said we could leave it all to you,” Monkey replied, “so why are you trying to get out of it now?”
“Stop shouting at me,” Pig said. “I'm going.” The idiot put down his rake, tugged at his clothes and leapt empty-handed down from the mountain to find the path.
If you don't know whether this departure was to be for good or ill listen to the explanation in the next installment.
The Girl Seeks the Male
The Primal Deity Guards the Way
The story tells how Pig leapt down the mountainside and found a narrow path. After following it for nearly two miles he came across two she-monsters drawing water from a well. How did he know that they both were monsters? Each of them had on her head an extremely unfashionable hair-style held up by bamboo slivers that stood one foot two or three inches high.
“Evil monsters,” Pig called, going up to them.
The two of them looked at each other and said. “What an outrageous monk. We don't know him and we've never had words with him. So why did he call us evil monsters?” In their fury the monsters raised the pole with which they were going to carry the water and struck at Pig's head.
After a few blows that he could not ward off as he was unarmed, the idiot rushed back up the mountain with his head covered by both hands shouting, “Brother! Go back! The monsters are vicious.”
“What's so vicious about them?” Monkey asked.
“There were two evil spirits drawing water from the well in the hollow,” said Pig, “and they hit me three or four times with their carrying-pole just because I spoke to them.”
“What did you call them?” Monkey asked.
“Evil monsters,” Pig replied.
“You got off lightly then,” laughed Monkey.
“I'm most obliged for your concern,” replied Pig. “My head has swollen up where they hit it, and you tell me I've got off lightly.”
“Soft words will get you anywhere on earth; act rough and you won't move a single step,” replied Monkey. “As they're local fiends from round here and we're monks from far away you'd have had to be a bit polite even if you'd had fists growing all over your body. Do you think they should have hit me instead of you? You were the one who called them evil monsters. Courtesy first!”
“I never realized,” said Pig.
“Living on human flesh in the mountains since childhood as you have,” said Monkey, “can you recognize two kinds of tree?”
“I don't know,” Pig said. “Which two trees?”
“The willow and the sandalwood,” Monkey replied. “The willow has a very soft nature, so that craftsmen can carve it into holy images or make statues of the Tathagata out of it. It's gilded, painted, set with jewels, decorated with flowers, and many worshippers burn incense to it. It receives unbounded blessings. But the sandalwood is so hard that it's used as the pressing-beam in the oil-press with iron hoops round its head, and it's hit with iron hammers too. The only reason it suffers like this is because it's to hard.”
“You should have told me all this before,” said Pig, “then I wouldn't have been beaten.”
“Now go back and find out the truth,” said Brother Monkey.
“But if I go there again they'll recognize me,” Pig replied.
“Then turn into something else,” said Monkey.
“But even if I do turn into something else, brother, how am I to question them?” asked Pig.
“When you look different go up to them and bow to them,” Monkey replied. “See how old they are. If they're about the same age as us call them 'Miss,' and if they're a lot older call them 'Lady.'”
“What a terrible climb-down: why should we be treating them as our relations when they're strangers from this far away?” said Pig.
“That's not treating them as relations,” replied Monkey. “Its just a way of getting the truth out of them. If they're the ones who've got our master we'll be able to act; and if it isn't them we won't lose any time before going to fight elsewhere.”
“You're right,” said Pig. “I'm going back.”
The splendid idiot tucked his rake in his belt, went down into the hollow, shook himself and turned into a far, dark-skinned monk. He swaggered as he went up to the monsters, chanted a loud “na-a-aw” of respect and said, “Respectful greetings, ladies.”
“This monk's much better,” the two monsters said with delight. “He expresses his respects and knows how to address us properly.” Then they asked him, “Where are you from, venerable elder?”
“From somewhere,” Pig replied.
“And where are you going?” they asked.
“Somewhere,” Pig replied.
“What's your name?” they asked.
“What it is,” Pig replied again.
“Better he may be,” the monsters said with a laugh, “but he won't tell us about himself. He just echoes our questions.”
“Ladies,” Pig asked, “why are you fetching water?”
“You wouldn't know, monk,” the demons replied with smiles. “Our lady brought a Tang Priest back to the cave last night and she wants to look after him well. As the water in our cave is none too clean she's sent us two to fetch some of this good water produced by the mating of the Yin and the Yang. She's laid on a vegetarian banquet as well for the Tang Priest; she's going to marry him this evening.”
As soon as he heard this the idiot rushed straight back up the mountain shouting. “Friar Sand, bring the luggage here at once. We're dividing it up.”
“Why, brother?” Friar Sand asked.
“When we've divided it up you can go back to man-eating in the Flowing Sands River,” Pig replied, “I'll return to Gao Village to see my wife, Big Brother can play the sage on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit, and the white dragon can be a dragon in the ocean again. The master's getting married in this evil spirits cave. Let's all go and settle down.”
“You're talking nonsense again, you idiot,” replied Brother Monkey.
“I bloody well am not,” Pig retorted. “Those two evil spirits who were carrying water said a moment ago that a vegetarian wedding feast is being laid on for the master.”
“How can you say things like that when the evil spirits are holding the master prisoner in the cave and he's longing for us to go in and rescue him?” said Monkey.
“How can we rescue him?” Pig asked.
“You two bring the horse and the luggage, while we go with the two she-monsters as our guides,” Monkey replied. “When we reach the entrance we can act together.”
The idiot could only go with Monkey as he followed the two monsters for five or six miles deep into the mountains before suddenly disappearing. “So the master was captured by a devil in broad daylight,” exclaimed Pig with surprise.
“You've got good eyesight,” said Monkey. “How can you possibly tell what they really were?”
“Those two monsters were carrying the water along when suddenly they disappeared. They must be daytime devils.”
“I think they went into a cave,” said Monkey. “Wait while I go to have a look.”
The splendid Great Sage opened his fiery eyes with their golden pupils and scanned the whole mountain. He saw no movement, but did spot a ceremonial archway most intricately made with many flowers and colours, triple eaves and fourfold decorations in front of the cliff. Going closer with Pig and Friar Sand he saw four large words written on it:
PITFALL MOUNTAIN: BOTTOMLESS CAVE
“Brothers,” said Monkey, “here's the evil spirits' archway, but I still don't know where the entrance is.”
“Can't be far,” said Friar Sand, “can't be far. Let's have a good look for it.” When they turned round to look they saw a great rock over three miles around at the foot of the mountain beneath the archway. In the middle of it was a hole the size of a water-vat, which had become very slippery by repeated climbing.
“Brother,” said Pig, “that's where the evil spirits go in and out of their cave.”
“That's very strange,” said Monkey. “To be frank with the two of you, I've captured quite a few evil spirits since I started escorting the Tang Priest, but I've never seen a cave palace like this one before. Pig, you go down first and find out how deep it is. Then I'll be able to go in and rescue the master.”
“It'll be hard,” said Pig with a shake of his head, “very hard. I'm very clumsy. If I tripped and fell in it might take me two or three years to reach the bottom.”
“How deep is it then?” Monkey asked.
“Look,” Pig replied, and as the Great Sage leant over the edge of the hole to take a careful look he saw to his astonishment that it was very deep indeed and must have measured over a hundred miles around.
“It's very, very deep, brother,” he turned round to say.
“Go back then,” Pig replied. “The master's beyond saving.”
“What a thing to say!” Monkey retorted. “'Have no thoughts of being lazy; put idleness out of your mind.' Put the luggage down, and tether the horse to one of the legs of the archway. You and Friar Sand must block the entrance with your rake and staff while I go inside to explore. If the master really is inside I'll drive the evil spirits out with my iron cudgel, and when they reach the entrance you mustn't let them out. We'll only be able to kill the evil spirits and rescue the master if we work together.” The other two accepted their orders.
Monkey sprang into the hole, and under his feet tea thousand coloured clouds appeared, while a thousand layers of auspicious mist shielded him. He was soon at the bottom, which was a very long way down. Inside all was bright; there was the same sunshine, winds, flowers, fruit and trees as in the world above.
“What a splendid place,” Monkey thought. “It reminds me of the Water Curtain Cave that Heaven gave me in the place where I was born. This is another cave paradise.” As he looked around he saw a gate-tower with double eaves around which grew many clumps of pine and bamboo. Inside were many buildings.
“This must be where the evil spirit lives,” he thought. “I'll go in and find out what's up. No, wait. If I go in like this she'll recognize me. I'd better transform myself.” With a shake and a hand-spell he turned himself into a fly and flew lightly up to land on the gate-tower and listen in. From here he saw the monster sitting at her ease in a thatched pavilion. She was dressed far more beautifully than she had been when they rescued her in the pine forest or when she had tried to catch Monkey in the monastery:
Her hair was piled in a crow-black coiffure;
She wore a green velvet waistcoat.
Her feet were a pair of curving golden lotuses;
Her fingers were as delicate as bamboo shoots in spring.
Her powdered face was like a silver dish,
And her red lips were as glossy as a cherry.
She was a regular beauty,
Even more lovely than the lady on the moon.
After capturing the pilgrim monk that morning
She was going to know the pleasure of sharing his bed.
Monkey said nothing as he listened out for what she might say. Before long the cherry of her lips parted as she said with great pleasure, “Lay on a vegetarian feast, my little ones, and quick. My darling Tang Priest and I are going to be man and wife afterwards.”
“So it's true,” thought Brother Monkey, grinning to himself. “I thought Pig was just joking. I'd better fly in and find the master. I wonder what state of mind he's in. If he's been led astray I'm leaving him here.” When he spread his wings and flew inside to look he saw the Tang Priest sitting in a corridor behind a trellis covered with opaque red paper below and left clear above.
Butting a hole through the trellis paper Monkey landed on the Tang Priest's bald head and called, “Master.”
“Save me, disciple,” replied Sanzang, who recognized Monkey's voice.
“You're useless, Master,” said Monkey. “The evil spirit is laying on a feast, and when you've eaten it you two are getting married. I expect you'll have a son or a daughter to start another generation of monks and nuns. What have you got to be so upset about?”
When the venerable elder heard this he gnashed his teeth and said, “Disciple, in all the time since I left Chang'an, accepted you as my follower at the Double Boundary Mountain and started my journey West, when have I ever eaten meat or had any wicked ideas? Now the evil spirit has captured me she is insisting that I mate with her. If I lose my true masculine essence may I fall from the wheel of reincarnation and be fixed for ever behind the Dark Mountains, never to rise again.”
“No need to swear any oaths,” said Monkey with a grin. “If you really want to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven I'll take you there.”
“I can't remember the way I came in,” Sanzang replied.
“Never mind about forgetting,” said Monkey. “You won't get out of here as easily as you came in, which was from the top downwards. If I save you now you'll have to go from the bottom upwards. If you're very lucky you'll squeeze out through the entrance and get away. But if your luck's out you won't be able to squeeze through and sooner or later you'll die of suffocation.”
“This is terrible,” said Sanzang, the tears pouring from his eyes. “What are we to do?”
“No problem,” said Monkey, “no problem. The evil spirit's getting some wine prepared for you. You'll have to drink a goblet of it whether you want to or not. But you must pour it out quickly so that it makes a lot of froth. Then I can turn myself into a tiny insect and fly under the bubbles. When she gulps me down into her belly I'll tear her heart and liver to shreds and rip her guts apart. Once I've killed her you'll be able to escape.”
“But that would be an inhuman thing to do, disciple,” said Sanzang.
“If all you're interested in is being kind you're done for,” Monkey replied. “The evil spirit's a murderess. What do you care so much about her for?”
“Oh well,” said Sanzang, “never mind. But you will have to stay with me.” Indeed:
The Great Sage Sun guarded Tang Sanzang well;
The pilgrim priest depended on the Handsome Monkey King.
Master and disciple had not even finished their discussion when the evil spirit, who had arranged everything, came in along the corridor, unlocked the doors and called, “Reverend sir.” The Tang Priest dared not reply. She addressed him again, and again he dared not reply. Why was that? He was thinking that
Divine energy is dispersed by an open mouth;
Trouble starts when the tongue begins to move.
He was thinking with all his heart that if he obstinately refused to open his mouth she might turn vicious and murder him in an instant. Just when he was feeling confused, wondering which difficult alternative to choose and asking himself what to do, the evil spirit addressed him as “Reverend sir” for the third time.
The Tang Priest had no choice but to answer, “Here I am, madam.” For him to give this reply was to make all the flesh fall off him. Now everybody says that the Tang Priest is a sincere monk, so how could he reply to the she-devil when he was on his way to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven? What you would not realize is that this was a crisis in which his very survival was at stake, that he had absolutely no alternative; and although he went through the form of replying he was free of desire inside. But when the evil spirit heard his reply she pushed the door open, helped the Tang Priest to his feet, held his hand, stood with her side pressed against his and whispered in his ear. Just look at her as she lays on the charm and makes herself alluring in every possible way. She did not realize that Sanzang was full of revulsion.
“From the way she's making herself so seductive,” Monkey thought with a wry grin to himself, “I'm worried that she might get the master interested.” Indeed:
The monk in demon trouble met a pretty girl;
The she-devil's beauty was truly superb.
Her slender jade eyebrows were like two willow leaves;
Her round face was set off with peach blossom.
Embroidered shoes gave a sight of a pair of phoenixes;
Her crow-black hair was piled high at the temples.
As smiling she led the master by his hand
His cassock was tinged with orchid and musk.
Her arms around him, the she-devil took the master to a thatched pavilion and said, “Reverend sir, I've had a drink brought here to have with you.”
“Lady,” said the Tang Priest, “as a monk I can take no impure food.”
“I know,” the evil spirit replied. “As the water in the cave isn't clean I've sent for some of the pure water from the mating of the Yin and the Yang up on the mountain, and had a banquet of fruit and vegetables prepared. After that you and I are going to have some fun.” When the Tang Priest went into the pavilion with her this is what could be seen:
All within the gates
Was decked in silks and embroideries;
Throughout the hall
Incense rose from golden lion censers.
Black-painted inlaid tables were set in rows,
On which stood dark-lacquered bamboo dishes.
On the inlaid tables
Were all kinds of delicacies;
In the bamboo dishes
Were vegetarian delights:
Crab apples, olives, lotus seeds, grapes, torreya-nuts,
hazelnuts, pine-nuts, lichees, longans, chestnuts, water caltrops, jujubes, persimmons, walnuts, gingko nuts, kumquats and oranges.
There was the fruit that grows on every hill,
The fresh vegetables of each season;
Beancurd, wheat gluten, tree-ear fungus, fresh bamboo shoots, button mushrooms, gill fungus, yams, sealwort, agar, day lily fried in vegetable oil,
Hyacinth beans, cowpeas prepared with mature sauces.
Cucumbers, gourds, gingko, turnip greens.
Peeled aubergines were cooked like quails;
Seeded wax gourds
Taro stewed tender and sprinkled with sugar,
Turnips boiled in vinegar.
Pungent chili and ginger made it all delicious;
All the dishes were a balance of bland and salty.
Revealing the tips of her jade fingers she raised a dazzling golden goblet that she filled with fine wine. “Dearest reverend gentleman,” she said, handing it to him, “my darling, have a drink to celebrate our happy union.” Sanzang was covered with embarrassment as he took the wine.
He poured a libation into the air as he prayed silently, “Devas who guard the Dharma, Guardians of the Four Quarters and the Centre, Four Duty Gods: your disciple Chen Xuanzang has benefited from the secret protection of all you deities sent by the Bodhisattva Guanyin on my journey to pay my respects at the Thunder Monastery, see the Buddha and seek the scriptures. I have now been captured by an evil spirit on my way. She is forcing me to marry her and has now handed me this cup of wine to drink. If this really is pure wine I can force myself to drink it and still be able to succeed and see the Buddha. But if it is impure wine I will be breaking my vows and fall for ever into the bitterness of the wheel of rebirth.”
The Great Sage Sun made himself tiny and was like a secret informant behind his master's ear. When he spoke Sanzang was the only one who could hear him. Knowing that his master was normally fond of the pure wine of grapes he told him to drain the goblet. Sanzang had no choice but to do so, quickly refill the goblet and hand it back to the evil spirit. As he filled it bubbles of happiness formed on the surface of the wine. Brother Monkey turned himself into the tiniest of insects and flew lightly under the bubbles. But when the spirit took the goblet she put it down instead of drinking from it, bowed twice to the Tang Priest and spoke loving words to him with charming bashfulness. By the time she lifted the cup the bubbles had burst and the insect was revealed. Not realizing that it was Monkey transformed the evil spirit took it for a real insect, lifted it out with her little finger and flicked it away.
Seeing that as things were not going as he intended he would be unable to get into her belly Monkey turned himself into a hungry eagle.
Jade claws, gold eyes and iron wings;
In terrible might he rose above the clouds.
Cunning hares and foxes felt faint at just the sight,
And hid among mountains and rivers for hundred of miles around.
When hungry it chased small birds into the wind,
And rose to the gate of heaven when replete.
Murderous were its talons of steel;
In times of triumph it stayed aloof in the clouds.
Monkey flew up, swung his jade claws, and noisily overturned the tables, smashing all the fruit, vegetables and crockery, and leaving the Tang Priest alone there as he flew off. This was so terrifying that the she-devil's heart and gall were split open, and the Tang Priest's flesh and bones were turned crisp. Shivering and shaking, the evil spirit threw her arms round the Tang Priest and said, “Dearest reverend gentleman, wherever did that come from?”
“I don't know,” Sanzang replied.
“I went to a great deal of trouble to arrange this vegetarian feast for you,” the she-devil said. “Goodness only knows where that feathered brute flew in from and smashed our crockery.”
“Smashing the crockery doesn't really matter,” the junior demons said, “but all the food has been spilt on the floor. It's too dirty to eat now.” Sanzang by now realized that this was all the result of Monkey's magic, but he dared not say so.
“Little ones,” said the she-devil, “I realize now. It must be heaven and earth that sent that thing down here because they can't tolerate my holding the Tang Priest prisoner. Clear all the broken dishes up and lay on another banquet. Never mind whether it's vegetarian or not. Heaven can be our matchmaker and the earth our guarantor. After that the Tang Priest and I will become man and wife.” We will say no more of her as she took the Tang Priest to sit in the East corridor.
Instead the story tells of how Monkey flew out, turned back into himself, reached the entrance to the cave and shouted, “Open up!”
“Friar Sand,” Pig shouted, “our big brother's here.” As the two of them drew their weapons away Monkey sprang out.
“Is there an evil spirit in there?” Pig asked, grabbing hold of him. “Is the master in there?”
“Yes, yes,” said Monkey.
“The master must be having a hard time in there,” said Pig. “Are his arms tied behind his back? Or is he all roped up? Is she going to steam him or boil him?”
“None of them,” Monkey replied. “She'd just had a vegetarian feast served and was going to do it with him.”
“So you've been lucky then,” said Pig. “You must have drunk a wedding toast.”
“Idiot!” retorted Monkey, “Never mind about having a wedding drink. I can hardly keep him alive.”
“Then why are you here?” Pig asked.
Monkey told how he had seen the master and done his transformations, ending, “Don't let your fears run away with you, brothers. The master's here, and when I go back in this time I'll definitely rescue him.”
Going back inside, Monkey turned into a fly and landed on the gate-tower to listen. He could hear the she-devil snorting with fury as she gave instructions within the pavilion.
“Little ones, bring whatever there is, vegetarian or not, and burn paper as offerings to the deities. I'll ask heaven and earth to be the matchmakers. I'm definitely going to marry him.”
When Monkey heard this he smiled to himself and thought, “That she-devil's completely shameless. She's locked a monk up in her home and now she's going to mess around with him in broad daylight. But don't be in too much of a hurry. Give me time to go in and have a look round.” With a buzz he flew along the corridor to see the master sitting inside, tears streaming down his face.
Monkey squeezed in, landed on Sanzang's head and called, “Master.” Recognizing the voice, Sanzang sprang to his feet and said with tooth-gnashing fury, “Macaque! Other people get their courage from a big gall, but they have to wrap their bodies around it. Your gall is so big that you wrap it round your body. You used your magical powers of transformation to smash the crockery, but what use is that? By fighting that she-devil you've only made her more sex-crazed than ever. She is arranging a banquet with vegetarian and impure food all mixed up and is determined to mate with me. Where will this all end?”
Smiling to himself again, Monkey replied, “Don't be angry with me, Master. I've got a way to save you.”
“How will you save me?” the Tang Priest asked.
“When I flew up just now,” said Monkey, “I saw that she has a garden behind here. You must lure her into the garden to fool around and I'll rescue you from there.”
“How will you rescue me from the garden?” the Tang Priest asked.
“Go to the peach trees in the garden with her and stay there. Wait till I've flown to a branch of the peach tree and turned into a red peach. When you want to eat a peach pick the red one first-that will be me. She'll be bound to pick one too. You must insist on giving her the red one. Once she's swallowed it I'll be in her stomach. When I tear her stomach to pieces and rip her guts to shreds she'll be dead and you'll be freed.”
“With your powers you ought to fight her,” said Sanzang. “Why do you want to get into her stomach?”
“You don't understand, Master,” Monkey replied. “If it were easy to get in and out of this cave of hers I would be able to fight her. But this place is very hard to get into or out of: the way out is complicated and difficult. If I started a fight with her all the fiends in her den, young and old, would overpower me. Then how would it end? We must act carefully if we're all to make a clean getaway.”
Sanzang nodded, believing all that Monkey said, adding only, “You must stay with me.”
“I know,” said monkey, “I know. I'll be on your head.”
When master and disciple had settled their plan Sanzang leaned forward, took hold of the bars in the corridor's gates and called out, “Lady, lady.”
As soon as she heard this the evil spirit came rushing over, a simpering smile on her face, to ask, “What do you have to say to me, my wonderful darling?”
“Lady,” replied Sanzang, “ever since leaving Chang'an and starting on my journey to the West I have had to cross mountains and rivers every single day. When I was staying in the Zhenhai Monastery last night I caught a bad chill and I have been in a sweat today. I was just beginning to feel a little better today when in your kindness, good lady, you brought me into your immortals' palace. As I have been sitting here all day I am now feeling in rather low spirits again. Could you take me somewhere to cheer myself up and have a little fun?”
The evil spirit was utterly delighted. “So you're feeling a bit interested, are you, my wonderful darling?” she said. “You and I will go into the garden for some fun. Little ones,” she called, “fetch the key, open the garden gates, and sweep the paths in the garden.” The demons all hurried off to open the gates and tidy the place up.
Meanwhile the evil spirit was opening the screen and helping the Tang Priest out. Just watch the many young demons-all willowy beauties with oiled hair and powdered faces-crowding around the Tang Priest as they head for the garden. What a splendid monk he was, walking amid these beauties in their gauze and brocade for no other purpose than to be deaf and dumb. If instead of having an iron heart set on the Buddha he had been any ordinary man susceptible to wine and women he would never have succeeded in fetching the scriptures.
When they reached the entrance to the garden the evil spirit whispered seductively, “My wonderful darling, let's have some fun here-it'll cheer you up.” They went into the garden hand in hand, and when he looked up he saw that it was indeed a splendid place. This is what could be seen:
All over the winding paths
Bluish lichens grow.
Secluded gauze windows
Kept dark by embroidered curtains.
When the breeze arises
Silks and brocades float in the air.
When the gentle rain stops falling
The smooth white skin and jade-like flesh are revealed.
The sun-scorched apricot
Is red as an immortal's rainbow clothes spread out to dry;
The plantain in the moonlight
Is bluer than Lady Taizhen waving her feather fan.
Whitewashed walls enclose
The golden orioles that sing in ten thousand willows.
Within the empty halls
Butterflies flit among begonias in the courtyard.
Look at the Hall of Crystallized Perfumes,
The Green Moth Hall,
The Hall to Recover from Drunkenness,
The Hall of Longing,
Rolling up the brilliance, one behind the other.
On the red curtains
Hooks hold tassels like prawn whiskers.
Now look at the Pavilion to Ease Pain
The Pavilion of Simplicity,
The Pavilion of Thrushes,
The Four Rains Pavilion,
All towering and lofty,
And bearing on decorated tablets
Their names in archaic script.
Look too at the Pool Where Cranes Bathe,
The Goblet-washing Pool,
The Pool of Delight in the Moon,
The Pool for Cleansing Tassels,
Where amid duckweed and algae the gold scales shine.
Then there is the Kiosk of Ink Flowers,
The Kiosk of Strange Boxes,
The Interesting Kiosk,
The Kiosk for Admiring the Clouds
Where bubbles like green ants float on the wine in jade ladles and goblets.
Around the pools and pavilions
Stand rocks from Lake Taihu,
Rocks of purple crystal,
Jin River rocks,
Greenish and overgrown with tiger-whisker rushes.
East and West of the kiosks and balls are found
A Wooden Mountain,
A Turquoise Screen Mountain,
A Howling Wind Mountain,
A Jade Mushroom Mountain,
All covered in phoenix-tail bamboo.
Trellises of briar roses,
And garden roses,
Growing by a swing,
As a curtain of silk and brocade.
A Pine Pavilion,
A Magnolia Pavilion,
Opposite a Saussurea Pavilion,
Forming a wall of jade with embroidered hangings.
Herbaceous and tree peonies are rivals in luxuriance;
The night-closing magnolias and the jasmine
Are charming every year.
Moist with dewdrops are the purple buds:
They ought to be painted or drawn.
The red hibiscus fills the sky with flaming splendor,
A marvellous subject for poetry.
When it comes to fine scenery
This makes Lang Garden or Penglai not worth a mention;
And as for the flowers,
The finest peonies of Luoyang count for nothing beside them.
In the battle of the blossoms late in the spring
The garden lacks only the flowers of jade.
The venerable elder led the she-devil by the hand as they strolled in the garden, admiring the endless displays of rare and exotic blooms. As they went through many a hall and pavilion he really did seem to be going into an exquisite place. Looking up, he realized that he was by the peach grove. Monkey pinched his master's head to remind him.
Flying to a branch of a peach tree Brother Monkey shook himself and turned into a red peach, and a most fetchingly red one at that. “Lady,” the venerable elder said to the evil spirit, “what beautifully scented flowers and ripe fruit you have in this garden.
The blooms are so fragrant bees vie for their nectar;
The birds all compete for the fruit on the branches.
Why are some of the peaches on the trees red and some green?”
“If there were no Yin and Yang in the heavens the sun and moon would not be bright,” the evil spirit replied with a smile. “If there were no Yin and Yang in the earth the plants and trees would not grow. And if there were no Yin and Yang among people there would be no sexual difference. The peaches on the Southern Yang side of these trees are red because they ripen first in the sun's heat. The peaches on the Northern Yin side are green because they get no sun and are still unripe. It's all because of the Yin and the Yang.”
“Thank you, lady, for your explanation,” Sanzang replied. “I did not know that.” He then reached out and picked a red peach, while the evil spirit also picked a green one.
Sanzang bowed as he handed the red one respectfully to the evil spirit with the words, “Lady, you love what is attractive, so won't you take this red peach and give me the green one?”
The she-devil made the exchange, thinking with concealed delight, “What a nice monk. He really is a good man. He is being so loving to me even before we're man and wife.” With great pleasure she paid him her affectionate respects. As the Tang Priest started to eat the green peach at once the evil spirit was delighted to do likewise, opening her mouth to bite into the red one. When she parted her red lips and revealed her silver teeth the impatient Monkey did not give her time to bite him but rolled straight down her throat into her stomach.
“Reverend gentleman,” the terrified evil spirit said, “that peach is a terror. Why did it roll straight down and not let me bite it?”
“Lady,” Sanzang replied, “the first ripe fruits of a garden are very delicious. That is why it went down so fast.”
“But it shot straight down before I'd had time to spit the stone out,” the evil spirit replied.
“Because you are such a lover of what is fine and beautiful and enjoyed it so much,” said Sanzang, “you swallowed it before you could bring the stone out.”
Once inside her stomach Monkey turned back into himself. “Master,” he called, “no need to argue with her now. I've succeeded.”
“Don't be too hard on her, disciple,” Sanzang replied.
“Who are you talking to?” the evil spirit asked when she heard this. “I am talking to my disciple Sun Wukong,” Sanzang replied.
“Where is he?” the evil spirit asked.
“In your stomach,” Sanzang replied. “He was the red peach you have just eaten.”
“That's the end of me,” exclaimed the evil spirit in horror. “If that ape's got into my stomach I'm dead. Sun the Novice, why did you go to such lengths to get into my stomach?”
“No particular reason,” replied Monkey from inside her. “I just wanted to eat the six leaves of your liver and your lungs, and your heart with its three hairs and seven apertures. I'm going to clean your insides right out and leave you a skeleton spirit.”
This sent the evil spirit's souls scattering in terror and shivering and shaking she clung tightly to the Tang Priest and said, “Reverend gentleman, I had thought that
Our destinies were from former lives joined by a red thread;
Our love was as close as the water and the fish.
I never imagined that we lovebirds would be parted
Or that the phoenixes would fly to East and West.
When the waters rose under Lan Bridge the rendezvous failed;
The meeting came to nothing in the misty temple.
After brief joy we are parted once more;
In whatever year will I meet you again?”
When Monkey heard all this from inside her stomach he was afraid that the venerable elder would have another attack of benevolence and let her talk her way out of the problem. Thereupon he started to wield fist and foot, striking out in martial postures and leveling everything around him. He punched her stomach almost to ribbons. Unable to bear the pain, the evil spirit collapsed in the dust, not daring to utter a single word for some time. As she was not speaking Monkey imagined that she must be dead and eased off.
She then recovered her breath to some extent and called out, “Where are you, little ones?” Now once in the garden, the creatures had all had the understanding to go off picking flowers, playing in the grass and amusing themselves, leaving the she-devil alone with the Tang Priest for a romantic conversation. As soon as they heard her calling they rushed over to see the evil spirit lying on the ground, her face a terrible color as she groaned, unable to move.
They hurriedly helped her up, crowding round and asking, “What's wrong, madam? Have you had a heart attack?”
“No, no,” the evil spirit replied. “Don't ask any questions. I've got someone inside me. Take the monk outside if you want to save my life.”
The junior devils actually did start to carry the Tang Priest, at which Monkey yelled from inside her belly, “Don't any of you dare carry him. You must take my master out yourself. I'll only spare your life when you've carried him outside.”
This left the evil spirit with no choice as all she cared about was saving her skin. At once she struggled to her feet, lifted the Tang Priest on her back and headed outside, followed by the junior devils asking, “Where are you going, Madam?”
To this the evil spirit replied,
“'As long as the lakes and the bright moon remain
I'll surely find somewhere to put my golden hook.'
Once I've taken this wretch outside I'll find myself another man.”
The splendid evil spirit went straight by cloud to the mouth of the cave, where the clang of weapons and wild shouts could be heard.
“Disciple,” said Sanzang, “why can I hear weapons outside?”
“It's Pig rubbing his rake,” replied Monkey. “Give him a shout.”
“Bajie,” Sanzang shouted.
“Friar Sand,” said Pig when he heard this, “the master's out.” The two of them drew back their rake and staff, letting the evil spirit carry the Tang Priest out. Indeed:
The Mind Ape had subdued a monster from the inside;
The Earth and Wood door guards welcomed the holy monk.
If you don't know whether the evil spirit's life was spared listen to the explanation in the next installment.
The Mind-Ape Recognizes the Refiner of Cinnabar
The Girl Reverts to Her True Nature
The story tells how after Sanzang had been carried out of the cave by the evil spirit Friar Sand went up to him and asked, “Where is my oldest brother now that you have come out, Master?”
“He must know what he's doing,” said Pig. “I expect he's exchanged himself for the master to get him out.”
“Your brother is in her stomach,” Sanzang replied, pointing at the evil spirit.
“It is terribly filthy,” Pig said. “Whatever are you doing in there? Come out.”
“Open your mouth,” said Monkey from inside, “I'm coming out.” The she-devil did indeed open her mouth wide. Monkey made himself very small, sprang up into her throat, and was just about to emerge when he became worried that she might cheat and bite him. He then pulled out his iron cudgel, blew on it with magic breath, called “Change!” and turned it into a jujube stone with which he wedged her jaw open. With one bound he then leapt outside, taking the iron cudgel with him, bowed to resume his own form and raised his cudgel to strike her. At once she drew a pair of fine swords, parrying his blow with a loud clang. They fought a splendid battle on the mountain top.
A pair of dancing, flying swords defended her face;
The gold-banded cudgel struck at her head.
One was a heaven-born monkey, the Mind-ape;
The other had the bones of an earth-born girl turned spirit;
The two of them both had been smitten by anger:
Hatred arose at the celebration; the party was ended.
One longed to mate with the primal masculinity,
The other wanted to defeat the incarnation of the female.
When the cudgel was raised to the sky cold mists spread out;
The swords shook up the earth's black dirt like a sieve.
Because the elder would visit the Buddha
They were locked in fierce combat, each showing great prowess.
When water conflicts with fire motherhood is out;
When Yin and Yang cannot combine each goes its own way.
After the two had been fighting for a very long time
The earth moved, the mountains shook and the trees were destroyed.
The sight of their struggle made Pig grumble resentfully about Monkey. “Brother,” he said, turning to Friar Sand, “our elder brother is messing around. When he was in her stomach just now he could have used his fists to make her belly red with blood, rip it open and come out. That would have settled her score. Why did he have to come out through her mouth and fight her? Why did he let her run wild?”
“You're right,” Friar Sand replied, “but it was thanks to him that the master was rescued from the depths of the cave, even if he is in a fight with her now. Let's ask the master to sit here by himself while we two use our weapons to help our brother beat the evil spirit.”
“No, no,” said Pig with a wave of his hand. “He's got his magic powers. We'd be useless.”
“What a thing to say,” retorted Friar Sand. “This is in all of our interests. We may not be much use, but even a fart can strengthen a breeze.”
Now that the idiot's dander was up he brandished his rake and shouted, “Come on!” Ignoring the master, they rode the wind and went for the evil spirit, striking wildly at her with their rake and staff. The evil spirit, who was already finding Brother Monkey too much to handle, realized that she would be unable to hold out against two more of them. At once she turned and fled.
“After her, brothers,” Monkey shouted. Seeing that they were so hot on her heels the evil spirit took the embroidered shoe off her right foot, blew on it with a magic breath, said a spell, called “Change!” and turned it into her own double swinging a pair of sword. Then she shook herself, turned into a puff of wind and went straight back. There she was, fleeing for her life because she was no match for them. What happened next was quite unexpected: Sanzang's evil star had still not gone away. As the evil spirit reached the archway in front of the entrance to the cave she saw the Tang Priest sitting there by himself, so she went up to him, threw her arm round him, grabbed the luggage, bit through the bridle, and carried him back inside, horse and all.
The story tells not of her but of Pig, who exploited an opening to fell the evil spirit with one blow of his rake, only to find that she was really an embroidered shoe.
“You pair of idiots,” said Monkey when he saw it. “You should have been looking after the master. Nobody asked you to help.”
“What about that, then, Friar Sand?” said Pig. “I said we shouldn't come here. That ape has had a brainstorm. We beat the monster for him and he gets angry with us.”
“Beaten the monster indeed!” Monkey said. “The monster fooled me yesterday by leaving a shoe behind when I was fighting her. Goodness knows how the master is now that you've left him. Let's go straight back and see.”
The three of them hurried back to find that the master had disappeared: there was no sign at all of him, the luggage or the white horse. Pig started rushing all over the place in a panic with Friar Sand searching alongside him. The Great Sage Sun was also most anxious. As he searched he noticed half of the bridle rope lying askew beside the path.
Picking it up, he could not hold back his tears as he called in a loud voice, “Master! When I went I took my leave of you three and the horse, and all I find on my return is this rope.” It was indeed a case of
Being reminded of the steed by seeing the saddle,
Missing the beloved amid one's tears.
The sight of Monkey's tears gave Pig an uncontrollable urge to throw back his head and laugh out loud. “Blockhead,” said Monkey abusively. “Do you want us to break up again?”
“That's not what I mean,” said Pig, still laughing. “The master's been carried back into the cave. As the saying goes, 'third time lucky'. You've already been into the cave twice, so if you go in again you're sure to rescue the master.”
“Very well then,” said Monkey, wiping away his tears, “as this is the way things are I have no choice. I'll have to go back in. You two don't have to worry about the luggage or the horse any more, so guard the cave-mouth properly.”
The splendid Great Sage turned round and sprang into the cave. This time he did no transformations but appeared in his own dharma form. This is what he was like:
His cheeks looked strange but his heart was strong;
As a monster since childhood his magic was mighty.
A misshapen face that looked like a saddle;
Eyes fiery bright with golden light.
His hairs were harder than needles of steel,
And striking was the pattern of his tigerskin kilt.
In the sky he could scatter a myriad clouds;
In the sea he could stir up thousandfold waves.
Once with his strength he fought heavenly kings,
Putting a hundred and eight thousand warriors to flight.
His title was Great Sage Equaling Heaven;
He was an expert with the gold-banded cudgel.
Today in the West he was using his powers
To return to the cave and rescue Sanzang.
Watch Monkey as he stops his cloud and heads straight for the evil spirit's residence, where he found the gates under the gate towers shut. Not caring whether or not it was the right thing to do, he smashed them open with one swing of his cudgel and charged inside. It was completely quiet and deserted, and the Tang Priest was nowhere to be seen in the corridor. The tables and chairs in the pavilion and all the utensils had completely disappeared. As the cave measured over a hundred miles around, the evil spirit had very many hiding places in it. This was where she had brought the Tang Priest the previous time, only to be found by Monkey, so after catching him this time she had moved him elsewhere in case Monkey came looking for him again.
Not knowing where they had gone, Monkey stamped his foot and beat his chest with fury, letting himself call out at the top of his voice, “Master! You are a Tang Sanzang formed in misfortune, a pilgrim monk molded from disaster. Hmm. I know the way well enough. Why isn't he here? Where should I look for him?”
Just when he was howling with impatience and anxiety his nose was struck by a whiff of incense, which brought him back to himself. “This incense smoke is coming from the back,” he thought, “so I suppose they must be there.” He strode in at the back, his cudgel in his hand, but still saw no sign of life. What he did see were three side rooms. Near the back wall was a lacquered offertory table carved with dragons on which stood a gilt incense-burner. From this came heavily scented incense smoke. On the table was a tablet inscribed with letters of gold to which the offerings were being made. The letters read, “Honoured Father, Heavenly King Li.” In a slightly inferior position was written, “Honoured Elder Brother, Third Prince Nezha.”
The sight filled Monkey with delight. He stopped searching for the monster and the Tang Priest, rubbed his cudgel between his fingers to make it as small as an embroidery needle, tucked it inside his ear, gathered up the tablet and the incense-burner with a sweep of his arms and went straight back out through the gates on his clouds. He was still chortling with glee when he reached the mouth of the cave.
When Pig and Friar Sand heard him they unblocked the entrance to the cave and greeted him with, “You look so happy you must have saved the master, elder brother.”
“No need for us to save him,” Monkey replied with a smile. “We can ask this tablet for him.”
“But that tablet isn't an evil spirit and it can't talk,” said Pig, “so how can you ask it for him?”
“Look at it,” said Monkey, putting the tablet on the ground. When Friar Sand went up to look he saw “Honoured Father, Heavenly King Li" and “Honoured Elder Brother, Third Prince Nezha” written on it.
“What does this mean?” Friar Sand asked.
“The evil spirit makes offerings to it,” Monkey replied. “When I charged into her place there was nobody about, only this tablet. I think she must be a daughter of Heavenly King Li and the younger sister of Prince Nezha who so longed for the lower world that she pretended to be an evil spirit and carried our master off. So who better to demand the master from? You two keep guard here while I take this tablet up to Heaven to lodge a complaint with the Jade Emperor and force those heavenly kings to give our master back.”
“Brother,” said Pig, “there's a saying that goes, 'Bring a capital charge and pay for it with your own head.' You can only do a thing like that if you're in the right. Besides, a case in the celestial court isn't something to be started lightly. You'd better tell me what sort of case you're going to bring.”
“I know what I'm going to do,” Monkey replied. “I'm going to produce this tablet and incense-burner as evidence and submit a written deposition too.”
“What will you write in your deposition?” Pig asked him. “Will you tell me?”
To this Brother Monkey replied, “The complainant Sun Wukong, whose age is stated in this document, is the disciple of the monk Tang Sanzang who is going from the Tang court in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. He submits a complaint that an imitation evil spirit has committed a kidnap. Li Jing, the Pagoda-carrying Heavenly King, and his son Prince Nezha have been slack in controlling their women's quarters. He has allowed his daughter to run away and turn into an evil spirit in the Bottomless Cave in Mount Pitfall, where she has lured countless deluded people to their deaths. She has now carried my master into a remote corner where he cannot be found. If I had not submitted this complaint I would have been deeply worried that the heavenly king and his son in their wickedness had deliberately incited his daughter to become a spirit and cause general disaster. I beg Your Majesty in your mercy to summon the heavenly king to attend a hearing, bring the demon under control and deliver my master. I would be deeply grateful if Your Majesty would determine the correct penalty for this offence. This is my respectful submission.”
When Pig and Friar Sand heard this they said with delight, “Brother, you're bound to win if you submit so reasonable a complaint. Be as quick as you can. If you lose any time you may be too late to stop the evil spirit killing our master.”
“I'll hurry,” said Brother Monkey, “I'll hurry. I'll be back in the time it takes to cook rice at the longest or to make a cup of tea if I'm quick.”
With one bound the splendid Great Sage carried the tablet and the incense-burner straight up by auspicious cloud to the outside of the Southern Gate of Heaven, where the Heavenly Kings Powerful and Protector of the Nation greeted him with bows, letting him in and not daring to block his way.
He went straight to the Hall of Universal Radiance, where the four heavenly teachers Zhang, Ge, Xu, and Qiu showed him great courtesy and asked, “Why are you here, Great Sage?”
“I've got a complaint here,” Monkey replied. “There are a couple of people I want to lodge a complaint against.”
“The scoundrel,” thought the appalled heavenly teachers, “who can he be wanting to sue?” They had no choice but to lead him to the Hall of Miraculous Mist and submit their report to the Jade Emperor, who ordered that Monkey be summoned hi. Monkey then put down the tablet and the incense-burner, bowed to the emperor, and presented his complaint. This was taken by the Ancient Immortal Ge, who spread it out on the emperor's table. When the emperor had read it through from the beginning and learned what had happened he approved the deposition, wrote an imperial rescript on it, and sent the Great White Planet, the Metal Planet Changgeng, to the Cloud Tower Palace to summon the Pagoda-carrying Heavenly King Li to the imperial presence.
Monkey then stepped forward and submitted this memorial: “I beg that the Heavenly Sovereign will punish him effectively as otherwise there will be further trouble.”
“Let the complainant go too,” the Jade Emperor ordered.
“What, me?” said Monkey.
“His Majesty has issued his decree,” said the Four Heavenly Teachers, “so you go with the Metal Planet.”
Monkey then went with the planet by cloud. They were soon at the Cloud Tower Palace, the residence of the heavenly king. The Metal Star saw a page standing at the palace gates.
Recognizing the planet, the boy went inside to report, “The Great White Planet is here.”
The heavenly king then came out to welcome the planet. Seeing that the planet was carrying a decree from the Jade Emperor, the heavenly king ordered incense to be burned before turning round and seeing to his fury that Monkey had come too. Why do you think he was furious? When Monkey had made great havoc in heaven all those years earlier the Jade Emperor had appointed the heavenly king as Demon-quelling High Marshal and Prince Nezha as Great God of the Three Altars of the Seas to lead the heavenly troops and subdue Monkey. They had been repeatedly worsted in battle. It was resentment at this defeat five hundred years earlier that goaded him to fury.
“Old Changgeng,” he said to the planet, showing his irritation, “what kind of decree have you brought here?”
“It is a case that the Great Sage Sun has brought against you,” the planet replied.
The heavenly king had been in a bad enough temper before this, but the word “case” provoked a thunderous outburst of fury: “What case has he got against me?”
“He accuses you of masquerading as an evil spirit and kidnapping,” the planet said. “Will you please burn incense and read it for yourself.”
Seething with anger, the heavenly king had an incense table set up, looked into the sky as he thanked the emperor for his grace, made his obeisances, opened out the decree and read it through.
When he saw what it contained he thumped the incense table and exclaimed, “That ape has trumped up a pack of lies.”
“Please keep your temper,” the planet replied. “A tablet and an incense-burner have been submitted to His Majesty as evidence. He says it was your daughter who did it.”
“All I have are my three sons and a single daughter,” said the heavenly king. “My elder son Jinzha serves the Tathagata Buddha as a Vanguard Guardian of the Law Dharma. My second son Moksa is a disciple of Guanyin in the Southern Ocean. My third son Nezha stays with me as my escort at all times. My daughter Zhenying is only six and an innocent child. She could not possibly have become an evil spirit. If you don't believe me I'll carry her out to show you. This ape is really a disgrace. Never mind that I'm one of the most distinguished elder statesmen in heaven and been given the authority to cut heads off before reporting to the throne: not even an ordinary commoner in the lower world should be falsely accused. As the Legal Code says, 'the penalty for false accusation is three grades higher than the crime alleged.'”
He then ordered his underlings to fetch demon-binding rope and tie Monkey up. The Mighty Miracle God, General Fishbelly and General Yaksha who were drawn up outside the court rushed on Monkey and tied him up.
“Heavenly King Li,” the Metal Planet pleaded, “please don't invite disaster. I have come here with him from the imperial presence under orders from His Majesty to summon you. That rope of yours is heavy, and it could very quickly hurt him badly or strangle him.”
“Metal Star,” the heavenly king replies, “there's no way I'm going to stand for his false, trumped-up charge. Won't you take a seat while I fetch my demon-hacking sword to kill this ape with? I'll report to His Majesty with you after I've done that.” At the sight of the heavenly king fetching the sword the planet trembled with terror.
“You've made a terrible mistake,” he said to Monkey. “A case before the emperor isn't to be lightly started. You've brought this disaster on yourself by not finding the facts out properly and you'll die for it. This is terrible.”
Monkey was completely unafraid. “Don't worry, old man,” he said with a chuckle, “this is nothing. This has always been my way of doing business: I lose out at first and win in the end.”
Before the words were all out of his mouth the heavenly king's sword swung down towards Monkey's head. But Prince Nezha was already in front of Monkey, parrying the blow with his great sword used for cutting men in half at the waist and calling, “Please calm your temper, father.”
This greatly shocked the heavenly king. Very strange! If a son used his broadsword to block his father's cutlass he ought to be bawled out, so why did Nezha's father turn pale with shock?
Now when this son had been born to the heavenly king the word Ne was written on the palm of his left hand and Zha on his right one, which was why he was called Nezha. When only three days old the young prince had caused great trouble by plunging into the sea to clean himself. He had kicked the water crystal palace down, captured a dragon and insisted on pulling its sinews out to make a belt. On learning about this, the heavenly king had been so worried about the disastrous consequences that he had decided to kill the boy.
This had made Nezha so indignant that he had seized a sword, cut off his flesh and returned it to his mother, then picked his bones clean and given them back to his father. Having returned his father's seed and his mother's blood he had taken his soul straight off to the Western Paradise to appeal to the Buddha. When the Buddha, who was expounding the sutras to all the Bodhisattvas, heard a call of “Help!” from within his curtained and jeweled canopy he had looked with his wise eyes and seen that it was Nezha's soul. He had made Nezha bones out of green lotus root and clothes from lotus leaves, then recited the spell to revive the dead.
Thus it was that Nezha had come back to life. He had used his divine ability and great magical powers to subdue ninety-six caves of demons through dharma. After this Nezha had wanted to kill his father in revenge for having had to pick the flesh off his own bones, leaving the heavenly king with no choice but to beg the help of the Tathagata Buddha. For the sake of harmony the Buddha had given the heavenly king an intricately-made golden As-You-Will reliquary pagoda, in each story of which were Buddhas radiant with splendor. The Buddha called on Nezha to regard these Buddhas as his father, thereby ending the hatred between them. This is why Heavenly King Li is called the Pagoda-bearer. As the heavenly king was at home off duty that day and not carrying the pagoda he was afraid that Nezha was set on revenge. This was why he turned pale with terror.
So he turned his hand back to take the golden pagoda from its stand and hold it as he asked Nezha, “What do you want to say to me, son? Why have you parried my sword with your broadsword?”
Throwing his broadsword down, Nezha kowtowed to his father as he replied, “Father, Your Majesty, there is a daughter of our family in the lower world.”
“My boy,” the heavenly king replied, “I have only had you four children. Where could I have got another daughter from?”
“You have forgotten, Your Majesty,” Nezha replied. “The girl was once an evil spirit. Three hundred years ago she became a monster. She stole and ate some of the Tathagata's incense, flowers and candles on Vulture Peak, and the Tathagata sent us to capture her with heavenly soldiers. When she was caught she should have been beaten to death, but the Tathagata said,
'Raise fish in deep water but never catch them;
Feed deer in the depths of the mountains in the hope of eternal life.'
So we spared her life. In her gratitude she bowed to you as her adoptive father, Your Majesty, and to me as her elder brother. She set up a tablet to us in the lower world to burn incense. I never imagined she'd become an evil spirit again and try to ruin the Tang Priest. Now Sun the Novice has trailed her to her den and brought the tablet up here to use in a case against us before the Jade Emperor. She is your adopted daughter, not my real sister.”
This came as a terrible shock to the heavenly king. “Son,” he said, “I really had forgotten. What's she called?”
“She has three names,” the prince replied. Where she originally came from she was called Gold-nosed White-haired Mouse Spirit. Then she was called Half-Bodhisattva-Guanyin because she had stolen the incense, flowers and candles. When she was forgiven and sent down to the lower world she changed her name again and became Lady Earth-gusher.” Only then did the heavenly king come to his senses. He put his pagoda down and started to untie Monkey himself. At this Monkey started playing it up.
“Don't you dare try to untie me!” he said. “If you want to do something you can carry me roped up as I am to see the emperor. Then I'll win my case.” The heavenly king felt weak from terror and the prince could say nothing. Everybody fell back.
The Great Sage meanwhile was rolling about and playing it up, insisting that the heavenly king take him to the emperor. The heavenly king could do nothing except beg the Metal Planet to put in a good word for him.
“There is an old saying,” the planet replied, “that one should always be lenient. You went too far: you tied him up and were going to kill him. The monkey is a notorious trouble-maker. How do you expect me to deal with him? From what your worthy son has said, she is your daughter, even though adopted rather than your own, and a child by adoption is especially dear. However one argues it you are guilty.”
“Surely you can find some way of putting in a good word for me and helping me off the hook, venerable planet,” said the heavenly king.
“I would like to end the quarrel between you,” the planet replied, “but I have never done him a good turn that I can remind him of.”
“Tell him how it was you who proposed that he should be amnestied and given an official post,” said the heavenly king.
The Metal Planet did then step forward, stroke Brother Monkey and say, “Great Sage, won't you let us take the rope off before going to see the emperor, just for my sake?”
“No need to bother, old man,” Monkey replied. “I'm a good roller and I can roll all the way there.”
“You've got no decent feelings, you monkey,” said the planet with a smile. “I did you some good turns in the old days, but you won't do this little thing for me.”
“What good turn did you ever do me?” Monkey asked.
“When you were a monster on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit you subdued tigers and dragons, forcibly removed yourself from the register of death and assembled hordes of fiends to run wild and wreak havoc. Heaven wanted to have you arrested. It was only because I made strong representations that an edict of amnesty and recruitment was issued and you were summoned to Heaven to be appointed Protector of the Horses. You drank some of the Jade Emperor's wine of immortality, and it was only because I made strong representations again that you were given the title of Great Sage Equaling Heaven. But you refused to know your place. You stole the peaches and the wine and robbed Lord Lao Zi of his elixir, and so it went on till you ended up in a state of no death and no birth. If it hadn't been for me you'd never have got where you are today.”
“As the ancients put it,” Monkey replied, “'Don't even share a grave with an old man when you're dead: all he'll do is complain.' I was just a Protector of the Horses who made havoc in the heavenly palace: there was nothing much apart from that. Oh well, never mind. I'll show you a bit of consideration as you're such an old man. He can untie me himself.” Only then did the heavenly king dare step forward, untie the rope, and ask Brother Monkey to dress and take the seat of honour while they all took it in turn to pay their respects to him.
“Old man,” Monkey said to the Metal Planet, “what about it then? I told you I lose first and win later. That's my way of doing business. Make him hurry and see the emperor: delay could be disastrous for my master.”
“Don't be impatient,” the Metal Planet said. “After everything that's happened we should take a cup of tea.”
“If you drink his tea, accept favours from him, take a bribe to let a criminal escape, and treat imperial edicts with disrespect I wonder what you'll be charged with,” Monkey replied.
“I won't stop for tea,” the Metal Planet replied, “I won't stop for tea. You're even trying to frame me. Hurry up, Heavenly King Li, we must be on our way.” The heavenly king dared not go for fear that Monkey would concoct some unfounded story and start playing it up: if Monkey started talking wildly he would be unable to argue against him. So once again the heavenly king pleaded with the Metal Planet to put in a good word for him.
“I have a suggestion to make,” the planet said to Monkey. “Will you follow it?”
“I've already agreed about being tied up and hacked at,” Monkey replied. “What else have you to say? Tell me! Tell me! If it's a good idea I'll follow it; and if it isn't, don't blame me.”
“'Fight a lawsuit for one day and it'll go on for ten,'“ said the Metal Planet. “You brought a case before the emperor saying that the evil spirit is the heavenly king's daughter and the heavenly king says she isn't. You two will argue endlessly in front of His Majesty, but I tell you that a day in heaven is a year in the lower world. In that year the evil spirit will have your master under her control in the cave, and she won't just have married him. By then there may have been a happy event and she may have had a little baby monk. Then your great enterprise will be ruined.”
“Yes,” thought Monkey, his head bowed, “when I left Pig and Friar Sand I said I'd be back in the time it takes to cook a meal at longest and at quickest before they could make a cup of tea. I've been ages already and it might be too late. Old man,” he said aloud, “I'll take your advice. How do we obey this imperial decree?”
“Have Heavenly King Li muster his troops and go down with you to subdue the demon,” the Metal Planet replied, “while I report back to the emperor.”
“What will you say?” Monkey asked.
“I'll report that the plaintiff has absconded and that the defendant is therefore excused,” the planet replied.
“That's very fine,” said Monkey with a grin. “I show you consideration and you accuse me of absconding. Tell him to muster his troops and wait for me outside the Southern Gate of Heaven while you and I report back on our mission.”
“If he says anything when he's there I'll be accused of treason,” exclaimed the heavenly king with terror.
“What do you take me for?” asked Monkey. “I'm a real man. Once I've given my word a team of horses couldn't take it back. I'd never slander you.”
The heavenly king thanked Monkey, who went with the Metal Planet to report back on their mission, while the heavenly king mustered his heavenly troops and went straight to the outside of the Southern Gate of Heaven.
When the Metal Planet and Monkey had their audience with the Jade Emperor they said, “The person who has trapped the Tang Priest is the Golden-nosed White-haired Mouse turned spirit. She has fraudulently set up a tablet to the heavenly king and his son. As soon as he found out, the heavenly king mustered his troops to go and subdue the demon. We beg your Celestial Majesty to forgive him.”
Once the Jade Emperor knew what had happened he dropped the prosecution in his heavenly mercy. Monkey then went back on his cloud to the outside of the Southern Gate of Heaven, where he found the heavenly king and the prince waiting for him with their heavenly soldiers draw up on parade. The heavenly commanders met the Great Sage amid blustering winds and seething mists, then they all took their clouds straight down to Mount Pitfall.
Pig and Friar Sand were wide-eyed at the sight of the heavenly hosts coming down with Brother Monkey. Greeting the heavenly king with due courtesy, the idiot said, “We have put you to great trouble in coming here.”
“You don't realize, Marshal Tian Peng,” the heavenly king replied, “that it was because my son and I accepted a joss-stick from her that the evil spirit in her wickedness captured your master. Please don't be angry with us for being so long. Is this Mount Pitfall? Where is the entrance to the cave?”
“I know the way very well by now,” said Monkey. “This cave is called the Bottomless Cave and it measures over a hundred miles around. The evil spirit has a great many holes in it. Last time my master was held in the gate tower with double eaves, but it's deadly quiet now. There's not even the shadow of a demon. I don't know where she's taken him to now.” To this the heavenly king replied,
“'No matter how many the tricks she may try
She'll never escape from the nets of the sky.'
We'll think of something else when we get to the cave entrance.”
They all then started out, and after they had gone three or four miles they reached the great rock. “This is it,” Monkey said pointing at the entrance that was no larger than the mouth of a large jar.
“You'll never capture the tiger's cub unless you go into the tiger's lair,” observed the heavenly king. “Who dares go in first?”
“I'll go,” said Monkey.
“No, I'll go first,” objected Prince Nezha. “I was the one the emperor ordered to capture the demon.”
The idiot then started acting tough, shouting, “It ought to be me first.”
“Stop that din,” said the heavenly king. “I'll decide. The Great Sage Sun and the prince will go down with the soldiers while we three hold the entrance. Then we'll have a coordinated action inside and outside, which will make it impossible for her to find her way up to heaven or go further underground. That will show her a bit of our powers.”
“Yes, sir,” they all said in assent.
Watch as Monkey and Prince Nezha slip into the cave at the head of their troops. As they rode their clouds they looked around and saw that it really was a fine cave:
The pair of sun and moon as before;
A vista of rivers and hills like the other world.
Warm mists spread over pools and wells of pearl;
Much more there is to admire down here.
Crimson houses, painted halls,
Red cliffs, green fields,
Willows in the spring and lotos in the autumn;
A rare and splendid cave heaven.
An instant later they brought their clouds to a halt and went straight to the mansion where the evil spirit had lived before. They went from gateway to gateway in their search, yelling and shouting as they went deeper and deeper inside, trying one place after the next. All the grass for a hundred miles was trampled away. But where was the evil spirit? Where was Sanzang?
“The wicked beast,” everyone was saying, “she must have got out of this cave ages ago. She'll be far away by now.” What they did not know was that down underneath a dark corner in the Southeast of the cave there was another, smaller cave, where behind a pair of tiny gates there was a tiny cottage with flowers growing in pots and a few canes of bamboo beside the eaves. The atmosphere was dark and heavy with fragrance. This was where the evil spirit had carried Sanzang and was going to force him to marry her. She was sure that Monkey would never find them; none of them realized that her union was fated to be thwarted.
The junior devils were jabbering away in a great crush when a bolder one among them stretched outside the cave for a look around only for her head to butt into a heavenly soldier, who shouted, “They're here!” At this Monkey flew into a rage, grasped the gold-banded cudgel and charged straight down in. The cave was tiny and all the demons from the big cave were in there, so that when Prince Nezha sent his heavenly soldiers crowding into the attack, not a single one of the demons could hide.
Monkey found the Tang Priest, the dragon horse and the baggage. The senior demon was at her wit's end. All she could do was to kowtow to Prince Nezha, begging him to spare her life.
“We are here to arrest you at the Jade Emperor's command,” Prince Nezha replied, “which is not something to be treated lightly. My father and I were nearly in terrible trouble because of you.”
He then shouted at the top of his voice, “Heavenly soldiers, fetch demon-binding rope. Tie all those evil spirits up.” The senior demon too had to suffer for a while. They all went back out of the cave together by cloud.
Monkey was chuckling with delight when the heavenly king withdrew his guard from the mouth of the cave and greeted Monkey with the words, “Now I can meet your master.”
“Many thanks,” said Monkey, “many thanks,” and he led Sanzang to bow in gratitude to the heavenly king and the prince.
Friar Sand and Pig were all for chopping the senior devil into tiny pieces, but the heavenly king said, “She was arrested at the Jade Emperor's command, and must not be mistreated. We must go to report back on our mission.”
The heavenly king and Prince Nezha at the head of their heavenly troops and divine officers escorted the evil spirit as a prisoner to report to the heavenly court and receive the emperor's verdict on her. Meanwhile Brother Monkey guarded the Tang Priest while Friar Sand collected the luggage and Pig went over to the horse and invited the master to ride. Then they all set out along their way again. Indeed:
The silken net had been cut, the golden sea dried up,
The precious lock undone, and troubles left behind.
If you do not know what lay in store for them on their way ahead listen to the explanation in the next installment.
The Indestructible Proteges of the Buddha Complete Enlightenment
The Dharma King Comes to the Truth Through His Own Nature
The story tells how Tang Sanzang kept his masculine essence intact and escaped from the terrible snare of mist and flowers. As he headed Westwards with Brother Monkey he did not notice that it was already summer: warm breezes were beginning to blow, and the early summer rain was falling. It was a beautiful sight:
Dark is the shade under tender green;
In the gentle breeze the swallows lead their young.
New lotus leaves are opening on the ponds;
Elegant bamboo is gradually reviving.
The fragrant plants join their blue to the sky;
Mountain flowers carpet all the ground.
Beside the stream the rushes are like swords;
The fiery pomegranate blossom makes the picture even more magnificent.
As the master and his three disciples traveled along enduring the heat they suddenly noticed two rows of tall willows, from under the shade of which an old woman emerged, leaning on a small boy. “Don't go any further, monk,” she called out. “Stop your horse and go back East as soon as you can. The road West leads nowhere.”
This gave Sanzang so bad a fright that he sprang off the horse, made a gesture of greeting and said, “Venerable Bodhisattva, in the words of the ancients,
'The sea's breadth allows the fish to leap;
The sky's emptiness lets birds fly.'
How could there possibly be no way to the West?” To this the old woman replied, pointing Westwards, “If you go that way you will come to the capital of Dharmadestructia in a couple of miles. The king formed a hatred of Buddhism in an earlier existence, and in his present life he is punishing it without just cause. Two years ago he made a monstrous vow to kill ten thousand Buddhist monks. In that time he's killed 9,996 unknown monks in succession. He's just waiting for four famous monks to make up his ten thousand so that he will fulfil the vow. If you go into the city you will be throwing away your lives for nothing.”
At the sound of this Sanzang was so terrified that he shivered and shook as he replied, “Venerable Bodhisattva, I am deeply moved by your great kindness and infinitely grateful too. But, tell me, is there a suitable way I could take that does not go into the city?”
“There's no way round,” the old woman replied with a laugh, “no way round. The only way you'll get past it is if you can fly.”
At this Pig started shooting his mouth off from where he stood beside them: “Don't try to put us off. We can all fly.”
Monkey's fiery eyes with their golden pupils really could distinguish good from evil, and he saw that the old woman and the little boy on whom she was leaning were in fact the Bodhisattva Guanyin and the page Sudhana. He hastily flung himself to the ground and began to kowtow, calling out, “Bodhisattva, your disciple failed to welcome you. I'm sorry.”
The Bodhisattva then rose slowly on her multicolored cloud, so startling the venerable elder that his legs gave way under him and he kowtowed as he knelt there for all he was worth. Pig and Friar Sand also fell to their knees in alarm and kowtowed to heaven. A moment later she was heading straight back to the Southern Sea amid auspicious clouds.
Monkey then got up and supported his master as he said, “Get up please. The Bodhisattva's already gone back to her island.”
“Wukong,” Sanzang said, “if you knew she was the Bodhisattva why did you not say so before?”
“You ask too many questions,” Monkey replied with a grin. “When I started kowtowing wasn't that early enough?”
“It was lucky the Bodhisattva told us that Dharmadestructia, where they kill monks, is ahead of us,” Pig and Friar Sand said to Monkey. “Whatever are we to do?”
“Don't be afraid, idiot,” Monkey replied. “We've come to no harm from any of the vicious demons and evil monsters we've met already or in the tigers' dens and dragons' pools we've been in. This is just a country of ordinary people. What's there to be so scared of? The only thing is that we can't stay here. It's getting late in the day and some of the villagers are coming back from market in the town. It will be no good if they see we're monks and raise a hue and cry. We'd better take the master away from the main road to some quiet and secluded spot where we can discuss things.” Sanzang accepted Monkey's suggestion and they slipped away from the main road to a hollow in the ground where they sat down.
“Brother,” said Monkey, “you two look after the master while I turn myself into something and go into town to take a look around. I'll find a side road that we can get away along tonight.”
“Disciple,” said Sanzang, “don't take this lightly. The royal law is implacable. You must be careful.”
“Don't worry,” said Monkey with a smile, “don't worry. I can cope.”
This said, the Great Sage leapt whistling up into the air. It was very strange:
No rope to hold on to above,
No pole to support him below.
Others are all like their parents,
But the weight of his bones was low.
As he stood in the clouds looking down he saw that the city was full of the most happy and auspicious atmosphere. “What a splendid place,” Monkey said. “Why are they trying to destroy the Dharma here?” He looked around for a while, and in the gathering dusk he saw:
Bright lights at the crossroads,
Incense and bells in the ninefold hall.
The seven brightest stars shone in the blue heavens,
And the travelers stopped moving in all eight directions.
From the army barracks
The painted bugle could just be heard;
In the drum tower
The copper water-clock began to drip.
All around the evening mists were dense;
Cold fog was thick in the markets.
Two by two the couples went to their beds
As the bright moon's disk was rising in the East.
“If I went down into the streets to look for our way with a face like this,” he thought, “anyone I saw would be sure I was a monk. I'd better change.” He made a spell with his hands, said the magic words, shook himself and turned into a moth, the sort that flies into the lantern:
A tiny body, a pair of delicate wings,
Who puts out the lamp and flies into the candle when seeking the light.
Formed by changing its own original body,
It makes its magic response in grass that's decaying.
Loving the burning light of the candle's flame,
Endlessly flying around it with never a pause,
The purple-clad moth with its scented wings drives off the fireflies;
What it likes best is the windless calm of the night.
Watch him as he flutters and flies straight to the main streets and the markets, keeping close to the eaves and the corners of the buildings he passes. As he was flying along he noticed an angled row of houses on a corner with a lantern hanging above each doorway.
“They must be celebrating the Lantern Festival here,” he thought. “Why else is that line of lighted lanterns there?” Stiffening his wings and flying up for a closer look, he saw that on a square lantern outside the middle house was written, “Accommodation for Commercial Travelers,” with “Wang the Second's Inn ” beneath it. Only then did Monkey realize that this was an inn. Stretching his head forward for a closer look he saw eight or nine men inside who had all eaten their supper, taken off their clothes and hats, washed their hands and feet and gone to bed.
“The master will get through,” Monkey thought with secret delight. How did he know that? Because he was having a wicked idea: he would wait till they were all asleep, then steal their clothes and hats so that he and his companions could go into the city dressed as laymen.
Oh dear! This was one of those things that don't turn out as you want them to. While Monkey was still thinking about his plan Wang the Second went up to the merchants and said, “Please be vigilant, gentlemen. We have villains here as well as decent people. You must all be careful about your clothes and luggage.”
As you can imagine, the travelling merchants were all very vigilant, and the innkeeper's advice made them more cautious than ever. So they all got out of bed and said, “You're quite right, host. We travelers have a hard time. We're always worried that if there's some emergency when we're asleep we may not wake up; and if things go wrong we're in a mess. You'd better take all our clothes, hats and bags and look after them for us inside. Tomorrow morning you can give them back to us when we get up.”
Wang the Second then took all the clothes he could find into his own room. Monkey anxiously spread his wings, flew in there and landed on the hat stand, from where he saw Wang the Second take the lantern down from the door, lower the blinds, and shut the door and window. Only then did he go into his bedroom, undress and lie down.
Now Wang the Second had a wife and two children who were crying and making a noise, in no hurry to sleep. Wang's wife then started mending a torn piece of clothing, so that she too was still awake. “If I have to wait till that woman stops working and goes to sleep,” thought Monkey, “I'll be keeping the master waiting too.” He then started worrying that if he left it till much later the city gates would be shut, so he lost patience and flew down into the flame of the lamp. It was indeed a case of
He was ready to die when he dived at the blaze,
And with brows scarred by fire to live out his days.
Having extinguished the lamp he shook himself and turned into a rat who gave a couple of squeaks, jumped down, grabbed hats and clothes and went outside. “Old man,” the woman said with alarm, “this is terrible. A rat's turned into a spirit.”
When Monkey heard this he used another trick, blocking the doorway and yelling at the top of his voice, “That woman's talking nonsense, Wang the Second. Ignore her. I'm not a rat turned spirit. As a decent man I don't do underhanded things. I'm the Great Sage Equaling Heaven come down to earth to protect the Tang Priest while he goes to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. I've come to borrow these clothes as a disguise for my master because your king is so wicked. I'll bring them back soon when we're out of the city.”
Once Wang the Second heard this he scrambled out of bed and started groping around the floor in the dark. He was in such a rush that when he got hold of his trousers he thought they were his shirt: there was no way he could put them on no matter how he tried.
By now the Great Sage had used lifting magic to escape on his cloud, which he turned round to go straight back to the hollow by the road. Sanzang was looking out for him fixedly by the bright light of the moon and the stars, and as soon as he saw Monkey approaching he called out, “Can we get through the capital of Dharmadestructia, disciple?”
Coming up and laying the clothes down in front of him, Monkey replied, “Master, you won't get through Dharmadestructia as a monk.”
“Brother,” said Pig, “who do you think you're making things hard for? It's easy to stop being a monk. All you have to do is stop shaving your head for six months and let your hair grow.”
“We can't wait six months,” Monkey replied. “We're going to turn into laymen right now.”
“But that's a completely ridiculous thing to say,” said a shocked Pig. “We're all monks now, and if we turned into laymen straight away we wouldn't be able to wear hats. Even if we could pull them tight enough at the edges we've got no hair to tie the string at the top to.”
“Stop fooling about,” Sanzang shouted, “and be serious. What do you really have in mind?”
“I've had a good look at this city, Master,” Monkey replied, “and although the king is a wicked one who kills monks he is a true son of heaven. There is an auspicious glow and a happy atmosphere above the city. I know my way round the streets now, and I can understand and talk the local language. I've just borrowed these hats and clothes from an inn for us to dress ourselves up as laymen in. We'll go into the city, put up for the night, get up at the fourth watch and ask the innkeeper to fix us some vegetarian food. At the fifth watch we'll go out through the gate and head West along the main road. If we meet anyone who tries to stop us we can talk our way out of it. I'll tell him we were sent by the ruler of their suzerain state. The king of Dharmadestructia won't dare hold us up. He'll let us go on our way.”
“Our big brother has arranged things very well,” said Friar Sand. “Let's do as he suggests.”
The venerable elder did indeed have no option but to take off his monastic tunic and hat and put on a layman's clothing and headwear. Friar Sand changed too, but Pig's head was too big for him to be able to wear a hat. Monkey fetched needle and thread, tore two hats open and sewed them into a single one. Then he put the hat on Pig's head and found a garment big enough for him to wear. Finally he dressed himself and said, “Gentlemen, we must ban the words 'master' and 'disciples' on this journey.”
“What else can we call each other?” Pig asked. “We must talk like people who address each other as brothers,” Monkey replied. “The master can call himself Tang the Eldest. You can be Hogg the Third, and Friar Sand can be Sand the Fourth. I'll be Sun the Second. But when we are in the inn none of you must say anything. Leave all the talking to me. When they ask what line of business we're in I'll say we're horse dealers. I'll pretend that the white horse is a sample and that there are ten of us altogether, of whom we four have come ahead to book rooms at an inn and sell this horse. The innkeeper will be bound to treat us well then. We'll be properly looked after, and before we leave I'll find a piece of broken tile and turn it into silver to pay him with. Then we'll be able to go on our way.” Although he was not happy about it the Tang Priest had to go along with this.
The four of them hurried to the city, leading the horse and carrying the luggage. As this was a very peaceful place the city gates were still open although it was already night. They went straight into the city, and as they passed the gateway of Wang the Second's inn they could hear shouting inside.
People were yelling, “My hat's disappeared!” and “My clothes have gone!” Pretending he did not know what this was all about, Monkey took them to an inn further along on the other side of the road. This inn was still showing its lantern, so Monkey went up to the gateway and called, “Do you have a vacant room for us, innkeeper?”
“Yes, yes,” a woman answered from inside. “Please come upstairs, gentlemen.” Before she had finished speaking a man came out to take the horse. Monkey handed him the horse to take inside. He then led the master into the building in the shadow of the lamp. Upstairs there were tables and chairs conveniently arranged, and when the window was opened they all sat down in the clear moonlight.
When someone came with a lighted lamp Monkey blocked the doorway, blew it out and said, “No need for a lamp on a bright night like this.”
No sooner had the man with the lamp gone down than a maid came up with four bowls of tea. Monkey took the bowls from her, only for her to be followed by a woman who looked to be about fifty-six or fifty-seven coming up the stairs.
Standing beside Monkey she asked, “Where are you gentlemen from? What fine goods do you have?”
“We're from the North,” Monkey replied, “and we've got a few poor horses to sell.”
“You're very young to be a horse dealer,” the woman said.
“This gentleman is Tang the Eldest,” Monkey explained, “this is Hogg the Third, and this is Sand the fourth. I'm Sun the Second, an apprentice.”
“But your surnames are all different,” said the woman with a smile. “Yes,” Monkey replied, “our surnames are different but we all live together. There are ten of us brothers altogether, and we four have come ahead to fix our board and lodging. The other six have found a place outside the city to stay tonight. It would have been awkward for them to come into the city as they've got a herd of horses. They'll come in tomorrow morning when we've fixed some accommodation. We won't go home till we've sold the horses.”
“How many horses are there in your herd?” the woman asked.
“Over a hundred of all ages,” Monkey replied. “They're all like that one of ours, except that they come in different colours.”
“Mr. Sun,” the woman said with a laugh, “you really know how to travel. You should have come straight here: no other inn would be able to put you up. We have a big courtyard well supplied with troughs and tethering posts and plenty of fodder too. We could feed several hundred horses here. There's just one thing I should mention. I've been keeping this inn for many years and it's quite well known. My late husband was called Zhao, but I'm afraid he died long ago, so this is now called Widow Zhao's Inn. We have three classes of entertainment for our guests. Let's get sordid money matters out of the way, then we can be more civilized later. The first thing is to discuss the tariffs and agree on one so that we know where we stand when it's time to settle the accounts.”
“Quite right,” Monkey replied. “What are your three classes of entertainment? As the saying goes,
Your tariffs may be low, your tariffs may be dear,
But treat us all the same, who come from far or near.
What do your tariffs involve? Could you explain them to me?”
“We have first, second and third-class tariffs,” the old woman replied. “The first class is a banquet with five kinds of fruit and five different dishes. The tables are set with confectionery lions and immortals fighting. Two gentlemen share a table, and there are young ladies to sing to them and sleep with them. It costs half an ounce of silver per head, the price of the room included.”
“I'd agree to that,” Monkey replied. “Where we come from half an ounce wouldn't even pay for a girl.”
“For the second-class tariff,” the woman continued, “you all eat from the same dishes of food and we provide fruit and warm wine that you help yourselves to in your drinking games. No young ladies are provided and it costs one fifth of an ounce of silver each.”
“I'd agree to that too,” Monkey replied. “What about the third class?”
“I wouldn't like to discuss it with such distinguished gentlemen as yourselves,” she replied.
“No harm in telling us about it,” Monkey replied, “so that we can choose what suits us best.”
“Nobody waits on you in the third class,” she said, “and we provide a big pot of rice for you to eat from as you will. When you're full there's straw for you to spread out on the ground and sleep on where it suits you. At dawn you give us a few coppers for the rice and I can assure you we won't argue about how much.”
“We're in luck,” said Pig, “we're in luck. That's the sort of deal I like. I'll eat my fill from the cauldron then have a bloody good sleep in front of the stove.”
“What nonsense, brother,” said Monkey. “We've earned an ounce or two of silver on our travels. Give us the first-class treatment.”
“Make some good tea,” the woman said with great delight, “and tell the kitchen to get the food ready quickly.” She then went downstairs calling out, “Kill chickens and geese and boil up some pickled meat for them to have with their rice.”
Then she shouted, “Kill a pig and a sheep. What can't be eaten today can be served tomorrow. Get some good wine. Use the best white rice, and make some pancakes with white flour.”
When Sanzang heard all this from upstairs he said, “Whatever shall we do, Sun the Second? They're going to slaughter chickens, geese, a pig and a sheep. If they bring us all these we won't be able to eat them as we're all vegetarians.”
“I've got an idea,” said Monkey, and he stamped in the doorway and called out, “Mrs. Zhao, come up here.”
“What instructions do you have for me, sir,” she asked.
“Don't kill any living creatures today. We're eating vegetarian food today,” Monkey replied.
“Are you gentlemen permanent vegetarians, or just vegetarians for this month?” asked the woman in surprise.
“Neither,” replied Monkey. “We're vegetarians on gengshen days. Today's one, so we have to eat meatless food. But after the third watch tonight it'll be a xinyou day and the restrictions won't apply. Kill them tomorrow. Lay on some vegetarian food today, and make it first-class.”
This made the woman happier than ever. “Don't slaughter anything,” she said, hurrying downstairs, “don't slaughter anything. Fetch some tree-ear fungus, Fujian bamboo shoots, beancurd and wheat gluten. Pick some green vegetables in the garden, make vermicelli soup, steam some brad rolls, boil more white rice and make some scented tea.”
Now the cooks were experts because they cooked every day, so that everything was ready in an instant to be set out upstairs. They also had some confectioneries of lions and immortals that were already made for the four travelers to eat their fill of.
When the question was asked, “Would you like some mild wine?” Brother Monkey replied, “Eldest Brother Tang won't have any, but the rest of us will have a few cups.” The widow then fetched a jug of warm wine.
When drinks had been poured out for the three of them they heard the sound of banging against wooden boards. “Has some furniture fallen over downstairs, missus?” Monkey asked.
“No,” the woman replied, “It's some retainers from my farm who arrived late this evening with rent rice. We let them sleep downstairs. As we were short-staffed when you gentlemen arrived I told them to take the sedan-chairs to the brothel to fetch some young ladies to keep you company. They must have hit the underneath of the floorboards with the chair-poles.”
“You mentioned that before,” Monkey said. “But don't send for them now. Today's a fast day, and besides, our brothers aren't here yet. They'll be here tomorrow for sure. Then we can all send for some call-girls and have a good time in your excellent establishment before we sell our horses and go.”
“What good men,” the woman said, “what good men. That way you'll all stay friends and you won't waste your energy.” Then she ordered that the sedan-chairs be brought back in as the whores were not to be fetched. The four of them finished their wine and food, the utensils were cleared away, and the meal was over.
“Where are we going to sleep?” Sanzang whispered in Monkey's ear.
“Upstairs,” Monkey replied.
“Too dangerous,” Sanzang replied. “We have all had so hard a journey that we may well fall fast asleep. If any of the inn people come in to tidy up and our hats have rolled off they will see our bald heads, realize that we are monks, and raise a hue and cry. That would be a disaster.”
“You're right,” said Monkey, going out to stamp his foot again.
“What instructions do you have this time, Mr. Sun?” the woman asked, coming upstairs once more.
“Where are we to sleep?” Monkey asked.
“Upstairs is best,” she replied. “There are no mosquitoes and there's a South wind. Open the windows wide and you'll sleep beautifully.”
“We won't be able to,” said Monkey. “Our Mr. Hogg the Third has a touch of gout, Mr. Sand the Fourth has some rheumatism in his shoulder, Brother Tang can only sleep in the dark, and I don't like the light myself. So this is no place for us to sleep.”
As the woman went downstairs, leaning on the banisters and sighing, her daughter, who was carrying a child in her arms, came up to her and said, “Mother, as the saying goes, 'Be stuck on a sandbank for ten days, then said past nine sandbanks in one.' It's too hot now to be doing much business, but once autumn begins we'll have more than we can handle. What are you sighing like that for?”
“It's not because business is slack, daughter,” the older woman replied. “I was just going to close the inn up this evening when four horse dealers came and took a room. They wanted the first-class tariff. I was hoping to make a little silver out of them, and I'm sighing because we won't earn much: they're fasting.”
“As they've already eaten they can't very well go to another inn,” the daughter replied. “And we'll be able to make money out of them when we serve them meat and wine tomorrow.”
“They're all poorly,” the older woman replied, “and want somewhere dark to sleep because they don't like drafts or light. All the rooms in the inn have got missing tiles, so where am I going to find somewhere dark for them? It'd be best to write off the cost of the meal and tell them to stay somewhere else.”
“But we do have somewhere dark in the house, mother,” her daughter replied, “where there's no draft and no light. It'll do splendidly.”
“Where?” the older woman asked.
“The big trunk that father had made when he was still alive,” the daughter replied. “It's four feet wide, seven feet long and three feet high, and big enough for seven people to sleep in. Tell them to sleep in the trunk.”
“I don't know whether it'll do,” said the older woman. “I'll ask them. Mr. Sun, if you won't have our poky little room there's nowhere darker here than our big trunk. It'll keep out light and drafts. So why don't you sleep in the trunk?”
“Splendid,” Monkey replied. She then told several of the retainers to carry the trunk out and open the lid, while inviting her guests to come downstairs. Monkey led the master and Friar Sand carried the luggage as they went to the trunk, following in the lantern's shadow. The reckless Pig was the first to climb inside. Friar Sand lifted the luggage in then helped the Tang Priest in before getting in himself.
“Where's our horse?” Monkey asked.
“Tied up eating hay in the stables at the back,” replied the servant who was attending them.
“Bring it here,” said Monkey, “and bring the trough too. Tether the animal next to the trunk.” Only then did he get inside himself and call out, “Shut the lid, Mrs. Zhao, fasten the hasp and padlock it. And look it over for us. Glue paper wherever it lets in the light. Open it again early tomorrow morning.”
“You're very particular,” the widow said. After that the doors were fastened and everyone went to bed.
The story switches to the four of them in the chest. Poor things! They were wearing hats, the weather was very hot and it was airless and stuffy. They took off their hats and clothes, and fanned themselves with their monastic hats for lack of fans. They were all crowded in next to each other and did not fall asleep till the second watch. Monkey, however, wanted to make trouble, so he stayed awake. He put his hand out and gave Pig a pinch on the leg.
The idiot pulled his leg in and mumbled, “Go to sleep. We've had a hard day. What do you want to fool around pinching people's hands and feet for?”
“We started by laying out five thousand ounces of silver,” said Monkey aloud, deliberately making mischief, “and we sold those horses the other day for three thousand. We've got four thousand in the two bags, and we'll sell this herd of horses for another three thousand. That means we'll have doubled our capital. That's not bad.” Pig, who was sleepy, did not bother to reply.
Now the floor staff, the water-carriers and the kitchen porters were in league with bandits. After hearing Brother Monkey talking about all the money they had, several of them slipped off to fetch twenty or more armed bandits to come with torches to rob the four horse traders. As they charger in through the gates they gave Widow Zhao and her daughter such a fright that shivering and shaking they fastened the doors of their room and let the robbers take whatever they wanted outside. Now the bandits were not after the inn's property but were looking for the guests. When they went upstairs and found no sign of them there, they lit their torches and held them out while they looked all around. All they could see was a large trunk in the courtyard, to the bottom of which was tethered a white horse. The lid was tightly locked and could not be prized open.
“Travelling merchants all know what they're about,” the bandits said. “This trunk looks so strong that it's bound to be full of purses, valuables and silk. Let's steal the horse, take the trunk out of town, open it up and share out what's inside. That would be the best thing, wouldn't it?” The bandits then found some rope with which they lifted the box and carried it off, swinging and swaying.
“Brother,” said Pig, woken up by this, “go to sleep. Why are you rocking us?”
“Shut up,” Monkey replied. “Nobody's rocking us.”
Sanzang and Friar Sand had been abruptly awoken too, and they asked, “Who's carrying us?”
“Keep quiet,” said Monkey, “keep quiet. Let them carry us. If they carry us to the Western Heaven we'll be saved the trouble of walking.”
But the successful bandits were not heading West. Instead they headed towards the East of the city, killing the soldiers on the city gate, opening it and letting themselves out. This caused a sensation in the streets and the markets, where the watchmen of all the shops reported it to the commander-in-chief of the city garrison and the East city commissioner. As this was their responsibility the commander-in-chief and the East city commissioner mustered a force of infantry, cavalry and bowmen that left the city in pursuit of the bandits. Seeing that resistance to so powerful a government force would have been pointless, the bandits abandoned the trunk and the white horse, scattered into the undergrowth and disappeared. The government troops did not catch even half a robber: all they captured was the trunk and the white horse, with which they returned in triumph. The commander-in-chief examined the horse in the light of the lamps and saw that it was a fine one:
Threads of silver grew in his mane;
In his tail hung strands of jade.
Forget about Eight Chargers and dragon steeds;
This was steadier than the great Sushuang;
Its bones alone would have sold for a thousand ounces of silver;
It could gallop after the wind for three thousand miles.
When it climbed a mountain it merged into the clouds;
As it neighed at the moon it was as white as snow.
It was truly a dragon from an ocean island,
A unicorn of Jade in the human world.
The commander-in-chief rode the white horse instead of his own steed as he led his men back into the city. The trunk was carried to his headquarters, where he and the East city commissioner sealed it with strips of paper on which they wrote and set a guard over it till morning, when they would submit a memorial to the king and request a decision on what to do with it. After that the other troops were dismissed.
The story now tells how the venerable Tang Priest was grumbling at Monkey inside the chest. “Ape,” he said, “you've killed me this time. If I had been arrested outside and taken to the king of Dharmadestructia I might well have been able to put up a good argument in my defense. But now I am here, locked in this trunk. I have been carried off by bandits and recaptured by the army. When we are shown to the king tomorrow we will be all ready for him to put to the sword and make up his ten thousand.”
“There are people outside!” exclaimed Monkey. “If they open the trunk and take you out you'll either be tied up or hung up. If you don't want to be tied or strung up you'd better show a little patience. When we're taken to see this deluded king tomorrow I'll definitely be able to talk my way out of things. I guarantee that not one hair of yours will be harmed. So stop worrying and go back to sleep.”
In the third watch Monkey used one of his magic powers. Slipping his cudgel out he blew on it with a magic breath, called “Change!” and turned it into a triple auger with which he drilled two or three holes near the bottom of the chest, forming a single larger hole. He put the auger away, shook himself, turned into an ant and crawled out. Then he turned back into himself and rode his cloud straight to the palace gates. The king was fast asleep at the time, so Monkey used his Great All powerful Body-dividing Magic.
Plucking all the hairs out of his left arm he blew on them with a magic breath, called “Change!” and turned them into little Monkeys. Then he pulled all the hairs out from his right arm, blew on them with a magic breath, called “Change!” and turned them into sleep-insects. Next he recited the magic word Om and told the local deity of the place to take the little Monkeys to distribute them throughout the palace to all the officials in every office and department of government. Each holder of official rank was given a sleep-insect to ensure that he or she would sleep soundly and not get up. Monkey then took his gold-banded cudgel in his hands, squeezed it, waved it, called, “Change, treasure!” and turned it into over a thousand razors of the sort used for shaving the head. Taking one himself, he told all the little monkeys to take one each and shave the heads of everyone in the inner quarters of the palace and in all the government departments and offices. This was indeed a case of:
When the Dharma king would destroy it the Dharma is infinite;
The Dharma runs through heaven and earth, opening the Great Way.
The origins of ten thousand Dharmas all come down to one;
The features of the Three Vehicles are basically the same.
He bored through the trunk to find out the news,
Distributed his golden hairs to smash delusion,
Determined to bring the Dharma king to the true achievement,
To the eternal emptiness of what is not born and dies not.
That night the head-shaving was completed, so Monkey said another spell to dismiss the local deity, shook himself to bring all the hairs back to his arms, then touched all the razors to turn them back into their true form as the gold-banded cudgel, which he made much smaller and hid in his ear again. Finally he reverted to being an ant, crawled back into the trunk, and went on guarding the Tang Priest in his time of danger.
When the palace ladies in the inner quarters got up to wash and do their hair before dawn the next morning they all found that their hair had gone. The same had happened to all the eunuchs, senior and junior, who moved around the palace. They all crowded to the outside of the royal bedchamber, where they played music to wake the king up, all holding back their tears but not daring to speak. Before long the queen in the palace woke up to find her hair gone too. When she hurried with lanterns to the dragon bed she found a monk sleeping in the brocade quilt, at which she could restrain her tongue no longer, thus awakening the king.
When the king suddenly opened his eyes wide and saw the queen's bald head he got straight out of bed and said, “Why are you like that, my queen?”
“You're the same, Your Majesty,” she replied. The king then rubbed his head, which gave him such a fright that the three souls in his body groaned, and his seven spirits flew off into the air.
“What has happened to me?” he exclaimed.
Just when he was in this panicky state the royal consorts, the palace ladies and the eunuchs young and old all fell to their knees, their heads shaved bald, and said, “Lord, we have all been turned into monks.”
At the sight of them the king wept. “We think this must be because of all the monks we have killed,” he said. He then gave these orders: “None of you are to say anything about the loss of our hair as, if you do, the civil and military officials may slander our country and say that it has been badly governed. Let us now hold court in the throne hall.”
Now all the officials high and low in all the departments and offices of government went to court to pay their respects before dawn. As it turned out, all these men had lost their hair in the night too, and they all submitted memorials reporting the fact. All that could be heard was:
The whip of silence sounding three times at the royal audience;
As all report that their heads have now been shaved.
If you do not know what happened to the booty in the trunk that the commander-in-chief had recaptured and whether the Tang Priest and his three disciples were to live or die, listen to the explanation in the next installment.
The Mind-ape is jealous of the Mother of Wood
The Demon Chief Plots to Devour the Master of Dhyana
The story tells how when the king held his dawn audience the civil and military officials all carried memorials. “Sovereign Lord,” they reported, “we beg you to forgive your servants for their lack of decorum.”
“Gentlemen,” the king replied, “you are all as courteous as ever. What lack of decorum are you showing?”
“Sovereign Lord,” they said, “we do not know why, but all of your servants lost their hair last night.” Holding in his hand these memorials about the lost hair, the king descended from his dragon throne to say to the officials, “Indeed, we do not know why either, but everyone in the palace, young and old, lost their hair last night.”
King and ministers alike all wept as they said, “From now on we will not dare kill any more monks.” The king then returned to his throne and the officials took their places in their proper ranks. The king then said, “Let those with business here come forward from their ranks to report. If there is no other business the curtain may be rolled up and the audience ended.”
The commander-in-chief of the capital's garrison then moved forward from the ranks of military officials and the East city commissioner moved forward from the ranks of the civil officials to kowtow at the steps of the throne and report, “We were patrolling the city on Your Majesty's orders last night when we recaptured a trunk of bandits' booty and a white horse. As we do not dare take unauthorized action over these we beg Your Majesty to issue an edict.” The king was delighted.
“Bring it here, trunk and all,” he ordered.
The two officials then returned to their own offices, mustered a full complement of soldiers and had the trunk carried out. Sanzang, who was inside, felt his soul leaving his body. “Disciples,” he said, “what shall we say in our defense when we reach the king?”
“Shut up,” said Monkey with a grin. “I've fixed everything. When the trunk's opened the king will bow to us as his teachers. The only thing is that Pig mustn't quarrel about precedence.”
“If they don't kill me that'll be heaven,” Pig replied. “What would I want to quarrel about?” Before these words were all out of his mouth they had been carried to the palace entrance and in through the Tower of Five Phoenixes to be set at the foot of the steps to the throne.
On being invited by the two officials to have the trunk opened and look inside the king ordered that this be done. No sooner was the lid lifted than Pig, who could restrain himself no longer, sprang outside, giving all the officials such a fright that they shivered, unable to speak. Next Brother Monkey could be seen helping the Tang Priest out, while Friar Sand lifted the luggage out.
Seeing that the commander-in-chief was holding the white horse, Pig went up to him, made an angry noise and said, “That's my horse. Hand it over!” This so terrified the official that he collapsed head over heels.
The four pilgrims all stood upright in the middle of the steps, and when the king saw that they were monks he came down at once from his dragon throne, sent for his queen and consorts from the inner quarters, descended the steps of the throne hall, bowed to them along with all his officials and asked, “What brings you venerable gentlemen here?”
“I have been sent by His Majesty the Great Tang Emperor to go to the Great Thunder Monastery in India in the West to worship the living Buddha and fetch the true scriptures,” Sanzang replied.
“Venerable Master,” the king said, “you have come from far away. But why did you sleep in this trunk last night?”
“I knew that Your Majesty had sworn a vow to kill Buddhist monks,” Sanzang replied, “which is why I did not dare to visit your illustrious country openly, but disguised myself as a layman to arrive late at night to find lodging in one of your inns. We slept in the trunk because we were afraid that our real identity would be discovered. Unfortunately the trunk was stolen by bandits, then brought back here by the commander-in-chief. Now that I have been able to see Your Majesty's dragon countenance, the clouds have cleared away and the sun has come out. I hope that Your Majesty will pardon and release me, ascetic monk that I am: my gratitude will be as deep as the ocean.”
“Venerable Master,” the king replied, “you are a distinguished monk from our suzerain heavenly dynasty. It was wrong of us not to go out to welcome you. For years we have been fulfilling a vow to kill monks because a monk once maligned us. The vow we made to heaven was to kill ten thousand monks to make up a round number. We never imagined that today we would return to the truth and that we would all be turned into monks. Now all of us, king, officials, queen and consorts, have had our hair shaved off. I beg, Venerable Master, that you will not be grudging with your lofty virtue and will take us as your disciples.”
When Pig heard this he started roaring with laughter: “If you're going to be our disciples what introductory presents have you got for us?”
“If you will accept us as your follower, Master,” the king replied, “we will present you with all the wealth in our kingdom.”
“Don't talk about wealth to us,” said Brother Monkey, “as we're proper monks. As long as you inspect and return our passport and escort us out of the city I can guarantee that your monarchy will last for ever and that you will enjoy a long and happy life.” On hearing this the king ordered his office of foreign relations to arrange a great feast at which monarch and officials together returned to the one truth. The passport was immediately inspected and returned, after which Sanzang was asked to change the name of the country.
“'Dharma' in the name of Your Majesty's country is excellent,” Monkey said, “but the 'destructia' part is nonsense. Now that we've come here you should change the name to 'Dharmarespectia'. This would guarantee
Clear waters and victory for a thousand generations;
Timely winds and rain with universal peace.”
The king thanked them for their gracious kindness, had the royal carriage prepared and escorted the Tang Priest and his three disciples Westwards out of the city.
We will say no more of how monarch and subjects now held to the true faith, but tell how after leaving the king of Dharmarespectia the venerable elder said happily from on his horse, “What excellent magic you used, Wukong. It worked very well.”
“Elder brother,” said Friar Sand, “where did you find so many barbers to shave all those heads in one night?” Monkey then told them all about how he had used his miraculous powers, at which they all laughed so much they could not stop.
Just as they were feeling so cheerful a great mountain came into view, blocking their way. Reining in the horse, the Tang Priest said, “Disciples, see how high that mountain is. You must be very careful.”
“Don't worry,” said Monkey with a grin, “don't worry. I promise you nothing will go wrong.”
“Don't say that,” Sanzang replied. “I can see those jutting peaks, and even from a distance it looks rather sinister. Storm clouds are streaming from it, and I am beginning to feel frightened. My whole body is turning numb and my spirits are disturbed.”
“You have already forgotten the Heart Sutra that the Rook's Nest Hermit taught you,” said Brother Monkey.
“I can still remember it,” Sanzang said.
“Even if you can still remember that,” said Monkey, “there is a quatrain that you've forgotten.”
“What quatrain?” Sanzang asked, to which Monkey replied,
“Do not go far to seek the Buddha on Vulture Peak;
Vulture Peak is in your heart.
Everybody has a Vulture Peak stupa
Under which to cultivate conduct.”
“Of course I know it, disciple,” said Sanzang. “According to that quatrain the thousands of scriptures all come down to cultivating the heart.”
“Goes without saying,” Monkey replied.
“When the heart is purified it can shine alone;
When the heart is preserved all perceptions are pure.
If there is any mistake then laziness follows,
And success will not come in a myriad years.
As long as your will is sincere Thunder Peak is before your eyes.
But if you're as scared, frightened and disturbed as this the Great Way is distant, and Thunder Peak is far, far away. Forget those wild fears and come with me.” When the venerable elder heard this his spirits were revived and his worries disappeared.
The four of them had only gone a few more steps when they reached the mountain. When they raised their eyes this was what they saw:
A fine mountain,
Dappled with many colours.
White clouds drifted around the peak,
And cool were the shadows of the trees in front of the cliff.
The birds rustled in the leaves,
The beasts were ferocious.
Among the woods were a thousand pines,
On the ridge a few bamboos.
Howls came from gray wolves seizing their prey,
And roars from hungry tigers fighting over food.
Long screamed the wild apes searching for fruit;
The David's-deer climbed through blossoms into mists of green.
The wind was blowing,
The waters babbled,
And hidden birds sang in the deserted pass.
Here and there wisteria was climbing
While rare flowers bloomed by the stream amid orchids.
Intricately shaped and strange were the rocks,
And sheer rose the crags.
Foxes and raccoon-dogs ran in packs;
Badgers and apes were playing in groups.
The travelers were worried by so high and steep a mountain:
Why was the ancient track so twisted?
While master and disciples were moving timidly ahead they heard the howling of a wind. “There's a wind,” said Sanzang in fear.
“In the spring there are mild winds,” Monkey replied, “in the summer hot ones, in the autumn golden ones and in the winter North winds. There are winds in all four seasons. What's so frightening about a wind?”
“This wind is blowing very hard,” Sanzang replied. “It is definitely not a wind from heaven.”
“But winds always come from the earth and clouds from mountains,” Monkey replied, “so how could there be a wind from heaven?” Before he had finished speaking a mist arose. That mist really was
Darkness joining up with the sky,
Obscurity making the whole earth dim.
The sun had completely vanished from sight
And no bird sang.
All was as indistinct as primal chaos,
And the air seemed filled with flying dust.
The trees on the mountain could not be seen
Where had the herb-gatherers gone?
“Wukong,” said Sanzang in fright, “why is there this mist when the wind is still blowing?”
“Don't get upset,” Monkey replied. “Get off your horse, Master. I'll go and see whether or not it's sinister while you two keep guard, brothers.”
The splendid Great Sage needed only to bow in order to be in mid-air. Holding his hand to his brow for shade, he opened his fiery eyes wide and looked down to see an evil spirit sitting at the foot of a beetling scar. Just look and see what he was like:
A mighty body full of charm,
A heroic manner of great vigor.
The fangs protruding from his mouth were drills of steel;
His nose hung like a jade hook in the middle.
His golden eyes with pupils round gave animals a fright;
Demons and gods were scared of his bristling silver whiskers.
He sat upright by the cliff in terrible might,
Making the mist and wind as he hatched his plot.
On either side of him some thirty or forty junior demons could be seen, all drawn up in line and blowing out mist and wind for all they were worth. Monkey grinned at this and thought, “So my master is clairvoyant. He said it wasn't a heavenly wind, and it was in fact caused by this evil spirit trying to fool us. Now if I went straight down and hit him with what they call a 'garlicsmasher' that'd kill him sure enough, but it would ruin my reputation.” Monkey had been a true hero all his life and was quite incapable of playing a dirty trick like that.
“I'd better go back and give Pig some attention. I'll ask him to hit the evil spirit first. If Pig's good enough to kill the evil spirit we'll be in luck. If he isn't and the evil spirit captures him I can come back to rescue him and win myself a bit of fame. He's always putting on such an act and being so lazy-he won't make an effort. Still, he is very greedy and partial to a good feed. I think I'll try a trick on him and see how that works.”
At once he brought his cloud down to land in front of Sanzang, who asked, “Are the wind and the mist sinister or not?”
“It's clear now,” Monkey replied. “They've gone.”
“Yes,” said Sanzang, “they have eased off a little.”
“Master,” said Monkey with a smile, “my eyesight is very good usually, but this time I was wrong. I thought there'd probably be a monster behind that wind and mist but there wasn't.”
“What caused them then?” Sanzang asked.
“There's a village not far ahead,” Monkey replied, “where the people are so pious that they're steaming white rice and white breadrolls to feed monks with. I think that the mist must have been steam escaping from their steamers. It was the result of their goodness.”
When Pig heard this he thought Monkey was telling the truth, so he grabbed hold of him and whispered, “Did you eat their food before you came back?”
“Only a bit,” Monkey replied. “The vegetable dishes were too salty-I didn't want to eat too much.”
“Screw that,” said Pig. “I'd eat my fill of it however salty it was. If it made me really thirsty I'd come back for a drink of water.”
“Would you like some?” Monkey asked.
“Sure thing,” Pig replied. “I'm hungry and I'd like some now. What do you think?”
“You mustn't even talk about it,” said Monkey. “As the ancient book says, 'When the father is present the son must do nothing on his own account.' Our master, who's as good as a father to you, is here, so none of us should dare go ahead.”
“If you'll say nothing about it, I'm going,” replied Pig with a grin.
“Let's see how you do it,” Monkey replied. “I'll say nothing.” When it came to eating the idiot knew a thing or two.
He went up to his master, made a loud “na-a-aw” of respect, and said, “Master, elder brother has just told me that there are people in a village ahead of us who feed monks. Just look at that horse. It looks as though it's going to start playing it up. We'll be causing a lot of trouble if we have to ask for grass and other fodder for it. Luckily the wind and the clouds have gone now, so why don't you all sit here for a while while I fetch some tender grass? We can go and beg for food from that house when we've fed the horse.”
“Splendid,” said the Tang Priest with delight. “I wondered why you've become so hardworking today. Be as quick as you can.”
Smiling secretly to himself the idiot started out. “Brother,” said Monkey, catching up and grabbing hold of him, “they feed monks all right, but only good-looking ones.”
“In that case I'll have to change again,” said Pig.
“Yes,” said Brother Monkey, “you change.”
The splendid idiot, who could perform thirty-six transformations, went into a hollow on the mountainside, made a spell with his hands, said the magic words, shook himself and turned himself into a short, skinny monk, beating a wooden fish-shaped dram with his hand and mumbling, “Oh great one, oh great one,” because he knew no scriptures to recite.
After putting away the wind and the mist the evil spirit ordered all his devils to form a circle round the main road, ready for any travelers. The idiot's luck was out, and he was soon inside the trap and surrounded by the devils, who grabbed at his clothes and his silken sash as they all crowded in on him together.
“Don't pull,” Pig said. “You can let me eat in all your houses in turn.”
“What do you want to eat, monk?” the devils asked. “You feed monks here,” Pig replied, “and I've come to be fed.”
“So you're hoping to be fed, are you, monk?” said the demons. “You don't seem to realize that what we like doing best here is eating monks. We're all evil immortals who've found the Way here in the mountains, and the only thing we want to do is to catch you monks, take you home with us, pop you in the steamer till you're tender and eat you. And you're still hoping for a vegetarian meal!”
At this Pig's heart was filled with terror, and he started complaining about Monkey. “That Protector of the Horses is a crook. He lied to me about them feeding monks in this village. There aren't any villagers here and there's nobody who feeds monks. They're all evil spirits.” The idiot was being tugged at so hard that he turned back into himself, pulled the rake out from his belt and struck out wildly, driving all the junior devils back.
They rushed back to report to the senior demon, “Disaster, Your Majesty.”
“What disaster?” the senior demon asked.
“A neat-looking monk came along in front of the mountain,” they replied, “so we decided to catch him and steam him. We were going to keep what we couldn't eat now for a bad day. Then to our astonishment he transformed himself.”
“What did he turn himself into?” the senior demon asked.
“Not into anything human,” they replied. “He's got a long snout, big ears, and a bristly mane on his back. He lashed out furiously at us with a rake that he used two-handed. He gave us such a terrible fright that we've run straight back to report to Your Majesty.”
“Don't be afraid,” the senior demon said. “Let me go and have a look.” Swinging his iron mace he went up for a closer look and saw that the idiot really was hideous. This is what he looked like:
A snout like a husking hammer over three feet long;
Tusks like silver nails protruding from his mouth.
Two round eyes that flashed like lightning;
A pair of ears that made a howling wind when they flapped.
The bristles behind his head were rows of iron arrows;
All of his hide was rough and green and scabby.
In his hands he held an amazing object:
A nine-toothed rake of which everyone was afraid.
Summoning up his courage, the evil spirit shouted, “Where are you from? What's your name? Tell me at once and I'll spare your life.”
To this Pig replied with a laugh, “So you can't recognize your own ancestor Pig either, my boy. Come closer and I'll tell you:
For my huge mouth and tusks and mighty powers
I was made Marshal Tian Peng by the Jade Emperor,
Commanding eighty thousand marines on the River of Heaven,
And happy amid all the joys of the heavenly palace.
Because when drunk I fluted with a palace lady
I decided to play the hero for a while.
One butt from my snout destroyed the Dipper and Bull Palace;
I ate the magic mushrooms of the Queen Mother of the West.
The Jade Emperor himself gave me two thousand hammer-blows,
Made me an exile from the world of Heaven.
This made me determined to nourish my spirit,
And become an evil monster in the lower world.
Just when I had made a good marriage in Gao Village
Fate brought me up against my brother Monkey.
He subdued me with his gold-banded cudgel;
I was forced to bow my head and enter the Buddhist faith.
I do the heavy work, saddle the horse and carry luggage:
I must have been the Tang Priest's debtor in an earlier life.
As the iron-footed Marshal Tian Peng my surname was Zhu;
My name as a Buddhist is Zhu Bajie.”
When the evil spirit heard this he shouted, “So you're the Tang Priest's disciple. I've long heard that his flesh is very tasty. You're one of the people I most want to catch. I'm not going to spare you now you've fallen into my clutches. Stay where you are, and take this from my mace.”
“Evil beast,” Pig replied. “You must have been a dyer before.”
“What do you mean, I must have been a dyer?” the evil spirit asked.
“If you weren't a dyer, how come you know how to use a pestle?” Pig retorted, and with no further argument the monster was upon him, striking furiously. They fought a fine battle in the mountain hollow:
A nine-toothed rake,
An iron mace.
As the rake went through its movements they were like a howling gale;
The mace's skilful blows came as thick and fast as rain.
One was an unknown ogre blocking the mountain road;
The other was the offending Tian Peng now guarding his true nature's master.
When one's nature is right monsters cause no fear;
When the mountain is high earth cannot come from metal.
One fought with his mace like a python from a pool;
The other's rake was like a dragon from the waters.
Their angry shouts shook mountains and rivers;
Their mighty roars caused terror down in hell.
Each of the heroes displayed his prowess,
Staking his life on his magical powers.
We will say no more of how Pig set a mighty wind blowing as he fought the evil spirit, who ordered his junior devils to keep Pig surrounded. Instead the story tells how Brother Monkey suddenly gave a bitter laugh behind the Tang Priest's back.
“Why are you laughing like that, elder brother?” Friar Sand asked.
“Pig really is an idiot,” Monkey replied. “As soon as he heard that they feed monks there he fell for my trick. He's been away a long time now. If he'd beaten the evil spirit with a single blow of his rake you'd have seen him coming back in triumph by now, loudly insisting on his great victory. But if the demon's been too much for him and captured him my luck's out. Goodness only knows how often he'll have cursed the Protector of the Horses behind my back. Say nothing while I go to take a look around, Wujing.”
With that the splendid Great Sage, who did not want the venerable elder to know what was happening, quietly pulled a hair out of the back of his head, blew on it with magic breath, said “Change!” and turned it into his own double to stay with the master together with Friar Sand. Then his real self disappeared as he leapt up into the air to look around. He saw the idiot lashing out wildly with his rake at the devils who were surrounding him and gradually getting the better of him.
This was more than Monkey could bear. Bringing his cloud down to land, he shouted at the top of his voice, “Take it easy, Pig. Monkey's here.” Recognizing that it was Monkey's voice gave the idiot a chance to be more ferocious than ever as he hit wildly forward with his rake. The evil spirit was no match for him.
“You weren't up to much before, monk,” he said, “so how come you're so fierce now?”
“You'd better stop bullying me now, my lad,” Pig replied. “I've got one of my people here now.” A moment later he was swinging wildly again with the rake. The evil spirit, unable to stave off the blows, led his devils away in defeat. As soon as Monkey saw that the devils had been beaten he drew no closer but went straight back on his cloud, shook the hair and put it back on his body. With his mortal, fleshly eyes the Tang Priest noticed nothing of this.
Before long a triumphant Pig returned too, so exhausted that his nose was dripping with snot as he foamed at the mouth and was panting loudly. “Master!” he called.
When the Tang Priest saw him he exclaimed in astonishment, “Pig, you went to fetch some grass for the horse. Why have you come back in so terrible a state? Were there watchmen on the mountain who wouldn't let you cut any?”
The idiot flung his rake down, beat his chest and stamped his feet as he replied, “Don't ask me about it, Master. If I had to tell you I'd die of shame.”
“What would you be so ashamed of?” Sanzang asked.
“Elder brother tricked me,” Pig replied. “He told me that it wasn't an evil spirit behind that wind and mist. He said there was nothing sinister about it, but that it was from a village where the people were so pious that they were steaming white rice and breadrolls made with white flour to feed monks with. I believed him. As I was so hungry I thought I'd go ahead to beg for some. Fetching grass for the horse was only an excuse. I never expected to be surrounded by a crowd of evil spirits. They gave me a hard fight, and if Monkey hadn't helped me out with his mourner's staff I'd have had no hope of escaping and getting back here.”
'The idiot's talking nonsense,” said Monkey, who was standing beside them, with a smile. “If you've taken to robbery you're trying to get a whole gaolful of people into trouble. I've been looking after the master here. I've never left his side.”
“It is true,” Sanzang said, “Wukong has never left my side.”
The idiot then sprang up shouting, “You don't understand, Master. He's got a double.”
“Is there really a monster there, Wukong?” Sanzang asked. Monkey could keep his deception up no longer.
“There are a few little devils,” Monkey replied with a bow and a smile, “but they won't dare give us any trouble. Come here, Pig. I'm going to look after you. We're going to escort the master along this steep mountain path as if we were an army on the march.”
“How?” Pig asked.
“You'll be the commander of the vanguard,” Monkey replied, “going in front and clearing the way. If the evil spirit doesn't show up again that will be that; but if he does, you fight him. When you beat the evil spirit that'll be something to your credit.”
Reckoning that the evil spirit's powers were much the same as his own, Pig said, “Very well then. I'm ready to die at his hands. I'll take the lead.”
“Idiot,” said Monkey, “if you start by saying such unlucky things you'll never get anywhere.”
“As you know, brother,” Pig replied,
“When a gentleman goes to a banquet
He gets either drunk or well filled;
When a hero goes into a battle
He gets either wounded or killed.
By saying something unlucky first I'll make myself stronger later.” This delighted Monkey, who saddled the horse and invited the master to ride while Friar Sand carried the luggage as they all followed Pig into the mountains.
The evil spirit meanwhile led a few of his underlings who had survived the rout straight back to his cave, where he sat brooding in silence high up above a rocky precipice. Many of the junior devils who looked after things in his household came up to him and asked, “Why are you so miserable today, Your Majesty? You're usually in-such high spirits when you come back.”
“Little ones,” said the demon king, “usually when I go out to patrol the mountains I can be sure of bringing home a few people or animals I've caught to feed you with. Today my luck was out: I've met my match.”
“Who?” the junior devils asked.
“A monk,” the demon king replied, “a disciple of the Tang Priest from the East who's going to fetch the scriptures. He's called Zhu Bajie. He went for me so hard with his rake that he beat me. I had to run away. I'm thoroughly fed up. For ages now I've heard it said that the Tang Priest is an arhat who has cultivated his conduct for ten successive lifetimes. Anyone who eats a piece of his flesh will live for ever. To my surprise he's come to my mountain today, and it would have been an ideal time to catch him, cook him and eat him. I never realized he'd have a disciple like that one.”
Before he had finished saying this a junior devil slipped forward from the ranks. First he gave three sobs in front of the demon king, then three laughs.
“Why sob then laugh?” shouted the demon king.
The junior devil fell to his knees as he replied, “Because Your Majesty just said that you wanted to eat the Tang Priest. His flesh isn't worth eating.”
“But everyone says that a piece of his flesh will make you live as long as the heavens,” said the demon king. “How can you say that it's not worth eating?”
“If he were so good to eat,” the junior devil replied, “he'd never have got this far. Other demons would have eaten him up. And he's got three disciples with him.”
“Do you know who?” the demon king asked.
“The senior disciple is Sun the Novice,” said the junior devil, “and the third disciple is Friar Sand. The one you met must have been his second disciple Zhu Bajie.”
“How does Friar Sand compare with Zhu Bajie?” asked the demon king.
“He's much the same,” the junior devil said,
“What about Sun the Novice?” the demon king asked, at which the junior devil thrust out his tongue in horror and replied, “I daren't tell you. That Monkey has tremendous magic powers and can do all sorts of transformations. Five hundred years ago he made terrible havoc in heaven. None of the heavenly warriors dared give him any trouble, from the Twenty-eight Constellations, the Star Lords of the Nine Bright Shiners, the Gods of the Twelve Branches, the Five Officers and the Four Ministers, the East and West Dippers and the Gods of the North and the South, to the Five Peaks and the Four Rivers. How can you have the nerve to want to eat the Tang Priest?”
“How do you know so much about him?” the demon king asked.
“I used to live in the Lion Cave of the demon king on Lion Ridge,” the junior devil replied. “He was reckless enough to want to eat the Tang Priest, and that Sun the Novice smashed his way in through the gates with his gold-banded cudgel. It was terrible. They were wiped out. Luckily I had enough sense to escape by the back door and come here, where Your Majesty allowed me to stay. That's how I know about his powers.”
The senior demon turned pale with shock when he heard this: it was a case of the commander-in-chief being afraid of the soothsayer's words. How could he help being alarmed when he heard all this from one of his own people? Just when they were all feeling terrified another junior devil stepped forward and said, “Don't be so upset and afraid, Your Majesty. As the saying goes, easy does it. If you want to catch the Tang Priest let me make you a plan to capture him.”
“What plan?” the senior demon asked.
“I have a plan to 'divide the petals of the plum blossom.'”
“What do you mean by 'dividing the petals of the plum blossom?'“ the demon king asked.
“Call the roll of all the devils in the cave,” the junior devil replied. “Choose the best hundred from all thousand of them, then the best ten out of that hundred, and finally the best three out of the ten. They must be capable and good at transformations. Have them all turn into Your Majesty's doubles, wear Your Majesty's helmet and armor, carry Your Majesty's mace, and lie in wait in three different places. First send one out to fight Zhu Bajie, then one to fight Sun the Novice and finally one to fight Friar Sand. This way you'll only have to spare three junior devils to draw the three disciples away. Then Your Majesty will be able to stretch down from mid-air with your cloud-grabbing hand to catch the Tang Priest. He'll be in the bag. It'll be as easy as catching flies in a dish of fish juice. Nothing to it.”
This suggestion delighted the demon king, who said, “What a brilliant plan, brilliant! If I don't catch the Tang Priest this way, that'll be that. But if I do I can assure you you'll be richly rewarded. I'll make you commander of the vanguard.” The junior devil kowtowed to thank him for his grace and went off to call the roll of the devils. After all the monsters in the cave had been carefully checked through, three capable junior devils were selected. They turned into the senior devil's doubles and went to lie in wait for the Tang Priest with their iron maces.
The venerable Tang elder meanwhile was following Pig along the way without a care in the world. When they had been going for some time there was a crashing sound from beside the track and out leapt a junior devil who rushed straight at them, evidently to grab Sanzang. “The evil spirit's here, Pig,” Monkey shouted. “Get him!”
The idiot, who was taken in by the imposture, hacked wildly at the devil with his rake. The evil spirit parried Pig's blows with his mace as he met the onslaught. While the battle between the pair of them ebbed and flowed on the mountainside there was a noise in the undergrowth as another monster sprang out and charged at the Tang Priest.
“This is bad, Master,” said Monkey. “Pig can't see straight. He's let the monster escape to catch you. I'm going to fight him.” Pulling his cudgel out in a flash, he went up to the monster, shouting, “Where d'you think you're going? Take this!”
Without saying a word the evil spirit raised his mace to meet the attack. But while the two of them were locked in combat, swinging at each other, there was a howling wind from the other side of the mountain and a third evil spirit sprang out who also rushed straight at the Tang Priest. When Friar Sand saw it he exclaimed in alarm, “Master, big brother and second brother both can't see straight. They've let the evil spirit get away to catch you. Stay on the horse while I get him.”
Friar Sand was taken in too. Brandishing his staff he blocked the evil spirit's iron mace and started a bitter combat. It was a wild fight with shouts and awful yells, and they drew further and further away. When the demon king saw from up in the sky that the Tang Priest was alone on the horse he reached down with his five-clawed steel hook and seized him. The master lost horse and stirrups as the evil spirit carried him off in a gust of wind. Alas! This was a case of
When the dhyana-nature encountered a monster the true achievement was hard;
The monk of the river current met once more with a star of disaster.
Bringing his wind down to land, the demon king took the Tang Priest into the cave and called, “Commander of the vanguard!”
The junior devil who had made the plan came forward, knelt and said, “I am not worthy.”
“How can you say that?” the demon king replied. “Once the commander-in-chief has spoken, white becomes black. What I said before was that if I failed to catch the Tang Priest, that would be that; but that if I succeeded I'd make you my commander of the vanguard. Your brilliant plan has succeeded today, so there is no reason why I should break faith with you. Bring the Tang Priest here and tell the underlings to fetch water, scrub the cooking pot, fetch some firewood and light the fire. When he's been steamed you and I will each have a piece of his flesh and live for ever.”
“Your Majesty,” the commander of the vanguard replied, “he mustn't be eaten yet.”
“Why ever not?” the demon king asked. “We've captured him.”
“It wouldn't matter if you ate him, Your Majesty,” said the commander of the vanguard, “as far as Zhu Bajie and Friar Sand are concerned. They would be reasonable. But I'm worried about that Sun the Novice: he'd be really vicious. If he found out we'd eaten the Tang Priest he wouldn't come to give us a straight fight. He'd just thrust that gold-banded cudgel of his into the mountainside and make a hole so big that the whole mountain would collapse. We'd be homeless.”
“What do you suggest, commander of the vanguard?” the demon king asked.
“In my opinion,” the commander replied, “we should send the Tang Priest out to the back garden, tie him to a tree, and starve him for two or three days. That will clean him up inside and let us make sure that the three disciples don't come here looking for him. Once we've found out that they've gone home we can bring the Tang Priest out and enjoy him at our leisure. That'd be better, wouldn't it?”
“Yes, yes,” the senior demon said with a laugh. “You're right, commander of the vanguard.”
An order was issued and the Tang Priest taken into the back garden to be roped to a tree, while all the junior devils went out to the front to keep watch. Look at the venerable elder as he suffers in his bonds, tied up tightly and unable to stop the tears rolling down his cheeks.
“Disciples,” he called, “where did you chase those demons to when you went to capture them in the mountains? I have been captured by a wicked ogre and have met with disaster. When will I ever see you again? The pain is killing me.”
Just when the tears from both eyes were joining in a single stream he heard someone calling from a tree opposite, “Venerable elder, you're here too.”
Taking control of himself, the Tang Priest asked, “Who are you?”
“I'm a woodcutter who lives on this mountain,” the other replied. “I've been tied up here for three days. I reckon they're going to eat me.”
“Woodcutter,” said the Tang Priest with tears in his eyes, “If you die it will only be you. You have nothing else to worry about. But if I die it won't be a clean end.”
“What do you mean, it won't be a clean end, venerable elder?” the woodcutter asked. “You have no parents, wife or children, so if you die that'll be that.”
“I am from the East,” the Tang Priest replied, “and was going to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. I was going on the orders of Emperor Taizong of the Tang to worship the living Buddha and fetch the true scriptures. This was to save all the lonely souls in the underworld who have nobody to care for them. If I lose my life today the vain waiting will kill my sovereign and I will let down his ministers. Countless wronged souls in the City of the Unjustly Slain will suffer a terrible disappointment and never ever be able to escape from the wheel of life. The true achievement will all be turned to dust in the wind. How can that possibly be considered a clean end?”
When the woodcutter heard this the tears fell from his eyes as he said, “If you die that is all there to it. But my death will be even more painful for me to bear. I lost my father when I was a boy, and live alone with my mother. Because we had no property I have had to make our living as a woodcutter. My aged mother is eighty-two this year and I am her only support. If I die who will there be to bury her? It's very hard to bear: the pain of it is killing me.”
When the venerable elder heard this he began to wail aloud, “Oh dear, oh dear,
Even the mountain man thinks of his mother;
I am reciting the sutras in vain.
Serving one's monarch and serving one's parents are both the same in principle. You are moved by your mother's goodness to you and I by my sovereign lord's goodness to me.” This was indeed a case of
Weeping eyes looking at eyes that weep,
A heartbroken one who sees off one with a broken heart.
But we will say no more of Sanzang's sufferings as we return to Monkey, who after driving the junior devil back down the grassy slope rushed back to the track to find that his master had disappeared. All that was left were the white horse and the luggage. In his alarm he led the horse and shouldered the carrying-pole as he headed for the top of the mountain in his search for the master. Oh dear! Indeed:
The long-suffering monk of the river current had met with new suffering;
The Great Sage, subduer of demons, had run into a demon.
If you do not know how his search for his master ended, listen to the explanation in the next installment.
The Mother of Wood Lends His Might in Defeating the Ogre
The Metal Lord Uses His Magic to Wipe Out the Monster
The story tells how the Great Sage Monkey was leading the horse and carrying the baggage while he searched the whole mountain top, calling out for his master. Suddenly Pig came running up to him, puffing and panting, to ask, “Why are you shouting like that, brother?”
“The master's disappeared,” Brother Monkey replied. “Have you seen him?”
“Why did you have to play that trick on me when I was being a good monk with the Tang Priest?” Pig asked. “What was all that about me being commander of the vanguard? I had to fight for my life before I could beat that evil spirit and come back in one piece. You and Friar Sand were looking after the master, so why ask me about it?”
“I don't blame you, brother,” said Monkey. “Somehow or other your eyes must have gone blurred-you let the evil spirit get away and come back to catch the master again. When I went off to fight it I told Friar Sand to look after the master, and he's disappeared too.”
“I expect he's taken the master somewhere for a crap,” said Pig with a grin, but before he had finished speaking Friar Sand turned up.
“Where's the master, Friar Sand?” Monkey asked.
“You two must both be blind,” retorted Friar Sand, “letting the evil spirit escape to come back for the master. When I went to fight the evil spirit the master was left in the horse by himself.”
At this Monkey leapt with rage, shouting, “He's fooled me! He's fooled me!”
“How's he fooled you?” Friar Sand asked.
“It was a 'dividing the petals of the plum blossom' trick,” Monkey replied, “to draw us three off so that he could make a blow for the heart and carry off the master. Whatever in the name of Heaven are we to do?”
He could not stop the tears from streaming down his cheeks, at which Pig said, “Don't cry. If you cry you're a pustule. He can't be far away. He must be on this mountain. Let's look for him.” The three of them had no better plan than to look for him on the mountain. When they had covered some six or seven miles they saw a cave palace at the foot of a beetling precipice:
Clean-cut pinnacles blocking the light,
Towering and grotesque-shaped rocks.
The fragrance of rate and wonderful flowers,
The beauty of red apricots and green peaches.
The ancient trees in front of the precipice,
Forty spans round, and with bark scarred by frost and rain;
The azure pines standing outside the gates,
Two thousand feet of green blue reaching up to the sky.
Pairs of wild cranes
That dance in the breeze at the mouth of the cave;
Mountain birds in couples
Chirping by day at the ends of the branches.
Clumps of yellow creepers like ropes,
Rows of misty willows with leaves like hanging gold.
Water fills the pools that are square;
All over the mountain are caves that are deep.
In the pools that are square
Dragons lie hidden with scales unchanged.
In the mountain's deep caves
Dwell ogres that long have been eaters of humans.
This can be matched with the lands of immortals,
A den where the winds and the vapors are stored.
When Monkey saw this he took two or three paces forward, sprang towards the gates and saw that they were shut tight. Above them was a horizontal stone tablet on which was written in large letters
LINKED RING CAVE:
HIDDEN MISTS MOUNTAIN.
“Strike, Pig,” said Monkey. “This is where the evil spirit lives. The master must be here.”
At this the idiot turned vicious, raised his rake, and brought it down on the gates with all his strength, smashing a big hole in them and shouting, “Ogre, send my master out at once if you don't want me to smash your gates down and finish the lot of you off.” At this the junior devils on the gates rushed back inside to report, “Disaster, Your Majesty.”
“What disaster?” the senior demon asked.
“Someone's smashed a hole in the front gates and is yelling that he wants his master,” the junior devils replied.
“I wonder which one's come looking for him,” said the demon king in a state of great alarm.
“Don't be frightened,” said the commander of the vanguard. “Let me go out and take a look.” He hurried straight to the front gates, twisted his head to one side and craned to look through the hole that had been smashed in them. He saw someone with a long snout and big ears.
“Don't worry, Your Majesty,” he turned round and shouted at the top of his voice, “it's Zhu Bajie. He's not up to much and he won't dare try any nonsense on us. If he does we can open the gates and drag him inside to put in the steamer too. The only one to worry about is that hairy-cheeked monk with a face like a thunder god.”
“Brother,” said Pig when he heard this from outside, “he's not scared of me but he is of you. The master's definitely inside. Come here quick.”
“Evil damned beast,” said Monkey abusively. “Your grandfather Monkey is here. Send my master out and I'll spare your life.”
“This is terrible, Your Majesty,” the commander of the vanguard reported. “Sun the Novice is here looking for him too.” At this the demon king started complaining, “It's all because of your 'petal-dividing' or whatever you called it. You've brought disaster on us. How is this going to end?”
“Don't worry, Your Majesty,” the commander of the vanguard replied, “and don't start grumbling yet. That Sun the Novice is a monkey of great breadth of spirit. Although he has such tremendous magical power he's partial to flattery. We'll take an imitation human head out to fool him with, say a few flattering things to him and tell him we've eaten his master already. If we can take him in, the Tang Priest will be ours to enjoy. If we can't we'll have to think again.”
“But where are we to get an imitation human head?” the demon king asked.
“I'll see if I can make one,” the commander of the vanguard replied.
The splendid ogre then cut a piece of willow root with an axe of pure steel into the shape of a human head, spurted some human blood on it from his mouth to make it all sticky, and told a junior devil to take it to the gates on a lacquer tray, calling, “My Lord Great Sage, please overcome your anger and allow me to address you.”
Brother Monkey really was partial to being flattered, and when he heard himself being addressed as “My Lord Great Sage” he grabbed hold of Pig and said, “Don't hit him. Let's hear what he has to say.”
To this the junior devil with the tray replied, “When my king took your master into the cave the junior devils were naughty and behaved very badly. They gobbled and gnawed and grabbed and bit, and ate the whole of your master up except his head, which I have here.”
“If you've eaten him up, that's that,” Monkey replied. “Bring the head out and let me see whether it's real or false.” The junior devil threw the head out through the hole in the gates, a sight that started Pig howling and saying, “This is terrible. The master went in looking one way and he's come out looking like this.”
“Idiot,” said Monkey, “have a look and find out if it's real before you start crying.”
“You're shameless,” said Pig, “how could there ever be such a thing as a fake human head?”
'This one's a fake,” Brother Monkey replied.
“How can you tell?” Pig asked. “When you throw a real human head it lands quietly,” Monkey explained, “but when you throw a fake it makes a loud noise like a pair of wooden clappers. If you don't believe me, I'll throw it for you. Listen!” He picked the head up and threw it against a rock, where it gave a hollow ring.
“It was loud, brother,” said Friar Sand.
“That means it's a fake,” said Monkey. “I'll make it turn back into its real self to show you.” Producing his gold-banded cudgel in a flash he hit the head open. When Pig looked he saw that it was a piece of willow root. This was too much for the idiot, who started talking abusively.
“I'll get you, you hairy lot,” he said, “you may have hidden my master in your cave and fooled your ancestor Pig with a piece of willow root, but don't imagine that my master is just a willow-tree spirit in disguise.”
The junior devil who was holding the tray was thrown into such a panic by this that he ran shaking with fear back to report, “It's terrible, terrible, terrible.”
“What's so terribly terrible then?' the senior demon asked.
“Zhu Bajie and Friar Sand were taken in, but Monkey's like an antique dealer-he really knows his stuff,” the junior demon replied. “He could tell it was an imitation head. If only we could give him a real human head he might go away.”
“But how are we to get one?” the senior demon wondered, then continued, “Fetch a human head we haven't eaten yet from the flaying shed.” The devils then went to the shed and choose a fresh head, after which they gnawed all the skin off it till it was quite smooth and carried it out on a tray.
“My lord Great Sage,” the messenger said, “I am afraid it was a fake head last time. But this really is Lord Tang's head. Our king had kept it so as to bring good fortune to our cave, but now he's making a special offering of it.” He then threw the head out through the hole in the gates, it landed with a thud and rolled on the ground, gory with blood.
Seeing that this human head was a real one Monkey could not help starting to wail, in which he was joined by Pig and Friar Sand.
“Stop crying, brother,” said Pig, holding back his tears. “This is very hot weather, and the head will soon become putrid. I'm going to fetch and bury it while it's still fresh. We can cry for him afterwards.”
“You're right,” said Monkey, and the idiot cradled the head against his chest, not caring about the filth, as he hurried up the cliff till he found a South-facing spot where the winds and the natural forces were gathered. Here he hacked out a hole with his rake, buried the head, and piled a grave-mound over it. Only then did he say to Friar Sand, “You and big brother weep over him while I look for some offerings.”
Going down to the side of a gill, he broke off some willow branches and gathered a few pebbles. Taking them back up to the tomb, he planted the willow branches on either side and piled the pebbles in front of it. “What's all that about?” Monkey asked.
“The willow branches are used instead of cypresses to shade the master's tomb for the time being,” Pig answered, “and the pebbles are offerings to him instead of cakes.”
“Cretin!” Monkey shouted. “He's already dead. What do you want to go offering him stones for?”
“Just to show what the living feel,” Pig replied, “and out of mourning and respect.”
“You'd better cut that nonsense out,” Monkey replied. “Tell Friar Sand to come here. He can guard the tomb and keep an eye on the horse and the luggage while we two go and smash the cave palace up, capture the monster and break his body into ten thousand bits. Then we'll have avenged the master.”
“You're absolutely right, big brother,” said Friar Sand through his tears. “You two be careful. I'll keep watch here.”
The splendid Pig then took off his black brocade tunic, tied his undershirt tightly, picked up his rake and followed Monkey. The two of them rushed straight for the stone gates, and with no more ado they smashed them down and shouted with a yell that made the heavens shake, “Give us our Tang Priest back alive!” This sent the souls flying from all the devils old and young in the cave, who complained that the commander of the vanguard had wronged them. “How are we going to deal with these monks now they've fought their way in through the gates?” the demon king asked.
“The ancients used to say,” the commander of the vanguard replied, “'Put your hand in a basket of fish and it's bound to stink.' Now we're in this we've got to see it through. We'll just have to take our troops into battle with these monks.” When the demon heard this he had no alternative but to issue the order, “Stand together, my little ones. Bring your best weapons with you and come with me.” They then charged out through the entrance of the cave with a great war cry.
The Great Sage and Pig quickly fell back a few paces before they held the devilish onslaught on a piece of flat ground on the mountainside, shouting, “Who's your best-known boss? Who's the ogre who captured our master?”
The devils had now palisaded their position, over which a multicolored embroidered flag flew, and the demon king shouted straight back as he held the iron mace, “Damned monks! Don't you know who I am? I'm the Great King of the Southern Mountains, and I've been running wild here for hundreds of years. I've eaten your Tang Priest up. What are you going to do about it?”
“You've got a nerve, you hairy beast,” retorted Monkey abusively. “How old are you, daring to call yourself after the Southern Mountains? Lord Lao Zi was the ancestor who opened up heaven and earth, but even he sits on the right of the Supreme Pure One. The Tathagata Buddha is the Honoured One who rules the world, and he sits below the Great Roc. Confucius the Sage is the Honoured One of the Confucian School, and all he's called is Master. So how dare you call yourself Great King of the Southern Mountains and talk about running wild for several hundred years? Don't move, and take this from your grandfather's cudgel!”
The evil spirit twisted aside to avoid the cudgel, which he parried with his iron mace. “How dare you try to put me down like that, monkey-face,” said the monster, glaring furiously. “What kind of powers have you got, acting like a maniac at my gates.”
“I'll get you, you nameless beast,” replied Brother Monkey with a grin. “You evidently don't know who I am, so just stand there and make yourself brave while I tell you:
My ancestral home is in the Eastern Continent,
Where heaven and earth nourished me for thousands of years.
On the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit was a magic stone egg;
When the egg broke open my roots were inside.
My birth was not like that of an ordinary being:
My body was formed when sun and moon mated.
1 cultivated myself with formidable effect;
Heaven gave me a perceptive and cinnabar head.
As the Great Sage I dwelt in the palace in the clouds,
Using my strength in a fight against the Dipper and Bull Palace.
A hundred thousand heavenly troops could get nowhere near me;
All the stars in the sky were easily subdued.
My fame resounds throughout the cosmos;
I know all about everything between earth and sky.
Since my conversion to Sakyamuni's teachings
1 have been helping my master on his journey to the West.
When I clear a path through mountains no one can stop me;
My skill at bridging rivers causes demons distress.
In forests I use my power to seize tigers and leopards;
I capture wild beasts bare-handed before sheer cliffs.
For the sake of the East's true achievement I have come to the Western Regions;
What evil monster will dare to show itself?
I hate the wicked beasts who have murdered my master;
Their lives will all be ended at this moment.”
These remarks both shocked and infuriated the ogre, who ground his teeth, sprang forward and struck at Brother Monkey with his iron mace. Monkey blocked it effortlessly with his cudgel and would have said some more to him when Pig, unable to restrain himself any longer, started swinging wildly at the demon king's commander of the vanguard. The commander of the vanguard led his whole force into action, and a hectic and splendid battle was fought on that piece of level ground on the mountainside:
The monk from the great and superior country in the East
Was going to fetch true scriptures from the Western Paradise.
The great leopard of the Southern mountains breathed out wind and clouds
To block their way through the mountains and show off his prowess.
He had foolishly captured the priest from Great Tang.
Then he met Monkey with his tremendous powers
As well as the famous Zhu Bajie.
While the demons fought on level ground in the mountains
Dust clouds arose and darkened the sky.
Above the fray rose the junior devils' roars
As they thrust out wildly with spear and with sword.
On the other side the monks shouted back,
Fighting with rake and with cudgel together.
The Great Sage was a matchless hero,
And Pig in his perfection reveled in his strength.
The ancient ogre of the South,
And his vanguard commander
For the sake of a piece of the Tang Priest's flesh
Were prepared to throw their own lives away.
These two hated them for killing their master:
The other two were set on murder because of the Tang Priest.
The struggle long swayed to and fro,
The clashes and charges yielding no victor.
When Monkey realized that the junior devils were fighting so hard that repeated attacks were failing to drive them back he used body-dividing magic, plucked out a bunch of hairs, chewed them up in his mouth, spat the pieces out, called “Change!” and turned them all into his own doubles, each wielding a gold-banded cudgel and fighting his way into the cave from the outside. The one or two hundred junior devils, unable to cope with their attacks from all sides, all fled for their lives back into the cave. Monkey and Pig then fought their way back out through the enemy ranks from the inside. The evil spirits who had no sense tried to stand up to the rake and found themselves bleeding from nine wounds, or resisted the cudgel and had their flesh and bones beaten to paste. The Great King of the Southern Mountains was so alarmed that he fled for his life on his clouds and wind. The commander of the vanguard, who did not know how to do transformations, had already fallen to Monkey's club and been revealed as what he really was: an iron-backed gray wolf ogre.
Pig went up to him, turned him over by his leg, and said, “Goodness only knows how many piglets and lambs this so-and-so has eaten.”
Monkey meanwhile shook himself, put the hair back on his body and said, “No time to lose, idiot. After the demon king! Make him pay for the master's life.” Pig turned back, but all the little Monkeys had disappeared.
“Your magic bodies have all gone, brother,” he exclaimed.
“I've taken them back,” Monkey replied.
“Splendid,” said Pig, “splendid.” The two of them went back in triumph, feeling very pleased.
When the senior demon escaped back to the cave he told his underlings to move rocks and earth to barricade the front gates. The surviving junior demons were all trembling with terror as they barricaded the entrance: they would not have dared to stick their heads out again now. Monkey led Pig to the gates and shouted without getting any response. Pig's rake made no impression when he struck them with it.
Realizing what had happened, Monkey said, “Don't waste your effort, Pig. They've barricaded the gates.”
“Then how are we going to avenge the master?” Pig asked.
“Let's go back to his grave and see Friar Sand,” Brother Monkey replied.
When they got back there they found Friar Sand still weeping, at which Pig became more miserable than ever, throwing down his rake, prostrating himself on the tomb mound and beating the ground with his hand as he howled, “Poor, poor Master. Master from so far away! I'll never see you again!”
“Don't distress yourself so, brother,” said Monkey. “The evil spirit may have barricaded his front gates, but he's bound to have a back entrance to go in and out through. You two wait here while I go and look for it.
“Do be careful, brother,” said Pig through his tears. “Don't get caught yourself too. We could never cope if we had to wail for the master then for you by turns. We'd make an awful mess of it.”
“No problem,” said Monkey. “I've got my ways of doing things.”
Putting his cudgel away the splendid Great Sage tightened his kilt, stepped out and went back over the mountain. On his way he heard the sound of flowing water. When he turned round to look he saw that there was a brook flowing down from above him, and beside the gill was a gate, to the left of which was a drainpipe from which red water was coming out.
“Goes without saying,” he thought. “That must be the back entrance. If I go as myself the junior demons may well recognize me when I open the door and see them. I'd better turn into a water snake to go in. No, hold on. If the master's spirit knows that I've turned into a water snake he'll be angry with me as a monk for turning into something so long drawn-out. I'd better turn into a little crab. No, that's no good either. The master would be cross with me for having too many legs for a monk.” So he turned into a water rat who slipped into the water with a soughing sound and went straight to the inner courtyard along the drainpipe. Here he thrust his head out for a look around and saw some junior devils setting out gobbets of human flesh to dry in a sunny spot.
“Heavens!” said Monkey. “That must be what they can't finish from the master's flesh. No doubt they're drying it to save for a rainy day. If I turned back into myself now, went up to them and wiped them out with one swing of my cudgel I'd be making myself look brave but stupid. I'll do another change, go in to look for the senior devil, and find out what's what.” With that he jumped out of the drain, shook himself, and turned himself into a winged ant. Indeed:
Weak and tiny and known as black colts,
They hide away for many a day till they have wings and can fly.
Casually crossing beside the bridge they draw up their ranks;
They enjoy battles of high strategy under the bed.
Because they know when rain is coming they block their holes
And build their mounds of dust that turn to ashes.
Light they are, and delicate and quick,
Rarely observed as they pass the wicker gate.
He spread his wings and flew straight into the inner hall, unseen and unheard. Here the senior demon could be seen sitting very angrily in the seat of honour, while a junior devil ran up from behind to report, “Many congratulations, Your Majesty.”
“What on?” the senior demon asked.
“I was on lookout by the gill outside the back door just now,” the junior devil replied, “when suddenly I heard some loud wails. I rushed up to the top of the mountain to take a look and saw Zhu Bajie, Sun the Novice and Friar Sand all bowing to a grave and weeping bitterly. I think they must have taken that head for the Tang Priest's and buried it, piled up a grave mound and mourned for it.”
When Monkey overheard this he said to himself with delight, “From what he's said they've still got the master here and haven't eaten him yet. I'll take a look around and find out if he's still alive, then have a word with him.”
The splendid Great Sage then flew into the main hall and looked all around until he saw a very tiny doorway on one side of it. It was very firmly shut, and when he squeezed through the narrow gap between the doors he found himself in a big garden in which he could vaguely make out the sound of sobbing. Flying further inside he saw a clump of tall trees at the foot of which were tied two men. One of these was the Tang Priest. As soon as Monkey saw him he felt an itch in his heart that he could not scratch.
He could not help turning back into himself, going up to Sanzang and calling, “Master.”
When the Tang Priest saw who it was he started crying and saying, “Is that you, Wukong? Save me as quickly as you can, Wukong.”
“Don't keep saying my name, Master,” Monkey replied. “There are people at the front and the secret may get out. As you're still alive I can rescue you. The ogres said they'd already eaten you and tricked me with an imitation human head. Now we're in a bitter struggle with them. There's no need to worry, Master. Just stick it out for a little longer till I've beaten the evil spirit, then I'll be able to rescue you.”
The Great Sage said the words of a spell, shook himself, turned into an ant again and flew back into the hall, where he landed on the main beam. From here he saw the surviving junior devils jostling and shouting. One of them sprang out from the crowd and said, “Your Majesty, now they know we've blocked the main gate and they won't be able to fight their way in they've given up hope. They've even made a tomb for the wrong head. They spent today mourning for him, and they'll do the same again tomorrow and the day after. I'm sure they'll go away after that. Once we find out that they've split up we can bring the Tang Priest out, chop him up into little bits, and fry him with aniseed. Then everyone will be able to eat a piece when he's steaming hot, and we'll all live forever.”
At this another junior devil clapped his hands together and said, “No, no, he'd taste much better steamed.”
“Boiling him would save some firewood,” another put in.
“He's such a rare and wonderful thing,” said someone else, “that we ought to salt him down and take our time over eating him.”
When Monkey heard all this from up among the beams he thought with fury, “What harm did my master ever do you? Why are you making these plans to eat him?” He pulled out a handful of hairs, chewed them up into little pieces, blew them lightly out of his mouth and silently recited the words of the spell that turned all the pieces into sleep insects. These he threw into the faces of all the devils, and the insects crawled up their noses, gradually making the devils feel sleepy. Before long the junior devils were all lying stretched out fast asleep. The demon king was the only one left fitfully awake as he kept rubbing his face and head, sneezing and pinching his nose.
“Perhaps he knows about how to cope with sleep insects,” Monkey thought. “I'd better give him a double dose.” He pulled out a hair, made two more sleep insects as before, and threw them into the demon's face to crawl up his nose, one up the left nostril and one up the right. The demon king jumped to his feet, stretched, yawned twice and fell fast asleep, breathing heavily.
Quietly delighted, Monkey then sprang down from the roof and turned back into himself. He produced his cudgel from his ear and waved it till it was the thickness of a duck egg, then with a loud bang broke down the side door, ran into the garden at the back and called out, “Master!”
“Untie me quick, disciple,” the venerable elder said. “Being roped up like this has been agony.”
“Be patient, Master,” said Monkey. “When I've killed the evil spirit I'll come and untie you.” He then hurried back into the hall, lifted his cudgel and was about to strike when he stopped and thought, “No, this is wrong. I ought to release the master before I kill the evil spirit.” He went back into the garden, where he changed his mind again: “No, I'll kill the monster first.” This happened two or three times till finally he came dancing back into the garden, where his master's grief turned to joy at the sight of him.
“You monkey,” he said, “I suppose it's because you're beside yourself with pleasure at seeing me still alive that you're dancing about like that.” Only then did Monkey go up to him, untie him, and help him walk away. The man tied to the other tree then called out, “Please save me too in your great mercy, my lord.”
The venerable elder stopped and said, “Untie him too, Wukong.”
“Who's he?” Monkey asked.
“He was captured and brought here a day before me,” Sanzang replied. “He's a woodcutter. He tells me his mother is very old and he is most worried about her. He is a very dutiful son. You must save him too.”
Doing as he was bid, Monkey untied the other man and took them both out through the back gate, up the scar and across the ravine. “Thank you for rescuing this man and me, worthy disciple,” said Sanzang. “Where are Wuneng and Wujing?”
“Mourning for you over there,” Monkey replied, “Give them a shout.”
Sanzang then shouted at the top of his voice, “Bajie! Bajie!” The idiot, who had been weeping so much that his head was spinning, wiped away the snot and tears to call, “Friar Sand, the master's come back as a ghost. That him calling, isn't it?”
“Idiot,” shouted Monkey, going up to him, “that's no ghost. It's the master himself.”
When Friar Sand looked up and saw who it was he fell to his knees in front of Sanzang and said “Master, you've suffered terribly. How did big brother rescue you?” Monkey then told them everything that had happened.
When Pig heard all this he gnashed his teeth, unable to restrain himself from knocking the tomb mound over with one blow of his rake, digging out the head and smashing it to pulp “Why are you hitting it?” the Tang Priest asked.
“Master,” said Pig, “goodness only knows what kind of wretch he was, but we all mourned for him.”
“It was thanks to him that I'm still alive,” Sanzang replied. “When you disciples attacked their gates and demanded me they took him out to fob you off with. Otherwise they would have killed me. I think we should bury him properly as a mark of our monastic respect.” When the idiot heard his master saying this he buried that bag of flesh and bone that had been beaten to a pulp and piled up a tomb mound over it.
“Master,” said Brother Monkey with a smile, “won't you sit here for a while while I go to wipe them out?” With that he leapt down the cliff, crossed the ravine, went into the cave and took the ropes with which the Tang Priest and the woodcutter had been hound into the hall, where he used them to truss together the arms and legs of the demon king, who was still asleep. He then lifted the demon up with his cudgel onto his shoulder and took him out by the back door.
“You like making things difficult for yourself, brother,” said Pig when he saw him coming from a distance. “Why don't you find another to balance him?”
Monkey then set the demon king down in front of Pig, who raised his rake and was just about to hit him when Monkey said, “Wait a moment. We haven't captured the junior devils in the cave yet.”
“If there are any left,” Pig said, “take me in with you to smash them.”
“Smashing them would be too much trouble,” Monkey replied. “The best thing would be to find some firewood and wipe them out that way.”
When the woodcutter heard this he led Pig to a hollow to the East to find some broken ends of bamboo, pines that had lost their needles, hollow stumps of willows, creepers broken off from their roots, withered artemisia, old reeds, rushes and dead mulberry. They carried a lot of this into the back entrance, where Monkey set it alight and Pig fanned the flames with both ears. Then the Great Sage sprang up, shook himself and put the sleep-insect hairs back on his body. When the junior devils woke up they were all already on fire. Poor things! None of them had the faintest chance of surviving. When the whole cave was burnt right out the disciples went back to see the master.
When Sanzang saw that the senior demon had woken up and was shouting he called, “Disciples, the evil spirit has come round.” Pig went up and killed him with one blow of his rake, whereupon the ogre turned back into his real form as a leopard spirit with a coat patterned like mugwort flowers.
“Leopards with flower-patterned coats can eat tigers,” Monkey observed, “and this one could turn into a human too. Killing him has prevented a lot of serious trouble in future.” The venerable elder could not express his gratitude strongly enough, and he then mounted the saddle. “My home isn't far from here to the Southwest, sirs,” said the woodcutter. “I invite you to come there to meet my mother and accept my kowtows of thanks for saving my life. Then I'll see you gentlemen along your way.”
Sanzang was happy to accept, and instead of riding he walked there with his three disciples and the woodcutter. After they had followed a winding path to the Southwest for a short distance this is what they saw.
Lichen growing across a stone-flagged path,
Wisteria joining across the wicker gate,
Chains of mountains on every side, And a wood full of singing birds.
A dense thicket of pine and bamboo,
Rare and wonderful flowers in profusion.
The place is remote and deep amid the clouds,
A thatched cottage with a bamboo fence.
While they were still some distance away they could make out an old woman leaning on the wicker gate with tears streaming from her eyes, weeping and calling to heaven and earth for her son.
As soon as the woodcutter saw his mother he left the Tang Priest behind as he rushed straight to the gate, knelt down and said, “Mother, I'm back.”
Throwing her arms around him the woman said, “My boy, when you didn't come home for days on end I thought the mountain lord must have caught you and killed you. I've suffered terrible heartache. If you weren't killed why didn't you come back before? Where are your carrying-pole, ropes and axe?”
The woodcutter kowtowed as he replied, “Mother, the mountain lord did capture me and tie me to a tree. I was lucky to escape with my life, thanks to these gentlemen. They are arhats sent by the Tang court in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. This gentleman was captured by the mountain lord and tied to a tree as well. His three disciples have enormous magic powers. They killed the mountain lord with a single blow: he was a leopard with mugwort flower spots who had become a spirit. They burnt all the junior devils to death, untied the senior gentleman and then untied me too. I owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude: but for them your son would certainly be dead. Now that the mountain is completely safe I'll be able to walk around at night without any danger.”
After hearing this the old woman came forward to greet Sanzang and his disciples, kowtowing at every step. Then she led them in through the wicker gate to sit down in the thatched cottage. Mother and son next performed endless kowtows as expressions of their gratitude before hastily and in a fluster preparing them some vegetarian food as a mark of their thanks.
“Brother,” said Pig to the woodcutter, “I know you're hard up here. Just put something simple together for us. Don't go to a lot of trouble and effort.”
“Quite frankly, sir,” the woodcutter replied, “we're very poor here. We don't have any gill fungus, button mushrooms, peppers or aniseed. All we can offer you gentlemen are some wild vegetables.”
“We're putting you to a lot of trouble,” said Pig. “Be as quick as you can. We're starving.”
“It'll soon be ready,” the woodcutter replied, and before long a table and stools were set out and wiped clean, and several dishes of wild vegetables served:
Tender-scalded day lilies,
White lumps of pickled scallion,
Knotweed and purslane,
Shepherds purse and “goosegut blossom.”
The “swallows stay away” was delicious and tender;
The tiny fists of beansprouts were crisp and green.
Indigo heads boiled soft,
White-stewed “dog footprints,”
All with tender and tasty gray noodles.
Tipped in the pot with broom purslane.
Broken grain purslane,
And lettuce purslane,
All green, delicious and smooth.
“Birdflower” fried in oil,
Roots of reeds and wild-rice stems,
Four kinds of excellent water plants.
Delicate and finely flavored;
You could never wear.
Under the bitter sesame bed runs a fence.
Sparrows wander around,
Macaques leave their footprints,
Eager to eat it all when fried and piping hot.
Sloping wormwood and green artemisia surround crown daisy chrysanthemums;
The moths fly around the buckwheat.
Bald “goat's ear,”
That don't need oil when combined with dark indigo.
A meal of every kind of wild vegetable
As a mark of the woodcutter's reverent thanks.
When master and disciples had eaten their fill they packed up ready to start out again. Not daring to press them to stay, the woodcutter asked his mother to come out and bow to them in thanks again. He then kowtowed, fetched a club of jujube wood, fastened his clothes tight, and came out to see them on their way.
Friar Sand led the horse, Pig carried the shoulder-pole, and Monkey followed close behind them while the master put his hands together on the back of the horse and said, “Brother woodcutter, could you kindly lead us to the main track? We will take out leave of you there.” Together they then climbed high, went down slopes, skirted ravines and negotiated inclines. “Disciples,” said the venerable elder thoughtfully as he rode,
“Since leaving my monarch to come to the West
I have made a long journey across a great distance.
At each river and mountain I have met with disaster,
Barely escaping from monsters and fiends.
My heart has been set on the Three Stores of scriptures,
And my every thought is of Heaven above.
When will my toil and my labor be ended?
When will I go home, my journey completed?”
When the woodcutter heard Sanzang saying this he said, “Don't be so downhearted, sir. It's only some three hundred miles West along this road to India, the land of paradise.”
As soon as Sanzang heard this he dismounted and replied, “Thank you for bringing us so far. Now that we are on the main track, please go home now, brother woodcutter, and give our respects to your venerable mother. We poor monks have no way to reward you for the sumptuous meal you gave us just now except by reciting surras morning and evening to protect you and your mother and enable both of you to live to be a hundred.” The woodcutter took his leave of them and went back by the way he had came. Master and disciples then headed West together.
The ogre subdued and wrongs set to right, he escaped from his peril;
Having been shown this kindness he set out on his way with the greatest of care.
If you don't know how long it was till they reached the Western Heaven, listen to the explanation in the next installment.
When Heaven Is Offended in Fengxian It Stops the Rain
The Great Sage Urges Goodness and Brings a Downpour
Deep and mysterious is the Great Way;
What news is there of it?
When revealed it will alarm ghosts and divine beings.
It controls the universe,
Divides darkness and light;
In the world of true happiness there is no competition.
Before the Vulture Peak
Pearls and jewels emerge,
Shining with every color.
It illuminates all beings that live between heaven and earth;
Those who understand it live as long as mountains and seas.
The story tells how Sanzang and his three disciples took their leave of the woodcutter on the Hidden Clouds Mountain and hurried along the main road. After they had been going for several days they suddenly saw a walled and moated city not far before them.
“Wukong,” said Sanzang, “is that city ahead of us India, do you think?”
“No, no,” said Monkey shaking his head. “Although the Tathagata lives in a paradise there are no cities there. It's a great mountain, Vulture Peak, on which are the high buildings and halls of Thunder Monastery. Even if we've now reached the land of India this isn't where the Buddha lives. I don't know how far India is from Vulture Peak. Presumably this city is one of the frontier prefectures of India. We'll know when we get there.”
Soon they were outside the city, where Sanzang dismounted to go in through the triple gates. Here they found the people destitute and the streets deserted. When they reached the market there were many black-clad government servants lined up on either side of a number of officials wearing their hats and sashes of office and standing under the eaves of a building. As the four travelers came along the road these men did not give way at all, so Pig in his rough way raised his snout and shouted, “Out of the way! Out of the way!”
When the men looked up with a start and saw what he looked like their bones went soft, their sinews turned numb and they fell over, shouting, “Evil spirits! Evil spirits!”
This gave the officials standing under the eaves such a fright that they were shivering as they bowed and asked, “Where are you from?”
Sanzang, who was worried that his disciples would cause trouble, pushed himself forward and said to the men, “I am a monk sent by His Majesty the Great Tang emperor to worship the Lord Buddha and fetch the scriptures in the Great Thunder Monastery in the land of India. Our journey brings us to this distinguished place, but as we do not know its name and have not yet found a place to stay we hope that you gentlemen will forgive us if we have caused any offence to your customs on entering your city.”
Only then did the officials return his courtesy and say, “This is the prefecture of Fengxian, one of the frontier prefectures of India. Because we have been suffering from drought for years on end the marquis has sent us to put up a notice here calling for masters of the Dharma to pray for rain and save the people.”
“Where's the notice?” asked Monkey when he heard this.
“Here,” the officials said. “The arcade has only just been swept clean: we haven't posted it yet.”
“Bring it here and show me,” said Brother Monkey. The officials then opened the notice out and hung it up under the eaves. Monkey and the others went up to read it, and this was what was written on it:
Shangguan, Marquis of Fengxian Prefecture in Great India, issues this notice to invite enlightened teachers and great masters of the Dharma. This country with its prosperous soldiers and people has been afflicted with drought for years. Military and civil land alike has been devastated; the rivers have dried up and the ditches are empty. There is no water in the wells, and the springs have stopped flowing. While the rich are barely managing to stay alive, the poor cannot survive. A bushel of wheat costs a hundred pieces of silver; a bundle of firewood costs five ounces. Girls of ten are being sold for three pints of rice; boys of five are being given to whoever will take them. Because the city dwellers fear the law they pawn their clothes to buy the necessities for survival; but in the countryside thugs rob and eat people in order to live. I have therefore issued this notice in the hope that wise and worthy men from all around will pray for rain to save the people. The will be richly rewarded for their kindness with a thousand pieces of silver. This is no empty promise. Let those who would take it up come to this notice.
When he had read it Monkey asked the officials, “What's Shangguan?”
“Shangguan is our marquis' surname,” they replied.
“It's a very rare surname,” said Monkey with a laugh.
“You've never been to school, brother,” said Pig. “There's a bit at the end of the book The Hundred Surnames that goes 'Ouyang and Shangguan.'”
“Stop this idle chatter, disciples,” said Sanzang. “If any of you know how to pray for rain, bring them a fall of timely rain and save the people from this affliction: that would be a very good thing indeed to do. If you cannot, we must be on our way and waste no more time.”
“What's so difficult about praying for rain?” Monkey asked. “I can turn rivers upside down, stir up the sea, move the stars and constellations about, kick the sky, churn up water in wells, breathe out mist and clouds, carry mountains, drive the moon along and summon wind and rain. They're all child's play. Nothing to them!”
When the officials heard this they sent two of their number straight to the prefectural offices to report, “Your Excellency, something very splendid indeed has happened.”
The marquis, who was burning incense and praying silently at the time, asked what it was when he heard that something splendid had happened. “We were taking the notice to post at the entrance to the market,” the officials replied, “when four monks came along who said that they have been sent by the Great Tang in the East to the Great Thunder Monastery in India to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. As soon as they read the notice they said they could bring timely rain, which is why we have come here to report.”
Refusing to take a sedan-chair, horse or large retinue, the marquis went on foot in his robes of office straight to the entrance to the market in order to invite the strangers with the utmost courtesy to pray for rain.
“His Excellency the marquis is here,” it was suddenly announced, and everybody moved out of the way.
As soon as he saw the Tang Priest the marquis, who showed no fear of his hideous disciples, prostrated himself in the middle of the street and said, “I am Marquis Shangguan of Fengxian Prefecture, and I have bathed and perfumed myself in order to beg you teachers to pray for the rain that will save the people. I implore you in your great mercy to give play to your divine powers and bring us deliverance.”
Returning his courtesies, Sanzang said, “This is no place to talk. We will be able to act when we have gone to a monastery.”
“Please come with me to my humble palace,” the marquis replied. “We have a pure place there.”
Master and disciples then led the horse and carried the luggage straight to the palace, where they all exchanged greetings and the marquis ordered tea and a vegetarian meal. When the food arrived a little later Pig ate for all he was worth like a hungry tiger, terrifying the waiters, who trembled as they kept coming and going with more and more soup and rice. They looked like the figures on one of those revolving lanterns, and they could just keep him supplied until he had eaten his fill. Only then did he stop.
When the meal was over the Tang Priest expressed his thanks then asked, “How long has the drought lasted here, Your Excellency?” To this the marquis replied,
“This is a part of the great land of India,
Fengxian Prefecture of which I am governor.
For three years on end we have suffered from drought:
Grass does not grow, and the grain has all died.
Business is hard for rich and for poor;
Nearly all of the families are weeping with grief.
Two thirds of the people have now died of starvation;
The rest barely survive, like a candle flame in the wind.
I have issued a notice for worthies
And am lucky you monks have come to our land.
If you bring the people a whole inch of rain
A thousand in silver will be your reward.”
When Monkey heard this his face showed his pleasure as he chuckled, “Don't say that, don't say that. If you promise us a reward of a thousand pieces of silver you won't get a single drop of rain. But if you put it in terms of accumulating merit I'll provide you with plenty of rain.”
The marquis, a thoroughly upright and good man who cared deeply for his people, invited Monkey to take the seat of honour, then bowed to him and said, “Teacher, if you really can show us this great compassion this humble official will do nothing to offend against morality.”
“Please get up,” said Monkey, “only look after my master well while I do the job.”
“How are you going to do it, brother?” asked Friar Sand. ”
“You and Pig are to must come here and be my assistants outside while I summon a dragon to make rain,” Monkey replied. Pig and Friar Sand did as he bade them, and while the three of them went outside the marquis burned incense and prayed. Sanzang sat there reciting sutras.
While Monkey recited the spell and said the magic words a dark cloud appeared to the East and slowly moved till it was in front of the hall: it was Ao Guang, the ancient dragon of the Eastern Sea. Ao Guang then put away his cloud feet and turned himself into human form to go up to Monkey, bow low to him with full courtesy and ask, “What have you sent for this humble dragon to do, Great Sage?”
“Please rise,” Monkey replied. “The only reason why I have troubled you to make this long journey is because there has been a drought in this prefecture of Fengxian for years on end. I'd like to ask you if you couldn't send some rain.”
“I must inform you, Great Sage,” the dragon replied, “that although I can make rain I can only act on the orders of Heaven. I would never dare come here to make rain on my own authority without Heaven's instructions.”
“As our journey brought us this way I asked you specially to come here to make rain and save the people,” said Monkey, “so why are you trying to get out of it?”
“I'd never dare,” the dragon king replied. “I came because you summoned me with the magic words, Great Sage, and I'd never dare try to get out of it. In the first place I haven't had an edict from Heaven, and secondly I haven't brought the magic rain-making generals with me. How could I, Great Sage? If you wish to be a savior, you must let me go back to the sea to muster my forces while you go to the heavenly palace to obtain an imperial edict for a fall of rain and ask the officials in charge of water to release us dragons, so that I can make rain in the quantities ordered.”
Accepting the force of his argument, Brother Monkey had to let the old dragon go back to the sea. He then told the Tang Priest what the dragon king had said.
“In that case you had better go and do that,” the Tang Priest said. “But don't be telling lies.”
Monkey then told Pig and Friar Sand to look after the master while he went up to the heavenly palace. No sooner had the splendid Great Sage said he was going than he was out of sight.
“Where has Lord Sun gone?” the marquis asked, trembling with shock.
“He's gone up to Heaven on a cloud,” replied Pig with a grin. With great reverence the marquis then issued an urgent order that all the people in the big and little streets of the city, whether nobility, high officials, gentry, commoners, soldiers or civilians, were to worship dragon-king tablets and set out water urns with sprigs of willow in them in front of their gates. They were also to burn incense and pray to Heaven.
Once on his somersault cloud Monkey went straight to the Western Gate of Heaven, where the Heavenly King Lokapala soon appeared at the head of his heavenly soldiers and warriors to greet him and say, “Great Sage, have you fetched the scriptures yet?”
“Quite soon now,” Monkey replied. “We've reached a frontier prefecture called Fengxian on the borders of India now. It hasn't rained for three whole years there, and the people are suffering terribly. I want to pray for rain to save them. I sent for the dragon king, but he told me that he couldn't do it on his own authority without a heavenly order, which is why I've come to see the Jade Emperor to request an edict.”
“I don't think it's supposed to rain there,” the heavenly king said. “I heard just now that the marquis of Fengxian had behaved disgracefully and offended both Heaven and Earth. His Majesty took it badly and immediately had a rice mountain, a flour mountain and a huge gold lock set up. It won't rain till all three have been knocked over or snapped.” Not understanding what all this was about, Monkey demanded to see the Jade Emperor, and, not daring to stop him, the heavenly king let him in.
Going straight to the Hall of Universal Brightness, Brother Monkey was met by the four heavenly teachers, who asked, “What are you here for, Great Sage?”
“On my journey escorting the Tang Priest I've reached Fengxian Prefecture on the frontiers of India, where there is a drought,” Monkey replied. “The marquis there has been asking for magicians to pray for rain. I sent for the dragon king to order him to make rain, but he said that he could not do so on his own authority without an edict from the Jade Emperor. I have now come to request an edict in order to relieve the people's suffering.”
“But it's not supposed to rain there,” said the four heavenly teachers.
“As to whether it's supposed to rain or not,” said Monkey with a smile, “could I trouble you to take me in to submit a memorial so that I can find out whether I can still get a favour done?”
To this the heavenly teacher Ge Xianweng replied, “As the saying goes, 'a fly that needs a net for a veil-what a nerve!'”
“Don't talk nonsense,” said Xu of Jingyang. “Just take him in.”
Qiu Hongji, Zhang Daoling, Ge and Xu took Monkey to the outside of the Hall of Miraculous Mist, where they reported, “Your Majesty, Sun Wukong has reached Fengxian Prefecture in India and wants to obtain rain. He has come to ask for an edict.”
“Three years ago,” the Jade Emperor replied, “on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, when we were inspecting the myriad heavens and travelling through the three worlds, we arrived at his city. We saw that Shangguan was most wicked; he knocked over the vegetarian offerings to heaven to feed to dogs, spoke foully, and was guilty of lese-majeste. That is why we set up those three things in the Hall of Fragrance. Take Sun Wukong to see them. When those three things have been accomplished we will issue our edict; but if they are not, then do not meddle in what does not concern you.”
When the four heavenly teachers led Brother Monkey to the Hall of Fragrance he saw a mountain of rice about a hundred feet high and a mountain of flour about two hundred feet high. Beside the rice mountain was a chicken the size of a fist eating the rice, sometimes with quick pecks, sometimes with slow ones. Beside the flour mountain was a golden-haired Pekinese licking the flour, sometimes with long licks and sometimes with short ones. To the left of it a golden padlock about one foot three or four inches long hung from an iron frame. The crossbar of the lock was about the thickness of a finger, and under it was a lamp, the flame of which was heating the bar.
Not understanding what all this was about, Monkey turned back to ask the heavenly teachers, “What does it mean?”
“When that wretch offended Heaven the Jade Emperor had these three things set up,” the heavenly teachers replied. “That place will only be due for rain when the chicken has eaten all the rice, the dog has licked up all the flour, and the lamp has melted the bar of the lock.”
When Monkey heard this he went pale with shock, and he dared make no more memorials to the throne. He left the palace hall overcome with embarrassment. “Don't take it so badly, Great Sage,” said the four heavenly teachers with smiles. “This is something that can be resolved through goodness. Once a single kind thought moves Heaven the rice and flour mountains will collapse and the bar of the padlock will be broken. If you can persuade the marquis to return to goodness then blessings will come of themselves.”
Monkey accepted their advice, and instead of going back to the Hall of Miraculous Mist to take his leave of the Jade Emperor he headed straight down to the lower world and its ordinary mortals. Within an instant he was at the Western Gate of Heaven, where he saw Heavenly King Lokapala again, who asked, “Did you get the decree you wanted?” Monkey told him about the rice and flour mountains and the metal lock.
“What you said to me was quire right,” he continued. “The Jade Emperor refuses to issue a decree. Just now the heavenly teachers told me as they saw me off that the secret of blessings lay in persuading that so-and-so to return to goodness.” With that Monkey took his leave and went down to the lower world on his cloud.
When the marquis, Sanzang, Pig, Friar Sand and the officials high and low all welcomed him back they crowded round him asking questions. Monkey then shouted at the marquis, “It's all because on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month three years ago you offended Heaven and Earth that the people are suffering, you wretch. That's why rain won't be sent now.”
At this the marquis was so alarmed that he fell to his knees, prostrated himself on the ground and asked, “How do you know about what happened three years ago, teacher?”
“Why did you knock the vegetarian offerings to Heaven over to feed to dogs?” said Monkey, “You'd better tell me the truth.”
Not daring to conceal anything, the marquis said, “On the twenty-fifth of the twelfth month three years ago I was making offerings to Heaven within the palace. As my wife was wicked we quarreled and said bad things to each other. In an unthinking outburst of fury I knocked over the table with the offerings and scattered the vegetarian food. It's true that I called the dogs to eat it up. I never realized that Heaven would take offence at this and harm the common people. For the last couple of years it has been preying on my mind. My thoughts have been disturbed, and I haven't been able to understand why. I never realized that it was because Heaven had taken offence that it was inflicting this disaster on the common people. Now that you have come down to visit us, teacher, I beg you to enlighten me on what the upper world intends to do.”
“That happened to be a day on which the Jade Emperor was visiting the lower world,” Monkey replied. “When he saw you feed the vegetarian food to the dogs and heard your foul language the Jade Emperor set three things up to remember you by.”
“What three things, brother?” Pig asked.
“In the Hall of Fragrance he had set up a rice mountain about a hundred feet high and a flour mountain about two hundred feet high. Beside the rice mountain is a chicken the size of a fist who's eating it with quick pecks and slow pecks. Beside the flour mountain is a golden-haired Pekinese licking the flour up with long licks and short licks. And to the left is an iron frame from which hangs a golden padlock with a crossbar the thickness of a finger under which a lamp is burning and warming the bar. You will only be due for rain here when-the chicken's eaten all the rice, the dog's licked up all the flour and the lamp has melted the bar of the lock.”
“No problem,” said Pig, “no problem. If you take me with you, brother, I can do a transformation, eat all the rice and flour up in one sitting and snap the bar of the lock. I can guarantee rain.”
“Don't talk nonsense, you idiot,” said Monkey. “This is a plan that's been made by Heaven. You'll never be able to get there.”
“From what you say I don't know what to do,” said Sanzang.
“It's easy,” said Monkey, “easy. As I was leaving the four heavenly teachers said to me that this could only be solved through goodness.”
The marquis then prostrated himself on the ground again and said imploringly, “I will do just as you tell me, teacher.”
“If your heart can turn back to goodness,” Monkey replied, “I hope that you'll at once start invoking the Buddha and reciting scriptures. Then I'll be able to help you. If you persist in refusing to reform there'll be nothing I can do to get you off. It won't be long before Heaven executes you, and your life will be beyond saving.”
The marquis kowtowed in worship, swearing to return to the faith. At once he summoned all the Buddhist and Taoist clergy in the city and ordered that a site be prepared for religious ceremonies. They were all to write out documents and memorials for three days. The marquis led his followers in burning incense and worshipping, thanking Heaven and Earth and repenting of his sins. Sanzang recited surras on his behalf. At the same time urgent notices were sent out ordering all the men and women, young and old, in all the households inside and outside the city to burn incense sticks and invoke the Buddha. From that moment on all ears were filled with virtuous sounds. Only then did Brother Monkey feel happy.
“You two look after the master,” he said to Pig and Friar Sand, “while I go off for him again.”
“Where are you going this time, brother?” Pig asked.
“The marquis really believed what I told him and is being reverent, good and kind,” Monkey replied, “and he's sincerely invoking the Buddha's name. So I'm going back to submit another request for rain to the Jade Emperor.”
“If you're going, don't lose any time, brother,” said Friar Sand. “This is holding us up on our journey. But do get a fall of rain: it'll be another true achievement for us.”
The splendid Great Sage set his cloud off once more and went straight to the gate of Heaven, where he met Heavenly King Lokapala again.
“What have you come for now?” Lokapala asked.
“The marquis has mended his ways,” Monkey replied, which pleased the Heavenly King. As they were talking the Straight Spell Messenger arrived at the gate of Heaven to deliver letters and documents written by Taoist and Buddhist clergy.
When he saw Monkey the messenger bowed and said, “This is all the result of your successful conversion, Great Sage.”
“Where are you taking those letters?” Monkey asked.
“Straight to the Hall of Universal Brightness,” the messenger replied, “to give to the heavenly teachers to pass on to the Great Heavenly Honoured One, the Jade Emperor.”
“In that case you'd better go first and I'll follow,” Monkey said. The messenger then went in through the heavenly gate. “Great Sage,” said Heavenly King Lokapala, “there's no need for you to go to see the Jade Emperor. You should go to borrow some thunder gods from the Office of Response to the Primary in the Ninth Heaven, then set off thunder and lightning. After that there'll certainly be rain.”
Monkey accepted this suggestion and went in through the gate of Heaven. Instead of going to the Hall of Miraculous Mist to ask for an edict he at once turned his cloud-treading steps towards the Office of Response to the Primary in the Ninth Heaven, where the Envoy of the Thunder Gate, the Corrector of Records and the Inspector of Probity appeared to bow and say, “Why are you here, Great Sage?”
“There's something I'd like to see the Heavenly Honoured One about,” Monkey replied, and the three envoys passed this on in a memorial to the Heavenly Honoured One, who then came down from behind his screen of red clouds and nine phoenixes in full court dress.
When they had exchanged greetings Monkey said, “There is something I would like to request of you.”
“What might that be?” the Heavenly Honoured One asked.
“While escorting the Tang Monk I have reached the prefecture of Fengxian,” said Brother Monkey, “and as they have long been suffering from drought there I promised to make it rain for them. The reason I have come here is to ask for the loan of some of your subordinate officials and generals in order to ask for rain.”
“I am aware that three things have been set up because the marquis there offended Heaven,” the Heavenly Honoured One replied, “but I have not yet heard that rain is due to fall there.”
“When I went to ask the Jade Emperor for an edict yesterday,” Monkey replied with a smile, “he told the heavenly teachers to take me to see the three things in the Hall of Fragrance: the mountain of rice, the mountain of flour and the golden lock. Rain isn't due to fall till these three things have been knocked down or broken. When I was feeling very upset because it was so difficult the heavenly teachers advised me to persuade the marquis and his people to do good deeds because Heaven is bound to help anyone who has a good thought. So there's a good chance of persuading Heaven to change its mind and delivering them from this disaster. Now good thoughts are happening everywhere, and all ears are filled with good sounds. Not long ago the Straight Spell Messenger took letters showing that they had mended their ways and turned towards goodness to the Jade Emperor, which is why I've come to your illustrious palace to ask for the help of your thunder officials and thunder generals.”
“In that case,” the Heavenly Honoured One replied, “I'll send Deng, Xin, Zhang and Tao to take Mother Lightning and go with you to Fengxian Prefecture to make thunder, Great Sage.”
Before long the four generals and the Great Sage had reached the boundaries of Fengxian and started performing their magic in mid air. A great ramble of thunder could be heard, and there were sizzling flashes of lightning. Indeed:
The lightning was like snakes of purple gold;
The thunder was like the noise of sleeping insects awakened.
Flashes of light like flying fire,
Thunderclaps like landslides in the mountains.
The jagged lines lit up the whole of the sky;
The great noise caused the earth itself to move.
When the red silk flashed like sprouts of plants
Rivers and mountains shook for three thousand miles.
Inside and outside the city of Fengxian nobody, whether an official high or how, a soldier or a civilian had heard thunder or seen lightning for three whole years; and now that the thunder was booming and the lightning flashing they all fell to their knees, put incense burners on their heads, held sprigs of willow in their hands and said, “We submit to Amitabha Buddha. We submit to Amitabha Buddha.” These good thoughts had indeed moved Heaven, as is proved by an old-style poem:
When thoughts have been born in human minds
Heaven and earth will both be aware.
If evil and good do not get their due
Sides have been taken by powers up there.
We will for the moment leave the Great Sage Monkey directing the thunder generals as they unleashed thunder and lightning over Fengxian Prefecture, where everyone had turned back to goodness, and tell how the Straight Spell Messenger took the Taoist and Buddhist documents straight to the Hall of Universal Brightness, where the four heavenly teachers submitted them to the Jade Emperor in the Hall of Miraculous Mist.
When the Jade Emperor had seen them he said, “As that wretch has had some virtuous thoughts, see what has happened to the three things.” Just as he was speaking the official in charge of the Hall of Fragrance came in to report, “The rice and flour mountains have collapsed: the rice and flour all disappeared in an instant. The bar of the lock has also been broken.”
Before he could finish submitting this memorial the heavenly official in attendance led in the local deity, the city god and the gods of the altars from Fengxian, who all bowed and reported, “The lord of our prefecture and every member of every household, high and low, of the people have been converted to the true achievement and are worshipping the Buddha and Heaven. We now beg you in your compassion to send a widespread fall of timely rain to deliver the common people.”
When the Jade Emperor heard this he was very pleased, so he issued an edict: “Let the departments of wind, cloud and rain go to the lower world in accordance with orders. At this hour on this day the clouds are to be spread, the thunder shall roar, and three feet and forty-two drops of rain shall fall.” At once the four heavenly teachers transmitted the edict to the weather departments, who were all to go to the lower world, show their powers and act together.
Monkey was enjoying himself up in the sky with Deng, Xin, Zhang and Tao, who were ordering Mother Lightning about, when the arrival of all other gods filled the sky with their assembly. As the wind and the clouds met, the timely rain began to pour down.
Thick, heavy clouds,
Lowering black mists,
The rumbling of the thunder cart,
The searing flash of lightning,
A roaring gale,
A torrential downpour.
Indeed, when one thought goes up to Heaven
Ten thousand hopes are all fulfilled.
Because the Great Sage has used his powers
The landscape is darkened for thousands of miles.
The wonderful rain falls like rivers and seas,
Hiding the country and heavens from sight.
Water comes pouring down the eaves,
Noisily pounding outside the windows.
While every household invokes the Buddha
All of the streets and markets are flooded.
To East and West every channel is filled;
Winding streams meander to North and to South.
Dried-up shoots receive moisture,
Withered trees revive.
The hemp and wheat now flourish in the fields;
Beans and other grains grow in the countryside.
Traders happily travel to sell their wares;
Cheerful peasants get ready to work.
After this the millet will do well,
And the crops are bound to yield a bumper harvest.
When wind and rain are timely the people know content;
When rivers and seas are calm the world is at peace.
That day three feet and forty-two drops of rain fell, after which all the gods began to tidy up and go away. “Gods of the four departments,” yelled the Great Sage at the top of his voice, “stay there for a moment with your cloud followers while I tell the marquis to bow to you all and express his thanks. You may part the clouds and appear in your true forms to let this mortal see you with his own eyes. That's the only way he'll believe and make offerings.” When the gods heard this they all stayed where they were up in the clouds.
Monkey then brought his cloud down to land and went straight into the prefectural palace, where Sanzang, Pig and Friar Sand all greeted him. The marquis kowtowed to him in thanks at every pace he took.
“Stop thanking me,” said Monkey. “I've asked the gods of the four departments to stay. Could you tell everyone to come here to kowtow and thank them so that they'll make it rain properly in future?” The marquis issued urgent orders summoning everyone to give thanks, and they all kowtowed with incense-sticks in their hands. The gods of the four departments-rain, thunder, cloud and wind-then parted the clouds and revealed themselves in their true form.
The dragon king appeared,
The thunder generals were revealed,
The clouds boys were seen,
The lords of the wind came down.
The dragon king appeared:
With silver whiskers and an azure face he was really peerless.
The thunder generals were revealed
With their countenances of matchless might and crooked mouths.
The cloud boys were seen
Wearing gold crowns over faces like jade.
The lords of the wind came down
With flustered brows and bulging eyes.
All were displayed on the azure clouds
Drawn up in ranks with their holy countenances.
Only then were the people of Fengxian convinced
As they kowtowed, burned incense and rejected evil.
Today they gazed up at the heavenly generals,
Washing their hearts as they all turned to goodness.
The gods stood there for two hours as the people kowtowed to them endlessly. Monkey rose up into the clouds again to bow to all the gods and say, “I've put you to great trouble. All you gentlemen may now return. I'll make everyone in this prefecture give pure and lofty offerings to thank you at the due season. From now on you gentlemen must send wind every five days and rain every ten days to help them out.” The gods all consented as he told them and returned to their own departments.
Bringing his cloud down to land, Monkey said to Sanzang, “Now that the job's been done and the people given peace we can pack our things and be on our way again.”
When the marquis heard this he hastened to bow and say, “How can you say such a thing, Lord Sun? What has happened today has been an infinitely great act of kindness. I have sent people to prepare a humble banquet to thank you for your great kindness. Then I will buy some land from the people to build a monastery for you, my lords, with a shrine to you with inscribed tablets where offerings can be made in all four seasons. Even if I were to carve my own bones and heart it would be hard to repay a ten thousandth part of what I owe you. You can't possibly leave.”
“What Your Excellency says is very fine,” Sanzang replied, “but we are pilgrim monks who can only put up for the night on our journey West. We cannot stay here long. We definitely must leave in a day or two.” The marquis refused to let them go, and he ordered many people to prepare a banquet and start building a monastery that very night.
The next day there was a magnificent banquet at which the Tang Priest took the place of honour while the Great Sage Monkey sat beside him with Pig and Friar Sand. The marquis and his officials high and low passed them cups of wine and dishes of food while fine music was played, and so they were entertained all day. It was a most happy occasion, and there is a poem to prove it:
After long drought the fields received sweet rain;
Merchants were travelling along all watercourses.
They were deeply moved by the monks who had come to the city,
And by the Great Sage who had gone up to Heaven.
The three things had now been accomplished;
One thought had brought all back to the good.
From now on all longed for a new golden age
With ideal weather and good harvests for ever.
The banquets went on for days, as did the giving of thanks, until they had been kept there for almost half a month. All that remained to do was complete the monastery and the shrine. One day the marquis invited the four monks to go to inspect them.
“How did you complete so enormous a project so quickly?” asked the Tang Priest in astonishment.
“I pressed the laborers to work night and day without stopping and insisted most urgently that they finish quickly,” the marquis replied. “Now I would like you gentlemen to come and inspect it.”
“You certainly are a most good and able marquis,” said Monkey with a smile. By now they had all reached the new monastery, where they were full of admiration for the towering halls and the majestic entrance. Monkey asked Sanzang to name the monastery.
“Very well,” Sanzang said, “I name it the Monastery of Salvation by Timely Rain.”
“Splendid,” said the marquis, “splendid.” He then issued a golden invitation to monks from far and wide to come to burn incense there. To the left of the Buddha hall was a shrine to the four pilgrims at which offerings were to be made in each of the four seasons every year. Temples had also been built for the thunder gods and dragon gods to thank them for their divine efforts. When the visit was over Sanzang ordered an early departure.
When the local people realized that the monks could be persuaded to stay no longer they all prepared parting gifts, none of which the travelers would accept. Then all the officials in the prefecture escorted them on their way for ten miles with a band playing and a great display of flags and canopies. Still loath to let the travelers go, the officials watched with tears in their eyes till they had disappeared from sight. Only then did the officials return to the city. Indeed:
The virtuous and holy monk left behind the Salvation Monastery;
The Great Sage Equaling Heaven dispensed great kindness.
If you don't know how many more days after this departure it was that they finally saw the Tathagata Buddha, listen to the explanation in the next installment.
When the Dhyana Reaches Yuhua a Display of Magic Is Given
The Mind-Ape and the Mother of Wood Take Their Own Disciples
The story tells how after happily taking their leave of the marquis the Tang Priest turned to Monkey as he rode and said, “Worthy disciple, this good result was even better than rescuing the babies in Bhiksuland, and it was all your achievement.”
“In Bhiksuland you only saved 1,111 little boys,” said Friar Sand. “That's no comparison with this heavy, soaking rain that's saved tens of thousands of lives. I've been quietly admiring my big brother's magical powers that extend right up to the heavens, as well as his mercy that covers the whole earth.”
“Merciful and good our big brother may be,” said Pig with a laugh, “but it's just a show of being kind. Inside he's a troublemaker. When he's with me he treats me like dirt.”
“When have I ever treated you like dirt?” Monkey protested. “Often enough,” replied Pig. “You're always seeing to it that I get tied up, hung up, boiled and steamed. After being so kind to all those tens of thousands of people in Fengxian you should have stayed there for half a year and let me have a few more good filling meals. Why did you have to be sending us on our way?”
When the venerable elder heard this he shouted, “You idiot! Can you think of nothing but your greed? Stop quarrelling and be on your way.” Daring say no more, Pig thrust out his snout, shouldered the luggage, and followed the master and his fellow disciples along the road, laughing loudly.
Time moved as fast as a shuttle, and soon it was late autumn. What could be seen was,
The end of ripples on the waters,
The mountains' bones looking lean.
Red leaves fly around,
In the time of yellowing flowers.
Under the clear and frosty sky the nights seem longer;
The moon shines white through the windows.
Many the household fires in the evening light;
The water gleams cold all over the lake.
The clover fern is now white,
While knotweed blooms red.
Mandarins are green and oranges yellow;
Willows are withering and the millet is ripe.
Beside the desolate village wild geese land among the reeds;
Cocks call by the country inn while the beans are harvested.
When the four of them had been travelling for a long time they saw the towering shape of a city wall. “Wukong,” said Sanzang, waving his riding-crop, “you can see there's another city there. I wonder where it is.”
“Neither of us have ever been here before,” Monkey replied, “so how could I know? Let's go ahead and ask.”
Before the words were out of his mouth an old man appeared from among some trees. He was leaning on a stick, lightly dressed with coconut sandals on his feet and had a sash round his waist. The Tang Priest hastily dismounted and went over to greet the old man.
Returning his greeting as he leaned on his stick, the old man asked, “Where are you from, reverend sir?”
“I am a poor monk sent by the Tang court in the East to worship the Buddha in the Thunder Monastery and fetch the scriptures,” the Tang Priest replied, putting his hands together in front of his chest. “Now that I have come to this distinguished place I wonder which city it is that I can see in the distance, and I would ask you, venerable benefactor, to inform me.”
When the old man heard this he replied, “Enlightened master of the dhyana, this humble place of ours is Yuhua County in one of the prefectures of India. The lord of our city is a member of the king of India 's royal family who has been made prince of Yuhua. He is a very worthy prince who respects both Buddhist and Taoist clergy and cares deeply for the common people. If you go to see him he will certainly treat you with great respect.” Sanzang thanked the old man, who went off through the woods.
Sanzang then turned back to tell his disciples what had happened. The three of them were happily going to help the master back on his horse when Sanzang said, “It's not far. There is no need to ride.” The four of them then walked to a street beside the city wall to take a look. This was an area where traders lived; it was crowded with people and business was good. The people looked and sounded no different from those of China. “Be careful, disciples,” said Sanzang. “On no account must you act wild.”
At that Pig bowed his head and Friar Sand covered his face, leaving only Monkey to support the master. On both sides of the road people were crowding in to look at them, shouting, “We only have eminent monks who subdue dragons and tigers here. We've never seen monks who subdue pigs and monkeys before.” This was more than Pig could stand.
Thrusting his snout at them he said, “Have you ever seen a monk in all your life who subdued the king of the pigs?” This gave all the people in the street so bad a fright that they fell back on both sides of them stumbling and tripping over, trying to get away.
“Put that snout away at once, you idiot,” said Monkey with a grin, “and don't try to make yourself look pretty. Just pay attention while you're crossing the bridge.” The idiot lowered his head and kept grinning. Once over the drawbridge they entered the city, where the main roads were bustling and prosperous with bars and houses of entertainment. It was indeed a city in a divine region, and there is a poem to prove it that goes,
An eternally iron-strong city like splendid brocade,
Full of fresh color, lying next to a river near mountains,
Connected by boat with lakes for the movement of goods.
A thousand wine-shops await behind curtains.
Everywhere smoke rises from towering buildings;
Each morning the lanes are filled with the hubbub of traders.
The look of the city was much like Chang'an:
Cock-crows and the barking of dogs were all just the same.
“I have heard tell of the foreigners in the West,” Sanzang thought with secret delight, “but I have never come here before. On close examination it is no different from our Great Tang. This must be what is meant by paradise.” When he learned that a bushel of hulled rice cost only four tenths of an ounce of silver and a pound of sesame oil only eight thousandths of an ounce of silver he realized that this truly was a place where crops grew in abundance.
After walking for quite a long time they reached the prince of Yuhua's palace. On either side of the palace gates were the office of the remembrancer, the law courts, the prince's kitchens and the government hostel.
“Disciples,” said Sanzang, “here is the palace. Wait while I go inside for the prince to inspect our passport and let us on our way.”
“We can't very well stand at the gates while you go in, Master,” said Pig.
“Can you not see 'Government Hostel' written over that gateway?” Sanzang asked. “Go and sit there and see if you can buy some fodder for the horse. If the prince offers me a meal when I have my audience with him I will send for you to share it.”
“Go on in, Master, and don't worry,” said Brother Monkey. “I can cope.” Friar Sand carried the luggage into the hostel, where the staff were so alarmed by their hideous faces that they did not dare ask them any questions or send them away but could only invite them to sit down.
Meanwhile the master changed his habit and hat and went straight into the prince's palace with the passport in his hands. Soon he was met by a protocol officer who asked, “Where are you from, reverend sir?”
“I am a monk sent by the Great Tang in the East to worship the Lord Buddha and fetch the scriptures in the Great Thunder Monastery,” Sanzang replied. “Now that I have reached this distinguished place I would like to have my passport inspected and returned, which is why I have come to seek an audience with His Royal Highness.” The protocol officer passed this on, and as the prince was indeed an enlightened one he sent for Sanzang at once.
Sanzang bowed in greeting before the prince's hall, and the prince invited him into the hall to sit down. When the prince read the passport that Sanzang handed him and saw the seals and signatures from so many countries on it he signed it himself, folded it up and put it on his table. “Venerable Teacher of the Nation,” he said, “you have passed through many countries on your way here from Great Tang. How long has your journey taken?”
“I have kept no record of the distance,” Sanzang said, “but some years ago the Boddhisattva Guanyin appeared to me and left an address in verse in which it was said that the road would be sixty thousand miles long. I have already seen fourteen winters and summers on my journey.”
“That means fourteen years,” the prince replied. “I should imagine that there were many delays along the way.”
“It would be hard to tell of them all,” said Sanzang. “There were thousands of monsters and I don't know how much suffering to be endured before I could reach here.” The prince was so pleased with his visitor that he ordered his kitchens to prepare a vegetarian meal for him.
“I wish to inform Your Royal Highness that I have three disciples,” Sanzang said. “As they are waiting outside I will not be able to delay our journey by accepting the meal.” The prince then ordered his aides to go straight out to invite the venerable elder's three disciples into the palace to share the meal.
When the aides went out with this invitation they said, “We can't see them, we can't see them.”
“There are three hideous monks sitting in the hostel,” one of their staff said. “Must be them.”
The aides and their staff then went to the hostel, where they asked the people in charge, “Which are the disciples of the monk from Great Tang who's going to fetch the scriptures? His Royal Highness has invited them to a meal.”
As soon as Pig, who was sitting there snoozing, heard the word “meal" he could not help jumping up and saying, “We are, we are,” at the sight of which the palace aides' souls flew from their bodies as they shivered and said, “A pig demon! A pig demon!”
When Monkey heard this he seized hold of Pig and said, “Act a bit more civilized, brother, and don't be so wild.” When the officials saw Monkey they all said, “A monkey spirit! A monkey spirit!”
“There's no need to be frightened,” said Friar Sand, raising his hands together in polite greeting. “We're all disciples of the Tang Priest.”
“A stove god, a stove god,” was the officials' reaction to the sight of him. Monkey then told Pig to lead the horse and Friar Sand to shoulder the carrying-pole as they followed the officials' staff into the prince of Yuhua's palace. The aides went ahead to announce them.
When the prince looked up and saw how ugly they were he too was frightened. “Do not be alarmed, Your Royal Highness,” said Sanzang, putting his hands together in front of his chest. “Although my rough disciples are ugly they have good hearts.”
Pig intoned a noise of respect and said, “How do you do?” This made the prince feel even more alarmed.
“All my rough disciples are from the wilds and the mountains and they do not know how to behave,” Sanzang explained, “so please forgive them.” Overcoming his fear, the prince told the superintendent of his kitchens to take the monks to eat in the Gauze Pavilion.
Sanzang thanked the prince, came down from the hall to proceed to the pavilion with his disciples, then grumbled at Pig, “You idiot,” he said, “you've not a shred of manners. If you had kept your mouth shut that would have been fine, but why did you have to be so coarse? That one remark from you was enough to knock a mountain over.”
“I did better by not making a respectful chant,” said Monkey, “and I saved a bit of my breath too.”
“You didn't even intone the chant properly,” said Friar Sand to Pig. “First of all, you stuck your snout out and roared.”
“It makes me hopping mad,” said Pig. “The other day the master told me that the polite thing when I met someone was to say, 'How do you do?' I do it today and you tell me it's wrong. How do you want me to behave?”
“I told you to say, 'How do you do?' when you meet people,” Sanzang replied, “but not to make such a fool of yourself when you meet a prince. As the saying goes, things, like people, come in grades. Why can't you see the differences of social rank?” While he was still making these remarks the superintendent of the kitchens led servants in to set out tables and chairs and serve the vegetarian feast. Then the monks stopped talking and started eating their meal.
When the prince withdrew from the palace hall to his living quarters his three sons noticed his pallor and asked, “What has given you such a fright today, Father?”
“A most remarkable monk has arrived,” the prince replied. “He has been sent by the Great Tang in the East to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures, and he came to present his passport. When I invited him to take a meal he told me that he had some disciples outside the palace, so I asked them in. When they came in a moment later they didn't kowtow to me but just said, 'How do you do?' That was upsetting enough. Then when I looked at them I saw that they were all as ugly as demons, which gave me quite a shock. That's why I'm looking pale.”
Now the three young princes were no ordinary boys. They were all fond of the martial arts, so they stretched out their hands, rolled up their sleeves and said, “They must be evil spirits from the mountains disguised as humans. Wait while we fetch our weapons and take a look at them.”
Splendid young princes! The eldest wielded a brow-high rod, the second a nine-toothed rake and the third a black-painted cudgel, and the three of them strode with great valour and spirit out of the palace, shouting, “What's this about monks fetching scriptures? Where are they?”
“Young prince,” replied the superintendent of the kitchens and the others on their knees, “they're eating in the Gauze Pavilion.”
The young princes then charged straight in without stopping to think as they shouted, “Are you men or monsters? Tell us at once and we'll spare your lives.”
This gave Sanzang such a fright that he turned pale, dropped his bowl, bowed to them and replied, “I have come from Great Tang to fetch the scriptures. I am a man, not a monster.”
“You look human enough,” the princes said, “but the three ugly ones are definitely monsters.”
Pig kept eating and ignored them, while Friar Sand and Monkey bowed and said, “We're all human. Our faces may be ugly but our hearts are good, and despite our clumsy bodies we have good natures. Where are you three from, and why are you shooting your mouths off so wildly?”
“These three gentlemen are His Royal Highness's sons,” explained the superintendent of the kitchens and the others who were standing at the side of the pavilion.
“Well, Your Highnesses,” said Pig, throwing down his bowl, “what are you carrying those weapons for? Do you want a fight with us?”
The second prince strode forward wielding his rake in both hands to strike at Pig, which made him say with a chuckle, “That rake of yours is only fit to be the grandson of my one.” With that he stripped down, pulled his own rake out from his belt and swung it, making ten thousand beams of golden light, then went through some movements, leaving a thousand strands of auspicious vapor. The second prince was so terrified that his hands went weak and his muscles turned numb and he lost the nerve for any more showing off.
When Monkey saw that the oldest of the young princes was leaping about with a brow-high rod he brought his own gold-banded cudgel out from his ear and shook it to make it as thick as a bowl and twelve or thirteen feet long. Ramming it into the ground, he made a hole about three feet deep in which it stood upright, then said with a smile, “I'm giving you this cudgel.”
As soon as the prince heard this he threw his own rod down and went to take the cudgel, but though he pulled at it with all his strength he couldn't move it by as much as a hair's breath. Then he straightened himself up and shook it, but it was as if it had taken root. At this the third prince started acting wild, moving into the attack with his black-painted cudgel. Friar Sand dodged the blow, then brought out his own demon-quelling staff, and as he fingered it brilliant light and glowing, coloured clouds came from it, leaving the superintendent of the kitchens and the rest of them wide-eyed and speechless. The three young princes then kowtowed, saying, “Divine teachers, divine teachers, we mere mortals failed to recognize you. We beg you to give us a display of your powers.”
Monkey went up to them, effortlessly picked up his cudgel and said, “It's too cramped here for me to do my stuff. I'm jumping up into the auto play around and give you something to see.”
The splendid Great Sage went whistling up by somersault and stood on an auspicious cloud of many colours up in mid-air about three hundred feet above the ground. Then he moved up and down and spun to left and right as he performed a Canopy from Which Flowers Are Scattered and a Twisting Dragon with his gold-banded club. At first both he and the cudgel moved like flowers being added to brocade, but later he could no longer be seen as the whole sky was filled with the whirling cudgel.
As he roared his approval from down below Pig could not keep still, and with a great shout of “I'm going to have a bit of fun too!” the splendid idiot rode a breeze up into the air and started swinging his rake. He went three times up, four times down, five times to the left, six times to the right, seven times forwards and eight times backwards as he ran through all the movements he knew, filling the air with a noise like a howling gale.
Just when he had warmed up Friar Sand said to Sanzang, “Master, let me go up and give a show too.” Springing up into the air with both feet, the splendid monk whirled his club through the air, which glittered with golden light. Wielding his demon-subduing cudgel he performed a Red Phoenix Facing the Sun and a Hungry Tiger Seizing Its Prey, attacking hard and defending with time to spare as he turned for a sudden forward thrust. The three brother disciples all gave a most imposing display of their magical powers. This was indeed
An image of the dhyana, no common sight;
The causation of the Great Way filling all of space.
Metal and wood fill the dharma-world with their might;
A pinch of elixir produces perfect unity.
The quality of these magic warriors is often displayed;
The splendor of their weapons is widely revered.
Lofty though India is,
The princes of Yuhua now return to the central truth.
This all so terrified the three young princes that they fell to their knees in the dust; and all the staff in the Gauze Pavilion, high and low, together with the senior prince in his palace, all the soldiers, civilians, men and women, Buddhist monks and nuns, Taoist clergy, lay people-everyone in fact-all invoked the Buddha, kowtowed, held sticks of incense and worshipped. Indeed:
All the monks were converted at the sight of the true images,
Bringing blessings to mankind and the joys of peace.
From here the achievement was won on the road to enlightenment;
All joined in meditation and worshipped the Buddha.
When the three of them had given a display of their heroic powers they brought their auspicious clouds down to land, put their weapons away, joined their hands together in homage to the Tang Priest, thanked him and took their seats again.
The three young princes hurried back into the palace to report to their father, “A most wonderful thing has happened, Father. Today has been a tremendous success. Did you see the performance in the sky just now?”
“When I saw the coloured clouds glowing in the sky a little while back I, your mother and everyone else in the inner palace burned incense and worshipped,” the prince, their father, replied. “I don't know where the gods or immortals who had gathered there were from.”
“They weren't gods and immortals from somewhere else,” the young princes said. “They were the three hideous disciples of the monk who's going to fetch the scriptures. One of them uses a gold-banded iron cudgel, one a nine-toothed take, and one a demon-quelling staff, all exactly the same as our three weapons. When we asked them to give us a display they said it was too cramped down here to be able to manage, so they'd go up into the sky to give us a show. Then they all went up on clouds, filling the sky with auspicious clouds and vapors. They only came down a moment ago, and they're now sitting in the Gauze Pavilion. We are all very taken with them and we'd like to make them our teachers and learn their skills to protect the country with. This really will be an enormous achievement. I wonder what Your Majesty thinks.” When the prince, their father, heard this he was convinced and agreed.
Father and sons then went straight to the Gauze Pavilion, going on foot instead of by carriage, and without any parasols. The four travelers had by now packed up their luggage and were just about to go to the palace to thank the prince for the meal and start out on their journey again when they saw the prince of Yuhua and his sons come into the pavilion and prostrate themselves before them. The venerable elder hurriedly rose and prostrated himself to return the courtesy, while Monkey and the rest of them moved aside with a hint of a mocking grin. When the kowtowing was over the four travelers were happy to go into the palace on being invited to do so and take seats of honour.
Then the senior prince got up and said, “Tang Master, there is one thing I would like to ask of you, but I do not know whether your three illustrious disciples will grant it.”
“My disciples will obey any instruction that Your Royal Highness gives them,” Sanzang replied.
“When I first saw you gentlemen,” said the prince, “I took you for pilgrim monks from distant Tang, and because I am a mere mortal with fleshly eyes I treated you in a most offhand way. It was only when I saw Teacher Sun, Teacher Zhu and Teacher Sand whirling around in the sky that I realized you are immortals and Buddhas. My three wretched sons have been fond of the martial arts all their lives and they now wish most sincerely to be accepted as your disciples and learn some of your skills. I beg that in the greatness of your hearts you will agree to be the salvation of my boys. I will certainly reward you with all the wealth of the city.”
When Brother Monkey heard this he could not restrain himself from replying with a chuckle, “You really don't understand, Your Royal Highness. As monks we'd love to have disciples, and your fine sons have their hearts set on goodness. But you mustn't talk about material benefits. As long as they can get on with us we'll look after them.” This delighted the prince, who ordered a great banquet in the main hall of the palace. It was amazing: no sooner had he issued his order than everything was there. This is what could be seen:
Fluttering silken decorations,
Darkly fragrant incense smoke.
Gold-inlaid tables hung with knotted silks,
Dazzling the eyes;
Lacquered chairs with cushions of brocade,
Making them even more splendid.
Three or four courses of pure confectioneries,
One or two servings of rich and pure breadrolls.
The crisp steamed honeycakes were even finer;
The deep-fried sweets were truly delicious.
There were jugs of mild rice-wine,
Better than nectar when poured;
Servings of Yangxian tea that is fit for immortals,
More fragrant than cassia when held in the hands.
Every possible dish is provided;
All that is offered is outstanding.
Meanwhile there was singing, dancing, instrumental music, acrobatics and opera to entertain them. Master, disciples, the prince and his sons all had a day of delight, and after night fell unnoticed they dispersed. The princes then had beds and curtains set up in the pavilion and invited their teachers to turn in for the night; early the next morning they would piously burn incense and call on them again to ask them to teach their martial skills. These orders were obeyed, and hot, scented water was brought in for the travelers to bath in, after which everyone went to bed. At that time
The birds perched high in the trees and all was silent;
The poet came down from his couch to end his chanting.
The light of the Milky Way now filled the sky,
And the grass grew thicker along the overgrown path.
The bang of a washing stick came from another courtyard;
The distant mountains and passes made one long for home.
The chirp of crickets expressed people's feelings,
Chirruping at the bedside interrupted one's dreams.
That describes the night. Early the next morning the prince and his three sons came to call on the venerable elder again. The previous day they had greeted each other with the etiquette appropriate to a prince, but today's greetings were those appropriate to teachers.
The three young princes kowtowed to Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, then asked with bows, “Will you let your disciples have a look at your weapons, honoured teachers?” As soon as Pig heard this request he happily brought out his iron rake and threw it on the ground, while Friar Sand tossed his staff against the wall. The second and third young princes sprang to their feet to pick them up, but they might just as well have been dragonflies trying to shake a stone pillar: they both strained themselves till they were red in the face without moving the weapons in the slightest. When their elder brother saw this he said, “Don't waste your efforts, brothers. Our teachers' weapons are all magical ones. Goodness only knows how heavy they are.”
“My rake's not all that heavy,” said Pig with a smile. “It only weighs a couple of tons-5,048 pounds including the handle.”
The third prince then asked Friar Sand how heavy his staff was. “It's 5,048 pounds too,” replied Friar Sand with a smile.
The oldest of the young princes then asked Brother Monkey to let him see the gold-banded cudgel. Monkey produced the needle from his ear, shook it in the wind to make it as thick as a rice bowl, and stood it upright in the ground in front of him, to the consternation and alarm of all the princes and officials. The three young princes then kowtowed again and said, “Teacher Zhu and Teacher Sand carry their weapons under their clothes where they can get them out. Why do you take yours out of your ear, Teacher Sun? How do you make it grow in the wind?”
“You wouldn't realize that this isn't some mere mortal object,” Monkey replied.
“When chaos was first parted the iron was cast:
Yu the Great had the work done himself.
When he unified the depths of rivers, lakes and seas
This cudgel served as a measuring rod.
In the prosperity after mountains and seas had been ordered
It floated to the gates of the Eastern Ocean.
Over the years it gave off a coloured glow,
Learned to shrink and to grow and shine with pure light.
It was my destiny to recover this rod
Which endlessly changes when I say the spell.
When I tell it to grow it fills the universe,
But it can be as tiny as a needle's eye.
It's known as As-You-Will and called gold-banded;
In Heaven and on Earth it is quite unique.
Its weight is thirteen thousand and five hundred pounds;
Whether thick or fine it can bring life or death.
Once it helped me make havoc in Heaven,
And took part when I attacked the Underworld.
It always succeeds in subduing dragons and tigers,
Everywhere wipes out monsters and ogres.
If it points up the sun goes dark;
Heaven, earth, gods, devils, all are afraid.
Passed on by magic since the birth of time,
This is no ordinary piece of iron.”
When the young princes had heard this they all started kowtowing endlessly, bowing over and over agai