Journey to the West

Journey to the West – Chapter 2: Spirit−Nature

 

 

The story goes on to tell how after being given a name the Handsome Monkey King jumped for joy and bowed to Subhuti to express his thanks. The Patriarch then ordered the others to take Sun Wukong out through the double doors and teach him how to sprinkle and sweep the floor, answer orders, and deport himself properly. All the Immortals went out in obedience to this command. When Sun Wukong was outside the doors he bowed to all his spiritual elder brothers and laid out his bed on the veranda. The next morning and every following day he studied language and deportment under his spiritual elder brothers, expounded the scriptures, discussed the Way, practised calligraphy, and burnt incense. When he had any spare time he would sweep the grounds, dig the vegetable patch, grow flowers, tend trees, look for kindling, light the fire, carry water, and fetch soy. Everything he needed was provided. Thus six or seven years slipped by in the cave without his noticing them. One day the Patriarch took his seat on the dais, called all the Immortals together, and began to explain the Great Way.

Heavenly flowers fell in profusion,

While golden lotuses burst forth from the earth.

Brilliantly he expounded the doctrine of the Three Vehicles,

Setting forth ten thousand Dharmas in all their details.

As he slowly waved his whisk, jewels fell from his mouth,

 

Echoing like thunder and shaking the Nine Heavens.

Now preaching the Way,

Now teaching meditation,

He showed that the Three Beliefs are basically the same.

In explaining a single word he brought one back to the truth,

And taught the secrets of avoiding birth and understanding one’s nature.

As Monkey sat at the side listening to the exposition he was so delighted that he tugged at his ear, scratched his cheek and smiled. He could not help waving his hands and stamping. When the Patriarch noticed this he said to Monkey, “Why are you leaping around like a madman in class instead of listening to the lesson?”

“Your disciple is listening to the exposition with all his attention,” Monkey replied, “but your marvellous words made me so happy that I started jumping around without realising what I was doing. Please forgive me.”

To this the Patriarch replied, “If you really understand my marvellous words, then answer this question. How long have you been in my cave?”

“You disciple was born stupid,” Monkey replied, “so I’ve no idea how long I’ve been here. All I know is that whenever the fire in the stove goes out I go to the other side of the mountain to collect firewood and there I see a hill covered with fine peach trees. I’ve had seven good feeds of peaches there.”

“That hill is called Tender Peach Hill. If you have eaten there seven times you must have been here seven years. What sort of Way do you want to learn from me?”

“That depends what you teach me, master. As long as there’s a whiff of Way to it, your disciple will learn it.”

“There are three hundred and sixty side−entrances to the Way, and they all lead to a True Dao,” the Patriarch said. “Which branch would you like to study?”

“I will do whatever you think best, master,” replied Monkey.

“What about teaching you the Way of Magic Arts?”

“What does ‘the Way of Magic Arts’ mean?”

“Magic arts,” the Patriarch replied, “include summoning Immortals, using the magic sandboard, and divining by milfoil. With them one can learn how to bring on good fortune and avert disaster.”

“Can you become immortal this way?” asked Monkey.

“No, certainly not,” replied the Patriarch.

“No. Shan’t learn it.”

“Shall I teach you the Way of Sects?” the Patriarch asked.

“What are the principles of the Sects?” said Monkey.

“Within the branch of Sects, there is Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, the study of the Negative and Positive, Mohism, medicine, reading scriptures and chanting the name of a Buddha. You can also summon Immortals and Sages with this branch.”

“Can you attain immortality that way?” asked Monkey.

“To try and attain immortality that way,” the Patriarch replied, “is like ‘putting a pillar in the wall.'”

“Master,” Monkey said, “I’m a simple chap and I can’t understand your technical jargon. What do you mean by ‘putting a pillar in the wall?'”

“When a man builds a house and wants to make it strong he puts a pillar in the wall. But when the day comes for his mansion to collapse the pillar is bound to rot.”

“From what you say,” Monkey observed, “it’s not eternal. No. Shan’t learn it.”

“Shall I teach you the Way of Silence?” the Patriarch then asked.

“What Dao can be got from Silence?” said Monkey.

“It involves abstaining from grain, preserving one’s essence, silence, inaction, meditation, abstaining from speech, eating vegetarian food, performing certain exercises when asleep or standing up, going into trances, and being walled up in total isolation.”

“Is this a way of becoming immortal?” Monkey asked.

“It’s like building the top of a kiln with sun−dried bricks,” the patriarch replied.

“You do go on, master,” said Sun Wukong. “I’ve already told you that I can’t understand your technical jargon.

What does ‘building the top of a kiln with sun−dried bricks’ mean?”

“If you build the top of a kiln with sun−dried bricks they may make it look all right, but if they have not been hardened with fire and water, then they will crumble away in the first heavy rainstorm.”

“There’s nothing eternal about that either, then,” replied Monkey. “No. Shan’t learn that.”

“Shall I teach you the Way of Action then?” the Patriarch asked.

“What’s that like?” Monkey asked.

“It involves acting and doing, extracting the Negative and building up the Positive, drawing the bow and loading the crossbow, rubbing the navel to make the subtle humours flow, refining elixirs according to formulae, lighting fires under cauldrons, consuming ‘Red lead,’ purifying ‘Autumn Stone,’ and drinking women’s milk.”

“Can doing things like that make me live for ever?” Monkey asked.

“To try and attain immortality that way is like ‘lifting the moon out of water.'”

“What does ‘lifting the moon out of water’ mean?”

“The moon is in the sky,” the Patriarch replied, “and only its reflection is in the water. Although you can see it there, you will try in vain to lift it out.”

“No. Shan’t learn that,” Monkey exclaimed.

When the Patriarch heard this he gasped and climbed down from his dais. Pointing at Sun Wukong with his cane he said, “You won’t study this and you won’t study that, so what do you want, you monkey?” He went up to Monkey and hit him three times on the head, then went inside with his hands behind his back and shut the main door, abandoning them all. The class was shocked, and they all blamed Sun Wukong.

“You cheeky ape, you’ve no idea how to behave. The master was teaching you the Way, so why did you have to argue with him instead of learning from him? Now you’ve offended him we don’t know when he’ll come out again.” They were all very angry with him and regarded him with loathing and contempt. But Sun Wukong was not bothered in the least, and his face was covered with smiles.

The Monkey King had understood the riddle, and had the answer hidden away in his mind. So he did not argue with the others but bore it all without a word. When the Patriarch hit him three times he had been telling him to pay attention at the third watch; and when he went inside with his hands behind his back and shut the main door he had told the Monkey King to go in through the back door and be taught the Way in secret.

The delighted Sun Wukong spent the rest of that day with the others in front of the Three Stars Cave, looking at the sky and impatient for night to come. At dusk he went to bed like all the others, pretended to close his eyes, controlled his breathing, and calmed himself down. Nobody beats the watches or calls out the hour in the mountains, so he had no way of knowing the time except by regulating the breath going in and out of his nose. When he reckoned that it was about the third watch he got up very quietly, dressed, and slipped out through the front door away from the others. When he was outside he looked up and saw The moon was bright and clear and cold.

The Monkey King followed the old path to the back door, which he found to be ajar. “The Patriarch has left the door open, so he really intends to teach me the Way,” he exclaimed in delight. He tiptoed toward, went in sideways through the door, and walked over to the Patriarch’s bed, where he saw the Patriarch sleeping curled up, facing the inside of the room. Not daring to disturb him, Sun Wukong knelt in front of the bed. Before long the Patriarch woke up, stretched out both his legs, and mumbled to himself:

“It’s hard, hard, hard. The Way is very obscure,

Don’t make light of the Gold and the Cinnabar.

To teach miraculous spells to any but the Perfect Man,

Is to tire the voice and dry the tongue in vain.”

Sun Wukong said in reply, “Master, your disciple has been kneeling here for a long time.”

When the Patriarch heard that it was Sun Wukong who was speaking he pulled some clothes on, sat up cross−legged, and shouted, “It’s that monkey. Why have you come into my room instead of sleeping out in front?”

“Master, you told me publicly in front of the altar yesterday that your disciple was to come in here through the back gate at the third watch as you were going to teach me the Way. That is why I made so bold as to come to pay my respects beside my master’s bed.”

The Patriarch was very pleased to hear this and said to himself, “This wretch was indeed born of Heaven and Earth. Otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to understand my cryptic message.”

Sun Wukong said, “There is no third pair of ears in this room; your disciple is the only other person here. I hope, master, that in your great mercy you will teach me the Way of Immortality. If you do, I’ll always be grateful to you.”

“You are predestined,” the Patriarch said, “so I shall be happy to tell you. Since you understood my cryptic message, come over here and listen carefully while I teach you the miraculous Way of Immortality.” Sun Wukong kowtowed with gratitude and knelt before the bed, listening with all his attention. The Patriarch said:

“True spells, revealing secrets and all powerful,

Are the only sure way of protecting one’s life.

They all come from essence, vapour, and spirit,

Must be stored away securely, and never be divulged.

Must never be divulged, and be stored in the body,

Then the Way I teach you will flourish of itself.

Many are the benefits of learning spells:

They give protection from evil desires and make one pure.

Make one pure with a dazzling radiance

Like a bright moon shining on a cinnabar tower.

The moon contains a Jade Rabbit, the sun a Golden Crow,

The Tortoise and the Snake are always intertwined.

Always intertwined, then life is firm,

And one can plant golden lotuses in fire.

Grasp all the Five Elements and turn them upside down,

And when you are successful you can become a Buddha, or an Immortal.”

The Patriarch’s explanation went to the root of things, and Sun Wukong’s heart was filled with bliss as he committed the spells to memory. He bowed to the Patriarch to express his deep gratitude and went out of the back door to look. He saw that there was a trace of white in the East, while the golden light of the moon was shining in the West. He went to the front door by the old path, pushed it open gently, and went in.

He sat down where he had been sleeping earlier, shook his bedding and said loudly, “It’s dawn, it’s dawn. Get up.” The others were all asleep, unaware of Sun Wukong’s good fortune. At daybreak he got up and muddled through the day, while secretly keeping to what he had been told. In the afternoon and evening he regulated his breathing.

After three years had passed in this way the Patriarch once more sat on his lecturing throne and expounded the Dharma to the students. He recounted famous sayings and parables, and discussed external phenomena and external appearances.

Without warning he asked, “Where is Sun Wukong?” Sun Wukong went forward, knelt down and replied,

“Your disciple is present.”

“What Way have you cultivated since coming here?”

“Your disciple is now fairly well conversant with the Dharma,” Sun Wukong replied, “and my Source is getting gradually stronger.”

“If you are conversant with the Dharma and you know about the Source,” the Patriarch replied, “and if the spirit has already flowed into you, then you must beware of the ‘Three Disasters.'”

Sun Wukong thought for a long time, then he said, “Patriarch, you’re talking rubbish. I have often heard that the Way is lofty and its power mighty, that it is as eternal as Heaven, that it can overcome fire and water, and prevent all illnesses from arising, so how could there be “Three Disasters?'”

To this the Patriarch replied, “This is not the ordinary Way: it involves seizing the very creation of Heaven and Earth, and encroaching on the hidden workings of the sun and moon. Once the elixir is made, devils and spirits cannot tolerate it. Although it will preserve the youthfulness of your face and prolong your life, in five hundred years’ time Heaven will strike you with a thunderbolt. You must be clear−sighted in nature and mind, so that you can hide from it before it comes. If you succeed in avoiding it you will live as long as Heaven; and if you don’t, it will kill you. Another five hundred years later Heaven will burn you with fire. This fire will be not heavenly fire or ordinary fire but ‘hidden fire’. It will burn you from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head; your five viscera will be reduced to ashes, your four limbs will be destroyed, and a thousand years of asceticism will have been so much wasted time. Yet another five hundred years later a wind will blow at you. It will not be the North, South, East, or West wind, nor will it be a warm, fragrant wind from the Northwest; nor will it be the kind of wind that blows among flowers, willows, pine, and bamboo. It will be what is called a ‘monster wind’. It will blow through the crown of your head down into your six entrails. It will go through the Cinnabar Field below your navel and penetrate your nine orifices. Your flesh and your bones will be destroyed and your body will disintegrate. So you must avoid all three of these disasters.”

When he heard this Sun Wukong’s hair stood on end, and he kowtowed with the words, “I implore you, my lord, to show pity and teach me how to avoid these three disasters. If you do I will be grateful to you for ever.”

“That would be easy,” the Patriarch replied, “but for the fact that you are different from other people−−which means that I can’t.”

“I have a head that faces the sky and feet standing on earth,” said Sun Wukong. “I have nine orifices and four limbs, five viscera and six entrails. How am I different from anyone else?”

“Although you are quite like other people, your cheeks are too small.” Now the Monkey had a funny face, with cheeks that caved inwards and a sharp chin.

Sun Wukong felt it with his hand and replied with a laugh, “Master, you didn’t take everything into account.

Although I’m a bit short of jaw, I’ve got more dewlap than other people to make up for it.”

“Very well then,” the Patriarch said, “which would you prefer to learn: the thirty−six heavenly transformations or the seventy−two earthly ones?”

“Your disciple wants to get as much out of it as he can, so I would like to learn the seventy−two earthly ones.”

“If that’s what you want,” the Patriarch replied, “come here and I’ll teach you the spells.” Thereupon he whispered into Sun Wukong’s ear, and who knows what miraculous spells he taught him? The Monkey King was the sort of person who understands everything once he is told a tiny part, and he learned the spells on the spot. He practised and trained until he had mastered all seventy−two transformations. One day the Patriarch and all his disciples were enjoying the sunset outside the Three Stars Cave.

The Patriarch asked Sun Wukong, “Have you succeeded yet?”

Sun Wukong replied, “Thanks to your infinite mercy, master, your disciple’s results have been perfect, and I can now rise on the clouds and fly.”

“Let me see you try a flight,” the Patriarch said. Sun Wukong used his skill to perform a series of somersaults that carried him fifty or sixty feet into the air, then walked around on the clouds for about as long as it takes to eat a meal.

He covered about a mile altogether before landing in front of the Patriarch, folding his arms across his chest, and saying, “Master, that’s flying and soaring in the clouds.” The Patriarch laughed.

“That’s not soaring on the clouds−−it’s just climbing up them. There is an old saying that ‘an Immortal visits the Northern Sea in the morning and Cangwu in the evening’. But to take as long as you did just to go a mile doesn’t count as climbing on the clouds.”

“How can it be possible to visit the Northern Sea in the morning and Cangwu in the evening?” Sun Wukong asked.

“All cloud−soarers start off from the Northern Sea early in the morning, visit the Eastern, Western and Southern Seas, and then come back to Cangwu; Cangwu is what the Northern Sea is called in the Lingling language. When you can go beyond all four seas in a single day you can regard yourself as a cloud−soarer.”

“But that must be very difficult,” Sun Wukong observed.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way,” the Patriarch replied.

“Nothing by halves, master,” replied Sun Wukong with bows and kowtows, “I beg of you in your great mercy to teach me the art of cloud−soaring. I promise that I will always be grateful.”

“Immortals take off with a stamp of their feet,” said the Patriarch, “but you do it differently−−just now I saw you pull yourself up. As that is the way you do it, I’ll show you how to do it your own way and teach you the ‘somersault cloud.'” Sun Wukong bowed again, imploring him to do so, and the Patriarch taught him the spell.

“For this kind of cloud,” the Patriarch said, “you make the magic by clasping your hands in the special way, recite the words of the spell, clench your fist, shake yourself, and jump. With one somersault you can go sixty thousand miles.” When the others heard this they all exclaimed with a laugh.

“Lucky old Sun Wukong. With magic like this he could be−a messenger delivering official letters and reports, and he’d never go short of a meal.” When it was dark the Patriarch and his pupils returned to the cave. That night Sun Wukong moved his spirit, practised the technique, and mastered the cloud somersault. From then on he was free from all restraint and he enjoyed the delights of immortality, drifting around as he pleased.

On a day when spring was giving way to summer, and all the students had been sitting under some pine trees listening to lectures for a long time, they said, “Sun Wukong, in what life did you earn your present destiny?

The other day our teacher whispered to you how to do the transformations to avoid the Three Disasters. Can you do them all yet?”

“It’s true, brothers,” said Sun Wukong with a grin, “I can do them all. In the first place, it’s because our master taught me; and in the second place, it’s because I practised them hard day and night.”

 

“This would be a good time for you to give us a demonstration.” At this suggestion Sun Wukong braced his spirit to show off his skill.

“What’s it to be, brothers? Tell me what you’d like me to turn myself into.”

“Turn into a pine tree,” they all said. Sun Wukong clenched his fist, said the magic words, shook himself, and changed into a pine tree. It was truly green and misty throughout the four seasons, raising its upright beauty to the clouds. Not in the least like a demon monkey, every inch a tree that withstands frost and snow.

When the students saw it they clapped their hands and chuckled aloud, saying, “Good old monkey, good old monkey.” They did not realise that the row they were making had disturbed the Patriarch, who rushed out through the door, dragging his stick behind him.

“Who’s making a row out here?” he asked. The students hurriedly pulled themselves together, straightened their clothes and went over to him.

Sun Wukong, who had now resumed his real appearance, said from the forest, “Master, we were holding a discussion here, and there were no outsiders making a din.”

“Yelling and shouting like that,” the Patriarch angrily roared, “is no way for those cultivating their conduct to behave. If you are cultivating your conduct, the subtle vapours escape when you open your mouth, and when you wag your tongue, trouble starts. What was all the laughing and shouting about”

“Just now Sun Wukong did a transformation for fun. We told him to turn himself into a pine tree, and he did.

We all praised and applauded him, which was why we disturbed you with the noise, master. We beg you to forgive us.”

The Patriarch sent them all away except for Sun Wukong, to whom he said, “Come here. Is that a way to use your spirit? To change into a pine tree? Is this a skill you should be showing off in front of people? If you saw somebody else doing that, wouldn’t you ask him to teach you? If other people see you doing it, they’re bound to ask you to teach them, and if you want to keep out of trouble you’ll have to do so; otherwise they may do you harm, and then your life will be in danger.”

Sun Wukong kowtowed and said, “Please forgive me, master.”

“I shan’t punish you,” the Patriarch replied, “but you’ll have to go.” Sun Wukong’s eyes filled with tears.

“Master, where am I to go?”

 

“Go back to where you came from.” Sun Wukong had a sudden awakening, and he said, “I came from the Water Curtain Cave on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit in the country of Aolai in the Eastern Continent of Superior Body.”

“If you hurry back there,” the Patriarch replied, “you will be able to preserve your life. If you stay here it will be absolutely impossible to do so.” Sun Wukong accepted his punishment.

“Yes, master,” he said. “I’ve been away from home for twenty years and I do miss the old days and my children and grandchildren. But when I remember that I have not yet repaid your enormous generosity to me, I can’t bring myself to go.”

“What sort of kindness would you be doing me if you stayed? I’ll be happy enough if you keep me out of any disasters you cause.”

Seeing that there was nothing else for it, Sun Wukong bowed and took leave of him, saying good−bye to all the other students.

“Now that you’re going,” the Patriarch said, “I’m sure that your life will not be a good one. Whatever disasters you cause and crimes you commit, I forbid you under any circumstances to call yourself my disciple. If you so much as hint at it I’ll know at once, and I’ll tear off your monkey skin, chop up your bones, and banish your soul to the Ninth Darkness. I won’t let you out for ten thousand aeons.”

“I promise never to give away a single letter of your name,” said Sun Wukong. “I’ll just say that I taught myself.”

Sun Wukong took his leave and went away. Making the spell by clasping his fist he jumped head over heels, summoned a somersault cloud, and went back to the Eastern Continent. Within two hours he saw the Water Curtain Cave on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. The Handsome Monkey King was so pleased that he said to himself:

“When I left here my mortal flesh and bones were heavy,

But now I have the Way my body’s light.

No one in the world has real determination,

To the firm will, the hidden becomes clear.

When I last crossed the seas the waves got in my way,

But now on my return the journey’s easy.

The parting words still echo in my ears;

When will I see The Eastern Ocean again?”

 

Sun Wukong put away his cloud and headed straight to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. As he followed the path there he heard the call of the cranes and the cries of the apes. The crane calls echoed beyond the Milky Way, and the ape cries were pathetically sad.

Sun Wukong shouted, “Children, I’m back.”

Big monkeys and little monkeys came bounding in their thousands and tens of thousands from caves in the cliffs, from the grass and flowers, and down from the trees. They all crowded round the Handsome Monkey King, kowtowed and said, “Your Majesty, you’re a cool one. How could you stay away for so long, abandoning us all here? We’ve been desperate for you to come back. A demon has been mistreating us terribly. He’s occupied our Water Curtain Cave, and we’ve been fighting for our lives with him. Recently he’s been stealing our things and carrying off many of our youngsters. We’ve had to stay awake all night to guard our families. Thank goodness you’ve come back! Another year without you, Your Majesty, and every one of us would be under his control, cave and all.”

Sun Wukong was furious, “Who is this demon? What an outrage! Tell me everything about him, and then I’ll go and give him what’s coming to him.”

The monkey host kowtowed again and said, “Your Majesty, the wretch calls himself the Demon King of Confusion. He lives North of here.”

“How far away is his lair?” Sun Wukong asked.

“He comes and goes in cloud and mist with wind and rain, or thunder and lightning, so we don’t know how far it is.”

“If that’s how it is,” Sun Wukong replied, “then don’t worry. Just keep yourselves amused while I go and find him.”

The splendid Monkey King jumped up into the air, and as he somersaulted towards the North he saw a high and precipitous mountain. It was a fine sight:

The perpendicular peaks jutting straight up pierced the sky; The deep−sunk winding streams led to the underworld.

On pairs of cliffs the plants compete in strangeness;

Elsewhere pine vies in greenness with bamboo. To the left are docile dragons, to the right are tame tigers.

Iron oxen ploughing are a common sight,racing over stones, the clear waves twist and bend in a vicious torrent. Many are the famous mountains in the world, and many the flowers that bloom and wither on them. But this scenery is eternal, unchanging through the four seasons. It is truly the mountain from which the Three Worlds spring, the Cave in the Belly of the Water that nourishes the Five Elements.

As the Handsome Monkey King stood gazing in silence at this view, he heard voices. When he went down the mountainside to look he found the Cave in the Belly of the Water facing the cliff. Several minor demons were dancing around in front of the cave doors, and they ran away as soon as they saw Sun Wukong.

“Wait a moment,” Sun Wukong said. “I want you to take a message for me. I am the King of the Water Curtain Cave in the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit that lies due South of here. I’ve come to find that Demon of Confusion of yours, or whatever he’s called, the one who’s been mistreating my children and grandchildren, and have it out with him.”

The minor demons scuttled into the cave and reported, “A disaster, Your Majesty.”

“What do you mean, disaster?” the demon king asked.

“There’s a monkey outside the cave,” the minor demons reported, “who says that he’s the King of the Water Curtain Cave on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. He says that you have been bullying his children and grandchildren, and that he’s come specially to find you to have it out with you.” The demon king laughed.

“Those monkey devils are always going on about a king of theirs who renounced the world to cultivate his conduct; I suppose it must be him who’s here now. Did you see how he was dressed or what weapons he was carrying?”

“He hasn’t got any weapons. He’s bareheaded, and he’s wearing a red gown belted with a yellow silk sash, and a pair of black boots. He isn’t dressed like a monk, or a layman, or an Immortal. He’s bare−handed and empty−fisted, and he’s standing outside the doors yelling.”

“Bring me my armour and weapons,” said the demon king when he heard this. The minor demons produced them at once, and when he had donned his armour he went out of the door with all the demons, his sword in his hand.

“Who is the King of the Water Curtain Cave?” he roared. Sun Wukong took a quick look at him and saw that On his head he wore a dark golden helmet,

Glistening in the sun. On his body he wore a black silk gown, flapping in the breeze. Below that he wore black metal armour, on his feet he wore patterned boots, as splendid as a field−marshal’s. In his hand he held a sword,with gleaming point and edge.

He called himself the Demon King of Confusion And his appearance was truly dazzling.

“You insolent demon,” shouted the Monkey King. “Your eyes may be big but you can’t see who I am.”

The demon king laughed at him. “You don’t even stand four feet from the ground, you’re still in your twenties, and you’ve got no weapon in your hand. What sort of mad courage makes you challenge me to a fight?”

“You insolent demon,” retorted Sun Wukong, “how blind you are. You may think I’m small, but I can grow easily enough. You may think I’m unarmed, but I could pull the moon down from the sky with my two hands.

Don’t worry, old Sun Wukong will sock you one.” Sun Wukong gave a jump and leapt into the air, taking a swing at his face.

The demon king put out his hand to stop him and said, “Look how big I am, you dwarf. If you use your fists, I’ll use my sword. But I’d only make myself look a bully if I killed you with a sword. Wait till I’ve put my sword down and then I’ll give you a display of boxing.”

“Well said,” exclaimed Sun Wukong, “spoken like a man. Come on then.” The demon king dropped his guard to throw a punch, and Sun Wukong rushed in towards him, punching and kicking. When he spread out his hand it was enormous, and when he clenched his fist it was very hard. Sun Wukong hit the demon king in the ribs, kicked his backside, and smashed several of his joints. The demon king seized his steel sword that was as big as a plank, and swung it at Sun Wukong’s skull. Sun Wukong dodged the blow, and the sword only split air. Seeing how ugly the demon king had turned, Sun Wukong used his magic art of getting extra bodies. He pulled out one of his hairs, popped it in his mouth, chewed it up, and blew it out into the air, shouting,

“Change!” It turned into two or three hundred little monkeys, who all crowded round him.

Sun Wukong now had an immortal body, and there was no magic transformation of which he was not capable.

Since he had followed the Way he could change each of the eighty−four thousand hairs on his body into anything he wanted. The little monkeys were too quick and nimble for sword or spear.

Look at them, leaping forwards and jumping backwards, rushing up and surrounding the demon king, grabbing him, seizing him, poking him in the backside, pulling at his feet, punching him, kicking him, tearing his hair out, scratching at his eyes, twisting his nose, all picking him up together and throwing him to the ground. They went on until they had beaten him to a pulp. Sun Wukong snatched his sword from him, told the little monkeys to get out of the way, and brought it down on the crown of his head, splitting it into two.

Then he led his forces charging into the cave, where they exterminated all the demons, big and small. He shook his hair and put it back on his body. The monkeys who did not go back on his body were the little monkeys the demon king had carried off from the Water Curtain Cave. Sun Wukong asked them how they had got there.

There were thirty of forty of them, and they replied with tears in their eyes, “It was after Your Majesty went off to become an Immortal. He has been fighting with us for the last two years. He brought us all here by force. All the things here−−the stone bowls and plates−−were stolen from our cave by that beast.”

“If it’s our stuff, take it all out,” said Sun Wukong. He then set fire to the Cave in the Belly of the Water and burnt it to a cinder.

“Come back with me,” he ordered the monkeys.

“Your Majesty,” they replied, “when we came here all we could hear was the wind howling in our ears as it blew us here, so we don’t know the way. How are we ever going to get back?”

“There’s nothing at all to that spell he used,” said Sun Wukong. “I can do it too, as now I only have to know the smallest bit about something to understand it completely. Shut your eyes and don’t worry.”

Splendid Monkey King. He recited a spell, took them riding on a hurricane, then brought the cloud down to the ground.

“Open your eyes and look, children,” he shouted. As soon as the monkeys’ feet touched the ground they recognized their home. In their delight they all ran along the familiar path to the cave, and the monkeys who had stayed in the cave all crowded in as well. They divided themselves into age−groups and bowed in homage to the Monkey King. Wine and food was laid out to celebrate, and they asked him how he had defeated the demon king and saved their children. When Sun Wukong had told them the whole story the monkeys were full of admiration.

“Where did you learn such arts, Your Majesty?” they asked insistently.

“When I left you,” Sun Wukong replied, “I followed the waves and the currents, and drifted across the Eastern Ocean to the Southern Jambu Continent. Here I taught myself to take human form and to wear these clothes and boots. I swaggered around for eight or nine years, but I never found the Way, so I sailed across the Western Ocean to the Western Continent of Cattle−gift. After long enquiries I was lucky enough to meet a venerable Immortal, who taught me the True Result, which makes me as immortal as heaven, and the great Dharma Gate to eternal youth.” The monkeys all congratulated him and exclaimed that his like could not be found in a billion years.

Sun Wukong laughed and said, “Children, we should congratulate ourselves on having a surname.”

“What is Your Majesty’s surname?” the monkey masses asked.

“My surname is now Sun, and my Buddhist name is Wukong.”

The monkeys all clapped their hands with joy and said, “Your Majesty is Old Sun, and we are Second Sun, Third Sun, Thin Sun, Little Sun−−a family of Suns, a nation of Suns, a den of Suns.” They all offered Old Sun their respects, with big plates and small bowls of coconut toddy, grape wine, magic flowers, and magic fruit.

The whole household was happy. My word!

By uniting themselves with a single surname

They are waiting to be transferred to the Register of Immortals.

If you don’t know how this ended and want to know about the rest of their lives there, then listen to the explanation in the next instalment.


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