Chapter Nineteen

In the Cloud Pathway Cave Sun Wukong Wins over Zhu Bajie
On Pagoda Mountain Xuanzang Receives the Heart Sutra

The monster shot forward as a stream of sparks, with the Great Sage behind him on his coloured cloud. As he was racing along, Monkey saw a tall mountain appear in front of them. Here the monster put himself together again by reassembling the sparks, rushed into a cave, and came out with a nine-pronged rake in his hand to do battle.

“Wretch,” shouted Monkey, “where are you from? How do you know my name, you evil demon? What powers have you got? Tell me honestly, and I’ll spare your life.”

“You don’t know what I can do,” the monster replied. “Come a little nearer and stand still while I tell you:

I was born stupid,
An idler and a slacker.
I never nourished my nature or cultivated the truth,
But spent my time in primal ignorance.
Then I happened to meet a true Immortal,
Who sat down with me and chatted about the weather,
Advised me to reform and not to sink among mortals,
For taking life was a heinous sin.
One day, when my life came to an end,
It would be too late to regret the punishments in store.
His words moved me to seek reform,
And my heart longed for miraculous spells.
I was lucky enough to have him as my teacher;
He showed me the gates of Heaven and Earth.
He taught me the Nine Changes and the Great Return of Cinnabar,
As we worked by night and day with never a break.
It reached up to the Mud Ball Palace in my head,
And down to the Bubbling Spring in my feet.
The circulating magic liquid reached the Flowery Pool under my tongue,
And the Cinnabar Field in my abdomen was given extra warmth.
The Babe, lead, and the Girl, mercury, were married,
And combining together, they divided into sun and moon.
The Dragon and the Tiger were harmonized,
The Sacred Tortoise drank the Golden Crow’s blood.
The Three Flowers gathered at the top and returned to the root.
The Five Essences faced the Origin and flowed in all directions.
When their work was done, I could fly,
And the Immortals of Heaven came in pairs to greet me.
Coloured clouds grew beneath my feet,
As I faced Heavenly Palace gates with a body light and strong.
The Jade Emperor gave a banquet for all the Immortals,
And all lined up according to their grades.
I was made Field Marshal in charge of the Milky Way,
Commanding all the sailors on that river in the sky.
When the Queen Mother gave a Peach Banquet,
She invited many guests to the Jade Pool.
As drunkenness clouded my mind that day,
I lurched and staggered around.
As I charged in drunken pride into the Cool Broad Palace
I was greeted by an exquisite immortal maiden.
At the sight of her beauty my soul was captivated,
And I could not repress my mortal passions of old.
Losing all sense of rank and dignity,
I seized the beauty and asked her to sleep with me.
Three times, four times she refused,
Dodging and trying to hide in her distress.
Great was the courage of my lust, and I roared like thunder,
All but shaking down the gates of heaven.
The Miraculous Inspecting Officer reported to the Jade Emperor,
And from that day I was doomed.
The Cool Broad Palace was closely surrounded.
I could neither advance nor retreat: escape was impossible.
Then I was arrested by the gods,
But as I was still drunk I was not scared.
I was marched to the Hall of Miraculous Mist to see the Jade Emperor,
And, after questioning, sentenced to death.
Luckily the Great White Planet
Stepped forward, bowed low, and interceded.
My sentence was commuted to two thousand strokes of the heavy rod,
Which tore my flesh and all but smashed my bones.
I was released alive and expelled from Heaven,
So I tried to make a living on the Mount of Blessing.
For my sins I was reborn from the wrong womb,
And now I am known as Iron-haired Pig.”

“So you are an earthly reincarnation of Marshal Tian Peng,” said Brother Monkey when he heard this. “No wonder you knew my name.”

“Ha,” the monster snorted angrily. “Your insane rebellion caused trouble for very many of us, Protector of the Horses. Have you come here to throw your weight around again? I’ll teach you some manners. Take this!” Monkey was in no mood to spare him after this, and he struck at the monster’s head with his cudgel. The pair of them fought a magnificent midnight battle on that mountainside:

Monkey’s golden pupils flashed with lightning;
The monster’s glaring eyes sparked silver.
One disgorged coloured mist,
The other breathed out red clouds.
The red clouds lit up the night;
The coloured mists illuminated the darkness.
A gold-banded cudgel,
A nine-toothed rake,
And two splendid heroes.
One a Great Sage down among the mortals,
The other a marshal banished from Heaven.
One had been stripped of his honors and become a monster,
The other had been saved when he took service with a priest.
When the rake attacked, it was like a dragon stretching its claws;
The cudgel blocked it as nimbly as a phoenix flying through flowers.
Pig said,
“In wrecking my marriage your crime is as great as parricide.”
Monkey replied,
“You deserve to be arrested for raping that young girl.”
Amid these exchanges
And wild shouts,
The cudgel and the rake crossed and clashed.
They fought each other till the day began to dawn,
And the monster’s arms were tired right out.

They fought from the second watch of the night until the sky began to grow light in the East. The monster, no longer able to resist his enemy, broke away and fled, turning himself into a hurricane again. He went straight back to his cave, shut the gates behind him, and did not come out. Monkey saw a stone tablet outside the cave on which was inscribed CLOUD PATHWAY CAVE. The monster did not come out again and it was now broad daylight, so Monkey thought that as his master might be waiting for him he had better go back to see him. He could come back later to catch the monster. He gave his cloud a kick and was back in Old Gao Village in an instant.

Sanzang, meanwhile, had been talking all night with the elders about things ancient and modern, and had not slept a wink. Just as he was beginning to think that Brother Monkey would not come back, Monkey appeared in the courtyard, put away his iron club, straightened his clothes, and entered the main room.

“Master, I’m here,” he announced, giving the old men such a surprise that they all fell to their knees and thanked him for his efforts.

“You’ve been out all night, Monkey,” Sanzang said. “Where did you catch that evil spirit?”

“He’s no common or garden ghost, master,” Monkey replied, “and he isn’t an ordinary wild animal turned monster. He is Marshal Tian Peng, who was exiled to the mortal world. As he was placed in the wrong womb he has a face like a wild boar, but he’s still kept his original divine nature. He says that he takes his name from his looks and is called Zhu Ganglie, Iron-haired Pig. I was going to kill him in the building at the back, but he turned into a hurricane and fled. When I struck at this wind, he changed into sparks, went straight back to his cave, came out with a nine-pronged rake, and fought me all night. He broke off the engagement in terror as the dawn broke and shut himself in his cave. I was going to smash down the gates and have it out with him, but then it occurred to me that you might be worried after waiting for me so long, so I came back to put you in the picture first.”

After Monkey had made his report, Squire Gao came up and knelt before him saying, “Venerable sir, I’m afraid that although you’ve chased him away, he’ll come back after you’ve gone; so this is no real solution. Please, I beg of you, catch him for me and exterminate him to prevent trouble later. I promise you that I shall not be remiss if you do this for me, and there will, of course, be rich rewards. I shall write a deed, witnessed by my relations and friends, giving you half of my property and my land. Please, please eradicate this evil weed and save the honour of the family.”

“You’ve got no sense of what’s proper, old man,” replied Monkey with a grin. “He told me that although he may have put away a lot of your rice and tea, he’s also done you a lot of good. You’ve piled up a lot of wealth in the past few years, all thanks to his efforts. He says he hasn’t been eating your food in idleness, and wants to know why you’re trying to have him exorcised. He maintains that he is a heavenly Immortal come down to earth who has been working for your family and has never harmed your daughter. I would say that he is a very fitting son-in-law for you, who does your family’s name no harm. You really ought to keep him.”

“Venerable sir,” the old man replied, “he may never have done anything wicked, but it does our reputation no good to have a son-in-law like him. Whether he does anything or not, people say that the Gaos have asked a monster to marry into the family, and I simply can’t bear to hear a thing like that.”

“Go and have it out with him, and then we’ll see what to do,” said Sanzang.

“I’ll try a trick on him this time,” Monkey replied. “I guarantee to bring him back this time for you to look at. But don’t be angry with him.”

“Old Gao,” he continued, addressing the old man, “look after my master well. I’m off.”

By the time the words were out of his mouth, he had disappeared. He leapt up the mountain and smashed the gates of the cave to splinters with a single blow of his cudgel, shouting, “Come out and fight Monkey, you chaff-guzzling moron.” The monster, who had been snoring inside, heard the gates being smashed and the insulting “chaff-guzzling moron,” and went wild with fury.

Seizing his rake and summoning up his spirit, he rushed out and shrieked, “You shameless Protector of the Horses. What have I ever done to you to make you smash down my gates? You’d better take a look at the statute book: there’s the death penalty for breaking and entering.”

“You fool,” laughed Monkey, “I’ve got a very good justification for smashing your gates—you abducted a girl by force, without matchmakers or witnesses, and without giving proper presents or observing the right ceremonies. You’re a fine one to talk about who deserves to have his head cut off.”

“Stop talking such nonsense and see how this rake of mine strikes you,” the monster replied.

Blocking the blow with his cudgel, Monkey retorted, “Is that the rake you used when you were tilling the fields and growing vegetables for the Gaos as their hired hand? What’s so wonderful about it that I should be afraid of you?”

“You don’t realize that it’s no ordinary weapon,” the monster replied. “You’d better listen while I tell you about it:

This was refined from divine ice-iron,
Polished till it gleamed dazzling white,
Hammered by Lord Lao Zi himself,
While Ying Huo fed the fire with coal-dust.
The Five Emperors of the Five Regions applied their minds to it,
The Six Dings and Six jias went to great efforts.
They made nine teeth of jade,
Cast a pair of golden rings to hang beneath them,
Decorated the body with the Six Bright Shiners and the Five planets,
Designed it in accordance with the Four Seasons and the Eight Divisions.
The length of top and bottom match Heaven and Earth.
Positive and Negative were to left and right, dividing the sun and moon.

The Six Divine Generals of the Oracular Lines are there, following the Heavenly Code;

The constellations of the Eight Trigrams are set out in order.
It was named the Supremely Precious Gold-imbued Rake,
And served to guard the gates of the Jade Emperor’s palace.
As I had become a great Immortal,
I now enjoyed eternal life,
And was commissioned as Marshal Tian Peng,
With this rake to mark my imperial office.
When I raise it, fire and light stream forth;
When I lower it, a snowy blizzard blows.
It terrifies the Heavenly Generals,
And makes the King of Hell too quake with fear.
There is no other weapon matching it on Earth,
Nor iron to rival it throughout the world.
It changes into anything I like,
And leaps about whenever I say the spell.
For many a year I’ve carried it around,
Keeping it with me every single day.
I will not put it down even to eat,
Nor do I when I sleep at night.
I took it with me to the Peach Banquet,
And carried it into the celestial court.
When I sinned my sin in drunken pride,
I used it to force compliance with my evil will.
When Heaven sent me down to the mortal dust,
I committed all kinds of wickedness down here.
I used to devour people in this cave,
Until I fell in love and married in Gao Village.
This rake has plunged beneath the sea to stir up dragons,
And climbed high mountains to smash up tigers’ dens.
No other blade is worth a mention
Besides my rake, the sharpest weapon ever.
To win a fight with it requires no effort;
Of course it always brings me glory.
Even if you have an iron brain in a brazen head and a body of steel,
This rake will scatter your souls and send your spirit flying.”

Monkey put his cudgel away and replied, “Stop shooting your mouth off, you idiot. I’m now sticking my head out for you to hit. Let’s see you scatter my souls and send my spirits flying.” The monster raised his rake and brought it down with all his might, but although flames leapt forth, it did not even scratch Monkey’s scalp.

The monster’s arms and legs turned to jelly with fright as he exclaimed, “What a head, what a head.”

“You wouldn’t know,” Monkey replied. “When I was captured by the Little Sage for wrecking the Heavenly Palace, stealing the pills of immortality and the heavenly peaches, and filching the imperial wine, I was marched to a place outside the Dipper and Bull Palace, where all the gods of Heaven hacked at me with axes, hit me with maces, cut at me with swords, stabbed at me with daggers, tried to burn me with lightning, and pounded me with thunder; but none of it hurt me in the slightest. Then I was taken off by the Great High Lord Lao and put in the Eight Trigrams Furnace, where I was refined with divine fire, so that my eyes are now fiery, my pupils golden, my head brazen, and my shoulders of iron. If you don’t believe me, try a few more blows to see whether you can hurt me or not.”

“I remember you, you baboon,” the monster replied. “When you made trouble in Heaven, you lived in the Water Curtain Cave on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit in the land of Aolai in the Continent of Divine Victory. I haven’t heard of you for a very long time. What brings you here, and why are you bullying me in front of my own gates? Surely my father-in-law didn’t go all that way to ask you to come here?”

“No,” said Monkey, “he didn’t. I have turned away from evil and been converted to good. I have given up Taoism and become a Buddhist. I am protecting the Patriarch Sanzang, the younger brother of the Great Tang Emperor, on his journey to the Western Heaven to visit the Buddha and ask for the scriptures. We happened to ask for a night’s lodging when we came to Gao Village, and in the course of our conversation Old Gao asked me to rescue his daughter and capture you, you chaff-guzzling moron.”

The monster dropped his rake to the ground, chanted a respectful “na-a-aw,” and said, “Where’s this pilgrim? Please take me to meet him.”

“What do you want to see him for?” Monkey asked.

“Guanyin converted me and told me to obey the monastic rules and eat vegetarian food here till I could go with that pilgrim, the one who’s going to the Western Heaven to worship the Buddha and ask for the scriptures. I’ll be able to make up for my sins through this good deed, and win a good reward. I’ve been waiting for him for years, but there’s been no news of him till now. If you’re a disciple of his, why didn’t you say something about fetching the scriptures before, instead of making this vicious attack on me in my own home?”

“This had better not be a trick to soften me up and make me let you get away,” said Monkey. “If you really want to protect the Tang Priest and you aren’t trying to kid me, then you’d better make a vow to Heaven, and I’ll take you to meet my master.” The monster fell to his knees with a thud, and kowtowed to the sky so often that he looked like a rice pestle.

“Amitabha Buddha,” he cried out, “if I’m not completely sincere, cut me up into ten thousand bits for breaking the laws of Heaven.”

After hearing him swear this oath, Monkey said, “Very well then, now light a brand and burn this place of yours out. If you do that, I’ll take you.” The monster piled up some reeds and brambles, lit a brand, and set the Cloud Pathway Cave on fire; it burned as well as a brick kiln that has got out of control. “I’ve no second thoughts,” he said, “so please take me to see him.”

“Give me that rake of yours,” Monkey ordered, and the monster obediently handed it over. Monkey then plucked out a hair, blew on it with magic breath, and shouted, “Change!” It turned into three lengths of hempen rope, with which he bound the monster’s hands behind his back; the monster docilely put his hands there and let Monkey tie him up. Then Monkey seized him by the ear and led him off with the words, “Quick march.”

“Take it easy,” the monster pleaded. “You’re pulling so hard you’re hurting my ear.”

“Can’t be done,” Monkey replied. “Can’t show you any favours. As the old saying has it, ‘even a good pig must be handled roughly.’ Wait until you’ve seen my master. If you really are sincere, you’ll be released then.” The two of them went back through cloud and mist to Gao Village, and there is a poem to prove it:

The Golden Vajra is stronger than Wood,
The Mind Ape could bring the Wooden Dragon to submission.
When Metal obeyed and Wood was tamed they were at one;
When Wood was loving and Metal kind they worked together.
One host and one guest with nothing to keep them apart,
With the three in harmony they had a mysterious power.
Nature and feelings both rejoiced as they joined in the Supreme Principle;
They both promised without reservation to go to the West.

In a moment they were back at the village. Holding the monster’s rake in one hand and twisting his ear with the other, he said, “Do you know who that is sitting up straight in the main hall? It’s my master.”

When Old Gao and all his friends and relations saw Monkey coming, tugging the bound monster by his ear, they all came into the courtyard and said happily, “Venerable sir, this is the son-in-law all right.” The monster went forward, fell to his knees, and kowtowed to Sanzang with his hands behind his back.

“Master,” he shouted, “Your disciple failed to welcome you. Had I known, master, that you were staying in my father-in-law’s house, I’d have come to greet you and do homage, and I’d have been saved all this agony.”

“How did you make him submit and come to pay homage?” Sanzang asked Monkey.

Monkey then let the monster go, hit him with the handle of the rake, and yelled, “Tell him, fool.” The monster then told Sanzang all about how he had been converted by the Bodhisattva.

Sanzang was so pleased that he asked Squire Gao for an incense table to be brought, which was done at once. Sanzang then washed his hands, burnt incense, bowed low to the South, and said, “Thanks be to the Bodhisattva for her divine grace.” The elders also burnt incense and bowed low in worship. When this was done, Sanzang took the seat of honour in the hall and told Monkey to untie the monster. Monkey shook himself to take his hairs back, and the ropes untied themselves. The monster bowed to Sanzang once more and vowed to go to the West with him. Then he bowed to Monkey as his elder brother because he had joined first, addressing him as “elder brother” from then on. “If you wish to earn a good reward by going with me as my disciple, I’ll give you a Buddhist name to call you by.”

“Master,” he replied, “When the Bodhisattva laid her hands upon my head and told me to obey the prohibitions, she gave me a Buddhist name—Zhu Wuneng, Pig Awakened to Power.”

“Wonderful, wonderful,” said Brother Monkey with a smile, “I’m called Wukong, Awakened to Emptiness, and you’re called Awakened to Power. That makes us members of the same sect in the Buddhist faith.”

“Master,” said Pig, “I have been instructed by the Bodhisattva and I never eat the five stinking foods and the three forbidden meats—wild goose, dog, and snakehead. I’ve eaten vegetarian food in my father-in-law’s house and never touched the stinking foods; but now that I have met you, master, I’m freed from these restrictions.”

“You are not,” Sanzang replied. “You are not to eat the five stinking foods and the three forbidden meats, and I’m giving you another name: Eight Prohibitions, or Bajie.”

“I shall obey my master’s command,” the moron happily replied, and from then on he was known as Zhu Bajie, or Eight Prohibitions Pig.

Squire Gao was happier than ever to see that he had turned from evil to good, and he ordered his servants to set out banquet with which to thank the Tang Priest. Pig went over to Squire Gao, tugged at his coat, and said, “Sir, may my wife come out and pay her respects to these two gentlemen?”

“Brother,” said Monkey with a laugh. “You’ve entered the church now and become a monk. Don’t ever talk about a wife again. Only Taoist priests can have families—we Buddhist monks never marry. Let’s all sit down and eat a vegetarian meal, then we can set off early tomorrow morning on our journey to the West.” Squire Gao had the table and chairs set out and asked Sanzang take the seat of honour. Monkey and Pig sat on his left and right, and all the relations sat below them. Squire Gao opened a pot of wine, from which he filled a cup and poured a libation to Heaven and Earth before handing it to Sanzang.

“Frankly, sir,” Sanzang said, “I have been a vegetarian from the womb, and have not consumed strong-flavoured food since my earliest childhood.”

“Venerable master, I know that you are a vegetarian,” Squire Gao replied, “which is why I haven’t pressed any meat or strong-flavoured food upon you. But this wine is made from vegetable matter, so a cup of it will do no harm.”

“I don’t drink either,” Sanzang explained, “as alcohol is the first of the prohibitions of the priesthood.”

“Master,” pig hastily interjected, “I may be a vegetarian, but I haven’t given up liquor.”

“And although I haven’t strong head for the stuff and can’t finish a whole jar of it, I haven’t given it up either,” Monkey added.

“In that case you two had better drink some; but don’t get drunk and ruin everything,” said Sanzang. The pair of them then took the first cup, after which everyone sat down again as the vegetarian dishes were brought in. Words could not describe the flowing cups, the well-filled dishes, and the splendid food.

When master and disciples had eaten, Squire Gao brought pieces of gold and silver to the weight of two hundred ounces on a red lacquer tray and offered them to the three pilgrims to help with the expenses of their journey. Then he produced three brocade-collared gowns that could serve as overcoats. “We are mendicant monks,” said Sanzang, “Who beg for our food in the villages and other places through which we pass, so we could not possibly accept gold, silver, or cloth.”

Monkey then marched up and grabbed a handful of the money. Then he addressed the young man Gao Cai. “Yesterday,” he said, “I troubled you to lead my master here, and today he has recruited another disciple, but we have been unable to show our gratitude. So take these pieces of gold and silver as your fee for guiding us, and buy yourself a pair of straw sandals. If you have any more evil spirits in future, and you help us again, we’ll be able to show even more appreciation.” The young man Gao Cai took the gold and silver, then kowtowed to express his thanks.

“If you won’t take gold or silver,” Squire Gao said, “please be good enough to accept these rough clothes as a mark of our gratitude.”

“If we monks accepted a single thread, we would have to atone for it for a thousand ages,” replied Sanzang. “It will suffice if we take the pancakes and fruit that we haven’t eaten with us as provisions for the journey.”

“Master, elder brother,” said Pig, who was standing beside them, “it’s all right for you two to refuse them, but I was a son-in-law in this family for several years, and I deserves three bushels of grain to take with me. On yes, father-in-law, my tunic was torn by elder brother yesterday and my shoes have split, so please give me a black brocade cassock and a good pair of new shoes.” Old Squire Gao, who could scarcely refuse this request, gave him the new shoes and a tunic in exchange for his old ones.

Pig swaggered over to Old Gao, chanted a “na-a-aw” of respect, and said, “Please inform my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, my brothers-in-law, and my uncles that I have become a monk today, and ask them to excuse me for not saying good-bye to them in person. Father-in-law, look after my wife well. If we don’t get the scriptures, I’ll go back to lay life and work for you as a son-in-law again.”

“Moron,” shouted Monkey, “stop talking nonsense.”

“I’m doing nothing of the sort,” Pig replied, “I am thinking that if things go wrong I’d be wasting my time as a monk, and my wife’s marriage would have been ruined, both for nothing.”

“Enough of your idle chatter,” said Sanzang, “let’s be on our way at once.” Their luggage was hung from a carrying-pole on pig’s shoulders. When the white horse was saddled, Sanzang mounted it, and Monkey led the way with his iron cudgel over his shoulder. Thus the three of them left Squire Gao, his relations, and his friends, and headed West. There is a pome to prove it that goes:

The trees tower above the misty earth
As the Tang disciples of Buddha toil and suffer.
When hungry, they beg their food from a thousand homes;
When cold they wear cloaks with a thousand patches.
Do not allow the Thought-horse to run wild,
And don’t let the stubborn Mind-ape howl at will.
With passions stilled and one’s nature firm, all destinies are in harmony;
When the full moon of contemplation is reached, you will be pure.

After travelling peacefully Westwards for a month, the three of them left the territory of Stubet and saw a mountain soaring up above their heads. Sanzang stopped whipping his horse on, reined him in, and said, “Monkey, Monkey, that’s a high mountain in front of us, so please go and reconnoiter it.”

“No need,” said Pig. “It’s called Pagoda Mountain, and there’s a Rook’s Nest Hermit who cultivates his conduct on it. I’ve met him.”

“What does he do?” Sanzang asked.

“He has some powers,” Pig replied. “He once invited me to cultivate my conduct with him, but I didn’t go.” As master and disciples talked they were soon on the mountain. It was a splendid mountain at that:

South of it were blue pines and verdant locust trees,
To the North were green willows and red peach-blossom.
Cawing noisily,
The wild birds talked to each other;
Soaring gracefully,
The cranes flew together.
Rich in fragrance
Were the thousands of different flowers;
Softly dark
Were the endless kinds of herbs.
In the gullies were bubbling green streams,
The crags were wreathed in auspicious cloud.
It was indeed a scene of rare and elegant beauty.
Lonely, where no man came or went.

As the master surveyed the scene from his horse he noticed a grass hut in front of a fragrant locust tree. To the left of it were David’s-deer with flowers in their mouths, and to the right were monkeys holding offerings of fruit, while phoenixes of many colours wheeled around the top of the tree, in which cranes and golden pheasants had gathered. Pig pointed and said, “That’s the Rook’s Nest Hermit.” Sanzang gave his horse the rein, whipped it on, and went straight to the foot of the tree.

When the hermit saw the three of them coming he jumped down from his bird’s nest. Sanzang dismounted and bowed to him, and only then the hermit reply, helping him up, “Please arise, holy priest. I’m sorry I did not welcome you properly.”

“Greetings, venerable hermit,” said Pig.

“Aren’t you the Iron-haired Pig from the Mount of Blessing? How have you had the great good fortune of travelling with a holy monk?”

“Last year,” replied Pig, “I was converted by the Bodhisattva Guanyin, and I swore that I’d go with him as his disciple.”

“Wonderful, wonderful,” exclaimed the delighted hermit, who then pointed at Monkey and asked, “Who is this gentleman?”

“Old hermit,” said Monkey, “how is it that you know him but didn’t recognize me?”

“Please excuse my ignorance,” the hermit replied.

“He is Sun Wukong, the senior of my disciples,” explained Sanzang.

“I apologize for my discourtesy,” said the hermit.

Sanzang bowed again and asked him the way to the Great Thunder Monastery in the Western Heaven. “Far away,” the other replied, “far away. The journey is a long one and there are many tigers and leopards along the way. It will be difficult.”

“How far is it?” asked Sanzang with great interest. “Although the journey is a long one,” the hermit replied, “you are bound to get there in the end. But there will be evil influences that you’ll find hard to dispel. I have a Heart Sutra, a total of 270 words in 54 sentences, and if you recite it when you encounter evil influences you will come to no harm.” Sanzang prostrated himself on the ground and begged the hermit to tell him it, and the hermit recited it to him. It went: When the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was meditating on the profound prajna-paramita, he perceived that all the five aggregates are void and empty, and he was thereupon freed from all sufferings and calamities.

Sariputra, matter is not different from voidness and voidness is not different from matter: matter is voidness and voidness is matter. Such is also the case with sensation, perception, discrimination and consciousness. Sariputra, all these things are void in nature, having neither beginning nor end, being neither pure nor impure, and having neither increase nor decrease. Therefore, in voidness there is not matter, no sensation, no perception, no discrimination and no consciousness; there is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body and no mind; there is no sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch and no mental process; there is no category of eye nor is there a category of consciousness; no ignorance nor the cessation of ignorance; no old age and death, nor the cessation of old age and death; there is no suffering, no causes of suffering, no cessation of suffering, and no way leading go the cessation of suffering; and there is no wisdom, nor anything to be gained. As nothing is to be gained, a Bodhisattva depending on prajna-paramita becomes free in his mind, and as he is free in his mind he has no fear and is rid of dreamlike thoughts of unreality and enjoys ultimate Nirvana. By m e a n o f p r a j n a - p a r a m i t a , a l l B u d d h a s o f t h e p a s t , t h e p r e s e n t a n d t h e f u t u r e r e a l i z e anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Therefore, we know prajna-paramita is a great, divine spell, a great enlightening spell, a supreme spell, and a spell without a parallel, that can do away with all sufferings without fail. Thus we recite the Prajna-paramita Spell and say: Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi, svaha!

As the Patriarch from the Tang had already the origins of enlightenment inside himself, he was able to remember the Heart Sutra after only one hearing, and it has been passed on down to this very day. This sutra is the kernel of the cultivation of the truth, and it is the gateway to becoming a Buddha. When the hermit had recited it, he started to rise up to his crow’s nest by cloud, but Sanzang tugged at him and said that he wanted to know about the way to the Western Heaven. To this the hermit replied with a smile:

“The journey will not be difficult,
If you try to follow my instructions.
There will be a thousand mountains, a thousand deep rivers.
Many evil miasmas, and many a devil.
If you reach the edge of the sky
Do not worry or be afraid.
If you come to Precipitous Cliff
Walk with your feet placed sideways.
Be careful in the Black Pine Forest,
Where many an evil fox may block your path.
The capital cities will be full of spirits,
And demon kings will live in the mountains.
Tigers will sit in the music rooms,
Wolves will be in charge of the accounts.
Lions and elephants will all be kings,
With tigers and leopards for ministers.
A wild boar will carry your luggage,
A water monster will lead the way.
A very old stone monkey
Has no cause to be angry.
Ask those friends of yours—
They know the way to the West.”

Monkey smiled bitterly and said, “Let’s go. No need to ask him; you can ask me.” Sanzang did not understand what he meant. The hermit changed himself into a beam of golden light and went up to his nest, while the venerable Sanzang bowed to him in gratitude. Monkey, now furiously angry, raised his iron cudgel and was just going up to wreck the place when ten thousand lotus flowers appeared, protected by a thousand miraculous mists. Brother Monkey, you are strong enough to stir up the ocean or turn a river upside-down; but don’t even dream of touching a twig of that nest! When Sanzang saw what he was going to do, he grabbed hold of him and said, “Wukong, what do you mean by trying to wreck this Bodhisattva’s nest?”

“He insulted us two disciples,” Monkey replied.

“He did not insult you,” said Sanzang. “He was talking about the way to the Western Heaven.”

“You wouldn’t be able to understand,” Monkey said. “When he said, ‘A wild boar will carry your luggage,’ he was insulting Pig; and ‘A very old stone monkey’ was an insult to me. You didn’t get his meaning, of course.”

“Don’t be angry,” said Pig. “That hermit knows about the past and the future as well. We don’t yet know whether his talk about a water monster leading the way will come true or not. Let him off.”

Monkey saw the lotus blossoms and the miraculous mists draw in round the nest, and could but ask his master to mount the horse and go down the mountain to the West. On this journey,

Although they knew blessings rare on earth,
There was many a demon and disaster in the hill.

If you don’t know what lay in store for them, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

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