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The Aim of the Journey to the West

The aim of the journey to the West is to reach Vulture Peak and acquire the true scriptures from Buddha.

Sanzang and disciples arriving at Vulture Peak.
- by Chen Huiguan
"Do not go far to seek the Buddha on Vulture Peak; Vulture Peak is in your heart." "According to that quatrain the thousands of scriptures all come down to cultivating the heart," said Sanzang.
-- Journey to the West, chapter 85
Tell me, Monkey! how long will it take to reach Vulture Peak? asked Sanzang. If you went from childhood to old age, said Monkey, and from old age back to childhood again, and you did it a thousand times over, you'd still find it hard to get there. But if you see your true nature, are determined to be sincere, and always remember to turn your head back to enlightenment, then you will have reached Vulture Peak. -- Journey to the Wes, chapter 24

Vulture peak is not a place but a state of consciousness. The inner meaning of this journey is to reach this state. In other Esoteric Traditions this state is also often symbolized as a place, like the Toltec capital of the Mayan civilization, Tula, or Jerusalem in the Judeo-Christian tradition or Mecca for the Muslim Tradition.

The real Tula is not a physical place, but a spiritual dimension that spreads through all four directions of the universe. -- Mayan Texts
Be a pilgrim to the kaaba inside a human being, and Mecca will rise into view on its own.
-- Rumi (13th c. Sufi mystic and poet)

The vulture symbolizes a higher state of consciousness, a prolonged state of being present in this moment. The vulture is used as a symbol for this state, because it can soar effortlessly with outstretched wings for prolonged periods at high altitudes. Wings and flying symbolize a higher state of consciousness for man. The reason angels have wings, is to show that they are a higher level of being than man.

You must seek God slowly, without any break. A little stream which moves continually, does not become tainted or foul. From this effort is born felicity and joy; this effort is the egg; good fortune is the bird that comes forth. -- Rumi
Like vultures gliding freely through the sky, happy is it to practice Yoga without hindrances.
-- Milarepa (11th c. Tibetan yogi)

Tutankhamon`s mask – Egypt, 13th C. BC

There is a vulture and a cobra head on the mask of Tutankhamon at the place of the third eye and on both sides of the Wedjat eye (see below). The third eye symbolizes real seeing, conscious seeing. The cobra symbolizes the beginning of making efforts. It can raise up it`s body from a horizontal position to a vertical position, similar to a man getting up in the morning, going from the state of sleep to the state of being awake.

Awake in peace! Snake that is on the brow of the king, awake in peace. -- Egyptian Texts, To the Royal Serpent

It symbolizes going from the psychological state of sleep, in which we spend our day, to the state of Divine Presence. The vulture symbolizes prolonged presence. The Journey to the West is about an internal journey to a higher state of consciousness, in which the God within one, is awakened.

My voyage was only in myself, and only pointed to myself. This is a journey to increase knowledge and open the eye of understanding. -- Ibn Arabi (13th c. Andalusian Sufi mystic and philosopher)



Tutankhamon`s mask – Egypt, 13th C. BC


The Wedjat Eye (also called, The Eye of Horus or The All-seeing Eye)
– Egypt 13th C. BC

















True spells, revealing secrets and all powerful, are the only sure way of protecting one's life. When you are successful you can become a Buddha, or an Immortal. -- Journey to the West, chapter 2
What is a man? A mortal God. What then is a God? An immortal man. -- Heraclites (5th c. BCE Greek philosopher)

Since pre-historic times, man has aspired to immortality. Only this aspiration can give his mortal life any meaning. The people who became immortal, left traces of divine knowledge, which passed down through the ages and can be used by those who can understand them. Immortality refers to the state of divine presence, which is out of time.

Alice: How long is forever? White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second. -- Alice in Wonderland
If you do practice for a single breath, then you are a realized immortal for a breath.
-- The Secret of the Golden Flower (Taoist text)

Childhood memories that are very vivid and detailed, indicate that a higher state of consciousness or awareness occurred. These states of divine presence are immortal and when we again experience similar states, we can connect with previous states and they become alive again, because they are outside of time. We all have experienced these kind of states, but we don`t understand the value of them, they happened by accident. However, it`s possible to create these states intentionally, through effort. This state can also exist after one no longer has a physical body, but if one cannot experience this state at will, when still in a physical body, there is no way one can experience it after one`s physical body has died. If there is to be life after death, there has to be life before death.

Who knows when the journey will end as they find the true word? -- Journey to the West, chapter 18

The Journey to the West ends when the true word is found. All Esoteric Traditions speak about the Word of God, the Word of Presence, a Divine Word, a Sacred Word, a Syllable, a Single Word or the True Word. This all refers to a word or a mantra that brings us back to the state of Presence.

I will give you the word all scriptures praise, all spiritual disciplines express. That word is Om. This word is God; this word is highest. -- Katha Upanishad (Hindu Texts)
If you want to have your aim (to reach God) wrapped in one thought, so that you can hold onto it better, take one short word of one syllable; this is better than one of two syllables. -- 14th c. Anonymous English Monk
Most secret of all secrets, I will explain the great mind of mantra wisdom. I will now proclaim this for you. Hear me clearly with one mind. The A-syllable is the mind of all mantras. From it flow forth the infinite, all pervading mantras. -- The Vairocana Sutra (Buddhist sutra)
A messenger has come to the king; a Divine Word which causes him to arise. -- Egyptian Pyramid Texts


Osiris arising, Twenty-sixth Dynasty, 664-525 BC, The Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Take him as your guru, who shows the path of truth; who tells you of the divine Word.
-- Guru Nanak (first Sikh guru, 16th c.)
If you ask what the Word of the Presence is, we will reply, the word “Be.”
-- Ibn Arabi (13th c. Andalusian Sufi mystic and philosopher)
To be or nor to be, that is the question. -- Shakespeare
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. -- The Bible, John 1:1
To get an army of ten thousand men is not as good as having a single fitting word. -- Lao Tzu
One word of the Dhamma, hearing which one becomes at peace, is better than the utterance of a hundred verses which consist of superficial words. -- Buddha, Dhammapada
God is a word: an unspoken word. -- Meister Eckhart (13th c. German mystic)
After God’s order of ‘Be’, become better than words. -- Rumi (13th c. Sufi mystic and poet)
You only have to remember the one Word of God - and keep on practicing that one.
-- Sultan Bahu (17th c. Sufi mystic)
The Divine Word did not originate from man. -- Toltec Wisdom
Be associated with those who cling to the Sacred Word. -- Zoroaster (The founder of Zoroastrianism)
I've got a spell called True Words to calm the mind. -- Journey to the West, chapter 14

When Sanzang arrives at Vulture Peak he first receives blank scriptures, which symbolize wordless Divine Presence.

The blank texts are true, wordless scriptures, and they really are good. But as you living beings in the East
are so deluded and have not achieved enlightenment we'll have to give you these ones instead.
-- Journey to the West, chapter 98

The scriptures with words symbolize a mantra of True Words, with which one reach the state of Divine Presence, the God within oneself.

By hearing the word is acquired the wisdom of all the scriptures. -- Guru Nanak(first Sikh guru, 16th c.)

The Monk Kuya, saying Amidha Buddha`s name six times
Kyoto, Japan 13th C.


The literal meaning of the word sutra is a thread or line that holds things together. This refers to holding the state of presence, by using True Words.

Connect your daily practices of remembrance one to another, like links in a chain. -- Jamaluddin (7th C, Sufi and poet)


The secret of a mantra is not something that is hidden intentionally, but something that has to be acquired
by self-discipline, concentration, inner experience, insight, and constant practice, under the guidance of a competent Guru. -- Govinda (20th c. German Tibetan Lama)

The Fourth Way and Esoteric Traditions⎟ Living Presence ⎟ The Secret of the Golden Flower ⎟


Japanese symbols of Presence⎟ The taoist I Ching ⎟ Being Presence First