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The Gods

Monkey can almost never win the battles with the demons and has to go to heaven to ask for help. Guan Yin and Buddha several times come down to earth to capture a demon. Other times the Jade Emperor or the Buddha Maitreya come down to help. Since all the Gods in all esoteric traditions symbolize the same thing, in the Journey to the West, Buddhist and Taoist deities live together in Heaven.

Guanyin helps catching a demon
– by Chen Huiguan
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. 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.” “Wukong,” said the Buddha, why aren`t you with the Tang priest”? “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”, replied Monkey. “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.” “You can't beat those evil spirits, said the Tathagata with a smile. Their magical powers are more than you can handle.” “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." -- Journey to the West, chapter 77

Awakening is the result of three forces.

The Law of Three or the law of the three principles or the three forces consists of the fact that every phenomenon, on whatever scale and in whatever world it may take place, from molecular to cosmic phenomena, is the result of the combination or the meeting of three different and opposing forces.
-- Gurdjieff (20th c. Fourth Way spiritual teacher)

The first force is our desire and efforts, symbolized by Sanzang going to get the scriptures and Monkey protecting him; the second force is a denying force, symbolized by Pig, the instinctive centre and the many demons, the many I`s, trying to catch Sanzang. A third force is needed, otherwise the two forces keep each other in balance and nothing will happen.

A man's readiness and commitment are not enough if he does not enjoy help from above as well; equally help from above is no benefit to us unless there is also commitment and readiness on our part. Thus I entreat you neither to entrust everything to God and then fall asleep, nor to think, when you are striving diligently, that you will achieve everything by your own efforts. -- St John Chrysostom, Philokalia (Greek Orthodox Christian text)
Don`t worry, Gods are watching over you in secret. -- Journey to the West, chapter 16
The Buddha helps monkey to catch a demon
– by Chen Huiguan

The third force is help from a higher level, symbolized by the Gods. The inner meaning of Gods is the state of presence. Without presence, the state of awareness in which one`s Higher Self is awake and observing one`s lower self, one cannot rise above the many I`s. In this state one is simply grateful to exist and all worries and negativity, all the demons, disappear like snow melting under the sun.

The study of the Way depends on spiritual awareness.
-- Liu Yiming (18th c. Taoist master)     
If I accept the fact that a god is absolute and beyond all human experiences, he leaves me cold. I do not affect him, nor does he affect me. But if I know that a god is a powerful impulse in my soul, at once I must concern myself with him, for then he can become important… like everything belonging to the sphere of reality .
-- Carl Gustav Jung (20th c. psychotherapist)



Sometimes the demons turn out to be servants of a God in Heaven, such as the servant boys who look after the Silver and Golden furnace of Lao Zu, or an animal of one of the Gods, such as the blue-haired lion of Manjrushi Bodisattva or an evil star, that came down to earth out of longing for earthly things, such as Strider the Wooden Wolf. The God comes down to earth and captures the demon.

Bodhisattva Manjusri seated on his lion
“Bodhisattva,” said Monkey, “he's the blue-haired lion from under your throne.” The Bodhisattva said a spell and shouted, “Return to the Truth, beast. What are you waiting for?” Only then did the fiend-king return to his original form, Manjusri placed a lotus-blossom over the monster to tame him, and sat on his back.
-- Journey to the West, Chapter 29

This symbolizes that all the denying force, all imagination, worries and negativity, is actually also arranged from above. In one`s highest understanding one sees that all friction is actually given to one so that one can rise above it. One reaches one`s destiny, Divine Presence, thanks to it, not despite it. The highest gift, being present to one`s life, requires the highest payment.

According to the law that governs the universe, all sufferings are your labor of love to unveil your real self.
-- Meher Baba (20th c. Indian mystic and spiritual master)

“One of those two demons was a servant boy who looked after my golden furnace, and the other a servant who looked after my silver furnace. They stole my treasures and came down to the mortal world. I could not find them anywhere. You have done a very good deed in capturing them.” “You're very rude indeed, old fellow,”said the Great Sage (Monkey). “You deserve to be charged with laxity for allowing members of your household to become evil spirits.” “Don't blame the wrong person,” said Lord Lao. “It was nothing to do with me. It was the Bodhisattva from the sea (Guanyin) who asked me for the loan of them three times, and sent them here to be turned into monsters to test whether your master and his disciples truly wanted to go to the West.
-- Journey to the West, chapter 35

In fact, all the ordeals during the journey were created from above.

All along the journey I've been helping the good and fighting against the evil. What you don't realize is that the master is fated to have these troubles. -- Journey to the West, chapter 92
Outside the gates the Protectors of the Four Quarters and the Centre, the Four Duty Gods, the Six Dings, the Six Jias and the Guardians of the Faith went up to the Bodhisattva Guanyin and said, “We, your disciples, have given secret help to the holy monk in obedience to your dharma command, Bodhisattva. The Tang Priest's sufferings truly beggar description. Your disciples have made a careful record of the disasters and hardships that he has endured on his journey. This is the account of his ordeals.” The Bodhisattva read it through from the beginning. In total eighty ordeals were listed. Casting her eyes over the record, the Bodhisattva quickly said, “In Buddha's school 'nine nines' are needed before one can come to the truth. The eighty ordeals that the holy monk has endured are one short of the full number . “Go after the vajrapanis,” she ordered a protector, “and tell them to create another ordeal.” -- Journey to the West, chapter 99

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