Xi You Ji (Journey to
the West) by Wu Cheng-en.
Translation © 2011 Patrick Edwin Moran
A poem says:
The field of mind be swept and swept again,
From dusty desires be sedulously refined.
Let not our moat encroach adjoining fen.
Keep body always pure and clean. --
Only then attain the primal first.
Cull the nature's flame of all contaminants.
Let multitudes of brooks and streams breathe free.
Let not ape- or horse-like breaths crudely gasp.
But day and night most quietly breathe,
The fruit of long-practice first to brightly shine.
This lyric, sung to the tune called "Master of Southern Ke," relates
how Tripitaka escaped the disaster of the freezing of the Waterway to
Heaven, mounted upon a white sea turtle, and ascended to the other
shore. The four of them, master and disciples, followed the great
roadway. heading toward the west. Just then they encountered a scene of
deepest winter, wherein only were visible dimly through a murky smoke a
glint of light in the forest. The skeletal form of a mountain emerged
in clearness like beams or rafters from out the water's depths.
Master and disciples were moving right along when all of a sudden they
came upon a great mountain blocking their way forward. The road became
narrow and its abutments were high. The boulders were numerous and the
mountain peak was lofty, making it difficult for both humans and horses
to make progress. On his horse, Tripitaka snubbed the reins tighter and
called out: "Disciples!" Thereupon Monkey led Pigsy and Sandy
come forth and stand in attendance on their master, saying: "Master,
what is your command?" Tripitaka said: "See how tall that mountain up
ahead must be, I fear that there are tigers and wolves up to their evil
tricks, and phantom beasts to harm humans. This time we must be
careful." Monkey said: "Master, please be reassured and pay it no mind.
The three of us brothers are harmonious of mind and united in intent.
We have returned to being upright and are seeking to be true. When we
shall have deployed our methods for sweeping away anomalous creatures
and for defeating monsters, what need will there be to fear any tigers,
wolves, or phantom beasts?"
嵯峨矗矗，Oh, how tall. Oh how lofty.
變削巍巍。They tower in varying heights.
嵯峨矗矗沖霄漢，Loftily towering they pierce the heavens and the Milky Way.
變削巍巍礙碧空。Magestic and magnificent, they obstruct the pure blue sky.
怪石亂堆如坐虎，Strange boulders in disorganized piles resemble crouching
蒼松斜掛似飛龍。Dark green pines grow to one side and look like flying dragons.
嶺上鳥啼嬌韻美，Birds on the mountain tops sing beautiful tunes.
崖前梅放異香濃。Plum trees growing on the edge of cliffs release a strange and
澗水潺湲流出冷，Splashing water in rivulets and torrents flows out cold.
巔雲黯淡過來兇。Clouds black or whispy rush fiercely over the peaks.
又見那飄飄雪， And now, just see the snowflakes floating
凜凜風，咆哮餓虎吼山中。The shivering wind blasts, and the growls of hungry tigers
resound from mountain to mountain.
寒鴉揀樹無棲處，野鹿尋窩沒定蹤。A freezing crow tries hopelessly to roost, a wild deer
ranges aimlessly seeking refuge.
可嘆行人難進步，皺眉愁臉把頭蒙。How mournful, the travelers find their progress hard.
They wrinkle their eyebrows, show worry on their faces, and cover their
The four of them, master and disciples, fought into the snow and
charged into the cold. Drained by their fight they crossed over the
peak that constituted the summit of the steep mountain range. Then in
the distance they saw a hollow from which a tower rose tall, and
dwellings that seemed both clean and quiet. Immediately, Tripitaka
proclaimed delightedly: "Disciples, for this whole day we have been
both hungry and cold, but fortunately down in yonder hollow lies a
tower and associated dwellings. Surely that must be a farm village and
a cloister for a Buddhist temple or a Daoist monastery. Let's just go
down and liquidate a little of our merit for something to eat. After
we've supped, we can go forward." When Monkey heard these words, he
hurriedly opened wide his eyes to look, but what he saw was that those
walled compound concealed an evil cloud, and was roiling with a miasma.
He turned his head and said to Tripitaka, "Master, that compound is not
a good place." Tripitaka said, "Look, there is a tower, a pavilion, and
buildings. How can you say it is not a good place?" Monkey chuckled and
said, "Oh, Master, how could you know? On the roads here in the west
there are hordes monsters and evil fiends, and they are all good at
transforming into dwellings. Regardless of what kind of tower or house,
public building, pavilion, or dwelling it is, they can turn into
something in order to deceive humans. You have heard the saying,
"Dragons are born in nine species." Among them there is one
called a loch monster. The breath of such a sea monster glows, and it
looks just like the shallow pool associated with a stately dwelling.
When one comes across a great river and becomes disoriented, the loch
monster will exhibit its power. If a magpie should happen by and settle
at the pond's edge to rest its wings, then no matter what arguments one
might raise to defend against the fact, that bird would be gobbled down
in a single mouthful. The malevolent intent of these
of the highest intensity. The coloration of the evil miasma inhabiting
that walled compound shows utterly evil. We absolutely must not enter."
Tripitaka said: "Since we cannot enter, I really feel starved now."
Monkey said, "If Master is truly so hungry, then please dismount and
remain seated here. Wait for me to go elsewhere, and create opportunity
for some merit by which to procure food for you to eat."
Tripitaka did accordingly dismount while Pigsy held the reins. Sandy
put down the luggage, and went to open up a bag from which he extracted
a begging bowl, which he gave to Monkey. Monkey took the begging bowl
over into his own hands, and ordered Sandy: "My good elder brother, you
must certainly not go further on. Be a good man and protect our Master
while he sits securely here. Await my return from begging, and then we
will head on further west." Sandy promised to do so. Monkey turned
again to Tripitaka and said: "Master, there are few
things and many evil ones hereabouts. Whatever you do, do not move away
from here. I am going off to beg for food." Tripitaka said: "Say no
more. All I ask is that you leave soon and return sooner. I will await
you here." Monkey turned away and started off, but then he came back
and said, "Master, I know that you do not have the patience to sit
still. I will give you a method of protecting yourself." Then he took
his metal cudgel, whirled it around, and traced a protective circle on
the ground around them. He asked for Tripitaka to sit inside the
circle, and for Pigsy and Sandy to stand on either side of him. He put
the horse and luggage nearby. Monkey placed his hands palm to palm to
salute Tripitaka and said: "The circle that I have drawn is as strong
as a bronze wall or an iron fort. Regardless of whatever tiger,
panther, wolf, or other fierce creature, whatever demon or fiend it may
be, none will dare to advance upon it. All that is required is for you
not to leave its protection. Just sit composedly within this circle and
I guarantee that you will be without anything to worry about. But if
you should leave the protection of this circle, you will surely
encounter a potent adversary. For Heaven's sake, carry out the intent
of my invocations." Tripitaka did as he was bidden, and master and
students composed themselves and sat down.
Monkey aimed his flying cloud higher to search for some farm village
where he could beg some food. He continued flying south until suddenly
he saw an ancient tree that reached so high it melded with the sky, and
with it stood a village. He slowed down his cloud and gave it a
thorough examination. However, all he could see was:
Snow bullying a wavering willow, ice formed up on rectangular ponds.
Sparse and thin, the cultivated bamboo waved green.
Dense and thick, the tall pines clotted blueish green.
Several crudely constructed dwellings limned in silver,
A little bridge of slanted powdery bricks,
A thin line of daffodils poking through at the edge of a fence,
Long icicles hanging down like frozen chopsticks.
A cold moaning wind delivers some strange fragrance.
The unremitting snow has hidden the plum trees where they bloom.
Step by step Monkey scrutinized the village scene, and all he heard was
a sound like "Yaaa!" when a plank door swung open and an old person
walked out. On his head he wore a sheepskin cap, and on his shoulders
he had draped a tattered cassock. His feet were shod in calamus shoes,
and he supported himself on a staff. He straightened his body and
declaimed: "A wind is rising in the northwest, so tomorrow will be a
clear day," and before he could finish a pug dog ran out from the house
behind him. It faced toward Monkey and barked wildly. Only then did the
old person turn his head and see Monkey presenting his begging
bowl. Monkey asked: "Venerable benefactor, I am a monk from
great Tang state in the east who has been deputed by royal decree to
travel to the West to pay reverence to the Buddha and to seek sutras,
and so as we were making our way we came upon your honored and precious
precincts. My master is famished, and for that special reason I have
come to your honorable dwelling in search of alms." The old person
heard these words, nodded, tapped the ground with his staff, and said,
"Reverend sir, please do not ask for alms. You have come to the wrong
place." Monkey replied. "I have not come to the wrong place." The old
person said, "The great road to the West is up there in the north.
That's a thousand li from here. Why do you not get back on the great
road?" Monkey laughed and said, "You are quite correct that it is
directly north of here. My master is seated by the side of that great
roadway, waiting for me to come back with alms." The old person said,
"This monk is talking nonsense. Your master is waiting by the side of
the road for you to solicit alms, and it would seem that he is a
thousand li from here. Even if you could walk it, it would take six or
seven days to get here and another six or seven days to get back there,
so wouldn't he be be starved to death by then?" Monkey chuckled and
said, "I am not deceiving you reverend benefactor. I just now left my
master and within the time it would take to warm a bowl of tea I have
traveled here. After having sought alms here I must hurry off to break
the mid day fast."
When the old gentleman had heard these words, he became fearful and
said, "This monk is a demon, a fiend." He hurriedly pulled out of the
situation and fled. But Monkey grabbed him and said, "Benefactor, where
are you going? If there are alms then hurry up and produce them." The
old gentleman said, "That would not be convenient! That would not be
convenient! Why don't you go to some other household?" Monkey
responded, "You are the kind of benefactor who really does not
understand the way things work. Do you suppose that having come from
over a thousand li away, would it not require me to travel another
thousand li to find another household ? You are starving my master."
The old gentleman said, "I truly am not trying to deceive you. There
are about six or seven people in my household, young and old, and I
only have three pints of rice to put in my pot. Moreover, it still has
not finished cooking. Why don't you try somewhere else and then come
back if you don't succeed?" Monkey responded, "A man of ancient times
once said, 'It's better to sit down at one home than to rove around to
three.' This impecunious monk had best wait here a while." The old
gentleman perceived that he would not get off easily, became angry,
raised up his staff and struck out at Monkey. Monkey was plainly not
afraid even though he got hit on his bare head seven or eight times. To
him it was only like rubbing an itch. That old gentleman said, "This is
a monk that can butt heads." Monkey smiled and said, "Venerable sir, it
won't make any difference how you strike at me, all you need to do is
to keep an accurate count. For one stoke of the staff, one pint of
rice. Take your time and perform your calculations." When that old
gentleman heard these words he hurriedly tossed aside his staff, ran
inside, and barred the door. He kept on screaming, "There's a demon
outside! There's a demon outside!" He was so badly panicked that the
entire household was put at high alert, and they tightly closed up all
of their doors.
Monkey realized that they had barred the doors, and in his heart he
secretly thought, "This old crook just now said that he had rinsed his
rice and put it into his pot. Who knows whether that was true or not.
People always say, 'The Daoists transform only the elite, but the
Buddhists try to transform even the stupid.' Just let me go in and take
a look." So, by making a magic pass, the Great Sage made himself
invisible. and entered into the kitchen to take a look. Just as had
been said, the pot was putting forth a great cloud of steam, and a half
pot of fluffy rice had been cooked, so he stuck his begging bowl in and
slowly extracted a whole bowl of rice. Then he rode his cloud back
without making any further comment on the matter.
The word is that Tripitaka had been waiting in the circle for quite a
long time without any sign of Monkey's return. His body suffering from
lack of food, he lamented, "Where could that monkey have gone to seek
alms?" Pigsy, at his side, laughed, "Who knows where he went begging.
What kind of alms seeking is it that makes us prisoners here!"
Tripitaka said, "Why do you say we have been made prisoners?" Pigsy
responded, "Master, could you never have learned that in antiquity
people drew lines on the earth to form a prison? Monkey used his cudgel
to draw a circle, one that is as strong as an iron wall or a bronze
wall, so that if a tiger, wolf, or demonic wild animal should come upon
us, how could we defend ourselves against it? All we could do would be
to let ourselves be eaten in vain." Tripitaka said, "Pigsy, how would
you handle this?" Pigsy replied, "This circle does not hide us from the
wind, nor does it let us avoid the cold. If we were to do things my
way, then the only choice would be to follow along the road and keep on
going west. If Monkey secures some alms and comes along riding on his
cloud, then he certainly will get here before too long, so let him
catch up with us at that time. If he has alms, then we will just eat
and go on from there. I've been sitting for so long that my feet are
Tripitaka listened to all of this and it seemed to him like a star
appearing in the middle of a dark miasma. So forthwith he followed that
dolt, and they all went forth together from out of the circle. Pigsy
led the horse, Sandy carried their satchels on his pole, and that elder
monk and teacher went forth along the road. Before long they arrived at
the foot of a tower. It was a home that was built facing toward the
south. Outside the gate there was a whitewashed wall with left and
right edges sloping in toward the center. There was a tower of curious
construction, and everything was decorated in five colors. The door to
the dwelling was half open. Pigsy tethered the horse to a stone
protuberance near to the door. Sandy put down his carrying pole.
Tripitaka sat on the doorsill to try to escape the wind. Pigsy said,
"Master, from the looks of it this must be the house of a duke or a
marquis, or maybe that of an assistant to a great minister. Since
nobody is out in front of the house, I think they must all be inside
huddling before the fire. You all sit here, and let me go in to take a
look." Tripitaka said, "Be careful. Do not get everybody all
shaken up." The dolt replied, "I know. Ever since I returned to the
fold of the Zen order I have been learning some manners and the regular
way to do things. I am not the rude villager I once way."
The great dolt put his harrow fork in place, straightened out his
formal robes and monkish clothing so that everything was quite in
proper order, and then he entered through the door. He could
that there were three great halls hung with high-reaching drapes, but
it was all silent and without the slightest sign of human habitation.
Furthermore, there were no tables, chairs, or other furniture. After
going around the screen that keep out the draft from the door, he
walked farther inside where he found a corridor. At the end of the
corridor there was a great tower with a half-opened window frame. He
could barely see a yellow curtain. The dolt said, "I think it must be
that somebody is bothered by the cold and is still asleep." He made no
distinction between mine and theirs but made steady progress up into
the tower. When he had parted the curtain to take a look he really got
knocked back on his heels. There was a bleached skeleton on an ivory
bed behind that curtain. The skull was as large as a basket, and its
thigh was four or five feet long. The dolt got control of himself but
could not avoid wetting his chops with tears. He sighed and said to the
skeleton, "I do not know you to be the:
Body of the generalissimo of what dynasty, what royal house? The great
general of what nation, what country?
At that time so long ago a hero fought for supremacy, but today he is
nothing more than a desolate pile of bones.
You will not see your wife come to care for you, nor encounter knights
and squires preparing incense to burn.
Catching a glimpse of this sight I am genuinely overcome with sorrow;
O, unfortunate person who strove to restore the kingly way and bring
about the concord of nations!
Pigsy was just in the midst of sighing with deep emotion, when he
perceived that behind the curtain there was a flare of light. The dolt
proclaimed, "I think there is somebody behind that curtain whose job it
is to burn incense." He excitedly reversed his course and passed beyond
the curtain to take a look. But it was light coming in through the
window in the tower. In that compartment there was a table painted with
richly decorated lacquer. In disarray on the table there were placed
several sets of padded embroidered clothing. When the dolt raised
himself up to take a better look he saw that there were three
With no regard for what is good and what is bad, he took them down from
the tower, went out of the great hall, and then to the outside where he
proclaimed: "Master. There is no sign of men or of habitation. This is
a dwelling devoid of life. I went inside and all the way up into a
tower, and in behind a yellow curtain, and there was a pile of bones.
To the side there were three embroidered vests, which I have brought
with me. This is our lucky day. It is very cold now, and these will
serve our needs. Master. take off your outer vestments and put this on
underneath. Go on, use it. Use it. Otherwise you will take a chill."
Tripitaka said. "It is wrong to do that. It is wrong. The vinaya says:
'To seize something publicly or to seize something stealthily is in any
case stealing.' Supposing others gain knowledge of this act
come chasing after us and convey us to the authorities. It would
unquestionably be adjudged a theft. Why haven't you already taken them
back where you got them? We will sit here a while to avoid the wind,
and when Monkey comes we will walk on. People who have left their
families to become monks do not crave such petty things." Pigsy said,
"I looked everywhere and nobody was around. Not even a chicken or a dog
knows of it. It is only we who know. Who is going to tell on us? What
proof would they have? It's just like finding something. What relevance
is there to any 'seizing publicly or seizing stealthily'?" Tripitika
said, "You are behaving in a barbaric way. Even if nobody knows what
happened, is there anything that has shielded us from being seen by
Heaven? The enduring legacy of the sage king Yu says: 'What happens in
a darkened room can still degrade one's heart and mind. The eyes of the
spirits pierce everywhere like lightning.' Get these things back where
they belong at the earliest possible moment. Never desire things the
possession of which is an affront to Propriety."
That dolt had no intention of obeying, so he smiled and said to
Tripitaka, "Oh, Master, in my guise as a human being I have worn
several vests, but I have never seen this kind of embroidered vest. If
you do not intend to wear one, just give me a chance to try one on. Let
me try this new thing, and get a direct experience of it. When Monkey
returns I will take it off, put it back where it came from, and then we
can leave." Sandy said, "If that's the way it is to be done, they I
will try one on too." The two of them took off their jackets and put on
the vests. No sooner than they had secured the ties, than for some
unknown reason they could no longer stand up straight. With a kerplop
they fell to the ground. It turned out that these vests were more
effective than handcuffs. In an instant, the vests paralyzed their
backs, glued their hands, and drew them up toward their hearts. The
whole thing panicked Tripitaka to the point the he stumbled around and
made imprecations, ordering that somebody hurry up and free them. But
how could they be freed? The anguished sounds of the three of them went
on without end. But they had early on alerted the chief of the demons.
That tower had, all this time, been a transformation of the body of a
monster. It stood there all day long to catch people. The monster was
sitting in meditation in his cave when he heard the sounds of
protestation, and he instantly went out from there to take a look. As
he had expected, he found several people tied up and waiting for him.
The monster then summoned the little fiends, and they went to that room
en masse. They collapsed the semblance of towers and
They tied Tripitaka up, tethered the white horse, carried off the
luggage, and took Pigsy and Sandy together into the cave. The old
monster ascended his dais and sat in state. The multitude of little
demons prodded Tripitaka up to the edge of the platform. and made him
prostate himself on the ground. The monster asked? "Where do you come
from, monk? How come you are so bold as to steal my clothing in broad
daylight?" Tripitaka wept and said, "We impecunious monks were given an
imperial mandate by the Great Tang Kingdom in the East to go to the
West to get sutras. Because we were hungry, and because our chief
disciple never returned with alms to feed us, we failed to comply with
his advice, and in great error entered upon your immortal's precincts
to avoid the wind. Unexpectedly, these two disciples of mine became
greedy for mundane things and carried off these items of clothing. We
impecunious monks do not dare harbor ill intent, and we should
according to our own teaching have returned these items to their
original place. My disciple would not obey me, and wanted to try it on
so as to have a direct experience of it. Unexpectedly they ran afoul of
this Great King's offered temptation, and the Great King has now
brought us poor monks here. I most fervently hope for sympathy and
compassion on your part. Let us have our spoiled lives. I plead that
you will take up the way of genuine probity. In that case I will
forever hold in mind the benefice of the Great King, and upon our
return to the East will put this benefice forth for all to know." The
demon laughed and said, "We here are always hearing people telling us,
'If people get to eat a mouthful of the meat of Tripitaka, their white
hair will turn black again, their fallen out teeth will regrow
themselves.' Fortunately for us, you came here today on your own, You
even plead that you be forgiven. And what is that major disciple of
yours called? In what direction did he go to seek alms?" Pigsy heard
what he said, and so he opened his mouth and blurted out: "My elder is
the one who wreaked havoc in Heaven five hundred years ago, the Great
Sage Equal to Heaven, Sun Wu-kong!"
That monster, when he heard that the other disciple was the Great Sage
Equal to Heaven, Sun Wu-kong, did indeed suffer some trepidation. He
said nothing openly, but in his mind he silently said to himself, "I
have long heard about that blasted creature and how his spirit is so
all-encompassing. Now, unexpectedly, I am going to meet up with him."
He instructed: "Youngsters, tie Tripitaka up. Relieve those other two
of their valuables, and give them two lengths of strong rope in
exchange. Tie them up. Lug them off to the rear. Wait until I've pinned
down their elder disciple. Then the minute that task is accomplished
you can scrub and wash them in preparation for putting them in the
basket for steaming." The multitude of little demons all signaled their
assent and tied up all three of them before carrying them off to the
back room. They tethered the white horse to a manger. and carried the
luggage into a closet. The multitude of little demons all sharpened
their weapons. It goes without saying that they were preparing to
Meanwhile, Monkey had captured a begging bowl full of rice from the
family in the south, and had been riding his cloud on the return path.
When he came to the flat spot on the mountain slope he aimed his clout
downward, but from afar he was aware that Tripitaka was not where he
was supposed to be, and Monkey did not know where he could have
After traveling five or six miles, when he was on the edge of mourning
and sorrow, he heard some people talking beyond the northern slope.
When he went to look he saw that it was an old man wearing felt
clothing on his body and a warm cap on his head. On his feet he was
wearing a pair of neither new nor old oil shoes. In his hand he grasped
a dragon-headed walking stick, and following along behind him was a
young boy servant who had broken off a branch of wax-plum flowers and
was walking along while chanting and singing some lyrics. Monkey put
down his begging bowl, and, approaching them so that they stood face to
face, greeted them, saying, "Venerable grandfather, this impecunious
monk would ask for information." The old gentleman returned his salute
and said, "Whence has my elder come?" Monkey said, "We are from the
East, and are going to the West to pay our respects to the Buddha and
to seek sutras. All the way along there have been four of us, master
and disciples. Because our master became famished, I went along to seek
alms. I instructed the three of them to remain seated on that flat spot
on the mountain slope and wait for my return. But now that I have
returned I don't see them there. I do not know which road they might
have followed. Grandfather, may I ask whether you have seen them or
not?" The old one heard him out, and then with a grunt and a cold smile
said, "Among those three friends of yours, was there one with a long
snout and big ears?" Monkey said. "Yes, yes, yes!" "And was there one
with a dark complexion who was leading a white horse, and leading along
a fat monk with a white face?" Monkey said, "Right, right, right!" The
old fellow said: "You have gone the wrong way. You need not seek them.
Each of them has taken his life into his own hands." Monkey said, "The
one with the white face is my master. Those strange looking ones are my
fellow disciples. Together we formed a devout intention to go to the
West to secure sutras. So how could I fail to go in search of them?"
The old fellow said, "Not long ago from this very point I observed them
take the wrong fork in the road and blunder into the mouth of a
monster." Monkey said, "May I trouble Grandfather to give me
instructions? What kind of a monster was it? Where does it
Help me to get to his place and so take his life and the lives of his
followers. and then we may continue on to the West." The old fellow
said: "This mountain is called Gold Pocket. At the front of the
mountain there is a Gold Pocket Cave. In that cave there is a
rhinoceros king. The spirit of that rhinoceros king casts its sway far
abroad, and his martial prowess is tremendous. This time those three
will surely have lost their lives. If you go in search of them, it will
be hard to count on your own survival. It would be better simply not to
go. I am not in any position to prevent you. You must make your own
Monkey repeated made reverences and thanked him saying, "I have learned
much from my grandfather's instruction. But how could there be any way
that I would not search for them?" He turned the rice he had begged
over to the old gentleman, and himself saw to cleaning up the begging
bowl. The old gentleman put down his walking stick, took up the begging
bowl, and passed it to his young servant. Then he revealed his true
form. and as a pair they prostrated themselves and kowtowed, calling
out, "Great Sage, this little god dares not conceal himself further.
The two of us are the mountain god and the soil god of this vicinity,
and we have been waiting here to meet you. I will accept this offering
of food and this begging bowl, in order to permit the Great Sage to
minimize his impediments and be fully free to exercise his holy powers.
After you shall have saved Tripitaka and escaped danger, I will return
these alms as an offering to Tripitaka. Then it will be entirely clear
how the Great Sage is the most fully respectful and most full of filial
piety." Monkey applauded these words and said, "The little
hereabouts seek a fight, and they already know that I have arrived. So
why do I not give them the earliest accommodation of their wishes? What
would be the rationale for me to continue in this way to hide my head
and only expose my tail?" The god of the soil said, "Great Sage, your
nature is to be very rash. This minor god dared not be too forthright
for fear of going up against your prestige. It was for this reason that
we concealed our true natures and later made them known." Monkey
quelled his anger and said, "Be a good lad and take care of this
begging bowl for me until I have apprehended those demons and brought
them out." The god of the soil and the god of the mountain followed his
No sooner than the Great Sage had tied the tiger sinew belt around
himself, wrapped the tiger skin kilt around his waist, and grasped his
magic cudgel, did he set off running along the path to find the demon
cavern. When he had gone beyond the cliff he saw that the whole area
was covered in great disarray with glistening, glowing boulders. Beside
an azure cliff there was a stone double door, and outside that door
there were many little demons twirling with their spears and dancing
with their swords. Truly the scene is well described by the words:
Smoke and clouds form up auspiciously, and the moss mounds verdantly.
Lofty and precipitous the weirdly shaped stones are piled. Twisting
through the rugged terrain the crooked road winds on.
Apes screech and birds call amidst the beautiful scene. The Phoenix and
its counterpart fly and dance like a wind whipped ocean.
Bending toward the light several plum trees are beginning to show buds.
Played with by the warmth, a thousand stalks of bamboo turn themselves
Below the steep precipice there lies a deep mountain stream,
Beneath the precipitous cliff there is snow drifting like powder, and
in the deep streams the water is turning to ice.
Two groves of pine and cedar are their best in a thousand years, and
the many tea groves are all equal in showing their cold weather foliage.
The Great Sage could not take it all in. He lengthened his stride and
went right up to the door. In a fierce tone he loudly shouted, "You
little imp, hurry up and go inside and tell the master of this cave
that I am sure enough the disciple of the holy monk deputed by the Tang
court, the Great Sage Equal to Heaven, Sun Wu-kong! Instruct him to
quickly deliver my master in order that he might escape death
at my hands."
That mob of little demons excitedly entered the cave and reported:
"Great king, out front there is a furry-faced monk with a hooked snout.
He claims he is the Great Sage Equal to Heaven Sun Wu-kong. He is here
looking for his master." The demon king heard these words and
delightedly said, "I was just looking forward to his arrival. Since I
left my earlier palace and descended into this world of dust I have
never yet had an opportunity to test my martial skills. Today he has
brought himself here, and he must be my opponent." Then he commanded
the little demons to take out his weapons. The whole group of demons,
great and small, had their spirits roiled up. They hurriedly hoisted
out a two rod long steel pike and handed it to the old demon. The old
demon sent forth a command, saying: "Juniors, you must all be arrayed
in proper order. Those who fight to the fore will be rewarded and those
who shrink to the rear will be punished!" The whole lot of them
accepted this command and walked out the gate, calling out, "Which one
is Sun Wu-kong?"
As Monkey whipped by he saw that the king of devils was not bad looking
He had a single horn that was twisted and convoluted, his pair of eyes
were dazzling, the black flesh at the base of his ears was shiny. When
he stuck his tongue out he could lick his nose. The thick fat teeth in
his wide mouth were yellow, and his pelt was the blue of indigo
pigment. He was like a rhinoceros that would not condescend to cast his
visage on water, and like a bullock that would not plow uncultivated
land. He was a useless as a water buffalo that escapes the heat of the
moon or that seeks to plow the clouds. And yet he was strong enough to
bully Heaven and to make the whole Earth shudder. He had two hands of
blue with tendons that stood out like scorched gristle. His martial
visage was enough in itself to puncture like a steel spear. Under
critical examination, it would be no exaggeration to call him the Great
Monkey went to the fore and shouted, "Your Grandfather Sun is here.
Hurry up and return my master to me, and I won't cause you any injury.
If I hear as much as half of the word 'no,' I'll fix it so you'll die
and there won't be anyplace to bury you!" That demon shouted back,
"I'll get you, you foolhardy clotted monkey semen! What kind of
technique do you have that makes you dare to put out this guff?" Monkey
replied, "You're a drip yourself! It's clear that you have never seen
this old monkey's techniques." That demon said, "Your master robbed me
of my clothing. It is most certainly true that I captured him. I'm just
waiting to get him steamed to eat. What kind of a bravo are you to dare
come to my own door in search of combat?" Monkey said, "My master is a
fully moral monk. How could it be possible that he would steal
something from the devilish likes of you?" The demon said: "I
transformed into a dwelling fit for immortals by the side of the road.
Your master sneaked. He must be very interested in sexual desire. He
got my three embroidered vests and in secret he dressed himself in
them. I have his booty here as proof. It is only for this reason that I
have taken him in hand. Now if you have some kind of technique, then
let's pit our strength against each other. If you can best me three
times, then I will restore your master's life to him. If you are unable
to overcome me, then I'll put you to death."
Monkey laughed and said, "You drip. You need not run your mouth. Just
speak of the contest, for that is just what I had in mind. Come on out
here, and take a lick from my cudgel." That demon of course
no fear of a fight, He hauled out his steel pike and rushed forward to
strike at Monkey's face. This match was well able to get someone
killed. Just take a look!
The metal cudgel was raised, and was met with a long spear.
The wielding of the metal cudgel -- flashing brilliantly like lightning
striking a metal snake.
The response of the long spear -- dazzling brightly like a dragon
emerging from a black sea.
The little demons in front of the double doors arrayed themselves in
martial order to aid the stalwart feeling given.
The Great Sage, near the compound wall, demonstrated his true abilities
in all directions.
He on that side, carrying a great spear, had a spirit that shook one
On our side, a single cudgel with martial technique both excellent and
Truly it was a case of one heroic figure meeting his counterpart, and
as could be expected each opponent immediately clashed with the other.
That demon king spurted violet lifebreath that coiled into smoke and
fog from his mouth, and this Great Sage sent out rays of light from his
eyes that traced an embroidered pattern in the clouds.
Simply because the great Tripitaka was in trouble, the two heroes
contended for no justifiable reason.
The two of them fought through thirty clashes without sorting out who
would win and who would lose. The demon king saw that Sun Wu-kong had
an impenetrable technique for using his cudgel. Whether going or coming
he never left the slightest opening. He was so gratified by this
display that he exclaimed over and over again, "Good monkey! Good
monkey! This is truly the martial ability with which he disturbed the
peace of Heaven." The Great Sage loved the fully disciplined spear
technique of his adversary that concealed on the right while it blocked
on the left. He really has good moves. So Monkey too cried
"Good monster! Good monster! This monster is indeed one who can steal
(cinnabar =) immortality. The two of them fought
another ten or twenty times. Then the demon king touched earth with the
point of his spear, and commanded all the lesser demons to join in.
Those inspissated drips each got their swords, wielded their staffs,
grasped their swords, or twirled their spears, and they surrounded the
Great Sage. Monkey was clearly not intimidated. He merely called out,
"You're just in time! Just in time! This is just what I have been look
forward to!" He used his single cudgel to meet their strokes
coming from in front of him, support himself from behind, block them on
the east, and take them out on the west. The flock of demons
no intention of retreating. Monkey could not help getting overwrought.
He threw the cudgel up in the air and shouted, "Change!" It turned into
hundreds and thousands of cudgels, and conveniently they became like
flying snakes and running pythons that filled the sky and fell down in
random profusion so that when the assembled lesser demons saw them they
were all so terrified they lost their wits and spirits. They
shielded their necks and pulled in their heads, and with the intent of
saving their own lives they all retreated into the cave. The old demon
king gave out a "heh heh" and smiling coldly said, "That monkey ought
not so freely go against the standards of propriety. Let him behold my
own trick!" He hurriedly took a gleaming white hoop from within his
sleeve, threw it into the air, and yelled out, "Seize!" With
whoosh it captured all the cudgels into a single bundle, which the
demon then carried off with him as a set, thus leaving the Great Sage
Sun Wu-kong bare handed and with nothing in his grasp. He made a
somersault and fled for his life. The demon returned to his cave in
victory. Monkey was flabbergasted and had no idea of what to do. This
situation is truly described in the couplet:
The Daoist gains a foot in height, the demon gains a rod. So disordered
the nature, so muddled the feelings, that he takes the wrong house as
Hateful though it may be, the dharma body has lost its true locus, and
at the time Monkey's actions and thoughts both came up short.
If, to tell the truth, you do not know how this matter was brought to a
conclusion, then read the next episode where all will be explained.