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The Journey to the WestREVISED EDITION Volume III
The University of Chicago PressCopyright © 2012 The University of Chicago
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Chapter OneMind Monkey in vain uses a thousand tricks; Futile water and fire makes it hard to smelt demons.
We were telling you about the Great Sage, Equal to Heaven, who fled in defeat, empty-handed. He went to the back of the Golden Helmet Mountain, and as he sat down, big drops of tears fell from his eyes. "O Master!" he cried. "I had hopes that you and I,
Since Buddha's grace had both kindness and peace,
Would find same youth, same life, as my lasting wish:
To live, to work, to seek the same release,
With same will, same mercy to show our spirits' fruit;
To reason and think the same, our minds truly one;
To know and behold the same open way.
I knew not I would lose the staff of my will.
How could I prosper with empty hands and feet?"
After lamenting like this for a long time, the Great Sage thought to himself, "That monster-spirit recognized me! When we were fighting just now, I remember him paying me the compliment: 'Truly someone worthy to cause havoc in Heaven!' Judging from this, I can't imagine that he is a fiend of this mortal world; he has to be some evil star of Heaven who descended to Earth out of longing for the world. I wonder what sort of demon he really is and where he dropped down from. I'll have to go to the Region Above to make an investigation."
Thus it was that Pilgrim, using the mind to question the mind, deliberated with himself and thereby gained control of himself. Leaping up, he mounted the auspicious cloud and went straight before the South Heaven Gate. As he raised his head, he was suddenly met by the Devaraja Virupaksa, who bowed low and said to him, "Where is the Great Sage going?" "I must have an audience with the Jade Emperor," said Pilgrim. "What are you doing here?" Virupaka said, "Today it's my turn to patrol the South Heaven Gate." Hardly had he finished speaking when Ma, Zhao, Wen, and Guan, the four grand marshals, all appeared and greeted Pilgrim, saying, "Great Sage, we are sorry that we have not come to meet you. Please have some tea with us." "But I'm busy," said Pilgrim, whereupon he took leave of Virupaksa and the four grand marshals and went inside the South Heaven Gate. When he arrived before the Hall of Divine Mists, he ran into Zhang Daoling, Immortal Ge, Xu Jingyang, Qiu Hongzhi, the six officers of the Southern Dipper, and the seven heads of the Northern Dipper. Meeting Pilgrim before the hall, they all raised their heads to greet him, saying, "Why has the Great Sage come here?" Immediately thereafter, they asked again, "Have you perfected the merit of accompanying the Tang Monk?" "It's still too early! It's still too early!" said Pilgrim. "With so large a distance and so many demons, we have managed to accomplish only half the merit. Right now we are stranded in the Golden Helmet Cave of the Golden Helmet Mountain, where a bovine monster has Master Tang captured in the cave. Old Monkey found the way to his door and fought with him, but that fellow had such vast magic powers that he managed to rob old Monkey of his golden-hooped rod. That's why it is so difficult to arrest that demon king. I suspect that he has to be some evil star from the Region Above who has descended to Earth out of longing for the world, but I really don't know what sort of demon he is or where he comes from. For this reason old Monkey came to seek the Jade Emperor and to charge him with the offense of not keeping his household under control." "This ape head," chuckled Xu Jingyang, "is still so mischievous!" "I'm not being mischievous," said Pilgrim. "It's just that old Monkey has been inquisitive all his life, and that's how he finds things out." "No need to talk further," said Zhang Daoling, "let's announce his arrival for him." "Thank you! Thank you!" said Pilgrim.
The four Celestial Masters indeed went into Divine Mists to make the announcement and led Pilgrim to have an audience with the Jade Emperor. Bowing deeply to the throne, Pilgrim said, "Venerable Sir, I'm sorry to have troubled you! I'm sorry to have troubled you. Since old Monkey began to accompany the Tang Monk to acquire scriptures in the Western Heaven, our journey has encountered more misfortune than good luck. But that goes without saying, I suppose! Right now a bovine monster has captured the Tang Monk in the Golden Helmet Cave of the Golden Helmet Mountain, and I don't know whether my master will be steamed, cooked, or sun-dried. Old Monkey found the way to his door and fought with the fiend, who seemed to recognize old Monkey vaguely. His magic powers, however, are great indeed; he even managed to rob old Monkey of his golden-hooped rod, thus making it difficult for me to seize any monster. I have a suspicion that this monster is an evil star from Heaven, who descended to the Region Below out of longing for the world. For this reason old Monkey came especially to memorialize to you. I beg the Celestial Worthy in his compassion to grant me my request. Please issue a decree to find out the identity of the evil star and to send troops to arrest this demon. Old Monkey makes this request with the utmost fear and trembling." Bowing deeply again, he said, "Such is my petition to be made known."
On one side, Immortal Ge chuckled and said, "How is it that our ape behaves so haughtily at first and so humbly afterwards?" "How should I dare?" asked Pilgrim. "I'm not acting haughtily at first and humbly afterwards, but right now I'm a monkey who has no rod to play with."
When the Jade Emperor heard this memorial, he at once gave a decree to the Kehan Bureau, saying, "In accordance with the memorial of Wukong, conduct an investigation among all the stars and planets of various Heavens and among all the divine kings of the various galaxies to see if anyone has been led to leave the Region Above out of longing for the world. Return to make your report as soon as you have fulfilled the decree. Such is our statement to be made known."
The adept Perfected Lord Kehan received the decree and went at once with the Great Sage to conduct this investigation. They first examined the various officials under the command of the devarajas of the four Heaven Gates; next, they examined the various realized immortals, young and old, among the Three Forbidden Enclosures; then they checked through Tao, Zhang, Xin, Deng, Gou, Bi, Pang, and Liu, the thunder deities; and finally, they searched through all thirty-three Heavens, but no disturbance was found in any of them. They then examined the twenty-eight lunar mansions: the seven mansions of the East containing the constellations Citra, Nistya, Visakha, Anuradha, Bahu, Mulabarhani, and Purva-Asadha; the seven mansions of the West containing the constellations UttaraAsadha, Abhijit, Sravana, Sravistha, Satabhisa, Purva-Prosthapada, and Uttara-Prosthapada. What they found was that all of these mansions, including those of the North seven mansions and South seven mansions, were peaceful and quiet. They then examined the Sun, the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, and Saturn—the Seven Regulators—together with Rahu, Ketu, Qi, and Bo, the four Stars of Excesses. Of all the stars and planets in Heaven, there was not a single one who left for the Region Below out of longing for the world. "Since this is the case," said Pilgrim, "old Monkey has no need to return to the Hall of Divine Mists. After all, it's not good to disturb the Jade Emperor once again. You may go back to make your report, and I'll wait here to see if there is any further message for me." The adept Perfected Lord Kehan agreed. As Pilgrim Sun waited there, he composed a poem to record his impressions. The poem says:
Clear wind and fair clouds make felicity;
Quiet gods and bright stars show propitious signs.
The cosmos at peace, Earth and Heaven prosper.
At all five quarters arms and banners recline.
After having made a thorough search everywhere, the adept Perfected Lord and Master of the Kehan Bureau returned to report to the Jade Emperor with this memorial: "None is missing among the stars and mansions of Heaven; the divine warriors of all quarters are present. There is no one who has left for the Region Below out of longing for the world." When the Jade Emperor heard this, he gave the order: "Let Wukong select a few celestial warriors to help him to capture the demon in the Region Below."
The four Celestial Masters, having received this decree, went out of the Treasure Hall of Divine Mists and said to Pilgrim, "O Great Sage, since there is no god in the Celestial Palace who longs for the world, the Jade Emperor in his great mercy has asked you to select a few divine warriors instead to help you capture the demon." Bowing his head, Pilgrim thought to himself, "Those warriors in Heaven whose abilities are not as good as old Monkey's are plentiful, but those just as good are few. Remember when I caused great havoc in the Celestial Palace: the Jade Emperor sent out one hundred thousand Heaven soldiers with cosmic nets, but there is not a single person who could stand up to me. They found my match only when they called up the Little Sage Erlang. Now this fiend has abilities as strong as old Monkey's. How could we prevail against him?"
Perceiving the meaning of his silence, Xu Jingyang said, "This time is not quite the same as last time! As the proverb says, 'One thing will vanquish specifically another.' You can't quite disobey the decree, can you? Use your judgment and select your celestial warriors. Don't allow your hesitation to cause unnecessary blunder." "In that case," said Pilgrim, "I am grateful for the imperial favor. Indeed, I do not want to disobey the decree, nor does old Monkey wish to make this trip in vain. Let me trouble Jingyang to report to the Jade Emperor that I would like to be accompanied by Devaraja Li, the Pagoda Bearer, and Prince Nata. They have quite a few weapons designed to capture fiends. Let us go down below to do battle once with that fiend and see how things stand. If we manage to capture him, it will be the luck of old Monkey; if not, we can then decide what to do next."
And so that Celestial Master made the report to the Jade Emperor, who gave an order at once for Devaraja Li, father and son, to lead an army of celestial soldiers to assist Pilgrim. The devaraja accepted the order and came to meet Pilgrim, who said again to the Celestial Master, "I cannot thank the Jade Emperor enough for sending along the devaraja. There's one more request which I must trouble you to make known for me: we need the service of two thunder squires. When the devarajas fight with that demon, the thunder squires stationed at the edge of the clouds can aim their thunderbolts at the crown of his head. Isn't that a good plan for killing the monster?" "Marvelous! Marvelous! Marvelous!" said the Celestial Master, laughing, and he indeed presented this plan to the Jade Emperor. The Jade Emperor issued another decree to the Mansion of Ninefold Heaven, where Deng Hua and Zhang Fan, the two thunder squires, were ordered to assist the devaraja in capturing the monster. They therefore went out of the South Heaven Gate with the devaraja and the Great Sage Sun.
In a moment they arrived at their destination. "This mountain," said Pilgrim, "is the Golden Helmet Mountain, and the Golden Helmet Cave is right in the middle. Please decide among yourselves which of you will go there to provoke battle first." Lowering the direction of his cloud, Devaraja Li ordered the celestial soldiers to pitch camp on the south slope of the mountain. "The Great Sage," he said, "has always known that my son Nata once subdued the demons of ninety-six caves. Most adroit in transformations, he carries with him many weapons for the subjugation of fiends. Let him go into battle first." "In that case," said Pilgrim, "let old Monkey be the prince's guide."
Rousing his heroic powers, that prince leaped with the Great Sage into the tall mountain and arrived at the cave's entrance. They found the door tightly shut and not a single spirit below the rocky ledge. Walking forward, Pilgrim shouted: "Brazen demon, open the door quickly! Return my master!" The little fiends standing guard at the doors inside the cave hurriedly made the report: "Great King, Pilgrim Sun is leading a boy to provoke battle in front of our door." "The iron rod of the monkey," said the demon king, "was taken by me. Since he can't fight with empty hands, he must have gotten help now. Fetch my weapon!" Gripping the lance in his hands, the demon king walked out the door to have a look: he found a little boy with rare and refined features and who had a sturdy build. Truly
His coy, jadelike face is like a full moon;
Ruddy lips and square mouth show silver teeth.
Protrusive eyeballs give lightning-like gaze;
Bangs crowd his broad forehead like gathered mists.
His sash like flying flames dances in the wind;
Sunlit, his brocade robe sheds golden blooms.
Brilliant straps hold up his heart-guarding disk;
Lustrous armor matches his battle boots.
Though small of body, his voice rings loud and strong:
This faith-defender, fierce Nata of Three Heav'ns.
With a laugh the demon king said, "You are the third child of Deva-raja Li who bears the name Prince Nata. Why are you clamoring at my door?" "Because of the disorder perpetrated by you, brazen demon!" said the prince. "So you seek to imprison and harm the holy monk from the Land of the East. By the golden decree of the Jade Emperor, I have come especially to arrest you." Growing very angry, the demon king said, "You must have been asked by Sun Wukong to come here. I'm the evil star of that Tang Monk, all right! But what sort of martial skill does a small boy like you possess that you dare mouth such arrogant words? Don't run away! Have a taste of my lance!"
Wielding his fiend-cutting sword, the prince met him head-on. As the two of them joined hands and began their contest, the Great Sage dashed past the mountain slope and cried out: "Thunder squires, where are you? Get down there quickly and aim your thunderbolts at the demon. Help the prince to subdue him." Treading on the cloudy luminosity, Deng and Zhang, the two squires, were just about to attack when they saw the prince resorting to magic. Shaking his body, he changed himself into someone with three heads and six arms holding six kinds of weapons to attack the demon. The demon king also changed himself into someone with three heads and six arms, using three long lances to defend himself. Exercising his fiend-routing power even further, the prince tossed his six weapons in the air. "Which six weapons are these?" you ask. They are a monster-cleaving sword, a monster-slashing scimitar, a monster-binding rope, a monster-taming club, an embroidered ball, and a fiery wheel. "Change!" he roared, and the weapons changed into hundreds and thousands. Like a thundershower and a sleet storm, these weapons rained down on the head of the demon. Not the least bit daunted, the demon king took out with one hand that somber white fillet. He tossed it into the air, crying, "Hit!" With a loud whoosh, the six weapons were all sucked away by it. In desperation Prince Nata fled for his life with empty hands, while the demon king turned back in triumph.
In midair Deng and Zheng, the two thunder squires, smiled nervously to themselves and said, "It was a good thing that we looked over the situation first and didn't release the thunderbolts immediately. If they had been sucked away by him, how could we go back to face the Celestial Worthy?" Lowering the direction of their clouds, the two squires went with the prince to the southern slope and said to Devaraja Li, "That demon indeed has vast magic powers!" Giggling, Wukong said on one side, "His powers are only so-so, but that fillet of his is formidable. I wonder what kind of treasure it is that can suck away things like that."
"This Great Sage is not very mature!" grumbled Nata angrily. "We have lost our weapons and we have fled in defeat—we are sorely distressed all because of you. And you are giggling there instead! Why?" "You speak of being distressed," said Pilgrim, "you think old Monkey in the last analysis is not distressed? But I have neither plan nor alternative at the moment. I can't cry, and that's why I am giggling!" The devaraja asked, "How are we going to bring this to an end?" "You may discuss the matter some more," said Pilgrim, "but one thing is certain: whatever object cannot be sucked away by that fillet will be able to seize that fiend." "Only water and fire can resist being sucked away," said the devaraja, "for as the proverb says, 'Water and fire are ruthless.'"
When he heard this, Pilgrim said, "You may be right! Sit and wait here. Let old Monkey make another trip to Heaven." "What for?" asked Deng and Zhang, the two squires. Pilgrim said, "When old Monkey gets there, he will not memorialize to the Jade Emperor. I will only go to the Red Aura Palace inside the South Heaven Gate and ask Mars, the Star of Fiery Virtue, to come here and start a fire to burn up that fiend. Perhaps the fillet, too, will be reduced to ashes, and then the demon will be arrested. First, we will be able to recover your weapons for you to take back to Heaven, and second, we will rescue my master from his ordeal." When the prince heard these words, he was delighted and said, "No need for further delay. Let the Great Sage go and come back quickly. All of us will wait for you here."
Excerpted from The Journey to the West Copyright © 2012 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of The University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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