The Internal Alchemy Book: Journey to the West

Excerpt from Journey to the West, Blackmask online, http://www.blackmask.com. Adapted from WJF Jenner translation.

Part One


    Divine Root conceives and the spring breaks forth;
    As the congenital nature is cultivated, the Tao arises.

    Before Chaos was divided, Heaven and Earth were one;
    All was a shapeless blur, and no men had appeared.
    Once Pan Gu destroyed the Enormous Vagueness
    The separation of clear and impure began.

    Living things have always tended towards humanity
    From their creation all beings improve.
    If you want to know about Creation and Time,
    Read Difficulties Resolved on the Journey to the west.

In the arithmetic of the universe, 129,600 years make one cycle. Each cycle can be divided into twelve phases: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII. VIII, IX, X, XI and XII, the twelve branches. Each phase lasts 10,800 years.

Now within a single day, the positive begins at the time I; at II the cock crows; at III it is not quite light; at IV the sun rises; V is after breakfast; and at VI one does business. VII is when the sun reaches noon; at VIII it is slipping towards the west; IX is late afternoon; the sun sets at X; XI is dusk; and at XII people settle down for the night.

If you compare this with the big numbers, then at the end of Phase XI Heaven and Earth were still one, and no beings had appeared.  5,400 years later came the beginning of Phase XII, when all was darkness and there were still no people or other creatures; for this reason it was called Chaos.  Another 5,400 years later Phase XII was drawing to a close and a new cycle was about to begin. As Phase I of the new era approached, gradually there was light. As Shao Yong said,

    "When winter reaches the mid-point of Phase I
    The heart of Heaven does not move.
    Where the Positive first appears
    Nothing has yet come to life."

At this time, Heaven first had a foundation. 5,400 years laterin the middle of Phase I lightand pure rose upwards sunmoonstars constellations were created. These called Four Images.  Hence the saying that heaven began in Phase I.

Another 5,400 years later, when Phase I was nearing its end and Phase II was imminent, things gradually solidified. As the Book of Changes says, "Great is the Positive, far reaching is the Negative!  All things are endowed and born in accordance with Heaven."  This was when the earth began to congeal. After 5,400 more years came the height of Phase II, when the heavy and impure solidified, and water, fire, mountains, stone, and earth came into being.  These five were called the Five Elements.  Therefore it is said that the Earth was created in Phase II.

After a further 5,400 years, at the end of Phase II and the beginning of the Phase III, living beings were created.  In the words of the Book of the Calendar: 'The qi of the sky came down and the qi of earth went up.Heaven and Earth intermingled, and all creatures were born." Then Heaven was bright and Earth was fresh, and the Positive intermingled with the Negative.  5,400 years later, when Phase III was at its height, men, birds and beasts were created.  Thus the Three Powers---Heaven, Earth and Man---now had their set places. Therefore it is said that man was created in Phase III.

Moved by Pan Gu's creation, the Three Emperors put the world in order and the Five Rulers laid down the moral code. The world was then divided into four great continents:  The Eastern Continent of Superior Body, the Western Continent of Cattle-gift, the Southern Continent of Jambu and the Northern Continent of Kuru.

This book deals only with the Eastern Continent of Superior Body. Beyond the seas there is a country called Aolai. This country is next to an ocean, and in the middle of the ocean is a famous island called the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit.  This mountain is the ancestral artery of the Ten Continents, the origin of the Three Islands; it was formed when the clear and impure were separated and the Enormous Vagueness was divided. It is a really splendid mountain and there are some verses to prove it:

    It stills the ocean with its might,
    It awes the jade sea into calm.
    It stills the ocean with its might:
    Tides wash its silver slopes and fish swim into its caves.
    It awes the jade sea into calm:
    Amid the snowy breakers the sea-serpent rises from the deep.

    It rises high in the corner of the world where Fire and Wood meet;
    Its summit towers above the Eastern Sea.
    Red cliffs and strange rocks;
    Beetling crags and jagged peaks.
    On the red cliffs phoenixes sing in pairs;
    Lone unicorns lie before the beetling crags.
    The cry of pheasants is heard upon the peaks;
    In caves the dragons come and go.

    There are deer of long life and magic foxes in the woods;
    Miraculous birds and black cranes in the trees.
    There are flowers of jade and strange plants that wither not;
    Green pine and bluish cypress ever in leaf,
    Magic peaches always in fruit.
    Clouds gather round the tall bamboo.
    The wisteria grows thick around the mountain brook
    And the banks around are newly colored with flowers.
    Far is the Heaven-supporting pillar where all the rivers meet,
    The Earth's root, unchanged through a myriad acons.

There was once a magic stone on the top of this mountain which was thirty-six feet five inches high and twenty-four feet round. It was thirty-six feet five inches high to correspond with the 365 degrees of the heavens, and twenty-four feet round to match the twenty-four divisions of the solar calendar.  On top of it were nine apertures and eight holes, for the Nine Palaces and the Eight Trigrams. There were no trees around it to give shade, but magic fungus and orchids clung to its sides. Ever since Creation began it had been receiving the truth of Heaven, the beauty of Earth, the essence of the Sun and the splendor of the Moon; and as it had been influenced by them for so long it had miraculous powers.  It developed a magic womb, which burst open one day to produce a stone egg about the size of a ball.

When the wind blew on this egg it turned into a stone monkey, complete with the five senses and four limbs. When the stone monkey had learnt to crawl and walk, he bowed to each of the four quarters.  As his eyes moved, two beams of golden light shot towards the Pole Star Palace and startled the Supreme Heavenly Sage, the Greatly Compassionate Jade Emperor of the Azure Vault of Heaven, who was sitting surrounded by his immortal ministers on his throne in the Hall of Miraculous Mist in the Golden-gated Cloud Palace. When he saw the dazzling golden light he ordered Thousand-mile Eye and Wind-accompanying Ear to open the Southern Gate of Heaven and take a look. The two officers went down through the gate in obedience to the imperial command, and while one observed what was going on the other listened carefully. Soon afterwards they reported back.

"In obedience to the Imperial Mandate your subjects observed and listened to the source of the golden light.  We found that at the edge of the country of Aolai, which is east of the ocean belonging to the Eastern Continent of Superior Body, there is an island called the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit.  A magic stone on the top of this mountain produced a magic egg, and when the wind blew on this egg it turned into a stone monkey which bowed to each of the four quarters. When he moved his eyes, golden light shot towards the Pole Star Palace; but now that he is eating and drinking, the golden light is gradually dying.

In his benevolence and mercy the Jade Emperor said, "Creatures down below are born of the qi of heaven and earth:  there is nothing remarkable about him.

On his mountain the monkey was soon able to run and lump, feed from plants and trees, drink from brooks and springs; pick mountain flowers and look for fruit.  He made friends with the wolves, went around with the tigers and leopards, was on good terms with the deer, and had the other monkeys and apes for relations.  At night he slept under the rockfaces, and he roamed around the peaks and eaves by day.  As the saying so rightly goes, "There is no calendar in the mountains, and when winter's over you don't know the time of year." On hot mornings he and all the other monkeys would play under the shade of some pines to avoid the heat. Just look at them all:

    Climbing trees, picking flowers, looking for fruit;
    Throwing pellets, playing knucke bones;
    Running round sandy hollows, building stone pagodas;
    Chasing dragon/lies and catching locusts;
    Worshipping the sky and visiting flodhisattvas;
    Tearing off creepers and weaving straw hats;
    Catching fleas then popping them with their teeth and fingers;

    Crooning their coats and sharpening their nails;
    Eating, scratching, pushing, squashing, tearing and tugging;
    Playing all over the place under the pine trees;
    Washing themselves beside the green stream.

After playing, the monkeys would go and bathe in the stream, a mountain torrent that tumbled along like rolling melons. There is an old saying, birds have bird language and, animals have animal talk." All the monkeys said to each other, "I wonder where that water comes from.  We've got nothing else to do today, so wouldn't it be fun to go upstream and find its source?" With a shout they all ran off, leading their children and calling to their brothers.  They climbed up the mountain beside the stream until they reached its source, where a water-fall cascaded from a spring.

They saw

    One white rainbow arching,
    A thousand strands of flying snow,
    Unbroken by the sea winds,
    Stilt there under the moon.

    Cold air divides the green crags,
    Splashes moisten the mountainside;
    A noble water fall cascades,
    Hanging suspended like a curtain.

The monkeys clapped their hands and explained with de­light, "What lovely water. It must go all the way to the hot torn of the mountain and join the waves of the sea."

Then one monkey made a suggestion. "If anyone is clever enough to go through the fall, find the source, and come out in one piece, let's make him our king."  When this challenge had been shouted three times, the stone monkey leapt out from the crowd and answered at the top of his voice, "I'll go, I'll go."  Splendid monkey!  Indeed,

    Today he will make his name;
    Tomorrow his destiny shall triumph.
    He is fated to live here;
    As a King he will enter the Immortals' palace.

Watch him as he shuts his eyes, crouches, and springs, leaping straight into the waterfall. When he opened his eyes and raised his head to look round, he saw neither water nor waves.  A bridge stood in front of him.  He stopped, calmed himself, took a closer look, and saw that the bridge was made of iron. The water that rushed under it pour­ed out through a fissure in the rocks, screening the gateway to the bridge. He started walking towards the bridge, and as he looked he made out what seemed to be a house. It was a real­ly good place. He saw:

    Emerald moss piled an in heaps of blue,
    White clouds like drifting jade,
    While the light flickered among wisps of A quiet house with peaceful windows,

    Dragon pearls hanging in niches,
    Exotic blooms all around.
    Traces of fire beside the stove,
    Scraps of food in the vessels by table.
    Adorable stone chairs and beds,
    Even better stone plates and bowls. One or two tall bamboo,

    A few pines that always attract rain,
    All just like a real home,
    colored nust.

The monkey took a good, long look and then scampered to the mid­dle of the bridge, from where he noticed a stone tablet. On the tablet had been carved in big square letters: HAPPY LAND OF THE MOUNTMN OF FLOWERS AND FRUIT, CAVE HEAVEN OF THE WATER CURTAIN.  The stone monkey was beside himself with glee.  He rushed away, shut his eyes, crouched, and leapt back through the water fall. "We're in luck, we're in luck," he said with a chuckle.  All the other monkeys crowded round him asking, "What's it like in there? How deep is the water?" "There's no water, none at all," replied the stone monkey. "There's an iron bridge and on the other side of the bridge there's a house that must have been made by Heaven and Earth." "How ever could you see a house there?" the other monkeys asked. The stone monkey chuckled again.  "The water here comes under the bridge and through the rocks, and it hides the gateway to the bridge from view. There are flowers and trees by the bridge, and a stone house too.  Inside the house are stone rooms, a stone stove, stone bowls, stone plates, stone beds, and even stone benches.  In the middle of it all is a tablet which says 'Happy Land of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit, Cave Heaven of the Water Curtain'. It's just the place for us to settle down in---there's room there for thousands. Let's all move in, then we won't have to put up with any more nonsense from heav­en. In there<

    We can hide there from the wind,
    And shelter from the rain,
    With nothing to from frost and snow,
    And never a rumble of thunder.

    The colored mists grow bright
    And the place smells lucky.
    The pine and bamboo will always be beautiful,
    And rare flowers blossom every day.

The other monkeys were all so delighted to hear this that they said, "You go first and take us with you." The stone mon­key shut his eyes, crouched, and leapt in again, shouting, "Fol­low me in, follow me in."  The braver monkeys all lumped through.  The more timid ones peered forward, shrank back, rubbed their ears, scratched their cheeks1 shouted, and yelled at the top of their voices, before going in all clinging to each other. After rushing across the bridge they all grabbed plates and snatched bowls, bagged stoves and fought over beds, and moved everything around. Monkeys are born naughty and they could not keep quiet for a single moment until they had worn them­selves out moving things around.

The stone monkey sat himself in the main seat and said, "Gentlemen, 'A man who breaks his word is worthless.' Just now you said that if anyone was clever enough to come in here and get out again in one piece, you'd make him king.  Well, then. I've come in and gone out, and gone out and come in. I've found you gentlemen a cave heaven where you can sleep in peace and all settle down to live in bliss. Why haven't you made me king?" On hearing this all the monkeys bowed and prostrated themselves, not daring to disobey. They lined up in groups in order of age and paid their homage as at court, all acclaiming him as the "Great King of a Thousand Years". The stone monkey then took the throne, made the word "stone" taboo, and called himself Handsome Monkey King. There is a poem to prove it that goes:

 

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Excerpt from Journey to the West, Blackmask online, http://www.blackmask.com. Adapted from WJF Jenner translation.

 

Part Two

 



    All things are born from the Three Positives;
    The magic stone was quick with the essence of sun and moon.
    An egg was turned into a monkey to complete the Tao;
    He was lent a name so that the elixir would be complete,
    Looking inside he perceives nothing because he has no consciousness of his existence,
    Outside he uses his intelligence to create visible things,
    Men have always been like this:
    Those who are called Saints and sages do just as they wish.  

Taking control of his host of monkeys, apes, gibbons and others, the Handsome Monkey King divided them into rulers and subjects, assistants and officers. In the morning they roamed the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit and in the evening they settled down for the night in the Water Curtain Cave. They made a compact that they would not join the ranks of the birds or go with the running beasts. They had their own king, and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  

    In spring they picked flowers for food and drink,
    In summer they lived on fruit.  
    In autumn they gathered taros and chestnuts,
    They got through the winter on Solomon's-seat  

The Handsome Monkey King's innocent high Spirits could not, of course, last three or four hundred years. One day he suddenly felt depressed during a banquet with his monkey host, and he started to weep. The startled monkeys crowded round, bowed to him and asked, "What's the matter, Your Majesty?" "Although I'm happy now," the Monkey King replied, "I'm worried about the future. That's what's getting me down." The other monkeys laughed and said, "Your Majesty is being greedy. We have parties every day; we live in a mountain paradise, in an ancient cave in a divine continent. We are spared the rule of unicorns, the domination of phoenixes, and the restraints of human kings. We are free to do just as we like--- we are infinitely lucky. Why make yourself miserable worrying about the future?" To this the Monkey King replied, "Yes, we don't have to submit to the laws and regulations of human kings, and we don't live in terror of the power of birds and beasts. But the time will come when we are old and weak, and the un­derworld is controlled by the King of Hell. When the time comes for us to die, we won't be able to go on living among the Blessed, and our lives will have been in vain." All the monkeys covered their faces and wept as everyone of them thought about death.  

Suddenly a gibbon jumped out from their ranks and shriek­ed in a piercing voice, “If Your Majesty is thinking so far ahead, this is the beginning of enlightenment. Now of the Five Creatures, there are only three that do not come under the jurisdiction of the King of Hell." "Do you know which they are?" asked the Monkey King. "Yes,” the ape replied. "They are the Buddha, the Immortals and the Sages. They are free from the Wheel of Reincarnation. They are not born and they do not die. They are as eternal as Heaven and Earth, as the mountains and the rivers." "Where do they live?" the Monkey King asked. "Only in the human world," the ape replied, “in ancient caves on magic mountains."  The Monkey King was delighted to hear this. “I shall leave you all tomorrow” he said, "and go down the mountain. If I have to, I'll roam the corners of the oceans and go to the edge of the sky to find these three kinds of beings and discover the secrets of eternal life that will keep us out of the clutches of the King of Hell for ever.” Goodness! Because of these words he was to learn how to be free from the Wheel of Reincarnation and become the Great Sage Equaling Heaven. All the monkeys clapped with approval and said, "Great! Great! Tomorrow we'll climb all over the mountain and get lots of fruit to give Your Majesty a really big banquet to send you off.”  

The next day the monkeys set out to pick magic peaches, gather rare fruits, dig out yams, and cut Solomon's-seal. Magic fungus and fragrant orchid were collected and everything was set on the stone benches and the stone tables, with fairy wine and dishes. You could see  

    Golden pills and pearl pellets,
    Bursting red and plump yellow.
    The golden pills and pearl pellets were winter cherries, beautiful and sweet;
    The burning red and plump yellow were ripe plums,
     tasty and sharp.
    Fresh, sweet-fleshed longans with thin skins.
    Fiery lichees with tiny stones in a red sack.
    Branch after branch of crab-apples,
    Yellow-skinned loquats with their leaves on.
    Rabbit-head pears and chicken-heart jujubes
    To quench your thirst, remove your cares, and sober you up.
    Fragrant peaches and tender apricots.
    As sweet and luscious as jade wine.

    Crisp plums and arbutus,
    As sharp as glistening yoghurt.
    Ripe melons with red coats and black seeds,
    Big, four-sectioned persimmons with yellow skin.
    Bursting pomegranates:
    Cinnabar pip, shining like fire-crystal pearls.
    Opened water-chestnuts
    With firm round flesh like golden agate.
    Walnuts and gingko fruits to eat with tea;
    Coconuts and grapes to make into wine,
    Dishes loaded with pine cones, yew-nuts, filberts, and crab-apples;
    Tangerines, sugar-cane and oranges covering the table.  
    Hot roast yam,                                   
    Tender boiled Solomon's-seal.
    Pounded china-root and Job's tears.
    Simmered in soup in a stone-pot.
    Although we humans have rare delicacies to eat,
    We are no happier than those monkeys in the mountains.  

The host of monkeys ushered the Handsome Monkey King to the seat of honor and sat down below him according to age. Each of them took it in turns to bring him wine, flowers, and fruit, and they drank hard for a whole day. The next morning the Handsome Monkey King got up early and ordered, “Children, tear down some old pines and make me a raft. Find a bamboo pole to punt with and load it up with fruit. I'm go­ing.” He went aboard the raft all by himself, pushed off with all his might, and floated off towards the waves of the ocean. He intended to sail with the wind and cross over to the South­ern Jambu Continent.  

    The heaven-born monkey, whose conduct was so noble,
    Left his island to drift with heaven's winds.
    He sailed oceans and seas to find the Way of Immortality,
    Deeply determined to do a great deed.
    The predestined one should not have vulgar longings;
    He can attain the primal truth without care or worry.
    He is bound to find a kindred spirit.
    To explain the origins and the laws of nature.  

He had chosen just the right time for his journey. After he boarded his raft the southeastern wind blew hard for days on end and bore him to the northwestern shore of the Southern Continent. Testing the depth of the water with his pole he found that it was shallow, so he abandoned the raft and jumped ashore. He saw humans by the coast, fishing, hunting geese, gathering clams, and extracting salt. He went up to them, leaping around and making faces, which so scared them that they dropped their baskets and nets and fled in all directions as fast as they could. The Monkey King grabbed one of them who was a poor runner, stripped him of his clothes, and dressed himself in them like a human. He swaggered through the prov­inces and prefectures, learning human behavior and human speech in the market places. Whether he was eating his breakfast or going to bed at night he was always asking about Buddha, Immortals and Sages, and seeking the secrets of eternal life. He observed that the people of the world were too con­cerned with fame and fortune to be interested in their fates.

    When will the struggle for lame and fortune end?
    Toiling from morning till night, never resting yourself one moment.
    Those who ride donkeys long for stallions,
    The Prime Minister always wants to be a prince.
    They only worry about having to stop work to eat or dress;
    They never fear that the King of Hell will come to get them.
    When trying to ensure their sons and grandsons inherit their wealth and power,
    They have no time to stop and think.  

Although he asked about the way of the Immortals, the Monkey King was unable to meet one. He spent eight or nine years in the Southern Jambu Continent, going through its great walls and visiting its little counties.  When he found that he had reached the Great Western Ocean he thought that there must be Sages and Immortals on the other side of it, so he made himself another raft like the last one, and floated across the Western Ocean until he came to the Western Continent of Cattle-gift.  He went ashore and made extensive and lengthy enquiries until one day he came upon a high and beautiful mountain, thickly forested on its lower slopes. Not fearing wolves, and undaunted by tigers or leopards, he climbed to the summit to see the view. It was indeed a fine mountain

    A thousand peaks brandishing halberds,
    Screens ten thousand measures tall
    In the sunlight the mountain haze is lightly touched with blue;
    Alter the rain the black rocks look coldly green.
    Withered creepers coil round ancient trees,
    And the old ford marks the bounds of the mysterious.
    Strange flowers and precious plants,
    Flourishing in all four seasons, rivaling fairyland.
    The nearby cry of a hidden bird,
    The clear running of a spring.
    Valley upon valley of mushroom and orchid,
    lichen grows all over the cliffs.
    The range rises and dips in dragon-like majesty.
    Surely there must be lofty hermits here.

As he was looking at the view the Monkey King heard a human voice coming from the depths of the forest. He rushed into the trees, and when he cocked his ear to listen he heard a song.  

    “Watching the chess game I cut through the rotten,
    Felling trees, ding, ding,
    Strolling at the edge of the cloud and the mouth the valley,
    I sell firewood to buy wine,
    Cackling with laughter and perfectly happy. I pillow myself on a pine root, looking up at the moon.
    When I wake up it is light.
    Recognizing the old forest
    I scale cliffs and cross ridges,
    Cutting down withered creepers with my axe. When I've gathered a basketful
    I walk down to the market with a song,
    And trade it for three pints of rice.
    Nobody else competes with me,
    So prices are stable.
    I don't speculate or try sharp practice, Couldn't care less what people think of me,
    Calmly lengthening my days.
    The people I meet
    Are Taoists and Immortals;
    Sitting quietly and expounding the book Yellow Court."

The Monkey King was overjoyed to hear this, and he said with glee, “So this is where the Immortals have been hiding." He hounded deeper into the woods for a closer look and saw that the singer was a woodcutter cutting firewood.  He was wearing the most unusual clothes:  

    On his head be wore a hat
    Woven front the first skin shed by new bamboo shoots.
    The clothes on his body
    Were made of yarn from the wild cotton-tree.
    The belt round his waist
    Was of silk from an old silkworm.
    The straw sandals under his feet
    Had straps torn from rotten sago trees.
    In his hand he held a steel axe
    On his hack he carried a hempen rope
    At climbing pines and felling dead trees,
    Who was a match for this woodcutter?

The Monkey King went closer and called to him, "Old Immortal, your disciple greets you." The woodcutter dropped his axe in astonishment and turned round to say, "No, no. I don't even have enough to eat or drink, so how can I possibly let you call me an Immortal?" "If you're not an immortal," the Monkey King said, "why do you talk like one?" "I don't talk like an Immortal." the woodcutter said.  "At the edge of the wood just now," the Monkey King replied, "I heard you say, “The people I meet are Taoists and Immortals, sitting quietly and expounding the Man Tingfang” The Mantingfang contains the truth about the Tao, so if you're not an Immortal, what are you?" The woodcutter laughed. "It's quite true that the song is called 'The Fragrance of the Mantingfang' and an Im­mortal who lives near my hut taught me it.  He said he saw how hard I had to work and how I was always worried, so he made me sing this song when things were getting me down. It lightens my cares and makes me forget my weariness. I was singing it just now because I had some problems on my mind, and I never imagined that you would be listening." "If you've got an Immortal for a neighbor, you ought to learn from him how to pursue Tao and get him to teach you a rec­ipe for eternal youth." "I've had a hard life," the woodcutter replied. "My mother and father brought me up tilt I was about eight and just when I was beginning to know about life my father died. My mother remained a widow, and I had no broth­ers or sisters. As I was the only child I had to look after my mother morning and night. Now she is old that I can't possibly leave her. Our land is so overgrown that I can't grow enough to feed and clothe both of us, so I have to cut a couple of bundles of firewood to sell in the market for a handful of coppers to buy the few pints of rice that I cook for myself and for my mother. That's why I can't practice to pursue Tao."  

"From what you say," the Monkey King replied, "you're a filial son and a gentleman---you're bound to be rewarded for it one day. But I'd be grateful if you could show me where that Immortal lives, so that I can go and pay him my respects." The woodcutter said, "It's not far from here. This mountain is the Spirit Tower Heart Mountain, and in it there is the Cave of the Setting Moon and the Three Stars. In that cave lives an Immortal called the Patriarch Subhuti. I don't know how many disciples he has trained---there are thirty or forty of them pursue Tao with him at the moment. If you take that path south for two or three miles you'll reach his home." The Monkey King tugged at the woodcutter and said, "Take me there, Elder Brother.  If I get anything out of this, I won't forget your kindness."  "You idiot," the woodcutter replied. "didn't you understand what I told you just now? If I went with you I wouldn't be able to earn my living, and who would look after my poor old mother then? I've got to get on with my woodcutting. Go by yourself."  
After hearing this the Monkey King had to take his leave. He came out of the forest and found the path, which led up a mountain slope for two or three miles, when he saw the cave. He pulled himself up to his full height to take a look, and it was a really magnificent place:


    Misty clouds scattered colors,
    Sun and moon shimmered bright.
    A thousand ancient cypresses,
    Ten thousand lofty bamboos.
    A thousand ancient cypresses,
    A soft green drawing the rain from the sky.
    Ten thousand lofty bamboos,
    And a misty valley is azure blue.
    Outside the gate rare flowers spread brocade:
    Beside the bridge wafts the scent of jade flowers.
    Rocky crags jut, glossy with green moss;
    On overhanging cliffs blue lichen grows.
    Sometimes the call of the crane is heard
    And often you see the phoenix soar.
    The call of the crane
    Echoes beyond the Ninth Heaven and the Milky Way.
    When the phoenix soars,
    The brilliance of its wings colors the clouds.
    Black apes and white deer can be just made out;
    Golden lions and jade elephants prefer to keep hidden.
    If you look closely at this happy land,
    You will see that it rivals paradise.

He saw that the doors of the cave were shut fast, and that everything was still, with no signs of any people.  He turned round and noticed that there was a stone tablet about thirty feet high and eight feet wide at the top of the cliff. On it was carv­ed in enormous letters: SPIRIT-TOWER HEART MOUN­TAIN, CAVE OF THE SETTING MOON AND THE THREE STARS, The Monkey King exclaimed with delight, "The people here really are honest.  The mountain and the cave do exist." He took a good long look, but did not date to knock on the door.  He climbed to the end of a pine branch and ate some pine seeds to amuse himself.  
Before long the doors of the cave opened with a creak, and an immortal boy came out. In the nobility of his bearing and the exceptional purity of his features he was completely different from an ordinary boy.  

    His hair was bound with a pair of silken hands,
    His flowing gown had two capacious sleeves.
    His face and body were naturally distinguished;
    His mind and appearance were both empty.
    For many years a guest beyond the world of things,
    An eternal child amid the mountains.
    Untouched by any speck of dust,
    He let the years go tumbling by.

When this boy had come out he shouted, "Who's making that row out here?" The Monkey King scampered down the tree, went up to him, and said with a bow, "Immortal child, I am a disciple who has come to ask about the Way and study under the Immortal. The last thing I'd do would be to make a row here?" The boy laughed. "So you've come to ask about the Tao, have you?" "Yes," the Monkey King replied. "Our master has just got up," the boy said, "and has now mounted the dais to expound the Tao. Before he had started to explain about origins he told me to open the door. He said, 'There is someone outside who wants to pursue Tao.  Go and welcome him.' I suppose he must have meant you.   'Yes, he meant me," the Monkey King said with a smile. "Come with me," the boy said.  

The Monkey King straightened his clothes and followed the boy deep into the depths of the cave. He saw majestic pavilions and towers of red jade, pearl palaces and gateways of cowrie, and countless rooms of silence and secluded cells leading all way to a jasper dais. He saw the Patriarch Subhuti sitting on the dais and thirty-six minor Immortals standing below it.  

    An Immortal of great enlightenment is free from any dust,
    Subhuti, the marvel of the Western World.
    Neither dying nor born, he practises the triple medita­tion,
    His spirit and soul entirely benevolent.
    In empty detachment he follows the changes;
    Having found his true nature he lets it run free.
    As eternal as Heaven, and majestic in body.
    The great teacher of Nature is enlightened through aeons.

As soon as the Handsome Monkey King saw him he bowed low and knocked his head on the ground before him many times, saying, “Master, master, your disciple pays his deepest respects.” “Where are you from?” the Patriarch asked, “You must tell me your name and address before you can become my pupil.” “I come from the Water Curtain Cave in the Flowers and Fruit Mountain in the land of Aolai in the Eastern Con­tinent of Superior Body,” replied the Monkey King.  “Throw him out,” the Patriarch roared. “He's a liar and a cheat, and even if he tried cultivating his conduct he would get nowhere.” The Monkey King desperately kept hitting his head on the ground and said, “Your disciple spoke the truth.  I promise I wasn't lying.” The Patriarch asked, "If you were speaking the truth, why did you say that you came from the Eastern Con­tinent of Superior Body? Between here and the Eastern Con­tinent there are two seas and the Southern Jambu Continent, so how could you possibly have come here from there?" The Monkey King, still kowtowing, replied, "I sailed across seas and oceans, crossed frontiers and wandered through many coun­tries for over ten years before I arrived here."  

"So you came here by stages," the Patriarch remarked. "What is your surname?"  "I'm not surly," the Monkey King replied. “If people call me names it doesn't bother me, and if they bit me I don't get angry. I'm just polite to them and that's that. I've never been surly."  "I didn't ask if you were surly. I wanted to know the surname you inherited from your parents." "I didn't have any parents, the Monkey King replied.  "If you had no parents, did you grow on a tree?" "I grew not on a tree but in a stone," the Monkey King replied. "All I re­member is that there was a magic stone on the top of the Flower and Fruit Mountain, and that one year the stone split open and I was born." Concealing his delight at hearing this, the Patriarch remarked, "In other words, you were born of Heaven and Earth. Walk around for a moment and let me have a look at you.  The Monkey King leapt to his feet and shambled round a couple of times.  The Patriarch smiled and said, "Though you have rather a base sort of body, you look like one of the rhesus monkeys that eat pine seeds, and I ought to give you a surname that fits your appearance and call you Hu ('Macaque'). The elements that make up the character Ru are 'animal', 'old' and 'moon'.  What is old is ancient, and the moon embodies the Negative principle, and what is ancient and Negative cannot be transformed. But I think I would do much better to call you Sun ('Monkey').  Apart from the 'animal' element, the character Sun has one part implying male and one part suggesting a baby, which fits in with my basic theories about children. Your surname will he Sun."  

When the Monkey King heard this he kowtowed with delight and said, "Great! Great! Now I have a surname. I am eternally grateful to you for your mercy and compassion, master. I beg you to give me a personal name to go with my new surname, then it will be much easier to address me. "There are twelve words within my sect," said the Patriarch, "which I give as names.  You belong to the tenth generation of my disciples."  "What are these twelve words?" asked the Monkey King.  "Broad, great, wisdom, intelligence, true, likeness, nature, sea, bright, awakened, complete and enlightenment.  If we work out the generations of disciples, then you should have a name with Wu ('Awakened') in it.  So we can give you the Dharma-name Sun Wukong, which means 'Monkey Awakened to Emptiness'. Will that do?" "Marvelous, marvelous," said the smiling Monkey King. "From now on my name will be Sun Wukong."  Indeed,

    When the Great Vagueness was separated there were no surnames;
    To smash dead emptiness he had to be awakened to live emptiness.

If you want to know what success he had in pursuing Tao you must listen to the explanation in the next installment.

 

[pagebreak]

Excerpt from Journey to the West, Blackmask online, http://www.blackmask.com. Adapted from WJF Jenner translation.

 

Part Three



        He becomes aware of the wonderful truth of enlightenment;
        By getting rid of the cognitive mind-will he unearths his congenital nature.


The story goes on to tell how after being given a name the Handsome Monkey King jumped for joy and bowed to Subhuti to express his thanks.  The Patriarch then ordered the others to take Sun Wukong out through the double doors and teach him how to sprinkle and sweep the floor, answer orders, and deport himself properly.  All the immortals went out in obedience to this command.  When Sun Wukong was outside the doors he bowed to all his fellow elder brothers and laid out his bed on the verandah.  The next morning and every following day he studied language and deportment under his fellow elder brothers, expounded the scriptures, discussed the Dao, practiced calligraphy, and burnt incense.  When he had any spare time he would sweep the grounds, dig the vegetable patch, grow flowers, tend trees, look for kindling, light the fire, carry water, and fetch soy. Everything he needed was provided. Thus six or seven years slipped by in the cave without his noticing them. One day the Patriarch took his seat on the dais, called all the Immortals together, and began to explain what is Dao.

    Heavenly flowers fell in profusion,
    While golden lotuses burst forth from the earth.
    Brilliantly he expounded the doctrine of the Three Vehicles,
    Setting forth ten thousand Dharmas in all their details.
    As he slowly waved his whisk, jewels fell from his mouth,

    Echoing like thunder and shaking the Nine Heavens.
    Now preaching the Tao,
    Now teaching meditation,
    He showed that the Three Beliefs are basically the same.
    In explaining a single word he brought one back to the truth,
    And taught the secrets of avoiding birth and understanding one's congenital nature.

As Monkey sat at the side listening to the exposition he was so delighted that he tugged at his ear, scratched his cheek and smiled. He could not help waving his hands and stamping. When the Patriarch noticed this he said to Monkey, "Why are you leaping around like a madman in class instead of listening to the lesson?"  "Your disciple is listening to the exposition with all his attention," Monkey replied, "but your marvelous words made me so happy that I started jumping around without realizing what I was doing. Please forgive me." To this the Patriarch replied, "If you really understand my marvelous words, then answer this question.  How long have you been in my cave?"  "You disciple was born stupid," Monkey replied, "so I've no idea how long I've been here.  All I know is that whenever the fire in the stove goes out I go to the other side of the mountain to collect firewood and there I see a hill covered with fine peach trees.  I've had seven good feeds of peaches there." "That hill is called Tender Peach Hill. If you have eaten there seven times you must have been here seven years.  What sort of Tao do you want to learn from me?" "That depends what you teach me, master. As long is there's a whiff of Tao to it, your disciple will learn it."

"There are three hundred and sixty side-entrances to the Tao, and they all lead to their respective result," the Patriarch said. "Which branch would you like to study?" "I will do whatever you think best, master," replied Monkey. "What about teaching you the Magic Arts?" "What does 'the Magic Arts' mean?"  "Magic arts," the Patriarch replied, "include summoning Immortals, using the magic sandboard, and divining by milfoil. With them one can learn how to bring on good fortune and avert disaster."  "Can you become immortal this way?"  asked Monkey.  "No, certainly not," replied the Patriarch. "No.  Shan't learn it."

"Shall I teach you the Way of Sects?" the Patriarch asked. "What are the principles of the Sects?" said Monkey. "Within the branch of Sects, there is Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, the study of the Negative and Positive, Mohism, medicine, reading scriptures and chanting the name of a Buddha. You can also summon Immortals and Sages with this branch." "Can you attain immortality that way?" asked Monkey. "To try and attain immortality that way," the Patriarch replied, "is like 'putting a pillar in the wall'."  "Master," Monkey said, "I'm a simple chap and I can't understand your technical jargon. What do you mean by 'putting a pillar in the wall'?" "When a man builds a house and wants to make it strong he puts a pillar in the wall. But when the day comes for his mansion to collapse the pillar is bound to rot." "From what you say, Monkey observed, "it's not eternal. No. Shan't learn it."

"Shall I teach you the Way of Silence?" the Patriarch then asked.  "What True Result can he got from Silence?" said Monkey,  "It involves abstaining from grain, preserving one's essence, silence, inaction, meditation, abstaining from speech, eating vegetarian food, performing certain exercises when asleep or standing up, going into trances, and being walled up in total isolation."  "Is this a way of becoming immortal?"  Monkey asked. "It's like building the top of a kiln with sun-dried bricks," the Patriarch replied. "You do go on, master," said Sun Wukong. "I've already told you that I can't understand your technical jargon.  What does 'building the top of a kiln with sun-dried bricks' mean?" "If you build the top of a kiln with sun-dried bricks they may make it look all right, but if they have not been hardened with fire and water, then they will crumble away in the first heavy rainstorm." "There's nothing eternal about that either, then," replied Monkey. "No. Shan't learn that."

"Shall I teach you the Way of Action then?" the Patriarch asked. "What's that like?" Monkey asked.  "It involves actions and doing, extracting the Negative and building up the Positive, drawing the bow and loading the crossbow, rubbing the navel to make the subtle humors flow, refining elixirs according to formulae, lighting fires under cauldrons, consuming 'Red lead', purifying 'Autumn Stone', and drinking women's milk."  "Can doing things like that make me live for ever?" Monkey asked. "To try and attain immortality that way is like 'lifting the moon out of water'." "What does 'lifting the moon out of water' mean?" "The moon is in the sky," the Patriarch replied, "and only its reflection is in the water. Although you can see it there, you will try in vain to lift it out." "No. Shan't learn that," Monkey exclaimed.

When the Patriarch heard this he gasped and climbed down from his dais. Pointing at Sun Wukong with his cane he said, "You won't study this and you won't study that, so what do you want, you monkey?" He went up to Monkey and hit him three times on the head, then went inside with his hands behind his back and shut the main door, abandoning them all.  The class was shocked, and they all blamed Sun Wukong.  "You cheeky ape, you've no idea how to behave.  The master was teaching you the Tao, so why did you have to argue with him instead of learning from him? Now you've offended him we don't know when he'll come out again."  They were all very angry with him and regarded him with loathing and contempt. But Sun Wukong was not bothered in the least, and his face was covered with smiles. The Monkey King had understood the riddle, and had the answer hidden away in his mind. So he did not argue with the others but bore it all without a word. When the Patriarch hit him three times he had been telling him to pay attention at the third watch; and when he went inside with his hands behind his back and shut the main door he had told the Monkey King to go in through the back door and be taught the Tao in secret.

The delighted Sun Wukong spent the rest of that day with the others in front of the Three Stars Gave, looking at the sky and impatient for night to come. At dusk he went to bed like all the others, pretended to close his eyes, controlled his breathing, and calmed himself down.  Nobody beats the watches or calls out the hour in the mountains, so he had no way of knowing the time except by regulating the breath going in and out of his nose. When he reckoned that it was about the third watch he got up very quietly, dressed, and slipped out through the front door away from the others. When he was outside he looked up and saw

    The moon was bright and clear and cold,
    The vast space of the eight points was free from dust.
    Deep in the trees a bird slept hidden,
    While the water flowed from the spring.

    Fireflies scattered their lights
    And a line of geese was stretched across the clouds.
    It was exactly the third watch,
    The right time to ask about the Tao.

Watch the Monkey King as he follows the old path to the back door, which he found to be ajar. "The Patriarch has left the door open, so he really intends to teach me the Tao," he exclaimed in delight.  He tiptoed forward, went in sideways through the door, and walked over to the Patriarch's bed, where he saw the Patriarch sleeping curled up, facing the inside of the room. Not daring to disturb him, Sun Wukong knelt in front of the bed. Before long the Patriarch woke up, stretched out both his legs, and mumbled to himself:

"It's hard, hard, hard. The Tao is very obscure,
Don't make light of the golden elixir and regard it as something common.
To learn miraculous spells from any but the Perfect Man,
Is to tire the voice and dry the tongue in vain."

Sun Wukong said in reply, "Master, your disciple has been kneeling here for a long time." When the Patriarch heard that it was Sun Wukong who was speaking he pulled some clothes on, sat up cross-legged, and shouted, 'it's that monkey. Why have you come into my room instead of sleeping out in front?" "Master, you told me publicly in front of the altar yesterday that your disciple was to come in here through the back gate at the third watch as you were going to teach me the Tay. That is why made so bold as to come to pay my respects beside my master's bed."  The Patriarch was very pleased to hear this and said to himself, "This wretch was indeed born of Heaven and Earth. Otherwise he wouldn't have been able to understand my cryptic message. Sun Wukong said, "There is no third pair of ears in this room your disciple is the only other person here. I hope, master, that in your great mercy you will teach me the Tao of Immortality.  If you do, I'll always be grateful to you. "You are predestined," the Patriarch said, "so I shall be happy to tell you. Since you understood my cryptic message, come over here and listen carefully while I teach you the miraculous Tao of Immortality." Sun Wukong kowtowed with gratitude and knelt before the bed, listening with all his attention. The Patriarch said:

    "True spells, revealing secrets and all powerful,
    Are the only sure way of protecting one's life force and congenital nature.
    They all come from fertilizing fluid, vita-vapor, and congenital mind-will,
    Must be stored away securely, and never be divulged.
    Must never be divulged, and be stored in the body.
    Then the Tao I teach you will flourish of itself.
    Many are the benefits of learning spells:
    They give protection from evil desires and make one pure.

    Make one pure with a dazzling radiance
    Like a bright moon shining on a cinnabar tower,
    The moon contains a Jade Rabbit, the sun a Golden Crow,
    The Tortoise and the Snake are always intertwined.

    Always intertwined, then life is firm,
    And one can plant golden lotuses in fire.
    Grasp all the Five Elements and turn them upside down,
    And when you are successful you can become a Buddha, or an Immortal."

The Patriarch's explanation went to the root of things, and Sun Wukong's heart was filled with bliss as he committed the spells to memory. He bowed to the Patriarch to express his deep gratitude and went out of the back door to look. He saw that there was a trace of white in the east, while the golden light of the moon was shining in the west. He went to the front door by the old path, pushed it open gently, and went in. He saw down where he had been sleeping earlier, shook his bedding and said loudly. "It's dawn, it's dawn. Get up." The others were all asleep, unaware of Sun Wukong's good fortune. At daybreak he got up and muddled through the day, while secretly keeping to what he had been told. In the afternoon and evening he regulated his breathing.

After three years had passed in this way the Patriarch once more sat on his lecturing throne and expounded the Dharma to the students.  He recounted famous sayings and parables, and discussed external phenomena and external appearances. Without warning he asked, "Where is Sun Wukong?" Sun Wukong went forward, knelt down and replied, "Your disciple is present.  What Tao have you cultivated since Corning here?" "Your disciple is now fairly well conversant with the Dharma," Sun Wukong replied, "and my Source is getting gradually stronger." "If you are conversant with the Dharma and you know about the Source," the Patriarch replied, "and if the spirit has already flowed into you, then you must beware of the 'Three Disasters'." Sun Wukong thought for a long time, then he said, "Patriarch, I have often heard that the Tao is lofty and its power mighty, that it is as eternal as Heaven, that it can overcome fire and water, and prevent all illnesses from arising, so how could there be 'Three Disasters'?" To this the Patriarch replied, "This is not the ordinary Tao: it involves seizing the very creation of Heaven and Earth, and encroaching on the hidden workings of the sun and moon. Once the elixir is made, devils and spirits cannot tolerate it. Although it will preserve the youthfulness of your face and prolong your life, in five hundred years' time Heaven will strike you with a thunderbolt. You must be clear-sighted in nature and mind, so that you can hide from it before it comes. If you succeed in avoiding it you will live as long as Heaven; and if you don't, it will kill you. Another five hundred years later Heaven will burn you with fire. This fire will be not heavenly fire or ordinary fire but 'hidden fire'. It will burn you from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head; your five viscera will be reduced to ashes, your four limbs will be destroyed, and a thousand years of asceticism will have been so much wasted time. Yet another five hundred years later a wind will blow at you. It will not be the north, south, east, or west wind, nor will it be a warm, fragrant wind from the northwest; nor will it be the kind of wind that blows among flowers, willows, pine, and bamboo. It will be what is called a 'monster wind'. It will blow through the crown of your head down into your six entrails. It will go through the Cinnabar Field below your navel and penetrate your nine orifices. Your flesh and your bones will be destroyed and your body will disintegrate. So you must avoid all three of these disasters.''

When he heard this Sun Wukong's hair stood on end, and he kowtowed with the words, "I implore you, my lord, to show pity and teach me how to avoid these three disasters. If you do I will be grateful to you for ever," "That would be easy, the Patriarch replied, "but for the fact that you are different from other people---which means that I can't." "I have a head that faces the sky and feet standing on earth," said Sun Wukong. "I have nine orifices and four limbs, five viscera and six entrails. How am I different from anyone else?" "Although you are quite like other people, your cheeks are too small." Now that monkey had a funny face, with cheeks that caved inwards and a sharp chin. Sun Wukong felt it with his hand and replied with a laugh, "Master, you didn't take everything into account. Although I'm a bit short of jaw, I've got more dewlap than other people to make up for it." "Very well then," the Patriarch said, "which would you prefer to learn:  the thirty six heavenly transformations or the seventy-two earthly ones? "Your disciple wants to get as much out of it as he can, so I would like to learn the seventy-two earthly ones."  "If that's what you want," the Patriarch replied, "come here and I'll teach you the spells." Thereupon he whispered into. Sun Wukong's ear, and who knows what miraculous spells he taught him? The Monkey King was the sort of person who understands everything once he is told a tiny part, and he learnt the spells on the spot. He practised and trained until he had mastered all seventy-two transformations.

One day the Patriarch and all his disciples were enjoying the sunset outside the Three Stars Cave. The Patriarch asked Sun Wukong, "Have you succeeded yet?" Sun Wukon8 replied, "Thanks to your infinite mercy, master, your disciple's results have been perfect, and I can now rise on the clouds and fly,"  "Let me see you try a flight," the Patriarch said. Sun Wukong used his skill to perform a series of somersaults that carried him fifty or sixty feet into the air, then walked around on the clouds for about as long as it takes to eat a meal. He covered about a mile altogether before landing in front of the Patriarch, folding his arms across his chest, and saying, "Master, that's flying and soaring in the clouds." The Patriarch laughed. "That's not soaring on the clouds---it's just climbing up them. There is an old saying that an Immortal visits the Northern Sea in the morning and Cangwu in the evening'. But to take as long as you did just to go a mile doesn't count as climbing on the clouds." "How can it be possible to visit the Northern Sea in the morning and Cangwu in the evening?" Sun Wukong asked. "All cloud-soarers start off from the Northern Sea early in the morning, visit the Eastern, Western and Southern Seas, and then come hack to Cangwu. Cangwu is what the Northern Sea is called in the Lingling language. When you can go beyond all four seas in a single day you can regard yourself as a cloud-soarer." "But that must be very difficult," Sun Wukong observed. "Where there's a will there's a way," the Patriarch replied. "Nothing by halves, master," replied Sun Wukong with bows and kowtows, "I beg of you in your great mercy to teach me the art of cloud-soaring. I promise that I will always be grateful." "immortals take off with a stamp of their feet," said the Patriarch, "but you do it differently---just now I saw you pull yourself up. As that is the way you do it, I'll show you how to do it your own way and teach you the somersault cloud'." Sun Wukong bowed again, imploring him to do so, and the Patriarch taught him the spell. "For this kind of cloud," the Patriarch said, "you make the magic by clasping your hands in the special way, recite the words of the spell, clench your fist, shake yourself, and lump. With one somersault you can go sixty thousand miles." When the others heard this they all exclaimed with a laugh. "Lucky old Sun Wukong. With magic like this he could be a messenger delivering official letters and reports, and he'd never go short of a meal." When it was dark the Patriarch and his pupils returned to the cave. That night Sun Wukong moved his congenital mind-will, practised the technique, and mastered the cloud somersault. From then on he was free from all restraint and he enjoyed the delights of immortality, drifting around as he pleased.

On a day when spring was giving way to summer, and all the students had been sitting under some pine trees listening to lectures for a long time, they said, "Sun Wukong, in what life did you earn your present destiny? The other day our teacher whispered to you how to do the transformations to avoid the Three Disasters. Can you do them all yet?"  "It's true, brothers," said Sun Wukong with a grin, "I can do them all. In the first place, it's because our master taught me; and in the second place, it's because I practised them hard day and night." "This would be a good time for you to give us a demonstration."  At this suggestion Sun Wukong braced his spirit to show off his skill. "What's it to be, brothers? Tell me what you'd like me to turn myself into." "Turn into a pine tree," they all said. Sun Wukong clenched his fist, said the magic words, shook himself, and changed into a pine tree. It was truly

    Green and misty throughout the four seasons,
    Raising its upright beauty to the clouds.
    Not in the least like a demon monkey,
    Every inch a tree that withstands frost and snow.