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Journey to the West is one of the most famous novels in Chinese history. It was produced in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty. It has influenced countless other stories, works of art even in to the modern day, such as the anime Dragonball and the film The Forbidden Kingdom drawing inspiration from this classic.

The story follows the Tang Monk on his journey to India to obtain sacred Buddhist scriptures. Along the way he is joined by the magical Monkey King, a foolish Pig man, and the mighty Sand Monk. This article is part of a series by Walther Sell, summarizing the Chinese epic.

Part 1

The Divine Root Conceives and the Spring Breaks Forth,
As the Heart’s Nature Is Cultivated, the Great Way Arises

The Divine Root Conceives and the Spring Breaks Forth

As the Heart’s Nature Is Cultivated, the Great Way 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.

There was once a magic stone on the top of a mountain. Ever since Creation began it has been receiving the truth of Heaven, the beauty of Earth, the essence of the Sun and the splendor of the Moon; and as it has been influenced by them for so long it has miraculous powers. It develops a magic womb, which bursts open one day to produce a stone egg about the size of a ball. When the wind blows on this egg it turns into a stone monkey, complete with the five senses and four limbs. On his mountain the monkey is soon able to run and jump, and he makes friends with other monkeys and apes. One day after bathing, they discover a waterfall suspended like a curtain. One monkey makes 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.” The stone monkey leaps out from the crowd and answers at the top of his voice, “I’ll go, I’ll go.” Splendid Monkey leaps straight into the waterfall. After a while he comes out again, and tells the other monkeys to follow him. After they have all entered the cave, he says: “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 bow and prostrate themselves, not daring to disobey. They line up in groups in order of age and pay their homage as at court, all acclaiming him as the “Great King of a Thousand Years.”  The stone monkey then takes the throne, makes the word “stone” taboo, and calls himself Handsome Monkey King.

All things are born from the three yangs;

The magic stone contained the essence of sun and moon.              

An egg was turned into a monkey to complete the Great Way;    

He was lent a name so that the elixir would be complete.

The Monkey King and other monkeys have an enjoyable life but one day the Monkey King says: “Although I’m happy now, I’m worried about the future. That’s what’s getting me down.  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.”   A gibbon jumps out from their ranks and shrieks in a piercing voice, “If Your Majesty is thinking so far ahead, this is the beginning of enlightenment. The Buddhas, the Immortals and the Sages 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 asks. “Only in the human world,” the ape replies, “in ancient caves on magic mountains.” The Monkey King is delighted to hear this. “I shall leave you all tomorrow,” he says, “and go down the mountain. The next day he leaves his friends in search for a teacher.

Check back next week for Journey to the West Abridged: Chapter 2!

 

All content in the article are not our original work and are the property of Walther Sell. Check him out at:
http://www.innerjourneytothewest.com/english/en-index.html https://www.facebook.com/journeytothewest.inner/

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