The Mind-Ape Returns to Truth, The Six Bandits Disappear Without Trace
Sanzang has to follow him, leading his horse down the mountain. A mile or two later they see that there really is a monkey poking out his head out of a stone cell, and making desperate gestures with his outstretched hands as he shouts, “Master, why didn’t you come before? Thank goodness you’re here, thank goodness. “I am the Great Sage Equaling Heaven who wrecked the Heavenly Palace five hundred years ago. The Lord Buddha put me under this mountain for my criminal insubordination. Some time ago the Bodhisattva Guanyin went to the East on the Buddha’s orders to find someone who could fetch the scriptures. When I asked her to save me she told me that I was to give up evil-doing, return to the Buddha’s Law, and do all I could to protect the traveler when he went to the Western Paradise to worship Buddha and fetch the scriptures; she said that there’ll be something in it for me when that’s done. Ever since then I’ve been waiting day and night with eager anticipation for you to come and save me, Master. I swear to protect you on your way to fetch the scriptures and to be your disciple.”
Sanzang, delighted to hear this, said, “Although you now have these splendid intentions and wish to become a monk thanks to the teaching of the Bodhisattva, I’ve no axe or chisel, so how am I to get you out?” “There’s no need for axes or chisels. As long as you’re willing to save me, I can get myself out,” the monkey replied. “I’m willing to save you,” Sanzang said, “but how are you going to get out?” “On the top of this mountain there is a detention order by the Tathagata Buddha written in letters of gold. If you climb the mountain and tear it off, I’ll be straight out.” Accepting his suggestion, Sanzang turns round to ask Liu Boqin if he will go up the mountain with him. When they have reached the summit, they see a myriad beams of golden light and a thousand wisps of propitious vapor coming from a large, square rock on which is pasted a paper seal bearing the golden words Om mani padme hum.
Sanzang goes up and knelt down before the rock, then read the golden words and bowed his head to the ground a number of times and gently tears the paper seal off. A scented wind blows in his face and carries the paper up into the sky as a voice calls, “I am the Great Sage’s guard. Now that his sufferings are over I am going back to see the Tathagata and hand in this seal.” Then there is a great noise as the mountain split open. As they are all shaking with terror, the monkey appears kneeling stark naked in front of Sanzang’s horse and saying, “Master, I’m out.” He bows four times to Sanzang.
Sanzang and Monkey are attacked by six bandits, but they are no match for Monkey and he kills them all. Sanzang thinks that even though Monkey said that he would be his disciple and observe and uphold the faith, he hasn`t actually given up his evil-doing and becomes angry with him. Monkey, who has never let himself be put upon, flares up and leaves the Monk to continue the journey alone. Before he has been traveling for long he sees an old woman on the mountain path in front of him. “Where are you from, venerable monk,” the old woman asks, “traveling all alone and by yourself?” “I have been sent by the great King of the East to go to the West to visit the Buddha and ask him for the True Scriptures,” he replies.“The Buddha of the West lives in the Great Thunder Monastery in the land of India, one hundred and eight thousand miles away from here. You’ll never get there, just you and your horse, without a companion or disciple.” “I did have a disciple, but his nature was so evil that he would not accept a little reproof I administered to him and disappeared into the blue,” says Sanzang.
“I have here an embroidered tunic and a hat inset with golden patterns that used to be my son’s,” the woman says, “but he died after being a monk for only three days. I’ve just been to his monastery to mourn him and say farewell to his master, and I was taking this tunic and this hat home to remember the boy by. But as you have a disciple, venerable monk, I’ll give them to you.” “Thank you very much for your great generosity, but as my disciple has already gone, I couldn’t accept them.” “Where has he gone?” “All I heard was a whistling sound as he went back to the East.” “My home isn’t far to the East from here,” she says, “so I expect he’s gone there. I’ve also got a spell called True Words to Calm the Mind, or the Band-tightening Spell. You must learn it in secret, and be sure to keep it to yourself. Never leak it to anyone. I’ll go and catch up with him and send him back to you, and you can give him that tunic and hat to wear. If he’s disobedient again, all you have to do is recite the spell quietly. That will stop him committing any more murders or running away again.” Sanzang bows low to thank her, at which she changes into a beam of golden light and returned to the East.
He realizes in his heart that it must have been the Bodhisattva Guanyin who has given him the spell. Monkey returns, notices the tunic and hat and asks Sanzang if he can wear it. As soon as he has them on, Sanzang recites the Band-tightening Spell, giving Monkey a terrible headache. “Master,” says Monkey, “What a curse you put on me to give me a headache like that.” “I didn’t put a curse on you, I recited the Band-tightening Spell,” Sanzang replies. “Say it again and see what happens,” says Monkey, and when Sanzang does as he asked, Monkey’s head aches again. “Stop, stop,” he shouts, “the moment you started reciting it my head ached. Why did you do it?” “Will you accept my instruction now?” Sanzang asks. “Yes,” Monkey replies. “Will you misbehave again in future?” “I certainly won’t,” says Monkey.
Check back next week for Journey to the West Abridged: Chapter 15!
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.
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