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Chapter 65

A Demon Creates a False Thunder Peak

All Four Pilgrims Meet with Disaster

The cause and effect this time revealed

Should make one do what's good and shun the evil.

Once a thought is born

The Intelligence is aware of it.

And lets it become action.

Why strive to learn stupidity or skill?

Both are medicines for heartlessness.

Do what is right while you are still alive;

Do not just drift.

Recognize the root and the source,

Escape from the trunk and the husk.

If seeking long life you must grasp this.

Watch clearly at every moment,

Refine your thoughts.

Go through the three passes, fill up the black sea;

The good will surely ride on the phoenix and crane.

Then your gloom will change to compassion

As you ascend to absolute bliss.

Tang Sanzang's thoughts were so pure that not only did the heavenly gods protect him: even the vegetable spirits had taken him along a part of his journey for a night of elegant conversation, thereby saving him from having to go through the thorns and brambles. Nor were there any more creepers to entangle them. As the four of them carried on West for another long period winter ended and spring returned.

All things begin to flower,

The handle of the Dipper returns to the East.

Everywhere the grass is green,

As are the leaves of willows on the bank.

The ridge covered in peach blossom is red brocade;

The mist over the stream is a translucent gauze.

Frequent wind and rain,

Unbounded feeling.

Flowers open their hearts to the sun,

Swallows carry off the delicate moss.

Wang Wei should have painted the beauty of the mountains;

The birdsong is as persuasive as Su Qin's golden tongue.

Though no one sees these fragrant cushions of flowers

The butterflies and singing bees adore them.

Master and disciples made their way across the flowers and the grass ambling along with the horse until they made out in the distance a mountain so high that it touched the sky. Pointing at it with his riding crop Sanzang said, I wonder how high that mountain is, Wukong. It touches the heavens and pierces the firmament.

Isn't there some ancient poem that says, 'Heaven alone is supreme: no mountain can equal its height?' Monkey replied. However high a mountain is it can't possibly join up with the sky.

Then why's Mount Kunlun called the pillar of heaven? Pig asked.

Evidently you don't know that part of the sky has always been missing in the Northwest, Brother Monkey replied. As Kunlun's in the Northwest corner it plugs that hole in the sky. That's why it's called the pillar of heaven.

Brother, said Friar Sand with a smile, stop telling him all that. He'll brag about it to make himself superior. We'll know how high the mountain is when we've climbed it.

The idiot started chasing Friar Sand and brawling with him in a playful way, and the master's horse galloped as if on wings. They were soon at the foot of a precipice up which they made their way painfully slowly. This is what the mountain was like:

The wind rustling in the woods,

Water gushing along the beds of ravines.

Crows and sparrows cannot fly across it;

Even gods and immortals find it hard.

Scars and gullies endlessly twisting;

Clouds of dust blowing where no one can go;

Rocks in strange and fascinating shapes.

Clouds like vast expanses of water,

While elsewhere birds sing in the trees.

Deer carry magic fungus in their mouths.

Apes pick peaches.

Foxes and raccoon dogs spring around on the cliffs,

Large and small deer play on the ridge.

Then comes the spine-chilling roar of a tiger,

And the way is blocked by leopards and wolves.

Sanzang was terrified by what he saw, but Monkey's powers were enormous. With his gold-banded cudgel and a mighty roar he sent the wolves, tigers, leopards and other wild beasts running then cleared the way for the master to reach the top of the mountain. Once they were over the summit ridge and had started going down the gentle Western slope they saw divine light and coloured clouds over some imposing buildings from which came the muffled sounds of bells and stone chimes.

Look and see what that place is, disciples, said Sanzang. Monkey raised his head, shaded his eyes with his hands, and on careful examination saw that it was a fine place:

Magnificent architecture,

A famous monastery.

The valley of emptiness is full of the earth's vibrations;

Heavenly fragrance pervades the stillness.

Rain in the bluish pines obscures the buildings;

Mist around the green bamboo protects the preaching hall.

Through coloured clouds one can make out the dragon palace;

The infinite worlds are seen in shimmering light.

Red balustrades and doors of marble,

Painted and carved beams.

Incense fills the hall in which the scriptures are taught;

The moon hangs over the window where the mysteries are passed on.

Birds sing in red trees,

Cranes drink from a spring in the rocks.

The flowers as fine as those of the Jetavana;

All the doors open on the brilliance of Sravasti.

Beside the towering buildings the gates face crags;

Slow is the rhythm of the bell and chime.

A light breeze blows into open windows,

And under the rolled-up curtains is a smoky haze.

Among the monks emotions are all calm;

Peace reigns in the absence of worldliness.

A land of immortals unsullied by earth's dust,

This splendid monastery of the pure land.

When he had taken a good look at it Monkey went back to report, It's a monastery, Master, but for some reason there's something evil about the auspicious dhyana atmosphere. The place looks like the Thunder Monastery but the distance to here is wrong. Whatever we do we mustn't go rushing inside. If we do we may run into something nasty.

But if it looks like the Thunder Monastery this must surely be the Vulture Peak, said the Tang Priest. Don't try to frustrate my sincerest wish and put off what I've come for.

But it isn't vulture peak, said Monkey. I've been there several times and this isn't the way.

Even if it isn't there must be good people living here, said Pig.

Don't be so suspicious, said Friar Sand. The road goes straight past the gate, so we can find out at a glance,

You're right, said Monkey.

Whipping on the horse, the venerable elder arrived at the monastery gate, above which the words THUNDER MONASTERY were written.

This came as such a surprise to him that he fell to the ground from the horse, saying abusively, Wretched macaque! You'll be the death of me. Here we are at the Thunder Monastery and you're still trying to trick me.

Don't be angry, Master, said Monkey with a forced smile. Take another look. There are three words over the gate. Why did you only read two of them out, then get angry with me? Still shaking, the master climbed to his feet again for another look and saw that there were in fact three words written there: LESSER THUNDER MONASTERY.

Even if it is the Lesser Thunder Monastery, Sanzang said, there must be a Buddha in here. The three thousand Buddhas of whom the scriptures speak can't all live in the same place, just as the Bodhisattva Guanyin lives in the Southern Sea, Samantabhadra lives on Mount Emei and Manjusri on Mount Wutai. I wonder which Buddha's holy seat this is. As the saying has it,

Wherever there's a Buddha there are scriptures;

Everywhere you go you'll find some treasures.

Let's go in.

No, we mustn't, said Monkey. This place looks thoroughly sinister. Don't blame me if this leads to disaster.

Even if there is not Buddha here there's bound to be a statue of a Buddha, and I am under a vow to worship every Buddha statue I pass, Sanzang replied. I won't blame you. He then told Pig to get out his cassock, put on his mitre, neatened his clothes up and strode forward.

As he did so a voice from inside the gate called out, Tang Priest, you've come from the East to worship our Buddha, so why are you still being so casual about it? Sanzang at once started kowtowing, as did Pig while Friar Sand knelt. The Great Sage hung back, holding the horse and looking after the luggage. Once they were inside the inner gates they reached the Buddha Hall, outside of which were drawn up the five hundred arhats, the three thousand protectors, the four vajrapanis, the eight Bodhisattvas, nuns, lay people, and countless holy monks and lay brothers. Everywhere was the scent of flowers and auspicious vapors. The venerable elder, Pig and Friar Sand were all so overwhelmed that they kowtowed at every step until they reached the hall. Monkey alone did not bow.

Sun Wukong, came a shrill shout from the throne, why don't you kowtow when you see the Buddha? Nobody realized that Monkey had spotted as he took a careful look around that this was all false.

Letting go of the horse and putting down the luggage he shouted as he brandished his cudgel, Evil beasts! What a nerve! How dare you try to ruin the Buddha's good name by pretending to be him! Stay where you are! He raised his cudgel in both hands and was just about to strike when a pair of bronze cymbals came out of the sky to join together with a mighty crash, enclosing him completely from head to toe. Pig and Friar Sand grabbed desperately for their rake and staff, only to be so closely surrounded by the arhats, protectors, holy monks and lay brothers that they could not move. They and Sanzang too were all captured and roped up tightly.

Now the Buddha on the lotus throne was a demon king and all the arhats and others his little devils. They now put off their Buddha disguises, so that they looked once more like the evil creatures they really were, and carried the three of them round to the back to be kept under guard while Monkey was sealed inside the cymbals, never to be released. The cymbals were then set on a pedestal, and here he was to be turned to pus and blood within three days and nights, after which the other three were to be steamed in an iron steamer and eaten. Indeed:

The green-eyed macaque saw that it was false;

The dhyana monk worshipped the appearance of the Buddha.

The yellow-wife blindly joined in the prostration,

While the mother of wood foolishly agreed.

The monsters used force to oppress the true nature;

Evilly the demon king mistreated the holy man.

The demon king was greater than the narrow Way;

By taking the wrong course they threw away their lives.

Having locked the Tang Priest and his two disciples away and tied the horse up at the back they put Sanzang's cassock and mitre back into the luggage and stored that away too. They then put everything under a close guard.

Inside the cymbals Monkey found it pitch black and so hot that he was soon pouring with sweat. Push and shove though he might, there was no way he could get out, and when in desperation he hit out wildly all around with his iron cudgel he could not move the cymbals by even a fraction of an inch. Then he made a hand-spell that made him ten thousand feet tall; the cymbals grew with him. There was not a crack anywhere through which a chink of light could get in. He made another hand-spell to make himself smaller and shrank till he was as tiny as a mustard-seed. The cymbals shrank with him, and still there was no hole.

He blew a magic breath on the iron cudgel, said, Change! and made it into a flagpole with which to prop the cymbals up. Then he pulled two of the longer hairs from the back of his head, blew on them, said, Change! and turned them into a five-part drill with a plum-blossom shaped bit which he turned a thousand times or more. There was a rasping noise but the drill made no impression.

By now he was feeling desperate, so he made another handspell and recited the words, Om ram peaceful dharma world; eternal keen purity of the heavenly unity.

This compelled the Five Protectors, the Six Dings, the Six Jias and the Eighteen Guardians of the Faith to gather round the cymbals and say, Great Sage, we are all protecting your master and keeping the demons from harming him, so why do you call us here?

If he dies it serves him right for ignoring my advice, Monkey replied. You lot had better find some magic to get these cymbals open at once and have me out of here so I can decide what to do. It's completely dark in here, I'm feeling very hot, and it's so stuffy it'll kill me. The gods all tried to lift the cymbals, but as before it was impossible to move them by even a fraction of an inch.

Great Sage, said the Gold-headed Protector, goodness only knows what kind of treasure this is, but they're all of a piece from top to bottom. We gods aren't strong enough to move them.

And I've lost count of the number of my magic powers I've used here without being able to move them either, said Monkey. When the Protector heard this he told the Six Dings to look after Monkey and the Six Jias to watch over the cymbals while the guardians kept their eyes on what was happening all around.

He then set off on his beam of auspicious light and a moment later shot in through the Southern Gate of Heaven, where he did not wait to be summoned but rushed straight to the steps of the Hall of Miraculous Brightness to prostrate himself before the Jade Emperor and report, My sovereign, I am one of the Protectors of the Four Quarters and the Centre. The Great Sage Equaling Heaven who is escorting the Tang Priest on the journey to fetch the scriptures has now reached a mountain with a monastery called the Lesser Thunder Monastery on it. The Tang Priest went in to worship under the illusion that he had reached Vulture Peak, but it turned out that the whole thing was a decoy to trap them. The Great Sage is caught inside a pair of cymbals and can't go anywhere. He's gradually dying. That is what I have come to report. At once the Jade Emperor ordered that the Twenty-eight Constellations be sent to rescue them and defeat the demons.

Not daring to delay for a moment, the constellations went out through the gate of Heaven with the Protector and were soon inside the monastery. It was now the second of the night's five watches, and all the demons, senior and junior, had gone to sleep after the feast their king had given them to celebrate the Tang priest's capture. Doing nothing to disturb them, the constellations went to the cymbals and reported, Great Sage, we're the Twenty-eight Constellations. The Jade Emperor has sent us here to rescue you. The news made Monkey very happy. Smash them open with your weapons and get me out of here.

We don't dare to, the constellations replied. This is pure gold and if we hit it the noise would wake the devils up and it would be impossible to rescue you. We'll have to try to work it open with our weapons. The moment you see a chink of light in there, out you come.

Yes, said Monkey. They used their spears, swords, sabers and battle-axes to try to lever, prise, lift, and force it open, but despite all their efforts the third watch came and still they had failed to make the slightest impression on them. It was as if the cymbals had been cast as a single whole. Not a chink of light could Monkey see from inside, no matter how hard he looked and crawled and rolled all around.

Then the Metal Dragon of the constellation Gullet said, Don't get impatient, Great Sage. This must be an As-You-Will treasure and I'm sure it can be changed. You feel where the cymbals join from the inside. Once I get my horn between them you can turn yourself into something and get out where I've loosened them. Monkey followed this suggestion and felt frantically around inside. Meanwhile the constellation made himself so small that his horn was no bigger than the point of a needle. He pushed hard with it where the two cymbals joined, and by exerting tremendous pressure he managed to penetrate inside.

He then gave himself a magic body by saying, Grow! Grow! Grow! The horn became as thick as a rice-bowl, but the cymbals were more like creatures of skin and flesh than objects cast from metal: they kept their close bite on the Metal Dragon of Gullet's horn, and not a crack appeared anywhere around.

It's no use, said Monkey, feeling the constellation's horn, it's not at all loose anywhere around it. There's nothing for it: you'll have to bear the pain and pull me out. The splendid Great Sage then changed his gold-banded cudgel into a steel gimlet, bored a hole in the tip of the horn, made himself the size of a mustard seed, crawled into the hole, squatted there, and shouted, Pull it out. Only through stupendous efforts did the constellation manage to pull his horn out, which left him so weak and exhausted that he collapsed.

Monkey then crawled out of the hole in the horn again, resumed his own appearance, raised his cudgel and smashed the cymbals apart with a tremendous noise like a copper mountain collapsing. The Buddhist instruments now lay shattered into thousands of fragments of gold. This gave the Twenty-eight Constellations a terrible fright and made the Protectors' hair stand on end. All the devils woke up, and as the demon king was shocked out of his sleep he jumped up, pulled on his clothes and had the drums beaten to muster all the demons with their weapons. By now it was nearly dawn and they all gathered round the throne. On seeing Monkey and the constellations standing in a ring round the fragments of the golden cymbals the demon king went pale from shock and ordered his underlings to shut the front gates and not let them escape.

As soon as Monkey heard this he led the Twenty-eight Constellations to spring up on their clouds till they were above the ninth heaven, while the demon king had the fragments of gold tidied away and drew his devilish forces up outside the monastery gates.

In his anger the king had no choice but to put on his armor, take his short and flexible wolf's-tooth spiked mace and come out of his camp shouting, Sun the Novice! A real man doesn't run away from a fight. Come back and fight three rounds with me. This was more than Monkey could stand, and he landed his cloud at the head of his starry host to see what the evil spirit looked like.

This is what he saw:

Matted hair

Held in place by a thin gold band;

Eyes flashing

Under a pair of frowning yellow brows;

A pear-shaped nose

With flaring nostrils;

A square-cut mouth

With sharp-pointed teeth.

He wore a coat of chain-mail

Tied with a tasseled raw silk sash;

On his feet were a pair of oxhide boots

And he carried a wolf's-tooth mace.

He looked both like a wild beast and at the same time not;

His face was human and yet not human.

What kind of monster do you think you are? shouted Monkey as he brandished his cudgel. How can you have the effrontery to pose as a Buddha, occupy a mountain and create a false Lesser Thunder Monastery?

The only reason you've got the nerve to come rampaging around my magic mountain must be that you don't know my name, the monster said. This is the Lesser Western Heaven, and Heaven has given me these fine buildings because I have cultivated my conduct and gained the true achievement. I am called the Yellow-browed Buddha, though in their ignorance the people around here call me King Yellow Brow or Lord Yellow Brow. I've known about your journey to the West for a very long time now and I have some magic powers, which was why I could create those illusions to lure your master in so that you and I could have a trial of strength. If you can beat me I'll spare your master and his disciples and allow you to fulfil your true achievement. But if you can't I'll kill the lot of you and go myself to see the Tathagata Buddha, fetch the scriptures and take them to China.

You talk too much, evil spirit, said Monkey with a laugh. If you want a trial of strength try this from my cudgel. With great pleasure the demon king parried it and a fine fight ensued:

A pair of cudgels,

Each quite different.

To start with what they looked like,

One was a short and flexible Buddha weapon,

The other was hard from the stores of the sea.

Both of them could be changed at will,

And today they met in a struggle for mastery.

The soft wolf's-tooth mace was adorned with brocade,

The hard gold-banded cudgel had dragon patterns.

They could both be admirably big or small,

Any length you liked and always just right.

Monkey and monster were evenly matched:

This fight between them was the real thing.

The monkey tamed by faith was now the mind-ape;

The evil monster had offended Heaven with deception.

In his anger and loathing neither showed mercy;

Both had their ways of being savagely vicious.

One struck to the head, never easing the pressure;

The other hit at the face and could not be fought off.

The sun went dark behind the clouds they made;

They breathed out mists that hid the towering crags.

Cudgel met cudgel as the rivals fought,

Both forgetting life and death for the Tang priest's sake.

The two of them fought fifty rounds without either emerging as victor. By the monastery gate there was much beating of drums and gongs as the evil spirits shouted their war-cries and waved their flags. Facing them were the heavenly soldiers of the Twenty-eight Constellations and the holy hosts of the Five Protectors, who were all armed and shouting as they surrounded the demon king. The demons outside the monastery gate were too frightened to beat their drums, and their hands were shaking so badly that they could not strike their gongs.

The old demon king was not at all afraid. He held all the enemy troops at bay with his mace in one hand while with the other he undid an old white cotton pouch that was round his waist as a sash; this he threw into the air. With a loud swish it caught the Great Sage Monkey, the Twenty-eight Constellations and the Protectors of the Four Quarters and the Centre; he then slung them over his shoulder and carried them back inside. All the little demons returned in triumph. The demon king told his underlings to fetch forty or fifty hempen ropes, opened the bag, and took his prisoners out one at a time to be tied up, Each of them felt that his bones had turned soft. Their muscles were numb and their skin hung loosely on them. Once tied up they were all carried out to the back and flung on the ground indiscriminately. The demon king then ordered a banquet and the devils drank from dawn till dusk before it broke up and they all went off to sleep.

In the middle of the night, as the Great Sage Monkey lay there tied up with all the gods, he heard the sound of weeping. Listening more carefully he recognized the voice of Sanzang, who was saying as he sobbed, Wukong,

I wish I had heeded the warning you gave:

From this disaster we could have steered clear.

While you're being tortured in cymbals of gold,

Nobody knows I'm a prisoner here.

Bitter the fate that afflicts us all four;

All our achievements have now come to naught.

How can we be saved from this awful impasse

To go to the West and then home as we ought?

When Monkey heard this he felt sorry for his master. Although ignoring my advice was what caused this disaster, he thought, at least you're remembering me in your troubles. I'd better save them all and let them get away while it's night, the demons are all asleep and nobody's on guard.

The splendid Great Sage used escaping magic to make himself so small that he slipped out of his bonds, went up to the Tang Priest and said, Master.

Why are you here? Sanzang asked, recognizing his voice. Monkey told him very quietly what had happened, to his great delight.

Please rescue me as soon as you can, Sanzang said. From now on I'll do whatever you say and not be so stubborn.

Only then did Monkey start moving, first releasing the master, Pig and Friar Sand, then the Twenty-eight Constellations; and the Protectors of the Four Quarters and the Centre, all of whom he untied one by one. Next he brought the horse over and told his master to carry on ahead as quickly as possible. Once they were outside Monkey realized that he did not know where the luggage was and went back to look for it.

You seem to think that things matter more than people, said the Metal Dragon of Gullet. It ought to be enough that we've rescued your master. Why do you want to look for the luggage?

Of course people are important, Monkey said, but things are even more important. In the luggage there's our passport, the brocade cassock and the golden begging bowl. They're all great treasures of the Buddhist faith, and we must have them.

You go back and look for them, brother, said Pig, while we start out. We'll wait for you later. Watch how the stars crowd round the Tang Priest and all use their magic powers at once to take him out of the enclosure with a breath of wind as they hurry along the main road down the slope till they reach level ground and rest.

At about the third watch the Great Sage Monkey crept slowly and stealthily back inside to find gate inside gate all very tightly closed. When he climbed up to the upper story of a building to take a look he saw that the windows were all fastened too. He was on the point of going down again but dared not move for fear of the window-frames making a noise. He therefore made a hand-spell, shook himself and turned into a mouse immortal, or what is more commonly known as a bat. Do you know what he looked like?

His head was pointed like a rat's,

His eyes like a rat's did spark.

He emerged at twilight on his wings,

To sleep by day in the dark.

He hid away among the tiles;

The mosquitoes he caught were his food.

Bright moonlit nights he liked the best;

At flying he really was good.

He found his way in under the rafters through an open-ended tile then flew over doors till he got to the middle of the building. Here he noticed a faintly glimmering beam of light coming from under a second-floor window. It was not like the light of a lantern or candle, the glow of burning incense, a beam of evening sunlight or a flash of lightning. He went closer to the window, his heart in his mouth with excitement, and looked inside to see that the glow was coming from the luggage. The evil spirit had taken the cassock off the Tang Priest, but instead of folding it up he had thrust it untidily back into the bundles. The reason why the cassock glowed was because it was a Buddha treasure itself, with As-You-Will pearls, mani pearls, red cornelian, purple coral, sarira Buddha-relics and night-shining pearls on it. He was very pleased when he saw these things and turned back into himself to pick them up, put the carrying pole on his shoulder, and take them downstairs without stopping to adjust the ropes to balance the loads.

Unfortunately the load at one end slipped off and landed with a loud crash on the floorboards. Alas!

This noise woke up the old demon king sleeping downstairs, and he leapt out of bed with a cry of Intruders! Intruders! At this all the big and little demons got up too, lit lamps, and started searching all around, all shouting loudly the while, The Tang Priest's escaped! someone came in to report, to be followed by another saying, Sun the Novice and all the rest of them have got away. The old demon then ordered strict security on all the gates. As soon as Monkey heard this he abandoned the luggage, somersaulted out through the windows and fled before they could catch him.

No matter how hard they looked, the evil spirits could not find the Tang Priest and the rest of them. By now the day was beginning to dawn, so the demon king seized his mace and led his hosts in hot pursuit. They found the camp of the Twenty-eight Constellations and the Five Protectors surrounded by mists and cloud at the foot of the mountain. Where do you think you're going? the demon king shouted. I'm here.

Brothers, called the Wooden Lesser Dragon of the Constellation Horn in alarm, the monsters are here. The Metal Dragon of the Gullet, the Earth Bat of the Woman, the Sun Hare of the Chamber, the Moon Fox of the Heart, the Fire Tiger of the Tail, the Water Leopard of the Winnower, the Wooden Unicorn of the Dipper, the Metal Bull of the Ox, the Earth Raccoon-dog of the Base, the Sun Rat of the Barrens, the Moon Swallow of the Roof, the Fire Pig of the House, the Water Beast of the Wall, the Wooden Wolf of the Strider, the Metal Dog of the Harvester, the Earth Boar of the Stomach, the Sun Cock of the Pleiades, the Moon Crow of the Net, the Fire Monkey of the Turtle, the Water Ape of Orion, the Wooden Hyena of the Well, the Metal Goat of the Ghosts, the Earth River Deer of the Willow, the Sun Horse of the Seven Stars, the Moon Deer of the Spread Net, the Fire Snake-of the Wing, and the Water Worm of the Axletree, at the head of the Golden-headed Protector, the Silver-headed Protector, the Six Dings, the Six Jias, the Guardians of the Faith, Pig and Friar Sand-they did not take the Tang Priest or the white dragon horse-all rushed forward with their weapons. At the sight of them the demon king laughed a contemptuous laugh, whistled, and called up four or five thousand evil spirits, each of whom was powerful and strong. A bitter fight then followed on the Western slopes of the mountain, and a fine battle it was too:

The evil demon king had tricked the true nature:

The gentle true nature was no match for him.

With so many plots it was hard to escape from pain;

When so much cunning was used there could be no peace.

All the heavens offered their protection,

And hosts of sages helped to wage the fight.

The mother of wood suffers for showing mercy.

Determination moves the yellow-wife.

The bitter fight shook heaven and earth;

Both sides spread their nets in the struggle.

On one side the waving of banners and warcries,

On the other the beating of drums and gongs.

A cold sea of light from massed sabers and spears,

And a murderous look of the swords and the halberds.

The demon troops were cruel and tough;

The heavenly soldiers were no match for them.

Dreary clouds blocked out the sun and moon;

Spine-chilling mists lay over the landscape.

Hard and bitter was the fight,

And all because Sanzang wanted to visit the Buddha.

The evil spirit now felt more ferocious than ever as he led his hosts into the attack. Just when the issue was hanging in the balance there could be heard an angry roar from Monkey of, I'm here.

What about the luggage! Pig asked as he greeted him.

I barely got away with my life, Monkey replied, so what are you asking about the luggage for?

Stop talking, you two, said Friar Sand, who was wielding his staff. Hurry up and fight the evil spirits. The Constellations, Protectors, Dings, Jias and all the other gods had been surrounded and bunched together by the demons in the wild melee, while the demon king attacked the three of them with his mace. Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand held the enemy off by striking and swinging with their cudgel, staff and rake. The earth and sky were now plunged into darkness, and still there was no victor. They fought on till the sun set in the Western hills and the moon rose over the Eastern islands.

Seeing how late it now was, the demon whistled and told all the fiends to be specially careful while he produced his treasure once more. Monkey could see clearly as he undid the pouch and took it in his hands.

This is bad, said Monkey. Let's get out of here. And with that he somersaulted straight up to the ninth heaven, not concerning himself with Pig, Friar Sand and the heavenly hosts, who failed to take his hint and were left behind to be caught in the bag again. Monkey alone escaped. The demon king then called off his forces and took them back inside the monastery, where once more he sent for ropes and tied them up again. The Tang Priest, Pig and Friar Sand were hung up from a high beam and the white horse was tethered at the back. The gods, who were also bound, were carried down into a cellar that was then covered and sealed. We will not go into how the devils then packed everything away once more.

When Monkey saved his life by springing up into the clouds and saw the devil soldiers returning, not waving their banners, he knew that his side must have been made prisoner once more. As he landed his auspicious light on the Eastern summit

He ground his teeth in hatred of the demon;

The tears flowed free as Monkey missed his master.

Then in despair he turned his face to heaven

And groaned aloud at Sanzang's new disaster.

Master, he called, in whatever past world did you lay down so many difficulties for yourself that you meet evil spirits at every turn? There's no end to your troubles. What are we to do? He sighed alone up there for a long time before calming himself down and working out what to do.

I wonder what sort of pouch it is the devil has that can hold so many things inside! he thought. Now it's got the gods, the heavenly generals and a lot of other people too. I'll have to ask Heaven to help me, but I fear the Jade Emperor will be angry about what has happened. Now I remember there's a True Martial God of the North, the Heavenly Honoured Demon Suppressor, who now lives on Mount Wudang in the Southern Continent of Jambu. I'll go and ask him to rescue my master. Indeed:

With the Way still uncompleted ape and horse were scattered;

When the mind was masterless the Five Elements lacked life.

If you don't know what happened on this journey listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 64 | Journey to the West (vol. 2) | Chapter 66