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Chapter 66

All the Gods Meet a Vicious Foe

Maitreya Binds the Evil Monster

The story tells how the Great Sage Sun, finding himself at his wit's end, somersaulted by auspicious cloud straight to Mount Wudang in the Southern Continent of Jambu to ask the Heavenly Honoured Demon Suppressor to save Sanzang, Pig, Friar Sand, the heavenly soldiers and all the rest of them. He flew non-stop and was soon in sight of the patriarch's immortal domain. As he brought his cloud gently down to land and took a good look around this is what he saw:

The great fortress of the Southeast,

A divine pillar of the central heaven.

Lotus Pinnacle soared in its majesty,

Purple-covered Ridge rose to a great height.

The nine rivers ended here, far from Jing and Yang;

A hundred mountains touch the stars in Wing and Axletree.

Above was the precious cave of Emptiness,

And the spirit tower of Zhu and Lu.

In the thirty-six palaces golden chimes rang,

As thousands of worshippers offered their incense.

Here the emperors of antiquity patrolled and worshipped,

Officials held jade tablets inscribed in gold.

Blue birds flew over lofty towers;

Under the canopies red gowns were worn.

The place was set on a mountain that towered over the cosmos,

An immortal domain suffused with emptiness.

Some plum trees were just in blossom,

And the hillside was covered in a blaze of color from the flowers.

Dragons hid at the bottom of ravines

While tigers lurked on the precipices.

The pheasants seemed to be talking;

Tame deer came up to people.

White cranes perched in cloud-topped junipers;

Green and red phoenixes sang to the sun.

Jade-pure, it resembles a land of immortals;

The compassion of the golden gateway rules the age.

The True Martial Lord had been born after King Purejoy and his wife Queen Victoria had dreamed one night that she conceived by swallowing the light of the sun. After fourteen months of pregnancy she had given birth in the royal palace on the first day of the third month of the year jiachen, the first of the reign period of Kaihuang. The prince

Was brave from his boyhood,

Grew into perception.

Did not take the throne,

But practised religion.

His parents could not stop him.

He gave up the palace

For mysteries and trance

Here in the mountains.

When all was completed

He could fly by broad daylight.

The Jade Emperor named him

The True Martial Lord.

He responds to dark emptiness,

Joining with tortoise and snake.

In all quarters of the compass

Is his excellence proclaimed.

He penetrates all mysteries,

Achieves every glory.

From beginning to end

He exterminates demons.

While admiring the splendid view the Great Sage Sun was soon through the first, second and third gates to his heaven. When he arrived outside the Palace of Great Peace he saw five hundred spirit officers standing crowded together in the auspicious light and atmosphere. They stepped forward to ask, Who is it who has come?

I am Sun Wukong, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven, Monkey replied, and I would like to see the Teacher. The spirit officers reported this at once to the patriarch, who came from his throne hall to welcome Monkey into the palace hall.

After paying his respects Monkey said, I have a request to trouble you with.


I am in trouble escorting the Tang priest on his journey to seek scriptures in the Western Heaven, Monkey replied. There is an evil monster who lives in the Lesser Thunder Monastery on a mountain called the Lesser Western Heaven in the Western Continent of Cattle-gift. When my master went in through the monastery gates and saw all the arhats, protectors, monks and priests line up there he thought that the Buddha was a real one, threw himself to the ground and started kowtowing to him. Then they caught him. Because I was too careless I let him trap me inside a pair of golden cymbals that were joined tight together without the slightest crack between them, just as if they were clamped together. Very luckily for me the Gold-headed Protector requested the Jade Emperor to send the Twenty-eight Constellations to come down to earth that very night. They couldn't prise the cymbals apart, but the Metal Dragon of the Gullet managed to push his horn between the cymbals and bring me out, thank goodness. Then I smashed the cymbals, which woke up the monster. When he came after us he caught us all-me, the Twenty-eight Constellations and the Five Protectors-and tied us all up with rope. I got out that night and rescued the constellations, the Tang Priest and the rest of them. Later I woke the old demon up again while I was looking for our things and he went after the heavenly soldiers to fight them again. When he took his pouch off to use it this time I recognized it and got away, but all the rest of them were caught. As I'm at my wit's end I've come to pay my respects to you, Teacher, and ask your help.

In the old days, said the patriarch, I garrisoned the North. My position was that of True Martial God, and I wiped out evil spirits all over the world on the orders of the Jade Emperor. Later I rode barefoot and with my hair loose on the leaping snake and the divine tortoise, and led the five thunder generals, young giant dragons, lions, ferocious beasts and vicious dragons to put an end to the black demonic atmosphere in the Northeast. That was when I was acting under the orders of the Original Heavenly Honoured One. Now I live in tranquility and ease on Mount Wudang in the Hall of Great Peace. The mountains and seas have long been at peace, and heaven and earth are very calm. In our Southern Continent of Jambu and the Northern Continent of Kuru all evil monsters have been exterminated and wicked demons are seen no more. I am very grateful that you've come to see me, Great Sage: the only trouble is that in the absence of instructions from Heaven I can't fight on my own authority alone. If I sent all my gods the Jade Emperor might well take offence; but if I turned your request down flat, Great Sage, I'd be showing a lack of finer feeling. I'm sure that even if there are evil creatures on that road West they cannot be really terrible. So I'll send General Tortoise, General Snake, and five magic dragons to help you. I guarantee that they will capture the evil spirit and rescue your master.

Monkey then bowed in thanks to the patriarch and went with Tortoise, Snake and the magic dragons, all carrying the finest and sharpest of weapons, back to the West. Before long they were back at the Lesser Thunder Monastery, where they landed their clouds and went straight to the gate to challenge them to battle.

Meanwhile King Yellow Brow had called all his demonic hosts together before the main hall of the monastery to say to them, Sun the Novice hasn't been here for the last couple of days. I wonder where he's gone for reinforcements.

Before the words were out of his mouth a little devil came from the main gates to report, Sun the Novice is here with some dragon, snake and tortoise officers. They're demanding battle outside the main gates.

How ever did that monkey get them? the demon king asked. Where are they from?

With that he put on his armor and went out through the main gate, shouting, Which dragon gods are you? How dare you invade my immortal domain?

Looking majestic and summoning up their spirits, the five dragons and Generals Tortoise and Snake shouted, Damned monster! We're five dragon gods, and Generals Tortoise and Snake who stand before the Heavenly Honoured Demon Suppressor, the Patriarch of the Indiffirentiated Unity, from the Palace of Great Peace on Mount Wudang. We are here at the invitation of the Great Sage Equaling Heaven and on the authority of the Heavenly Honoured One to arrest you. Hand over the Tang Priest, the constellations and all the rest of them and your life will be spared, you evil spirit. Otherwise we'll hack the bodies of every one of you devils on this mountain into little pieces, and burn all your buildings to ashes.

When the demon heard this he was furious. Animals! he retorted. How dare you talk like that? What sort of powers do you think you have? Stay where you are, and take this! The five dragons turned their clouds over to make rain while the two generals raised dust and sand as they all charged into the attack with their spears, sabers, swords and halberds. Monkey followed them into action wielding his iron cudgel. It was a fine fight.

The evil demon used his might;

Monkey went for help.

When the evil demon used his might

He occupied the monastery and created Buddha images.

When Monkey went for help

He traveled far to a precious land to borrow the dragons.

Tortoise and Snake created water and fire;

The evil spirits took to arms.

The five dragons went to the West as instructed,

While Monkey hung behind for his master's sake.

Sword and halberd flashed like coloured lightning;

The spears and sabers gleamed like rainbows.

The wolf-toothed mace

Was powerful, short and flexible;

The gold-banded cudgel

Could change at its owner's will.

There were crashes like firecrackers,

And the rhythmic clang of metal being struck.

The monster was attacked by fire and water,

And weapons crowded close around the spirits.

The cries of battle frightened wolves and tigers;

The din disturbed both gods and devils.

Just when the battle was still unresolved

The evil spirit fetched out his treasure again.

When Monkey had been leading the five dragons and two generals in fight against the demon king for an hour the demon took off his pouch and held it in his hand. Watch out, gentlemen, exclaimed Monkey in horror. Not realizing what was happening, they all stopped attacking with their weapons and surged forward. There was a loud swish as the demon king threw his pouch into the air. Abandoning the five dragons and the two generals to be wrapped up in the pouch, the Great Sage Monkey escaped by somersaulting up above the ninth heaven. The evil spirits returned in triumph once more, tied them up too, took them down into the pit and put the lid on it.

Monkey landed his cloud and lay sprawled out under the peak, listless and dispirited. That demon is a terror, he thought with bitter regret, and without realizing what was happening he shut his eyes as if he were going to sleep.

Just then there came a call: Great Sage, don't go to sleep. Get up and rescue them as soon as you can. Your master's life is in great danger. At once Monkey opened his eyes again and sprang to his feet to see that it was the Duty God of the Day.

You wretched little god, Monkey shouted, you were so greedy for your blood and sacrifices over there that you haven't reported for duty for days. Why are you coming to disturb me now? Put out your foot. I'm going to hit you a couple of times to cheer myself up. I'm feeling low.

The Duty God hastily bowed and said, Great Sage, you are one of the happy immortals in the human world. How could you possibly be feeling low? We've been here for a long time on the Bodhisattva's orders to keep secret guard over the Tang Priest. We and the local gods have never left him for a moment, which is why we can't pay our respects to you often enough. You can't hold that against me.

If you're guarding him, Monkey replied, tell me where the evil spirit has imprisoned the constellations, the protectors, the guardians, my master and the rest of them. What are they suffering?

Your master and your fellow-disciples have been hung up in the cloister outside the main hall, the Duty God replied. The constellations are all in agony in a pit. For the last couple of days I've had no news of you, Great Sage, but I've just seen that the evil spirits have captured the divine dragons, Tortoise and Snake and put them in the pit too. It was only then that we realized you must have fetched some reinforcements, Great Sage, which is why we came specially to look for you. Whatever you do you must rescue them at once, Great Sage, no matter how tired you are.

Hearing this, Monkey said to the duty god, the tears streaming down his face, I'm too ashamed to go up to Heaven, and I haven't the nerve to go to the sea. I'm afraid of asking for the Bodhisattva's help and too miserable to look the Buddha in the face. The ones who were captured just now were the True Martial God's Tortoise, Snake and five dragons and their forces. There's nowhere else I can turn for help. What am I to do?

The Duty God smiled as he replied, Relax, Great Sage, I've thought of some elite troops who are bound to be able to subdue these demons. You went to Wudang just now that was in the Southern Jambu Continent. The troops I have in mind come from the same continent, from Bincheng on Mound Xuyi. It's what's now called Sizhou. There's a Great Sage Bodhisattva King Teacher there who has enormous magical powers. He has a disciple called Little Prince Zhang and four divine generals: the other year they subdued the Water Mother Goddess. You should go there yourself to ask him. If he in his kindness is willing to help you're bound to be able to catch the demon and save the master.

The news delighted Monkey, who said, You look after the master and don't let him come to any harm while I go off to ask his help.

Monkey then set off on his somersault and left that demon-infested place to go straight to Mount Xuyi. He was soon there, and when he looked around he saw that it was a fine place.

The Yangtse was not far to the South,

To the North it faced the Huai River.

To the East it led to the islands in the sea,

To the West it was connected with Fengfou.

On the mountain-top was a lofty temple

While springs gushed forth from its sides.

Grotesquely-shaped rocks towered high;

Lofty pines were elegantly angular.

There was always fresh fruit in season,

And every kind of flower opened in the sun.

People moved around like armies of ants

While boats came from far and wide like flights of geese.

On it there stood

The Auspicious Crag Temple,

The Palace of the Eastern Peak,

The Shrine of the Five Illustrious Ones,

The Tortoise Mountain Monastery.

Rhythmic bells and incense smoke rose to the heavens.

There were also

The Crystal Spring,

The Valley of Five Stupas,

The Terrace of Eight Immortals,

The Apricot Orchard.

The colours of the mountain and trees lit up Bincheng.

Boundless were the stretches of cloud,

While hidden birds still sang when they were tired.

Never mind mounts Tai, Song, Heng or Hua;

Here was the beauty of an earthly paradise.

The Great Sage enjoyed the view enormously as he crossed the Huai River, entered the city of Bincheng, and arrived at the gates of the Great Sage's Dhyana Monastery. Over the majestic halls and colorful cloisters there towered a pagoda. Indeed:

It rose ten thousand feet through clouds to the sky;

The golden vase penetrated the heavens above.

The light from it filled the universe;

No shadows were cast on its windows.

Heavenly music was heard when the wind rang the bells;

The sun shone on roof-dragons facing the Buddha-hall.

Birds constantly came here to sing their complaints;

Endlessly beautiful was the view of the Huai River.

Monkey looked at it all as he went in to the inner gates, where the Bodhisattva King Teacher, who was expecting him, had come out to meet him with Little Prince Zhang. After they had greeted each other and exchanged polite remarks Monkey said, I'm escorting the Tang Priest to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. We have come to the Lesser Thunder Monastery where there's a Yellow-browed Demon who's pretending to be a Buddha. Not realizing he was an impostor, my master kowtowed to him and was captured. Then I was caught inside a pair of golden cymbals until, thank goodness, the constellations who had been sent down from heaven rescued me. I smashed the cymbals, but when we fought him again he wrapped the heavenly gods, the protectors, the guardians, my master and my fellow-disciples up in a cloth bag. As I have nowhere else to turn, Bodhisattva, I've come to call on you and ask you to give play to your great strength. Use the magic powers with which you put down the Water Mother and saved the common people to go with me to rescue my master. Then he can take the scriptures back to China to be transmitted forever, praise the wisdom of our Buddha and make the prajna-paramita better known.

What you ask today is indeed for the greater glory of our Buddha, said King Teacher, and I really ought to go myself. But it's early summer now, just the time when the Huai River floods. The Great Sage Water Ape I subdued recently gets active when there's water, and I'm worried that he'd take advantage of my absence to make so much trouble that no divine powers could bring him back under control. I'll send my disciple with four generals to help you force the demon into submission.

Monkey thanked him then headed back by cloud with the four generals and Little Prince Zhang to the Lesser Western Heaven, where they went straight to the Lesser Thunder Monastery. Here Little Prince Zhang brandished his paper-white spear and the four generals swung their superb swords as they shouted abuse to challenge the demons to battle.

When the little devils ran inside to report this, the demon king led his devils out once more, had his drums beaten and replied, Who've you persuaded to come this time?

Before the words were all out of his mouth Little Prince Zhang at the head of the four generals shouted, Damned evil spirit! Do you have no eyes in your head? Don't you recognize who we are?

Whose underlings are you? the demon king said. How dare you help him?

I am the disciple of the Great Sage of Sizhou, the Bodhisattva King Teacher, and I'm here on his orders with four divine generals to capture you, the prince replied.

What sort of martial arts do you have, replied the demon king with a sneer, that give you the nerve to be so insulting?

As you want to know about my martial powers, the prince replied, let me tell you:

My people come from the Flowing Sands River,

Where my father used to be king of Sandland.

I was a weak and sickly child,

Born under a bad influence and an unlucky star.

Long had I admired my master's immortal powers,

When in a chance meeting he taught me the secret.

Half a pill of elixir cured my sickness;

I abandoned my throne to cultivate my conduct.

Once I knew bow to live as long as heaven;

My face became youthful and will remain so forever.

I have been to the assemblies under the dragon-flower tree,

And ridden by cloud to the Buddha's hall.

Seizing the fogs and winds I subdued the watery tribe;

I defended the mountain by subduing dragons and tigers.

The dutiful people raised a lofty pagoda

To calm the seas through the glow of its relics.

My paper-white spear can capture all demons;

Evil spirits are caught in the gray sleeve of my coat.

Now peace and joy reign in the city of Bincheng,

And all the world praises Little Zhang's fame.

When the demon king heard this he replied with a touch of a mocking smile, Prince, when you abandoned your throne to follow the Bodhisattva King Teacher what sort of arts of immortality did you learn? All you're good for is capturing water monsters in the Huai River. You shouldn't have believed all the nonsense Sun the Novice talked and have come across all those mountains and rivers to offer your life. We'll soon find out whether you're immortal or not.

When Little Zhang heard this he was very angry and thrust straight for the demon's face with his spear. The four generals all rushed into the attack together and so did the Great Sage Monkey, wielding his iron cudgel. The splendid evil spirit was not afraid in the least as he blocked, parried and struck back with his short and flexible wolf-tooth mace. It was a fine battle:

The little prince with his paper-white spear,

Made stronger by the four generals' swords,

Wukong using his gold-banded cudgel,

With one heart they surrounded the demon king.

Truly his magical powers were great

As without a trace of fear he resisted their attacks.

The wolf-tooth mace was a Buddha weapon

Preserving him from wounds by swords or spear.

Wile howled the wind

Through the turbid swirl of evil vapors.

One used his skill for love of mortal things;

The other's heart was set on the Buddha and the scriptures.

They charged and they raged,

Shrouding sun, moon and stars in cloud,

Each of them evil and vicious in anger.

For long the Three Vehicles could not assert dominance:

Bitter and well-matched was the battle of rival skills.

After the fight had been going on for a long time and was still inconclusive the evil spirit undid his pouch and Monkey once more shouted, Look out, gentlemen. The prince and his followers did not realize what he was telling them to look out for, so with a swish the demon king had them caught in his pouch. Only Monkey escaped in time. We will not describe how once more the demon king returned in triumph, sent for ropes, and had them tied up and put into the pit under lock and lid.

When Monkey leapt up into the sky and saw the demon leading his troops back and fastening the gates he brought his auspicious light down to land and stood on the Western slope of the mountain. Master! he wept aloud in his misery,

Since being converted and becoming a monk

I've been grateful to Guanyin for ending my woes.

In escorting you West to seek the great Way

I have helped you towards the Buddha's own temple.

Who would have thought when the going looked easy

That we'd be attacked by so mighty a monster.

None of my tricks or devices succeed;

All the help I have looked for has just been in vain.

As Monkey was in the very depths of misery a brightly-coloured cloud suddenly landed to the Southwest and the whole mountain peak was lashed with a torrential rainstorm. Wukong, a voice called, do you know who I am? Monkey hurried forward to look and this is what he saw:

Big ears, a broad jaw and a square face;

Wide shoulders, a deep chest and a fat body.

A jolly voice that was full of fun,

A pair of bright and sparkling eyes.

His clothes hung open; luck was all about him.

His straw sandals were comfortable and his spirits high.

He was the lord of the land of bliss,

The laughing monk Maitreya.

As soon as Monkey saw him he kowtowed immediately and said, Where are you going, Lord Buddha from the East? I beg you to forgive me for failing to keep out of your way.

I'm here because of the demon in the Lesser Thunder Monastery, the Buddha replied.

I am very grateful for your great kindness, my lord, Monkey replied. May I ask where the demon is from and where he became an evil spirit? What sort of treasure is that pouch of his? Please tell me, my lord.

He was a yellow-browed page who used to strike my stone chime, the Buddha Maitreya replied. On the third day of the third month this year I left him looking after my palace when I went to an assembly of the Primal One. That was when he stole some of my treasures and became a spirit as an imitation Buddha. That pouch is my future heaven bag, or what's generally called a human seed bag. The wolf-tooth cudgel was originally the stick for striking the chime.

When Monkey heard this he shouted, You're a splendid laughing monk, I must say. By letting that boy escape you let him masquerade as a Buddha and ruin things for me. You ought to be charged with slack management of your household.

I was careless, Maitreya replied. Besides, your master and you disciples have not yet come to the end of the demons you will have to deal with. That is why every kind of spiritual creature has been coming down to earth. It's right that you should suffer. Now I'm here to capture him for you.

That evil spirit has very great magic powers, Monkey replied, and you haven't got any weapons. How can you possibly subdue him?

I'll make a little hut under the mountain, said Maitreya, where I grow fruit and melons. You challenge him to battle, lose in the fight that follows, and lure him into my melon patch. All my melons are still unripe, so you're to change into a big ripe melon. When he gets there he's bound to want a melon and I'll give you to him. Once you're in his stomach you can do what you like to him. Then I'll get his pouch and we can put him inside it.

It's a very good plan, Monkey replied, but how will you know which is the ripe melon I'll have turned into? And why should he be willing to go there after me?

I'm the ruler of the world, laughed Maitreya, and I have miraculous vision. Of course I'll know which one is you. I'd recognize you whatever you turned into. The only worry is that the demon won't come after you. I'll have to teach you some new magic.

But he's bound to catch me in his pouch, Monkey replied, not come after me. What magic power could I use?

Stretch your hand out, Maitreya said. Monkey stretched out his left hand. Maitreya moistened the forefinger of his own right hand with some magic saliva, wrote stop on it, and told Monkey to make a fist. If he opened that hand again in the demon's face the demon would certainly come after him.

Monkey cheerfully made the fist as he had been instructed and went back to the monastery gates, brandishing his cudgel with one hand as he shouted, Evil spirit, your lord and master Monkey's here. Come out at once and we'll see who's the champion. When the little devils rushed inside to report the demon king asked how many soldiers Monkey had brought with him this time.

None, they replied. He's here by himself.

That Monkey's at his wit's end and exhausted, the demon king laughed, and he can't get anyone else to help. He's just throwing his life away now. Once he was in his armor again he took his treasure and his flexible wolf-tooth mace and went out through the monastery gates shouting, You won't be able to hold out this time, Sun Wukong.

Damned demon, Monkey replied abusively. What do you mean, I won't be able to hold out?

Look at you, the demon replied. You're at your wit's end and exhausted. There's nobody else you can turn to for help. Now you're here again to try to resist me there won't be any more divine soldiers or anything like that to help you. That's why I said you wouldn't be able to hold out.

Fiend, said Monkey, you don't even know whether you want to live or to die. Stop all that talk and take this!

Seeing that Monkey was wielding his cudgel single-handed, the demon burst out laughing: What a clever little ape! Do you think you'll be able to hold me off by using your cudgel one-handed?

My dear boy, said Monkey, if I used both hands it would be too much for you. Even with four or five hands you wouldn't be able to beat me even if I had one hand tied behind my back. That is, as long as you didn't use that pouch of yours.

Very well then, the demon king replied, I won't use my treasure. I'll give you a straight fight and we'll see who's the best man. With that he raised his wolf-tooth mace and attacked Monkey, who opened his clenched fist in the demon's face before wielding the cudgel in both hands. Once the demon was under the spell he put all thought of retreat out of his mind and indeed did not use his pouch, but went for Monkey with his mace. Monkey feinted then turned and fled in defeat, pursued by the evil spirit down the Western slopes of the mountain.

As soon as he saw the melon field Monkey rolled himself into a ball to go into it and turn himself into a big, ripe, sweet watermelon. The evil spirit stopped to look all around, not knowing where Monkey had gone.

He rushed over to the hut and asked, Who's growing these melons?

Maitreya, who had turned himself into an old melon grower, came out of the thatched hut and said, I am, Your Majesty.

Have you got any ripe ones? the demon king asked.

Yes, Maitreya replied.

Pick me a ripe one then, said the demon. I'm thirsty.

Maitreya then picked the melon that was Monkey transformed and handed it to the demon king respectfully with both hands. The demon king did not stop to examine it, but took it and bit into it. This was Monkey's chance to go straight down the demon's throat. Without any more ado he started hitting out and kicking, grabbing and clawing at the monster's entrails and stomach, turning somersaults, standing on his head, and doing just as he liked. The evil spirit ground his teeth and grimaced in agony, the tears flowing down his face, as he rolled around the melon field till it looked like a threshing floor.

Stop, stop! he shouted. Save me, save me.

Maitreya then reverted to his true form and said with a jolly smile, Evil beast, do you recognize me?

When the evil spirit looked up he fell to his knees on the ground, rubbing his stomach with both hands and kowtowing as he said, Spare me,. master, spare me. I'll never do it again.

Maitreya then stepped forward, seized him with one hand, undid the future heaven pouch, took back the stick for beating the stone chime, and said, Sun Wukong, spare his life for my sake.

Monkey, who was still beside himself with loathing and hatred, went on punching, kicking, and making havoc in the demon's insides until the demon collapsed in unbearable agony.

He's had all he can take, Wukong, Maitreya said. Spare him now.

Open your mouth wide, Sun Wukong finally said, and let me out. Although the demon's insides had been tied up into agonizing knots his heart had not yet been damaged, and as the saying goes,

Until the heart is damaged nobody dies;

Leaves only fall when the trunk's sap dries.

As soon as he was told to open his mouth wide he did so, in spite of the pain. Only then did Monkey jump out and turn back into himself. He at once seized his cudgel and was about to strike again, but the Buddha Maitreya had already put the evil spirit into the pouch and slung it at his waist. Holding the chime-stick in his hand Maitreya said, Evil beast, where are the golden cymbals you stole?

The monster, who was desperate to live, could be heard mumbling inside the future heaven bag, Sun Wukong smashed them.

If they're broken give me my gold back, said Maitreya.

It's piled up on the lotus throne in the main hall, the monster replied.

Holding the bag in one hand and the stick in the other the Buddha laughed as he said, Wukong, you and I are going to get my gold back. After the display of such dharma power Sun Wukong dared not be at all remiss, but took the master back up the mountain and into the monastery, where they gathered all the pieces of gold.

Although the monastery gates were firmly shut one push with the stick was enough to open them wide, and when they looked inside they saw that all the little devils had taken the monastery's wealth and were now fleeing in all directions. When Monkey found one he killed one; when he found two he killed two; and so on until he had killed all the six or seven hundred little devils, who resumed their real forms as mountain spirits, tree monsters, evil beasts and animal demons.

The Buddha gathered all the pieces of gold together, blew on them with magic breath, and said the words of a spell. At once they were the two golden cymbals again. He then took his leave of Monkey and headed straight back to his paradise by auspicious cloud. The Great Sage then released the Tang Priest, Pig and Friar Sand.

After being hung up there for several days the idiot was desperately hungry. Without waiting to thank Monkey he ran straight to the kitchen, his back bent, to find some food. As it happened the demon had sent for his lunch but not had time to eat it when Monkey challenged him to battle. The moment he saw it Pig ate half a saucepan of rice before fetching a pair of bowls for the master and Friar Sand each to eat two bowlfuls. Only then did he thank Monkey and ask about the evil spirit.

Monkey told him all about how he had asked the help of King Teacher, Tortoise and Snake, then borrowed the prince from the True Lord, and about how Maitreya had subdued the demon. When Sanzang heard this he expressed his gratitude at great length and kowtowed to all the heavens. Disciple, he asked, where are all the gods imprisoned?

The Duty God of the Day told me yesterday that they were all in the pit, Monkey replied. Pig, he continued, you and I are going to rescue them.

Now that he had eaten, the idiot was full of strength and energy again as he found his rake and went with Monkey to open up the pit, untie the prisoners, and ask them to come out to under the tower. Sanzang, who had now put his cassock back on, bowed to each of them in thanks, after which the Great Sage saw the five dragons and two generals off on their way back to Wudang, Little Prince Zhang and the four generals on their way to Bincheng, and the Twenty-eight Constellations on their way back to the palaces of Heaven. He also released the Protectors and Guardians so that each could return to his own territory.

Master and disciples stayed on in the monastery to rest for a few hours. Then, after the horse had eaten its fill and the luggage all been packed, they set out again the next morning. Before leaving they burnt the towers, thrones, halls and preaching chambers to ashes. Thus it was that

Without any cares from their troubles they flee,

From disasters and obstacles finally free.

If you don't know when they reached the Great Thunder Monastery, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 65 | Journey to the West (vol. 2) | Chapter 67