The Dhyana-Nature Is Stable and Tuoluo Village Is Saved
The Mind of the Way Is Purified As Corruption Is Removed
The story tells how Sanzang and his three disciples happily continued along their way after leaving the Lesser Western Heaven. They had been going for over a month, and it was now late spring. The flowers were in bloom and all the woods they could see were full of green shade. After a spell of wind and rain dusk was falling once more.
“Disciple,” said Sanzang, reining in his horse, “it's getting late. Which way shall we go to look for somewhere to spend the night?”
“Don't worry, Master,” said Monkey with a smile. “Even if we can't find anywhere to stay we three all have our skills. Tell Pig to cut some grass and Friar Sand to fell some pines. I know a bit of carpentry. We can make ourselves a hut by the road here good enough to stay in for a year. Why the rush?”
“But this is no place to stay, brother,” said Pig. “The mountain's crawling with wild beasts like tigers, leopards and wolves. Mountain ogres and hobgoblins are all over the place. It's hard enough travelling by daylight. I wouldn't dare spend the night here.”
“Idiot!” said Monkey. “You're getting more and more hopeless. I'm not just shooting my mouth off. With this cudgel in my hands I could hold up the sky itself if it collapsed.”
Master and disciples were in the middle of their conversation when they noticed a hill farm not far away. “Good,” said Monkey, “a place for the night.”
“Where?” the venerable elder asked.
“Isn't that a house in the trees over there?” asked Monkey, pointing. “Let's ask if we can put up for the night there. We can be on our way first thing in the morning.”
Sanzang was so delighted he urged his horse forward. Dismounting outside the wicker gates he found them firmly fastened.
“Open up, open up,” he called, knocking on the gates. They were opened from the inside by an old man with a stick who was wearing rush sandals, a black turban and a plain gown.
“Who's that shouting?” he asked.
Putting his hands together in front of his chest, Sanzang bowed in polite greeting and said, “Venerable patron, I am a monk sent from the East to fetch scriptures from the Western Heaven. As I have reached this distinguished place so late in the day I have come to your residence to ask for a night's lodging. I beg you to be charitable to us.”
“Monk,” the elder said, “you may want to go to the West, but you'll never get there. This is the Lesser Western Heaven, and it's a very long way from here to the Great Western Heaven. This place alone is hard enough to get out of, to say nothing of the difficulties of the rest of the journey.”
“Why is it hard to get out of?” Sanzang asked.
The old man put his hands together and replied, “About a dozen miles West of our village is a Runny Persimmon Lane and a mountain called Seven Perfections.”
“Why 'Seven Perfections?'“ Sanzang asked.
“It's 250 miles across,” the old man replied, “and covered with persimmons. There's an old saying that persimmon trees have seven perfections:
1. They prolong life.
2. They are very shady.
3. No birds nest in them.
4. They are free of insects.
5. Their leaves are very beautiful after frost.
6. The fruit is excellent.
7. The branches and leaves are big and fat.
That's why it's called Mount Seven Perfections. This is a big, thinly populated area, and nobody has ever been deep into the mountain. Every year over-ripe, rotten persimmons fall on the path, and they fill the rocky lane right up. The rain, dew, snow and frost attack them, and they rot all through the summer until the whole path is a mass of putrefaction. The people round here call it Runny Shit, or Runny Persimmon, Lane. When there's a West wind it smells even worse than a cesspit being emptied. As it's now high spring and there's strong Southeasterly blowing you can't smell it yet.” Sanzang felt too depressed to speak.
Monkey could not contain himself. “Silly old fool,” he shouted at the top of his voice. “We're here late at night to find somewhere to stay, and you're trying to scare us with all that talk. If your house really is so poky that there's no room for us to sleep indoors we'll spend the night squatting under this tree. So cut the cackle.” At the sight of Monkey's hideous face the old man shut his mouth, petrified with fear.
Then he plucked up his courage, pointed his stick at Monkey and shouted, “Damn you, you bony-faced, pointy-browed, flat-nosed, sunken-cheeked, hairy-eyed, sickly-looking devil. You've got no sense of respect, sticking your mouth out like that and insulting an old gentleman.”
“You're not very perceptive, old chap,” Monkey replied, putting on a smile. “You don't realize who this sickly-looking devil is. As the manual of physiognomy says, 'A freakish face is like a rock in which fine jade is hidden.' You're completely wrong to judge people on their looks. Ugly I certainly am, but I know a trick or two.”
“Where are you from?” the old man asked. “What's your name? What powers do you have?” To this Monkey replied with a smile:
“My home is in the Eastern Continent of Superior Body;
My conduct I cultivated on the Mount of Flowers and Fruit.
After studying with the Patriarch of the Spirit-tower Heart Mountain
I learned complete and perfect skill in the martial arts.
I can stir up the oceans, subdue mother dragons,
Carry mountains on my shoulders, and drive the sun along.
At capturing monsters and demons I'm champion;
Ghosts and gods are terrified when I shift the stars.
Great is my fame as sky-thief and earth-turner;
I'm the Handsome Stone Monkey of infinite transformations.
This turned the old man's anger to delight. Bowing to them he said, “Please come into my humble abode and make yourselves comfortable.” The four of them then went in together, leading the horse and carrying the load. All that could be seen to either side of the gates were prickly thorns. The inner gates were set in a wall of brick and stone that had more thorns on top of it, and only when they had gone through them did they see a three-roomed tiled house. The old man pulled up chairs for them to sit on while they waited for tea to be brought and gave orders for a meal. Soon a table was brought in and set with wheat gluten, beancurd, sweet potatoes, radishes, mustard greens, turnips, rice and sour-mallow soup.
Master and disciples all ate their fill. After the meal Pig pulled Monkey aside and whispered, “Brother, the old bloke wasn't going to let us stay at first. Now he's given us this slap-up meal. Why?”
“It wasn't worth very much, was it?” Brother Monkey replied. “Tomorrow we'll make him give us ten kinds of fruit and ten dishes of food.”
“You've got a nerve,” Pig replied. “You talked him into giving us a meal all right with all that boasting. But we'll be on our way tomorrow. How can he give you things?”
“Don't be so impatient,” said Monkey, “I've got a way to cope.”
Dusk soon started to draw in. The old man brought a lamp, and Monkey asked with a bow, “What is your surname, sir?”
“Li,” the old man replied.
“I suppose this must be Li Village,” Monkey continued.
“No,” said the old man, “this is Tuoluo Village. Over five hundred families live here. Most of them have other surnames. I am the only one called Li.”
“Benefactor Li,” Monkey replied, “with what kind intentions did you give us that ample meal?”
“Just now you said that you could capture evil monsters,” said the old man. “We have a monster here that we'd like you to capture for us, and we will of course reward you generously.”
Monkey then chanted a “na-a-aw” of respect and said, “I accept your commission.”
“Just look at him,” said Pig, “asking for trouble. The moment he hears there's a demon to catch he's nicer to him than he would be to his own grandfather. He even chanted a 'na-a-aw' first.”
“You don't understand, brother,” said Monkey. “My 'na-a-aw' clinched the deal. Now he won't hire anyone else.”
When Sanzang heard this he said, “You monkey, you always want to grab things for yourself. If that evil spirit's powers are too great for you to capture him then we monks will be shown up as liars.”
“Don't be cross with me, Master,” Monkey said with a smile. “Let me ask some more questions.”
“What else?” the old man asked.
“This fine village is on an open plain and a lot of people live here,” said Monkey. “It's not remote and isolated. What evil spirit would dare come to your door?”
“I will be frank with you,” the old man replied. “We had long lived in peace and prosperity here till a sudden, strong wind blew three and a half years ago. Everyone was busy at the time threshing the wheat on the threshing floor or transplanting rice in the paddy fields. We thought it was just a change in the weather. We never imagined that when the wind had blown by an evil spirit would eat the horses and cattle that people had put out to pasture as well as the pigs and the sheep. He swallowed hens and geese whole, and any men or women he found he devoured alive. Since then he's come again each of the last two years to murder us. Venerable sir, if you really do have magic powers to capture the evil spirit and cleanse the place of him, we will most certainly reward you generously and with great respect.”
“But the monster will be hard to catch,” Monkey replied.
“Yes,” said Pig, “very hard. We're pilgrim monks only here for the night. We'll be on our way tomorrow. We can't catch any monsters.”
“So you monks just tricked that meal out of me,” the old man said. “When we first met you talked very big. You said you could move the stars and capture evil monsters. But now I've told you about this you pretend he can't be caught.”
“Old man,” said Monkey, “it would be easy to catch the evil spirit, except that you people here don't work together. That's why it's hard.”
“How can you be so sure that we don't work together?” the old man asked.
“If the monster has been harassing you for three years, goodness only knows how many lives he's taken,” Monkey replied. “I reckon that if every family put up one ounce of silver the five hundred households could raise five hundred ounces, and with that you could find a priest somewhere who'd exorcise the monster. Why did you cheerfully put up with three years of such cruelty from him?”
“You talk of spending money,” the old man said. “You're trying to shame us to death. Every family here has spent four or five ounces of silver. The year before last we went to invite a Buddhist monk South of the mountains here to catch the monster, but he failed.”
“How did the monk try to do it?” Brother Monkey asked. To this the old man replied:
“The monk wore a cassock
And recited the scriptures;
First the Peacock Sutra
And then the Lotus.
He burned incense in a burner,
Held a bell between his hands.
His reading of the scriptures
Alarmed the evil spirit,
Who came straight to the farm
Amid his wind and clouds.
The monk fought with the spirit
And it was a splendid sight:
One of them landed a punch,
The other grabbed at his foe.
The monk had the advantage of
Having a hairless head.
But soon the demon had won,
And gone straight back to his clouds.
When the wound had dried in the sun
We went up close for a look;
The monk's bald head was smashed open
Just like a ripe watermelon.
“In other words,” laughed Monkey, “he lost.”
“He just paid with his life,” the old man replied. “We were the ones who lost. We had to buy his coffin, pay for his funeral, and give compensation to his disciple. That silver wasn't enough for the disciple. He's still trying to sue us. He won't call it a day.”
“Did you hire anyone else to catch the demon?” Monkey asked.
“Last year we invited a Taoist priest to do it,” the old man answered.
“How did he try?” Monkey asked.
“The Taoist,” the old man replied,
“Wore a golden crown on his head,
And magic robes on his body,
He sounded his magic wand,
Used charms and water too.
He made gods and generals do his will,
Captured demons and goblins.
A wild wind howled and roared,
While black fog blotted all out.
Demon and Taoist
Were evenly matched;
They fought till nightfall,
When the fiend went back to the clouds.
Heaven and earth were clear
And all of us people were there.
We went out to search for the priest,
Found him drowned in the mountain stream.
When we fished him out to look
He was like a drenched chicken.”
“In other words,” said Monkey with a smile, “he lost too.”
“He only paid with his life, but we had to spend a lot of money that wasn't really necessary,” the old man replied.
“It doesn't matter,” Monkey said. “It doesn't matter. Wait till I catch the demon for you.”
“If you've got the power to catch him I'll ask some of the village elders to write an undertaking to give you as much silver as you want when you've defeated him. You'll not be a penny short. But if you lose don't try to extort money out of us. We must each accept the will of heaven.”
“Old man,” said Monkey, “they've got you terrified of extortion. We're not like that. Send for the elders.”
The old man was delighted. He sent his slaves to invite seven or eight old men from among his next-door neighbors, his cousins, his wife's family and his friends. They all came to meet the strangers, and when they had greeted the Tang Priest they cheerfully discussed the capture of the demon.
“Which of your distinguished disciples will do it?” they asked.
“I will,” said Monkey, putting his hands together in front of his chest.
“You'll never do, never,” said the old man with horror. “The evil spirit's magic powers are enormous, and it's huge too. Venerable sir, you're so tiny and skinny you'd slip through one of the gaps between its teeth.”
“Old man,” said Monkey with a smile, “You're no judge of people. Small I may be, but I'm solid. There's a lot more to me than meets the eye.” When the elders heard this they had to take him at his word.
“Venerable sir,” they said, “how big a reward will you want for capturing the demon?”
“Why do you have to talk about a reward?” Monkey asked. “As the saying goes, 'Gold dazzles, silver is white and stupid, and copper coins stink.' We're virtuous monks and we definitely won't take money.”
“In that case you must all be lofty monks who obey your vows,” the elders said. “But even if you won't accept money we can't let you work for nothing. We all live by agriculture. If you subdue the demon and clean the place up, every family here will give you a third of an acre of good farmland, which will make over 150 acres altogether. Your master and you disciples can build a monastery there and sit in meditation. That would be much better than going on your long journey.”
“It would be even worse,” replied brother Monkey with a smile. “If we asked for land we'd have to raise horses, do labor service, pay grain taxes and hand over hay. We'll never be able to go to bed at dusk or lie in after the fifth watch. It'd be the death of us.”
“If you won't accept anything, how are we to express our thanks?” the elders asked.
“We're men of religion,” said Monkey. “Some tea and a meal will be thanks enough for us.”
“That's easy,” said the elders. “But how are you going to catch the demon?”
“Once it comes I'll get it,” said Monkey.
“But it's enormous,” the elders said. “It stretches from the earth to the sky. It comes in wind and goes in mist. How are you ever going to get close to it?”
“When it comes to evil spirits who can summon winds and ride on clouds,” Monkey replied, “I treat them as mere kids. It makes no difference how big it is-I have ways of beating it.”
As they were talking the howl of a great wind made the eight or nine elders start shaking with fear. “Monk, you've asked for trouble and you've got it,” they said. “You talked about the monster and here he is.”
Old Mr. Li opened the door and said to his relations and the Tang Priest, “Come in, come in, the demon's here.”
This so alarmed Pig and Friar Sand that they wanted to go inside too, but Monkey grabbed each of them with one of his hands and said, “You're a disgrace. You're monks and you ought to know better. Stay where you are, and don't try to run away. Come into the courtyard with me. We're going to see what kind of evil spirit this is.”
“But brother,” said Pig, “they've been through this before. The noise of the wind means that the demon's coming. They've all gone to hide. We're not friends or relations of the demon. We've had no business dealings with him. What do we want to see him for?” Monkey was so strong that with no further argument he hauled them into the courtyard and made them stand there while the wind blew louder and louder. It was a splendid wind that
Uprooted trees and flattened woods, alarming wolves and tigers,
Stirred up the rivers and oceans to the horror of ghosts and gods,
Blowing the triple peaks of the great Mount Hua all upside down,
Shaking the earth and sky through the world's four continents.
Every village family shut fast its gates,
While boys and girls all fled for cover.
Black clouds blotted out the Milky Way;
Lamps lost their brightness and the world went dark.
Pig was shaking with terror. He lay on the ground, rooted into the earth with his snout and buried his head. He looked as if he had been nailed there. Friar Sand covered his face and could not keep his eyes open. Monkey knew from the sound of the wind that the demon was in it. A moment later, when the wind had passed, all that could be vaguely made out in the sky were two lamps.
“Brothers,” he said, looking down, “the wind's finished. Get up and look.” The idiot tugged his snout out, brushed the dirt off himself and looked up into the sky, where he saw the two lamps.
“What a laugh,” Pig said, laughing aloud, “What a laugh. It's an evil spirit with good manners. Let's make friends with it.”
“It's a very dark night,” said Friar Sand, “and you haven't even seen it, so how can you tell whether it's good or bad?”
“As they used to say in the old days,” Pig replied, “'Take a candle when you're out at night, and stay where you are if you haven't one.' You can see that it's got a pair of lanterns to light its way. It must be a good spirit.”
“You're wrong,” Friar Sand said. “That's not a pair of lanterns: they're the demon's eyes.” This gave the idiot such a fright that he shrank three inches.
“Heavens,” he said. “If its eyes are that size goodness knows how big its mouth is.”
“Don't be scared, brother,” said Monkey. “You two guard the master while I go up and see what sort of mood it's in and what kind of evil spirit it is.”
“Brother,” said Pig, “don't tell the monster about us.”
Splendid Monkey sprang up into mid-air with a whistle. “Not so fast,” he yelled at the top of his voice, brandishing his cudgel, “not so fast. I'm here.” When the monster saw him it took a firm stance and began to wield a long spear furiously.
Parrying with his cudgel, Monkey asked, “What part do you come from, monster? Where are you an evil spirit?” The monster ignored the questions and continued with its spearplay. Monkey asked again, and again there was no answer as the wild spearplay continued.
“So it's deaf and dumb,” Monkey smiled to himself. “Don't run away! Take this!” Unperturbed, the monster parried the cudgel with more wild spearplay. The mid-air battle ebbed and flowed until the middle of the night as first one then the other was on top, but still there was no victor. Pig and Friar Sand had a very clear view from the Li family courtyard, and they could see that the demon was only using its spear to defend itself and not making any attacks, while Monkey's cudgel was never far from the demon's head.
“Friar Sand,” said Pig with a grin, “you keep guard here. I'm going up to join in the fight. I'm not going to let Monkey keep all the credit for beating the monster to himself. He won't be the first to be given a drink.”
The splendid idiot leapt up on his cloud and joined in the fight, taking a swing with his rake. The monster fended this off with another spear. The two spears were like flying snakes or flashes of lightning. Pig was full of admiration.
“This evil spirit is a real expert with the spears. This isn't 'behind the mountain' spearplay; it's 'tangled thread' spearplay. It's not Ma Family style. It's what's called soft-shaft style.”
“Don't talk such nonsense, idiot,” said Monkey. “There's no such thing as soft-shaft style.”
“Just look,” Pig replied. “He's parrying us with the blades. You can't see the shafts. I don't know where he's hiding them.”
“All right then,” said Monkey, “perhaps there is a soft-shaft style. But this monster can't talk. I suppose it's not yet humanized: it's still got a lot of the negative about it. Tomorrow morning, when the positive is dominant, it's bound to run away. When it does we've got to catch up with it and not let it go.”
“Yes, yes,” said Pig.
When the fight had gone on for a long time the East grew light. The monster didn't dare fight any longer, so it turned and fled, with Monkey and Pig both after it. Suddenly they smelled the putrid and overwhelming stench of Runny Persimmon Lane on Mount Seven Perfections.
“Some family must be emptying its cesspit,” said Pig. “Phew! What a horrible stink!”
Holding his nose, Brother Monkey said, “After the demon, after the demon!” The monster went over the mountain and turned back into himself: a giant red-scaled python. Just look at it:
Eyes shooting stars,
Nostrils gushing clouds,
Teeth like close-set blades of steel,
Curving claws like golden hooks.
On its head a horn of flesh
Like a thousand pieces of agate;
Its body clad in scales of red
Like countless patches of rouge.
When coiled on the ground it might seem a brocade quilt;
When flying it could be mistaken for a rainbow.
From where it sleeps a stench rises to the heavens,
And in movement its body is wreathed in red clouds.
Is it big?
A man could not be seen from one side to the other.
Is it long?
It can span a mountain from North to South.
“So it's a long snake,” Pig said. “If it's a man-eater it could gobble up five hundred for a meal and still not be full.”
“Its soft-shafted spears are its forked tongue,” said Monkey. “It's exhausted by the chase. Attack it from behind.” Pig leapt up and went for it, hitting it with his rake. The monster dived into a cave, but still left seven or eight feet of tail sticking outside.
Pig threw down his rake, grabbed it and shouted, “Hold on, hold on!” He pulled with all his strength, but could not move it an inch.
“Idiot,” laughed Monkey, “let it go in. We'll find a way of dealing with it. Don't pull so wildly at the snake.” When Pig let go the monster contracted itself and burrowed inside.
“But we had half of it before I let go,” he grumbled. “Now it's shrunk and gone inside we're never going to get it out. We've lost the snake, haven't we?”
“The wretched creature is enormous and the cave is very narrow,” Monkey replied. “It won't possibly be able to turn round in there. It definitely went straight inside, so the cave must have an exit at the other end for it to get out through. Hurry round and block the back door while I attack at the front.”
The idiot shot round to the other side of the mountain, where there was indeed another hole that he blocked with his foot. But he had not steadied himself when Monkey thrust his cudgel in at the front of the cave, hurting the monster so much that it wriggled out through the back. Pig was not ready, and when a flick of the snake's tail knocked him over he could not get back up: he lay on the ground in agony. Seeing that the cave was now empty Monkey rushed round to the other side, cudgel in hand, to catch the monster. Monkey's shouts made Pig feel so ashamed that he pulled himself to his feet despite the pain and started lashing out wildly with his rake.
At the sight of this Monkey said with a laugh, “What do you think you're hitting? The monster's got away.”
“I'm 'beating the grass to flush out the snake.'”
“Cretin!” said Monkey, “After it!”
The two of them crossed a ravine, where they saw the monster coiled up, its head held high and its enormous mouth gaping wide. It was about to devour Pig, who fled in terror. Monkey, however, went straight on towards it and was swallowed in a single gulp.
“Brother,” wailed Pig, stamping his feet and beating his chest, “you've been destroyed.”
“Don't fret, Pig,” called Monkey from inside the monster's belly, which he was poking around with his cudgel. “I'll make it into a bridge. Watch!” As he spoke the monster arched its back just like a rainbow-shaped bridge.
“It looks like a bridge all right,” Pig shouted, “but nobody would ever dare cross it.”
“Then I'll make it turn into a boat,” said Monkey. “Watch!” He pushed out the skin of the monster's belly with his cudgel, and with the skin against the ground and its head uplifted it did look like a river boat.
“It may look like a boat,” said Pig, “but without a mast or sail it wouldn't sail very well in the wind.”
“Get out of the way then,” said Monkey, “and I'll make it sail for you.” He then jabbed his cudgel out as hard as he could through the monster's spine from the inside and made it stand some sixty or seventy feet high, just like a mast. Struggling for its life and in great pain the monster shot forward faster than the wind, going down the mountain and back the way it had come for over seven miles until it collapsed motionless in the dust. It was dead.
When Pig caught up with the monster he raised his rake and struck wildly at it. Monkey made a big hole in the monster's side, crawled out and said, “Idiot! It's dead and that's that. Why go on hitting it?”
“Brother,” Pig replied, “don't you realize that all my life I've loved killing dead snakes?” Only then did he put his rake away, grab the snake's tail and start pulling it backwards.
Meanwhile back at Tuoluo Village old Mr. Li and the others were saying to the Tang Priest, “Your two disciples have been gone all night, and they're not back yet. They must be dead.”
“I'm sure that there can be no problem,” Sanzang replied. “Let's go and look.” A moment later Monkey and Pig appeared, chanting as they dragged an enormous python behind them. Only then did everyone feel happy.
All the people in the village, young and old, male and female, knelt down and bowed to Sanzang, saying, “Good sirs, this is the evil spirit that has been doing so much damage. Now that you have used your powers to behead the demon and rid us of this evil we will be able to live in peace again.” Everyone was very grateful, and all the families invited them to meals as expressions of their gratitude, keeping master and disciples there for six or seven days, and only letting them go when they implored to be allowed to leave. As they would not accept money or any other gifts the villagers loaded parched grain and fruit on horses and mules hung with red rosettes and caparisoned with flags of many colours to see them on their way. From the five hundred households in the village some seven or eight hundred people set out with them.
On the journey they were all very cheerful, but before they reached Runny Persimmon Lane on Mount Seven Perfections Sanzang smelled the terrible stench and could see that their way was blocked.
“Wukong,” he said to Monkey, “how are we going to get through?”
“It's going to be hard,” replied Monkey, covering his nose. When even Monkey said that it was going to be hard Sanzang began to weep.
“Don't upset yourself so, my lord,” said old Mr. Li and the other elders as they came up to him. “We have all come here with you because we're already decided what to do. As your illustrious disciples have defeated the evil spirit and rid the village of this evil we have all made up our minds to clear a better path for you over the mountain.”
“That's nonsense, old man,” said Monkey with a grin. “You told us before that the mountain is some 250 miles across. You aren't Yu the Great's heavenly soldiers, so how could you possibly make a path across it? If my master is to get across it'll have to be through our efforts. You'll never do it.”
“But how can we do it through our efforts?” Sanzang asked after dismounting.
“It'd certainly be hard to cross the mountain as it is now,” Monkey said, still smiling, “and it would be even harder to cut a new path. We'll have to go by the old lane. The only thing that worries me is that there may be nobody to provide the food.”
“What a thing to say, venerable sir,” old Mr. Li said. “We can support you gentlemen for as long as you care to stay here. You can't say that nobody will provide the food.”
“In that case, go and prepare two hundredweight of parched grain, as well as some steamed cakes and buns,” said Monkey. “When our long-snouted monk has eaten his fill he'll turn into a giant boar and clear the old lane with his snout. Then my master will be able to ride his horse over the mountain while we support him. He'll certainly get across.”
“Brother,” said Pig, “you want to keep all the rest of you clean. Why should I be the only one to stink?”
“Wuneng,” said Sanzang, “if you can clear the lane with your snout and get me across the mountain that will be a very great good deed to your credit.”
“Master, benefactors, please don't tease me,” said Pig with a smile. “I can do thirty-six transformations. If you ask me to become something that's light or delicate or beautiful or that flies I just can't. But ask me to turn into a mountain, a tree, a rock, a mound of earth, an elephant, a hog, a water buffalo or a camel and I can manage any of them. The only thing is that the bigger I make myself the bigger my belly gets. I can't do things properly unless it's full.”
“We've got plenty,” the people said, “We've got plenty. We've brought parched grain, fruit, griddle cakes and ravioli. We were going to give them to you when we'd made a path across the mountain. They can all be brought out for you to eat now. When you've transformed yourself and started work we'll send some people back to prepare more food to send you on your way with.” Pig was beside himself with delight.
Taking off his tunic and putting down his nine-pronged rake he said to them all, “Don't laugh at me. Just watch while I win merit doing this filthy job.” The splendid idiot made a spell with his hands, shook himself, and turned himself into a giant hog. Indeed:
His snout was long, his bristles short, and half of him was fat;
As a piglet in the mountains he had fed on herbs and simples.
Black was his face and his eyes as round as sun or moon;
The great ears on his head were just like plantain leaves.
His bones he'd made so strong he would live as long as heaven;
His thick skin had been tempered till it was hard as iron.
He grunted with a noise that came from a blocked-up nose;
His gasping breath rasped harshly in his throat.
Each of his four white trotters was a thousand feet high;
Every sword-like bristle was hundreds of yards in length.
Since pigs were first kept and fattened by mankind
Never had such a monster porker been seen as this today.
The Tang Priest and the rest were full of admiration
For Marshal Tian Peng and his magic powers.
Seeing what Pig had turned into, Brother Monkey asked the people who had come to see them off to pile up all the parched grain at once and told Pig to eat it. Not caring whether it was cooked or raw, the idiot downed it all at one gulp, then went forward to clear the way. Monkey told Friar Sand to take his sandals off and carry the luggage carefully and advised his master to sit firm in the carved saddle.
Then he took off his own tall boots and told everyone else to go back: “Could you be very kind and send some more food as soon as possible to keep my brother's strength up?”
Of the seven or eight hundred who were seeing the pilgrims off most had come on mules or horse and they rushed back to the village like shooting stars. The three hundred who were on foot stood at the bottom of the mountain to watch the travelers as they went away. Now it was ten miles or more from the village to the mountain, and another journey of over ten miles each way to fetch the food, making over thirty in all, so by the time they were back master and disciples were already far ahead of them. Not wanting to miss the pilgrims, the villagers drove their mules and horses into the lane and carried on after them through the night, only catching them up the next morning.
“Pilgrims,” they shouted, “wait a moment, wait a moment, sirs. We've brought food for you.” When Sanzang heard this he thanked them profusely, said that they were good and faithful people, and told Pig to rest and eat something to build up his strength. The idiot, who was on the second day of clearing the way with his snout, was by now ravenously hungry. The villagers had brought much more than seven or eight hundredweight of food, which he scooped up and devoured all at once, not caring whether it was rice or wheat. When he had eaten his fill he went back to clearing the way, while Sanzang, Monkey and Friar Sand thanked the villagers and took leave of them. Indeed:
The peasants all went back to Tuoluo Village;
Across the mountain Pig had cleared the way.
Sanzang's faith was backed up by great power;
Sun's demon-quelling arts were on display.
A thousand years of filth went in a single morning;
The Seven Perfections Lane was opened up today,
The dirt of six desires all now removed,
Towards the Lotus Throne they go to pray.
If you don't know how much longer their journey was going to be or what evil monsters they would meet listen to the explanation in the next installment.