Far, far away to the East, in the midst of the Great Sea there is an island called the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. And on this mountain there is a high rock. Now this rock, from the very beginning of the world, had absorbed all the hidden seed power of heaven and earth and sun and moon, which endowed it with supernatural creative gifts. One day the rock burst, and out came an egg of stone. And out of this stone egg a stone ape was hatched by magic power. When he broke the shell he bowed to all sides. Then he gradually learned to walk and to leap, and two streams of golden radiance broke from his eyes which shot up to the highest of the castles of heaven, so that the Lord of the Heavens was frightened. So he sent out the two gods, Thousandmile-Eye and Fine-Ear, to find out what had happened. The two gods came back and reported: “The rays shine from the eyes of the stone ape who was hatched out of the egg which came from the magic rock. There is no reason for uneasiness.”
Little by little the ape grew up, ran and leaped about, drank from the springs in the valleys, ate the flowers and fruits, and time went by in unconstrained play.
One day, during the summer, when he was seeking coolness, together with the other apes on the island, they went to the valley to bathe. There they saw a waterfall which plunged down a high cliff. Said the apes to each other: “Whoever can force his way through the waterfall, without suffering injury, shall be our king.” The stone ape at once leaped into the air with joy and cried: “I will pass through!” Then he closed his eyes, bent down low and leaped through the roar and foam of the waters. When he opened his eyes once more he saw an iron bridge, which was shut off from the outer world by the waterfall as though by a curtain.
At its entrance stood a tablet of stone on which were graven the words: “This is the heavenly cave behind the water-curtain on the Blessed Island of Flowers and Fruits.” Filled with joy, the stone ape leaped out again through the waterfall and told the other apes what he had found. They received the news with great content, and begged the stone ape to take them there. So the tribe of apes leaped through the water on the iron bridge, and then crowded into the cave castle where they found a hearth with a profusion of pots, cups and platters. But all were made of stone. Then the apes paid homage to the stone ape as their king, and he was given the name of Handsome King of the Apes. He appointed long-tailed, ring-tailed and other monkeys to be his officials and counselors, servants and retainers, and they led a blissful life on the Mountain, sleeping by night in their cave castle, keeping away from birds and beasts, and their king enjoyed untroubled happiness. In this way some three hundred years went by.
One day, when the King of the Apes sat with his subjects at a merry meal, he suddenly began to weep. Frightened, the apes asked him why he so suddenly grew sad amid all his bliss. Said the King: “It is true that we are not subject to the law and rule of man, that birds and beasts do not dare attack us, yet little by little we grow old and weak, and some day the hour will strike when Death, the Ancient, will drag us off! Then we are gone in a moment, and can no longer dwell upon earth!” When the apes heard these words, they hid their faces and sobbed. But an old ape, whose arms were connected in such a way that he could add the length of one to that of the other, stepped forth from the ranks. In a loud tone of voice he said: “That you have hit upon this thought, O King, shows the desire to search for truth has awakened you! Among all living creatures, there are but three kinds who are exempt from Death’s power: the Buddhas, the blessed spirits and the gods. Whoever attains one of these three grades escapes the rod of re-birth, and lives as long as the Heavens themselves.”
The King of the Apes said: “Where do these three kinds of beings live?” And the old ape replied: “They live in caves and on holy mountains in the great world of mortals.” The King was pleased when he heard this, and told his apes that he was going to seek out gods and sainted spirits in order to learn the road to immortality from them. The apes dragged up peaches and other fruits and sweet wine to celebrate the parting banquet, and all made merry together.
On the following morning the Handsome King of the Apes rose very early, built him a raft of old pine trees and took a bamboo staff for a pole. Then he climbed on the raft, quite alone, and poled his way through the Great Sea. Wind and waves were favorable and he reached Asia. There he went ashore. On the strand he met a fisherman. He at once stepped up to him, knocked him down, tore off his clothes and put them on himself. Then he wandered around and visited all famous spots, went into the market-places, the densely populated cities, learned how to conduct himself properly, and how to speak and act like a well-bred human being. Yet his heart was set on learning the teaching of the Buddhas, the blessed spirits and the holy gods. But the people of the country in which he was were only concerned with honors and wealth. Not one of them seemed to care for life. Thus he went about until nine years had passed by unnoticed. Then he came to the strand of the Western Sea and it occurred to him: “No doubt there are gods and saints on the other side of the sea!” So he built another raft, floated it over the Western Sea and reached the land of the West. There he let his raft drift, and went ashore. After he had searched for many days, he suddenly saw a high mountain with deep, quiet valleys. As the Ape King went toward it, he heard a man singing in the woods, and the song sounded like one the blessed spirits might sing. So he hastily entered the wood to see who might be singing. There he met a wood-chopper at work. The Ape King bowed to him and said: “Venerable, divine master, I fall down and worship at your feet!” Said the wood-chopper: “I am only a workman; why do you call me divine master?” “Then, if you are no blessed god, how comes it you sing that divine song?” The wood-chopper laughed and said: “You are at home in music. The song I was singing was really taught me by a saint.” “If you are acquainted with a saint,” said the Ape King, “he surely cannot live far from here. I beg of you to show me the way to his dwelling.” The wood-chopper replied: “It is not far from here. This mountain is known as the Mountain of the Heart. In it is a cave where dwells a saint who is called ‘The Discerner.’ The number of his disciples who have attained blessedness is countless. He still has some thirty to forty disciples gathered about him. You need only follow this path which leads to the South, and you cannot miss his dwelling.” The Ape King thanked the wood-chopper and, sure enough, he came to the cave which the latter had described to him. The gate was locked and he did not venture to knock. So he leaped up into a pine tree, picked pine-cones and devoured the seed. Before long one of the saint’s disciples came and opened the door and said: “What sort of a beast is it that is making such a noise?” The Ape King leaped down from his tree, bowed, and said: “I have come in search of truth. I did not venture to knock.” Then the disciple had to laugh and said: “Our master was seated lost in meditation, when he told me to lead in the seeker after truth who stood without the gate, and here you really are. Well, you may come along with me!” The Ape King smoothed his clothes, put his hat on straight, and stepped in. A long passage led past magnificent buildings and quiet hidden huts to the place where the master was sitting upright on a seat of white marble. At his right and left stood his disciples, ready to serve him. The Ape King flung himself down on the ground and greeted the master humbly. In answer to his questions he told him how he had found his way to him. And when he was asked his name, he said: “I have no name. I am the ape who came out of the stone.” So the master said: “Then I will give you a name. I name you Sun Wu Kung.” The Ape King thanked him, full of joy, and thereafter he was called Sun Wu Kung. The master ordered his oldest disciple to instruct Sun Wu Kung in sweeping and cleaning, in going in and out, in good manners, how to labor in the field and how to water the gardens. In the course of time he learned to write, to burn incense and read the sutras. And in this way some six or seven years went by.
One day the master ascended the seat from which he taught, and began to speak regarding the great truth. Sun Wu Kung understood the hidden meaning of his words, and commenced to jerk about and dance in his joy. The master reproved him: “Sun Wu Kung, you have still not laid aside your wild nature! What do you mean by carrying on in such an unfitting manner?” Sun Wu Kung bowed and answered: “I was listening attentively to you when the meaning of your words was disclosed to my heart, and without thinking I began to dance for joy. I was not giving way to my wild nature.” Said the master: “If your spirit has really awakened, then I will announce the great truth to you. But there are three hundred and sixty ways by means of which one may reach this truth. Which way shall I teach you?” Said Sun Wu Kung: “Whichever you will, O Master!” Then the Master asked: “Shall I teach you the way of magic?” Said Sun Wu Kung: “What does magic teach one?” The Master replied: “It teaches one to raise up spirits, to question oracles, and to foretell fortune and misfortune.” “Can one secure eternal life by means of it?” inquired Sun Wu Kung. “No,” was the answer. “Then I will not learn it.” “Shall I teach you the sciences?” “What are the sciences?” “They are the nine schools of the three faiths. You learn how to read the holy books, pronounce incantations, commune with the gods, and call the saints to you.” “Can one gain eternal life by means of them?” “No.” “Then I will not learn them.” “The way of repose is a very good way.” “What is the way of repose?” “It teaches how to live without nourishment, how to remain quiescent in silent purity, and sit lost in meditation.” “Can one gain eternal life in this way?” “No.” “Then I will not learn it.” “The way of deeds is also a good way.” “What does that teach?” “It teaches one to equalize the vital powers, to practise bodily exercise, to prepare the elixir of life and to hold one’s breath.” “Will it give one eternal life?” “Not so.” “Then I will not learn it! I will not learn it!” Thereupon the Master pretended to be angry, leaped down from his stand, took his cane and scolded: “What an ape! This he will not learn, and that he will not learn! What are you waiting to learn, then?” With that he gave him three blows across the head, retired to his inner chamber, and closed the great door after him.
The disciples were greatly excited, and overwhelmed Sun Wu Kung with reproaches. Yet the latter paid no attention to them, but smiled quietly to himself, for he had understood the riddle which the Master had given him to solve. And in his heart he thought: “His striking me over the head three times meant that I was to be ready at the third watch of the night. His withdrawing to his inner chamber and closing the great door after him, meant that I was to go in to him by the back door, and that he would make clear the great truth to me in secret.” Accordingly he waited until evening, and made a pretense of lying down to sleep with the other disciples. But when the third watch of the night had come he rose softly and crept to the back door. Sure enough it stood ajar. He slipped in and stepped before the Master’s bed. The Master was sleeping with his face turned toward the wall, and the ape did not venture to wake him, but knelt down in front of the bed. After a time the Master turned around and hummed a stanza to himself:
Then Sun Wu Kung replied: “I am waiting here reverentially!”
The Master flung on his clothes, sat up in bed and said harshly: “Accursed ape! Why are you not asleep? What are you doing here?”
Sun Wu Kung answered: “Yet you pointed out to me yesterday that I was to come to you at the third watch of the night, by the back door, in order to be instructed in the truth. Therefore I have ventured to come. If you will teach me in the fulness of your grace, I will be eternally grateful to you.”
Thought the Master to himself: “There is real intelligence in this ape’s head, to have made him understand me so well.” Then he replied: “Sun Wu Kung, it shall be granted you! I will speak freely with you. Come quite close to me, and then I will show you the way to eternal life.”
With that he murmured into his ear a divine, magical incantation to further the concentration of his vital powers, and explained the hidden knowledge word for word. Sun Wu Kung listened to him eagerly, and in a short time had learned it by heart. Then he thanked his teacher, went out again and lay down to sleep. From that time forward he practised the right mode of breathing, kept guard over his soul and spirit, and tamed the natural instincts of his heart. And while he did so three more years passed by. Then the task was completed.
One day the Master said to him: “Three great dangers still threaten you. Every one who wishes to accomplish something out of the ordinary is exposed to them, for he is pursued by the envy of demons and spirits. And only those who can overcome these three great dangers live as long as the heavens.”
Then Sun Wu Kung was frightened and asked: “Is there any means of protection against these dangers?”
Then the Master again murmured a secret incantation into his ear, by means of which he gained the power to transform himself seventy-two times.
And when no more than a few days had passed Sun Wu Kung had learned the art.
One day the Master was walking before the cave in the company of his disciples. He called Sun Wu Kung up to him and asked: “What progress have you made with your art? Can you fly already?”
“Yes, indeed,” said the ape.
“Then let me see you do so.”
The ape leaped into the air to a distance of five or six feet from the ground. Clouds formed beneath his feet, and he was able to walk on them for several hundred yards. Then he was forced to drop down to earth again.
The Master said with a smile: “I call that crawling around on the clouds, not floating on them, as do the gods and saints who fly over the whole world in a single day. I will teach you the magic incantation for turning somersaults on the clouds. If you turn one of those somersaults you advance eighteen thousand miles at a clip.”
Sun Wu Kung thanked him, full of joy, and from that time on he was able to move without limitation of space in any direction.
One day Sun Wu Kung was sitting together with the other disciples under the pine-tree by the gate, discussing the secrets of their teachings. Finally they asked him to show them some of his transforming arts. Sun Wu Kung could not keep his secret to himself, and agreed to do so.
With a smile he said: “Just set me a task! What do you wish me to change myself into?”
They said: “Turn yourself into a pine-tree.”
So Sun Wu Kung murmured a magic incantation, turned around—and there stood a pine-tree before their very eyes. At this they all broke out into a horse-laugh. The Master heard the noise and came out of the gate, dragging his cane behind him.
“Why are you making such a noise?” he called out to them harshly.
Said they: “Sun Wu Kung has turned himself into a pine-tree, and this made us laugh.”
“Sun Wu Kung, come here!” said the Master. “Now just tell me what tricks you are up to? Why do you have to turn yourself into a pine-tree? All the work you have done means nothing more to you than a chance to make magic for your companions to wonder at. That shows that your heart is not yet under control.”
Humbly Sun Wu Kung begged his forgiveness.
But the Master said: “I bear you no ill will, but you must go away.”
With tears in his eyes Sun Wu Kung asked him: “But where shall I go?”
“You must go back again whence you came,” said the Master. And when Sun Wu Kung sadly bade him farewell, he threatened him: “Your savage nature is sure to bring down evil upon you some time. You must tell no one that you are my pupil. If you so much as breathe a word about it, I will fetch your soul and lock it up in the nethermost hell, so that you cannot escape for a thousand eternities.”
Sun Wu Kung replied: “I will not say a word! I will not say a word!”
Then he once more thanked him for all the kindness shown him, turned a somersault and climbed up to the clouds.
Within the hour he had passed the seas, and saw the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits lying before him. Then he felt happy and at home again, let his cloud sink down to earth and cried: “Here I am back again, children!” And at once, from the valley, from behind the rocks, out of the grass and from amid the trees came his apes. They came running up by thousands, surrounded and greeted him, and inquired as to his adventures. Sun Wu Kung said: “I have now found the way to eternal life, and need fear Death the Ancient no longer.” Then all the apes were overjoyed, and competed with each other in bringing flowers and fruits, peaches and wine, to welcome him. And again they honored Sun Wu Kung as the Handsome Ape King.
Sun Wu Kung now gathered the apes about him and questioned them as to how they had fared during his absence.
Said they: “It is well that you have come back again, great king! Not long ago a devil came here who wanted to take possession of our cave by force. We fought with him, but he dragged away many of your children and will probably soon return.”
Sun Wu Kung grew very angry and said: “What sort of a devil is this who dares be so impudent?”
The apes answered: “He is the Devil-King of Chaos. He lives in the North, who knows how many miles away. We only saw him come and go amid clouds and mist.”
Sun Wu Kung said: “Wait, and I will see to him!” With that he turned a somersault and disappeared without a trace.
In the furthest North rises a high mountain, upon whose slope is a cave above which is the inscription: “The Cave of the Kidneys.” Before the door little devils were dancing. Sun Wu Kung called harshly to them: “Tell your Devil-King quickly that he had better give me my children back again!” The little devils were frightened, and delivered the message in the cave. Then the Devil-King reached for his sword and came out. But he was so large and broad that he could not even see Sun Wu Kung. He was clad from head to foot in black armor, and his face was as black as the bottom of a kettle. Sun Wu Kung shouted at him: “Accursed devil, where are your eyes, that you cannot see the venerable Sun?” Then the devil looked to the ground and saw a stone ape standing before him, bare-headed, dressed in red, with a yellow girdle and black boots. So the Devil-King laughed and said: “You are not even four feet high, less than thirty years of age, and weaponless, and yet you venture to make such a commotion.” Said Sun Wu Kung: “I am not too small for you; and I can make myself large at will. You scorn me because I am without a weapon, but my two fists can thresh to the very skies.” With that he stooped, clenched his fists and began to give the devil a beating. The devil was large and clumsy, but Sun Wu Kung leaped about nimbly. He struck him between the ribs and between the wind and his blows fell ever more fast and furious. In his despair the devil raised his great knife and aimed a blow at Sun Wu Kung’s head. But the latter avoided the blow, and fell back on his magic powers of transformation. He pulled out a hair, put it in his mouth, chewed it, spat it out into the air and said: “Transform yourself!” And at once it turned into many hundreds of little apes who began to attack the devil. Sun Wu Kung, be it said, had eighty-four thousand hairs on his body, every single one of which he could transform. The little apes with their sharp eyes, leaped around with the greatest rapidity. They surrounded the Devil-King on all sides, tore at his clothes, and pulled at his legs, until he finally measured his length on the ground. Then Sun Wu Kung stepped up, tore his knife from his hand, and put an end to him. After that he entered the cave and released his captive children, the apes. The transformed hairs he drew to him again, and making a fire, he burned the evil cave to the ground. Then he gathered up those he had released, and flew back with them like a storm-wind to his cavern on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits, joyfully greeted by all the apes.
After Sun Wu Kung had obtained possession of the Devil-King’s great knife, he exercised his apes every day. They had wooden swords and lances of bamboo, and played their martial music on reed pipes. He had them build a camp so that they would be prepared for all dangers. Suddenly the thought came to Sun Wu Kung: “If we go on this way, perhaps we may incite some human or animal king to fight with us, and then we would not be able to withstand him with our wooden swords and bamboo lances!” And to his apes he said: “What should be done?” Four baboons stepped forward and said: “In the capital city of the Aulai empire there are warriors without number. And there coppersmiths and steelsmiths are also to be found. How would it be if we were to buy steel and iron and have those smiths weld weapons for us?”
A somersault and Sun Wu Kung was standing before the city moat. Said he to himself: “To first buy the weapons would take a great deal of time. I would rather make magic and take some.” So he blew on the ground. Then a tremendous storm-wind arose which drove sand and stones before it, and caused all the soldiers in the city to run away in terror. Then Sun Wu Kung went to the armory, pulled out one of his hairs, turned it into thousands of little apes, cleared out the whole supply of weapons, and flew back home on a cloud.
Then he gathered his people about him and counted them. In all they numbered seventy-seven thousand. They held the whole Mountain in terror, and all the magic beasts and spirit princes who dwelt on it. And these came forth from seventy-two caves and honored Sun Wu Kung as their head.
One day the Ape King said: “Now you all have weapons; but this knife which I took from the Devil-King is too light, and no longer suits me. What should be done?”
Then the four baboons stepped forward and said: “In view of your spirit powers, O king, you will find no weapon fit for your use on all the earth! Is it possible for you to walk through the water?”
The Ape King answered: “All the elements are subject to me and there is no place where I cannot go.”
Then the baboons said: “The water at our cave here flows into the Great Sea, to the castle of the Dragon-King of the Eastern Sea. If your magic power makes it possible, you could go to the Dragon-King and let him give you a weapon.”
This suited the Ape King. He leaped on the iron bridge and murmured an incantation. Then he flung himself into the waves, which parted before him and ran on till he came to the palace of water-crystal. There he met a Triton who asked who he was. He mentioned his name and said: “I am the Dragon-King’s nearest neighbor, and have come to visit him.” The Triton took the message to the castle, and the Dragon-King of the Eastern Sea came out hastily to receive him. He bade him be seated and served him with tea.
Sun Wu Kung said: “I have learned the hidden knowledge and gained the powers of immortality. I have drilled my apes in the art of warfare in order to protect our mountain; but I have no weapon I can use, and have therefore come to you to borrow one.”
The Dragon-King now had General Flounder bring him a great spear. But Sun Wu Kung was not satisfied with it. Then he ordered Field-Marshal Eel to fetch in a nine-tined fork, which weighed three thousand six hundred pounds. But Sun Wu Kung balanced it in his hand and said: “Too light! Too light! Too light!”
Then the Dragon-King was frightened, and had the heaviest weapon in his armory brought in. It weighed seven thousand two hundred pounds. But this was still too light for Sun Wu Kung. The Dragon-King assured him that he had nothing heavier, but Sun Wu Kung would not give in and said: “Just look around!”
Finally the Dragon-Queen and her daughter came out, and said to the Dragon-King: “This saint is an unpleasant customer with whom to deal. The great iron bar is still lying here in our sea; and not so long ago it shone with a red glow, which is probably a sign it is time for it to be taken away.”
Said the Dragon-King: “But that is the rod which the Great Yu used when he ordered the waters, and determined the depth of the seas and rivers. It cannot be taken away.”
The Dragon-Queen replied: “Just let him see it! What he then does with it is no concern of ours.”
So the Dragon-King led Sun Wu Kung to the measuring rod. The golden radiance that came from it could be seen some distance off. It was an enormous iron bar, with golden clamps on either side.
Sun Wu Kung raised it with the exertion of all his strength, and then said: “It is too heavy, and ought to be somewhat shorter and thinner!”
No sooner had he said this than the iron rod grew less. He tried it again, and then he noticed that it grew larger or smaller at command. It could be made to shrink to the size of a pin. Sun Wu Kung was overjoyed and beat about in the sea with the rod, which he had let grow large again, till the waves spurted mountain-high and the dragon-castle rocked on its foundations. The Dragon-King trembled with fright, and all his tortoises, fishes and crabs drew in their heads.
Sun Wu Kung laughed, and said: “Many thanks for the handsome present!” Then he continued: “Now I have a weapon, it is true, but as yet I have no armor. Rather than hunt up two or three other households, I think you will be willing to provide me with a suit of mail.”
The Dragon-King told him that he had no armor to give him.
Then the ape said: “I will not leave until you have obtained one for me.” And once more he began to swing his rod.
“Do not harm me!” said the terrified Dragon-King, “I will ask my brothers.”
And he had them beat the iron drum and strike the golden gong, and in a moment’s time all the Dragon-King’s brothers came from all the other seas. The Dragon-King talked to them in private and said: “This is a terrible fellow, and we must not rouse his anger! First he took the rod with the golden clamps from me, and now he also insists on having a suit of armor. The best thing to do would be to satisfy him at once, and complain of him to the Lord of the Heavens later.”
So the brothers brought a magic suit of golden mail, magic boots and a magic helmet.
Then Sun Wu Kung thanked them and returned to his cave. Radiantly he greeted his children, who had come to meet him, and showed them the rod with the golden clamps. They all crowded up and wished to pick it up from the ground, if only a single time; but it was just as though a dragon-fly had attempted to overthrow a stone column, or an ant were trying to carry a great mountain. It would not move a hair’s breadth. Then the apes opened their mouths and stuck out their tongues, and said: “Father, how is it possible for you to carry that heavy thing?” So he told them the secret of the rod and showed them its effects. Then he set his empire in order, and appointed the four baboons field-marshals; and the seven beast-spirits, the ox-spirit, the dragon-spirit, the bird-spirit, the lion-spirit and the rest also joined him.
One day he took a nap after dinner. Before he did so he had let the bar shrink, and had stuck it in his ear. While he was sleeping he saw two men come along in his dream, who had a card on which was written “Sun Wu Kung.” They would not allow him to resist, but fettered him and led his spirit away. And when they reached a great city the Ape King gradually came to himself. Over the city gate he saw a tablet of iron on which was engraved in large letters: “The Nether World.”
Then all was suddenly clear to him and he said: “Why, this must be the dwelling-place of Death! But I have long since escaped from his power, and how dare he have me dragged here!” The more he reflected the wilder he grew. He drew out the golden rod from his ear, swung it and let it grow large. Then he crushed the two constables to mush, burst his fetters, and rolled his bar before him into the city. The ten Princes of the Dead were frightened, bowed before him and asked: “Who are you?”
Sun Wu Kung answered: “If you do not know me then why did you send for me and have me dragged to this place? I am the heaven-born saint Sun Wu Kung of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. And now, who are you? Tell me your names quickly or I will strike you!”
The ten Princes of the Dead humbly gave him their names.
Sun Wu Kung said: “I, the Venerable Sun, have gained the power of eternal life! You have nothing to say to me! Quick, let me have the Book of Life!”
They did not dare defy him, and had the scribe bring in the Book. Sun Wu Kung opened it. Under the head of “Apes,” No. 1350, he read: “Sun Wu Kung, the heaven-born stone ape. His years shall be three hundred and twenty-four. Then he shall die without illness.”
Sun Wu Kung took the brush from the table and struck out the whole ape family from the Book of Life, threw the Book down and said: “Now we are even! From this day on I will suffer no impertinences from you!”
With that he cleared a way for himself out of the Nether World by means of his rod, and the ten Princes of the Dead did not venture to stay him, but only complained of him afterward to the Lord of the Heavens.
When Sun Wu Kung had left the city he slipped and fell to the ground. This caused him to wake, and he noticed he had been dreaming. He called his four baboons to him and said: “Splendid, splendid! I was dragged to Death’s castle and I caused considerable uproar there. I had them give me the Book of Life, and I struck out the mortal hour of all the apes!” And after that time the apes on the Mountain no longer died, because their names had been stricken out in the Nether World.
But the Lord of the Heavens sat in his castle, and had all his servants assembled about him. And a saint stepped forward and presented the complaint of the Dragon-King of the Eastern Sea. And another stepped forward and presented the complaint of the ten Princes of the Dead. The Lord of the Heavens glanced through the two memorials. Both told of the wild, unmannerly conduct of Sun Wu Kung. So the Lord of the Heavens ordered a god to descend to earth and take him prisoner. The Evening Star came forward, however, and said: “This ape was born of the purest powers of heaven and earth and sun and moon. He has gained the hidden knowledge and has become an immortal. Recall, O Lord, your great love for all that which has life, and forgive him his sin! Issue an order that he be called up to the heavens, and be given a charge here, so that he may come to his senses. Then, if he again oversteps your commands, let him be punished without mercy.” The Lord of the Heavens was agreeable, had the order issued, and told the Evening Star to take it to Sun Wu Kung. The Evening Star mounted a colored cloud and descended on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits.
He greeted Sun Wu Kung and said to him: “The Lord had heard of your actions and meant to punish you. I am the Evening Star of the Western Skies, and I spoke for you. Therefore he has commissioned me to take you to the skies, so that you may be given a charge there.”
Sun Wu Kung was overjoyed and answered: “I had just been thinking I ought to pay Heaven a visit some time, and sure enough, Old Star, here you have come to fetch me!”
Then he had his four baboons come and said to them impressively: “See that you take good care of our Mountain! I am going up to the heavens to look around there a little!”
Then he mounted a cloud together with the Evening Star and floated up. But he kept turning his somersaults, and advanced so quickly that the Evening Star on his cloud was left behind. Before he knew it he had reached the Southern Gate of Heaven and was about to step carelessly through. The gate-keeper did not wish to let him enter, but he did not let this stop him. In the midst of their dispute the Evening Star came up and explained matters, and then he was allowed to enter the heavenly gate. When he came to the castle of the Lord of the Heavens, he stood upright before it, without bowing his head.
The Lord of the Heavens asked: “Then this hairy face with the pointed lips is Sun Wu Kung?”
He replied: “Yes, I am the Venerable Sun!”
All the servants of the Lord of the Heavens were shocked and said: “This wild ape does not even bow, and goes so far as to call himself the Venerable Sun. His crime deserves a thousand deaths!”
But the Lord said: “He has come up from the earth below, and is not as yet used to our rules. We will forgive him.”
Then he gave orders that a charge be found for him. The marshal of the heavenly court reported: “There is no charge vacant anywhere, but an official is needed in the heavenly stables.” Thereupon the Lord made him stablemaster of the heavenly steeds. Then the servants of the Lord of the Heavens told him he should give thanks for the grace bestowed on him. Sun Wu Kung called out aloud: “Thanks to command!” took possession of his certificate of appointment, and went to the stables in order to enter upon his new office.
Sun Wu Kung attended to his duties with great zeal. The heavenly steeds grew sleek and fat, and the stables were filled with young foals. Before he knew it half a month had gone by. Then his heavenly friends prepared a banquet for him.
While they were at table Sun Wu Kung asked accidentally: “Stablemaster? What sort of a title is that?”
“Why, that is an official title,” was the reply.
“What rank has this office?”
“It has no rank at all,” was the answer.
“Ah,” said the ape, “is it so high that it outranks all other dignities?”
“No, it is not high, it is not high at all,” answered his friends. “It is not even set down in the official roster, but is quite a subordinate position. All you have to do is to attend to the steeds. If you see to it that they grow fat, you get a good mark; but if they grow thin or ill, or fall down, your punishment will be right at hand.”
Then the Ape King grew angry: “What, they treat me, the Venerable Sun, in such a shameful way!” and he started up. “On my Mountain I was a king, I was a father! What need was there for him to lure me into his heaven to feed horses? I’ll do it no longer! I’ll do it no longer!”
Hola, and he had already overturned the table, drawn the rod with the golden clamps from his ear, let it grow large and beat a way out for himself to the Southern gate of Heaven. And no one dared stop him.
Already he was back in his island Mountain and his people surrounded him and said: “You have been gone for more than ten years, great king! How is it you do not return to us until now?”
The Ape King said: “I did not spend more than about ten days in Heaven. This Lord of the Heavens does not know how to treat his people. He made me his stablemaster, and I had to feed his horses. I am so ashamed that I am ready to die. But I did not put up with it, and now I am here once more!”
His apes eagerly prepared a banquet to comfort him. While they sat at table two horned devil-kings came and brought him a yellow imperial robe as a present. Filled with joy he slipped into it, and appointed the two devil-kings leaders of the vanguard. They thanked him and began to flatter him: “With your power and wisdom, great king, why should you have to serve the Lord of the Heavens? To call you the Great Saint who is Heaven’s Equal would be quite in order.”
The ape was pleased with this speech and said: “Good, good!” Then he ordered his four baboons to have a flag made quickly, on which was to be inscribed: “The Great Saint Who Is Heaven’s Equal.” And from that time on he had himself called by that title.
When the Lord of the Heavens learned of the flight of the ape, he ordered Li Dsing, the pagoda-bearing god, and his third son, Notscha, to take the Ape King prisoner. They sallied forth at the head of a heavenly warrior host, laid out a camp before his cave, and sent a brave warrior to challenge him to single combat. But he was easily beaten by Sun Wu Kung and obliged to flee, and Sun Wu Kung even shouted after him, laughing: “What a bag of wind! And he calls himself a heavenly warrior! I’ll not slay you. Run along quickly and send me a better man!”
When Notscha saw this he himself hurried up to do battle.
Said Sun Wu Kung to him: “To whom do you belong, little one? You must not play around here, for something might happen to you!”
But Notscha cried out in a loud voice: “Accursed ape! I am Prince Notscha, and have been ordered to take you prisoner!” And with that he swung his sword in the direction of Sun Wu Kung.
“Very well,” said the latter, “I will stand here and never move.”
Then Notscha grew very angry, and turned into a three-headed god with six arms, in which he held six different weapons. Thus he rushed on to the attack.
Sun Wu Kung laughed. “The little fellow knows the trick of it! But easy, wait a bit! I will change shape, too!”
And he also turned himself into a figure with three heads and with six arms, and swung three gold-clamp rods. And thus they began to fight. Their blows rained down with such rapidity that it seemed as though thousands of weapons were flying through the air. After thirty rounds the combat had not yet been decided. Then Sun Wu Kung hit upon an idea. He secretly pulled out one of his hairs, turned it into his own shape, and let it continue the fight with Notscha. He himself, however, slipped behind Notscha, and gave him such a blow on the left arm with his rod that his knees gave way beneath him with pain, and he had to withdraw in defeat.
So Notscha told his father Li Dsing: “This devil-ape is altogether too powerful! I cannot get the better of him!” There was nothing left to do but to return to the Heavens and admit their overthrow. The Lord of the Heavens bowed his head, and tried to think of some other hero whom he might send out.
Then the Evening Star once more came forward and said: “This ape is so strong and so courageous, that probably not one of us here is a match for him. He revolted because the office of stablemaster appeared too lowly for him. The best thing would be to temper justice with mercy, let him have his way, and appoint him Great Saint Who Is Heaven’s Equal. It will only be necessary to give him the empty title, without combining a charge with it, and then the matter would be settled.” The Lord of the Heavens was satisfied with this suggestion, and once more sent the Evening Star to summon the new saint. When Sun Wu Kung heard that he had arrived, he said: “The old Evening Star is a good fellow!” and he had his army draw up in line to give him a festive reception. He himself donned his robes of ceremony and politely went out to meet him.
Then the Evening Star told him what had taken place in the Heavens, and that he had his appointment as Great Saint Who Is Heaven’s Equal with him.
Thereupon the Great Saint laughed and said: “You also spoke in my behalf before, Old Star! And now you have again taken my part. Many thanks! Many thanks!”
Then when they appeared together in the presence of the Lord of the Heavens the latter said: “The rank of Great Saint Who Is Heaven’s Equal is very high. But now you must not cut any further capers.”
The Great Saint expressed his thanks, and the Lord of the Heavens ordered two skilled architects to build a castle for him East of the peach-garden of the Queen-Mother of the West. And he was led into it with all possible honors.
Now the Saint was in his element. He had all that heart could wish for, and was untroubled by any work. He took his ease, walked about in the Heavens as he chose, and paid visits to the gods. The Three Pure Ones and the Four Rulers he treated with some little respect; but the planetary gods and the lords of the twenty-eight houses of the moon, and of the twelve zodiac signs, and the other stars he addressed familiarly with a “Hey, you!” Thus he idled day by day, without occupation among the clouds of the Heavens. On one occasion one of the wise said to the Lord of the Heavens: “The holy Sun is idle while day follows day. It is to be feared that some mischievous thoughts may occur to him, and it might be better to give him some charge.”
So the Lord of the Heavens summoned the Great Saint and said to him: “The life-giving peaches in the garden of the Queen-Mother will soon be ripe. I give you the charge of watching over them. Do your duty conscientiously!”
This pleased the Saint and he expressed his thanks. Then he went to the garden, where the caretakers and gardeners received him on their knees.
He asked them: “How many trees in all are there in the garden?”
“Three thousand six hundred,” replied the gardener. “There are twelve-hundred trees in the foremost row. They have red blossoms and bear small fruit, which ripens every three thousand years. Whoever eats it grows bright and healthy. The twelve hundred trees in the middle row have double blossoms and bear sweet fruit, which ripens every six thousand years. Whoever eats of it is able to float in the rose-dawn without aging. The twelve hundred trees in the last row bear red-striped fruit with small pits. They ripen every nine thousand years. Whoever eats their fruit lives eternally, as long as the Heavens themselves, and remains untouched for thousands of eons.”
The Saint heard all this with pleasure. He checked up the lists and from that time on appeared every day or so to see to things. The greater part of the peaches in the last row were already ripe. When he came to the garden, he would on each occasion send away the caretakers and gardeners under some pretext, leap up into the trees, and gorge himself to his heart’s content with the peaches.
At that time the Queen-Mother of the West was preparing the great peach banquet to which she was accustomed to invite all the gods of the Heavens. She sent out the fairies in their garments of seven colors with baskets, that they might pick the peaches. The caretaker said to them: “The garden has now been entrusted to the guardianship of the Great Saint Who is Heaven’s Equal, so you will first have to announce yourselves to him.” With that he led the seven fairies into the garden. There they looked everywhere for the Great Saint, but could not find him. So the fairies said: “We have our orders and must not be late. We will begin picking the peaches in the meantime!” So they picked several baskets full from the foremost row. In the second row the peaches were already scarcer. And in the last row there hung only a single half-ripe peach. They bent down the bough and picked it, and then allowed it to fly up again.
Now it happened that the Great Saint, who had turned himself into a peach-worm, had just been taking his noon-day nap on this bough. When he was so rudely awakened, he appeared in his true form, seized his rod and was about to strike the fairies.
But the fairies said: “We have been sent here by the Queen-Mother. Do not be angry, Great Saint!”
Said the Great Saint: “And who are all those whom the Queen-Mother has invited?”
They answered: “All the gods and saints in the Heavens, on the earth and under the earth.”
“Has she also invited me?” said the Saint.
“Not that we know of,” said the fairies.
Then the Saint grew angry, murmured a magic incantation and said: “Stay! Stay! Stay!”
With that the seven fairies were banned to the spot. The Saint then took a cloud and sailed away on it to the palace of the Queen-Mother.
On the way he met the Bare-Foot God and asked him: “Where are you going?”
“To the peach banquet,” was the answer.
Then the Saint lied to him, saying: “I have been commanded by the Lord of the Heavens to tell all the gods and saints that they are first to come to the Hall of Purity, in order to practise the rites, and then go together to the Queen-Mother.”
Then the Great Saint changed himself into the semblance of the Bare-Foot God and sailed to the palace of the Queen-Mother. There he let his cloud sink down and entered quite unconcerned. The meal was ready, yet none of the gods had as yet appeared. Suddenly the Great Saint caught the aroma of wine, and saw well-nigh a hundred barrels of the precious nectar standing in a room to one side. His mouth watered. He tore a few hairs out and turned them into sleep-worms. These worms crept into the nostrils of the cup-bearers so that they all fell asleep. Thereupon he enjoyed the delicious viands to the full, opened the barrels and drank until he was nearly stupefied. Then he said to himself: “This whole affair is beginning to make me feel creepy. I had better go home first of all and sleep a bit.” And he stumbled out of the garden with uncertain steps. Sure enough, he missed his way, and came to the dwelling of Laotzse. There he regained consciousness. He arranged his clothing and went in. There was no one to be seen in the place, for at the moment Laotzse was at the God of Light’s abode, talking to him, and with him were all his servants, listening. Since he found no one at home the Great Saint went as far as the inner chamber, where Laotzse was in the habit of brewing the elixir of life. Beside the stove stood five gourd containers full of the pills of life which had already been rolled. Said the Great Saint: “I had long since intended to prepare a couple of these pills. So it suits me very well to find them here.” He poured out the contents of the gourds, and ate up all the pills of life. Since he had now had enough to eat and drink he thought to himself: “Bad, bad! The mischief I have done cannot well be repaired. If they catch me my life will be in danger. I think I had better go down to earth again and remain a king!” With that he made himself invisible, went out at the Western Gate of Heaven, and returned to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits, where he told his people who received him the story of his adventures.
When he spoke of the wine-nectar of the peach garden, his apes said: “Can’t you go back once more and steal a few bottles of the wine, so that we too may taste of it and gain eternal life?”
The Ape King was willing, turned a somersault, crept into the garden unobserved, and picked up four more barrels. Two of them he took under his arms and two he held in his hands. Then he disappeared with them without leaving a trace and brought them to his cave, where he enjoyed them together with his apes.
In the meantime the seven fairies, whom the Great Saint had banned to the spot, had regained their freedom after a night and a day. They picked up their baskets and told the Queen-Mother what had happened to them. And the cup-bearers, too, came hurrying up and reported the destruction which some one unknown had caused among the eatables and drinkables. The Queen-Mother went to the Lord of the Heavens to complain. Shortly afterward Laotzse also came to him to tell about the theft of the pills of life. And the Bare-Foot God came along and reported that he had been deceived by the Great Saint Who Is Heaven’s Equal; and from the Great Saint’s palace the servants came running and said that the Saint had disappeared and was nowhere to be found. Then the Lord of the Heavens was frightened, and said: “This whole mess is undoubtedly the work of that devilish ape!”
Now the whole host of Heaven, together with all the star-gods, the time-gods and the mountain-gods was called out in order to catch the ape. Li Dsing once more was its commander-in-chief. He invested the entire Mountain, and spread out the sky-net and the earth-net, so that no one could escape. Then he sent his bravest heroes into battle. Courageously the ape withstood all attacks from early morn till sundown. But by that time his most faithful followers had been captured. That was too much for him. He pulled out a hair and turned it into thousands of Ape-Kings, who all hewed about them with golden-clamped iron rods. The heavenly host was vanquished, and the ape withdrew to his cave to rest.
Now it happened that Guan Yin had also gone to the peach banquet in the garden, and had found out what Sun Wu Kung had done. When she went to visit the Lord of the Heavens, Li Dsing was just coming in, to report the great defeat which he had suffered on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. Then Guan Yin said to the Lord of the Heavens: “I can recommend a hero to you who will surely get the better of the ape. It is your grandson Yang Oerlang. He has conquered all the beast and bird spirits, and overthrown the elves in the grass and the brush. He knows what has to be done to get the better of such devils.”
So Yang Oerlang was brought in, and Li Dsing led him to his camp. Li Dsing asked Yang Oerlang how he would go about getting the better of the ape.
Yang Oerlang laughed and said: “I think I will have to go him one better when it comes to changing shapes. It would be best for you to take away the sky-net so that our combat is not disturbed.” Then he requested Li Dsing to post himself in the upper air with the magic spirit mirror in his hand, so that when the ape made himself invisible, he might be found again by means of the mirror. When all this had been arranged, Yang Oerlang went out in front of the cave with his spirits to give battle.
The ape leaped out, and when he saw the powerful hero with the three-tined sword standing before him he asked: “And who may you be?”
The other said: “I am Yang Oerlang, the grandson of the Lord of the Heavens!”
Then the ape laughed and said: “Oh yes, I remember! His daughter ran away with a certain Sir Yang, to whom heaven gave a son. You must be that son!”
Yang Oerlang grew furious, and advanced upon him with his spear. Then a hot battle began. For three hundred rounds they fought without decisive results. Then Yang Oerlang turned himself into a giant with a black face and red hair.
“Not bad,” said the ape, “but I can do that too!”
So they continued to fight in that form. But the ape’s baboons were much frightened. The beast and planet spirits of Yang Oerlang pressed the apes hard. They slew most of them and the others hid away. When the ape saw this his heart grew uneasy. He drew the magic giant-likeness in again, took his rod and fled. But Yang Oerlang followed hard on his heels. In his urgent need the ape thrust the rod, which he had turned into a needle, into his ear, turned into a sparrow, and flew up into the crest of a tree. Yang Oerlang who was following in his tracks, suddenly lost sight of him. But his keen eyes soon recognized that he had turned himself into a sparrow. So he flung away spear and crossbow, turned himself into a sparrow-hawk, and darted down on the sparrow. But the latter soared high into the air as a cormorant. Yang Oerlang shook his plumage, turned into a great sea-crane, and shot up into the clouds to seize the cormorant. The latter dropped, flew into a valley and dove beneath the waters of a brook in the guise of a fish. When Yang Oerlang reached the edge of the valley, and had lost his trail he said to himself: “This ape has surely turned himself into a fish or a crab! I will change my form as well in order to catch him.” So he turned into a fish-hawk and floated above the surface of the water. When the ape in the water caught sight of the fish-hawk, he saw that he was Yang Oerlang. He swiftly swung around and fled, Yang Oerlang in pursuit. When the latter was no further away than the length of a beak, the ape turned, crept ashore as a water-snake and hid in the grass. Yang Oerlang, when he saw the water-snake creep from the water, turned into an eagle and spread his claws to seize the snake. But the water-snake sprang up and turned into the lowest of all birds, a speckled buzzard, and perched on the steep edge of a cliff. When Yang Oerlang saw that the ape had turned himself into so contemptible a creature as a buzzard, he would no longer play the game of changing form with him. He reappeared in his original form, took up his crossbow and shot at the bird. The buzzard slipped and fell down the side of the cliff. At its foot the ape turned himself into the chapel of a field-god. He opened his mouth for a gate, his teeth became the two wings of the door, his tongue the image of the god, and his eyes the windows. His tail was the only thing he did not know what to do with. So he let it stand up stiffly behind him in the shape of a flagpole. When Yang Oerlang reached the foot of the hill he saw the chapel, whose flagpole stood in the rear. Then he laughed and said: “That ape is really a devil of an ape! He wants to lure me into the chapel in order to bite me. But I will not go in. First I will break his windows for him, and then I will stamp down the wings of his door!” When the ape heard this he was much frightened. He made a bound like a tiger, and disappeared without a trace in the air. With a single somersault he reached Yang Oerlang’s own temple. There he assumed Yang Oerlang’s own form and stepped in. The spirits who were on guard were unable to recognize him. They received him on their knees. So the ape then seated himself on the god’s throne, and had the prayers which had come in submitted to him.
When Yang Oerlang no longer saw the ape, he rose in the air to Li Dsing and said: “I was vying with the ape in changing shape. Suddenly I could no longer find him. Take a look in the mirror!” Li Dsing took a look in the magic spirit mirror and then he laughed and said: “The ape has turned himself into your likeness, is sitting in your temple quite at home there, and making mischief.” When Yang Oerlang heard this he took his three-tined spear, and hastened to his temple. The door-spirits were frightened and said: “But father came in only this very minute! How is it that another one comes now?” Yang Oerlang, without paying attention to them, entered the temple and aimed his spear at Sun Wu Kung. The latter resumed his own shape, laughed and said: “Young sir, you must not be angry! The god of this place is now Sun Wu Kung.” Without uttering a word Yang Oerlang assailed him. Sun Wu Kung took up his rod and returned the blows. Thus they crowded out of the temple together, fighting, and wrapped in mists and clouds once more gained the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits.
In the meantime Guan Yin was sitting with Laotzse, the Lord of the Heavens and the Queen-Mother in the great hall of Heaven, waiting for news. When none came she said: “I will go with Laotzse to the Southern Gate of Heaven and see how matters stand.” And when they saw that the struggle had still not come to an end she said to Laotzse: “How would it be if we helped Yang Oerlang a little? I will shut up Sun Wu Kung in my vase.”
But Laotzse said: “Your vase is made of porcelain. Sun Wu Kung could smash it with his iron rod. But I have a circlet of diamonds which can enclose all living creatures. That we can use!” So he flung his circlet through the air from the heavenly gate, and struck Sun Wu Kung on the head with it. Since he had his hands full fighting, the latter could not guard himself against it, and the blow on the forehead caused him to slip. Yet he rose again and tried to escape. But the heavenly hound of Yang Oerlang bit his leg until he fell to the ground. Then Yang Oerlang and his followers came up and tied him with thongs, and thrust a hook through his collar-bone so that he could no longer transform himself. And Laotzse took possession of his diamond circlet again, and returned with Guan Yin to the hall of Heaven. Sun Wu Kung was now brought in in triumph, and was condemned to be beheaded. He was then taken to the place of execution and bound to a post. But all efforts to kill him by means of ax and sword, thunder and lightning were vain. Nothing so much as hurt a hair on his head.
Said Laotzse: “It is not surprising. This ape has eaten the peaches, has drunk the nectar and also swallowed the pills of life. Nothing can harm him. The best thing would be for me to take him along and thrust him into my stove in order to melt the elixir of life out of him again. Then he will fall into dust and ashes.”
So Sun Wu Kung’s fetters were loosed, and Laotzse took him with him, thrust him into his oven, and ordered the boy to keep up a hot fire.
But along the edge of the oven were graven the signs of the eight elemental forces. And when the ape was thrust into the oven he took refuge beneath the sign of the wind, so that the fire could not injure him; and the smoke only made his eyes smart. He remained in the oven seven times seven days. Then Laotzse had it opened to take a look. As soon as Sun Wu Kung saw the light shine in, he could no longer bear to be shut up, but leaped out and upset the magic oven. The guards and attendants he threw to the ground and Laotzse himself, who tried to seize him, received such a push that he stuck his legs up in the air like an onion turned upside down. Then Sun Wu Kung took his rod out of his ear, and without looking where he struck, hewed everything to bits, so that the star-gods closed their doors and the guardians of the Heavens ran away. He came to the castle of the Lord of the Heavens, and the guardian of the gate with his steel whip was only just in time to hold him back. Then the thirty-six thunder gods were set at him, and surrounded him, though they could not seize him.
The Lord of the Heavens said: “Buddha will know what is to be done. Send for him quickly!”
So Buddha came up out of the West with Ananada and Kashiapa, his disciples. When he saw the turmoil he said: “First of all, let weapons be laid aside and lead out the Saint. I wish to speak with him!” The gods withdrew. Sun Wu Kung snorted and said: “Who are you, who dare to speak to me?” Buddha smiled and replied: “I have come out of the blessed West, Shakiamuni Amitofu. I have heard of the revolt you have raised, and am come to tame you!”
Said Sun Wu Kung: “I am the stone ape who has gained the hidden knowledge. I am master of seventy-two transformations, and will live as long as Heaven itself. What has the Lord of the Heavens accomplished that entitles him to remain eternally on his throne? Let him make way for me, and I will be satisfied!”
Buddha replied with a smile: “You are a beast which has gained magic powers. How can you expect to rule here as Lord of the Heavens? Be it known to you that the Lord of the Heavens has toiled for eons in perfecting his virtues. How many years would you have to pass before you could attain the dignity he has gained? And then I must ask you whether there is anything else you can do, aside from playing your tricks of transformation?”
Said Sun Wu Kung: “I can turn cloud somersaults. Each one carries me eighteen thousand miles ahead. Surely that is enough to entitle me to be the Lord of the Heavens?”
Buddha answered with a smile: “Let us make a wager. If you can so much as leave my hand with one of your somersaults, then I will beg the Lord of the Heavens to make way for you. But if you are not able to leave my hand, then you must yield yourself to my fetters.”
Sun Wu Kung suppressed his laughter, for he thought: “This Buddha is a crazy fellow! His hand is not a foot long; how could I help but leap out of it?” So he opened his mouth wide and said: “Agreed!”
Buddha then stretched out his right hand. It resembled a small lotus-leaf. Sun Wu Kung leaped up into it with one bound. Then he said: “Go!” And with that he turned one somersault after another, so that he flew along like a whirlwind. And while he was flying along he saw five tall, reddish columns towering to the skies. Then he thought: “That is the end of the world! Now I will turn back and become Lord of the Heavens. But first I will write down my name to prove that I was there.” He pulled out a hair, turned it into a brush, and wrote with great letters on the middle column: “The Great Saint Who Is Heaven’s Equal.” Then he turned his somersaults again until he had reached the place whence he had come. He leaped down from the Buddha’s hand laughing and cried: “Now hurry, and see to it that the Lord of the Heavens clears his heavenly castle for me! I have been at the end of the world and have left a sign there!”
Buddha scolded: “Infamous ape! How dare you claim that you have left my hand? Take a look and see whether or not ‘The Great Saint Who Is Heaven’s Equal,’ is written on my middle finger!”
Sun Wu Kung was terribly frightened, for at the first glance he saw that this was the truth. Yet outwardly he pretended that he was not convinced, said he would take another look, and tried to make use of the opportunity to escape. But Buddha covered him with his hand, shoved him out of the gate of Heaven, and formed a mountain of water, fire, wood, earth and metal, which he softly set down on him to hold him fast. A magic incantation pasted on the mountain prevented his escape.
Here he was obliged to lie for hundreds of years, until he finally reformed and was released, in order to help the Monk of the Yangtze-kiang fetch the holy writings from out of the West. He honored the Monk as his master, and thenceforward was known as the Wanderer. Guan Yin, who had released him, gave the Monk a golden circlet. Sun Wu Kung was induced to put it on, and it at once grew into his flesh so that he could not remove it. And Guan Yin gave the Monk a magic formula by means of which the ring could be tightened, should the ape grow disobedient. But from that time on he was always polite and well-mannered.
Note: This tale, like “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” is an allegory, the ape symbolizing the human heart. Yet despite its allegorical character, a number of mythological and fairy-tale motives are incorporated in it. The ape himself suggests Hanumant, the companion of Rama. Yo Huang is the Lord of the Heavens. The stone ape is the stone heart of natural man. The Buddhas, blessed spirits and gods, represent the ideals of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Sun Wu Kung: In Chinese apes are called Hu Sun, but the word Hu having an unlucky meaning, the Master chooses Sun as a family name, while at the same time the letter-sign is freed from the radical indicating an animal. Wu Kung—“the magic awaking to nothingness” (Nirwana). The different ways: magic, the way of raising spirits; the sciences: The three faiths are: Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism; to these are added six “schools”: the Yin-Yang School, the Mo-Di School, Medicine, War, Law, Miscellaneous, so that nine directions in all are represented. Quiescence is the Taoism for non-activity, while Action is the Taoism for care of the body, as inaugurated by We Be Yang. The Devil-King of Chaos, i.e., sensuality, whose seat is supposed to be in Kidneys. “Red garments,” colors, here all have an allegorical meaning. Death, i.e., Yama. The Evening Star is the star of metal; Sun Wu Kung also personifies a metal, hence the Evening Star appears as his apologist. As regards Li Dsing and Notscha see No. 18. As regards the Queen Mother of the West, see No. 15. As regards Yang Oerlang, see No. 17. Guan Yin is generally worshipped throughout China as the Feminine goddess. The motive of the magic flight is found frequently in fairy-tales the world over. Guan Yin is often represented holding a vase, Bau Ping. Laotzse’s circlet or ring is the Tao. The eight elemental powers, i.e., Ba Gua. Buddha: while Sun Wu Kung is equipped to struggle against all external powers, he is conquered by Buddha, who does not combat him, but subdues him by his omnipresence. The Monk of the Yangtze-kiang is Huan Dschuang, see No. 69. The circlet or ring which can be made tighter when the ape does not obey, reappears in Hauff’s fairy-tale of “The Young Englishman,” as a cravat.
Notes: The Chinese Fairy Book contains 74 Chinese folktales, sorted into several categories.
Editor: Dr. R. Wilhelm
Publisher: Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York