Notes: Tung Yueh (or Dong Yue), the author, wrote this between chapters 61 and 62 (after the Flaming Mountain and before the sweeping of the pagoda).
Chapter One: As the Peonies Glow Red, the Adventure Begins. Issuing an Elegy for the Wrongly Killed, the Great Sage Tarries.
This chapter describes how Monkey is enlightened as to the nature of things. One sees throughout that the causes of all emotions are floating clouds and phantasms.
As the story goes, after the Tang Priest and his three disciples left the Flaming Mountain, days turned into months, until they came again to the time of green spring. The Tang Priest sighed, "We four have traveled day in and day out, never knowing when we'll see the Tathagata. Wukong, you've been over the road to the West several times, how much farther do we have to go? And how many more monsters will we meet?"
Monkey replied, "Don't worry, Master. If we disciples pool our strength, we needn't fear even a monster as big as heaven.
He had hardly finished speaking when all at once they spied before them a mountain road. Everywhere flowers old and newly fallen covered the ground like a tapestry. There, where tall bamboo leaned over the road stood a peony tree:
The famous flowers no sooner bloom'd than form'd this tapestry;
Clusters of blossoms press together, competing with beauty strange.
Like finely tailor'd brilliant clouds they face the sun and smile,
Tenderly holding fragrant dew and bending with the breeze
Clouds loved these famed beauties and come to protect them;
Butterflies cling to their heavenly fragrance and tarry over leaving.
Were I to compare their color with the ladies in the Spring Palace,
Only Yang Guifei coquettishly leaning, half-drunk, would do. (1)
Said Monkey, "Master, those peonies are so red!"
The Tang Priest responded, "No they're not."
"Master," said Monkey, "Your eyes must be scorched by the hot spring sun if you insist that peonies so red aren't red. Why not dismount and sit down while I send for the Bodhisattva Great King of Medicine to clear up your eyes. Don't force yourself to go on while your vision is blurred. If you take the wrong road, it will be no one else's fault."
The Priest snapped, "Racal monkey! You're the one who's mixed up. It's backwards to say that my eyes are blurred."
Monkey said, "Master, if your eyes aren't blurred, why do you say the peonies aren't red?"
The Pries replied, "I never said the peonies aren't red. I only said that it's not the peonies that are red."
Monkey said, "If it's not the peonies that are red, Master, it must be the sunlight shining on them that makes them so red."
When the Pries heard Monkey suggest sunlight, he decided that his disciple's thinking was even farther off. "Stupid ape!" he scolded. "It's you who's red! You talk about peonies, then about sunlight - you certainly drag in trivialities!"
Monkey said, "You must be joking, Master. All the hair on my body is mottled yellow, my tiger-skin kilt is striped, my monk's robe is gray. Where do you see red on me?"
The Priest said, "I didn't mean that your body is red. I meant that your heart is red." Then he said, "Wukong, listen to this gatha of mine." From his horse, he recited:
The peonies aren't red;
It's the disciple's heart that's red.
When all the blossoms have fallen,
It's as if they hadn't yet bloomed.
He finished the gatha and rode on a hundred paces (2). There before them several hundred lasses, each one rosy as a spring bud, suddenly appeared beneath the peony tree. They frolicked, picking flowers, weaving grass mats, carrying baby boys and girls, and showing off their loveliness. When they saw the monks coming from the east, they giggled, covering their mouths with their sleeves.
The Priest was troubled. He called to Wukong, "Let's go by way of some other less traveled route. I'm afraid that in this spring meadow so fresh and green these beautiful children will lead us straight into trouble and entanglements."
Monkey said, "Master, I've been meaning to say a few words to you, but I'm always afraid of offending you, so I haven't dared speak. All your life you've suffered from two great ills. One is using your mind too much, the other is literary Chan (3). What I mean by using your mind too much is that you are always fretting over this and that. Literary Chan means reciting poems and discussing principles, bringing up your past to verify the present, and talking about scriptures and gathas. Literary Chan has nothing to do with our real goal, and using the mind too much actually invites demons. Overcome these ills and you'll be well prepared to go to the West.
The Priest was displeased. Monkey insisted, "You're mistaken, Master. They are homebodies, we're monks. We share one road, but we have two kinds of hearts."
Hearing this, the Tang Priest sharply urged his horse forward. But suddenly eight or nine children jumped out from the crowd and surrounded him - a wall of boys and girls. They stared at him, then began to jump up and down, shouting, "This little boy has grown up, but he still wears raggedy beggar-boy clothes!"
Being by nature a man who loved tranquility, how could the Priest put up with these children? He tried to talk them nicely into leaving, but they would not go. He scolded them, yet they still would not go, and only kept up their taunts, "This boy has grown up, but he still wears beggar-boy clothes!"
The Priest could not think of anything to do, so he dismounted, took off his robe, hid it in his bundle and sat down on the grass. The children would not leave him alone, and taunted again, "Give us this one-coloured raggedy beggar's robe. If you don't, we'll go home and ask our mothers to make us patched robes of apple green, dark green, willow green, pi-i bird colour (4), evening-cloud, swallow gray, sauce-brown, sky-blue, peach-pink, jade, lotus stem, lotus-green, silver-green, fish-belly white, ink-wash, pebble-blue, reed-flower green, five-colour weave, and love-weave. Then we won't need your robe!"
The Tang Priest closed his eyes and remained silent. Pig did not know what was bothering the Master and only wanted to play with the boys and girls. He jokingly called them his adopted children.
Monkey watching this became restless and upset. He took his iron cudgel from behind his ear and brandished it, forcing the crowd back. The children, now frightened, ran away, stumbling over one another. But Monkey's temper did not abate. In a flash he overtook them, swung his cudgel and struck. Those sweet snail-horn tufts and peachy cheeks passed into oblivion, becoming so many butterflies and will-o'-the-wisps.
When the crowd of beauties under the peonies saw Monkey beating the children to death, they quickly dropped their flower baskets and ran to the edge of a nearby stream. Picking up slabs of rock, they came forward to meet Monkey. But Monkey did not hesitate; he knocked them dead to the ground with one sweep of his cudgel.
It so happened that Monkey, although brave and belligerent, was, nevertheless, compassionate. As he placed the cudgel back behind his ear, tears unconsciously flowed from his eyes, and he said to himself contritely, "Great Heaven! Since I became a Buddhist, I've controlled my emotions and contained my anger. I've never wrongly killed a single man. Today I struck out in sudden anger and killed boys and girls who weren't even monsters or thieves - old and young, maybe fifty in all. I completely forgot the heavy price for doing wrong."
Monkey took two steps, and was again overcome by fear. He said to himself, "I've been thinking only of hell in the future. I'd completely forgotten the hell that is right in front of me. The day before yesterday I killed a monster and right away the Master wanted to chant the charm. Once when I killed several thieves, the Master renounced me on the spot. When he sees this pile of corpses today, he'll really be angry. If he chants the charm a hundred times, this noble Great Sage Sun will be one skinned monkey. Will I have any honour left then?"
But after all, Mind-Monkey was intelligent and resourceful. He came up with another idea. He knew our old monk was a man of culture, but he was also overly compassionate, and the bones in his ears were soft (5). To himself he said, "Today I'll write a eulogy for these wrongly killed innocents. I'll put on a crying face and read it as I walk. When the Master sees me crying so, he'll surely be suspicious and say, "Wukong, what's happened to that old pluck of yours?" I'll say, "There are monsters on the Western road." The Master's suspicion will increase. He'll ask "Where are these monsters? What are they called?" I'll say, "They're called "man-beating monsters." If you don't believe me, take a look and you'll see that the crowd of boys and girls have become bloody corpses." When Master hears how terrible the monsters are, his courage will fail and his heart will leap. Pig will say, "Let's get out of here." Friar Sand will say, "Let's go, fast!" When I see that they're well shaken, I'll comfort them with one word: "Everything's been taken care of by Guanyin. There's not one tile left unbroken in the monster's cave!""
Monkey straightaway found a rock to use for an ink-stone and broke a plum branch for a brush. He ground mud into ink and stripped bamboo to make paper. Then he wrote out the eulogy. Gathering up his sleeves like a scholar, he swaggered with long strides and loudly recited:
I, Monkey, first disciple of the Great Buddhist Master Xuanzang, who recieved from the legitimate Emperor of the Great Tang a hundred-pearled cassock, a five-pearled abbot's staff, and the title "Brother of the Emperor," as the master of Water-curtain Cave, Great Sage Equal of Heaven, Rebel in the Heavenly Palace and Eminent Guest in the Underworld Sun Wukong do reverently offer as sacrifice clear wine and simple food and write this message to you, spirits of the boys and girls in the spring wind, against whom I bore no grudge and harboured no enmity:
Alas! The willows by the gate have turned to gold; orchids in the courtyard are pregnant with jade. Heaven and Earth are unkind; the green-in-years reach no fruition. Oh, why do their waistbands drift among peach blossoms this third month on the River Xiang? Why do the white crane's clouds twine with the endless mist to the Ninth Heaven? Ah, Ye spirits, how can I send you off? I bear a secret sorrow for you.
And furthermore, where dragons and snakes are coiled around bronze columns, in the great hall busy with silkworms, with her jade lute weeping for the wind and rain, in the tower, crying like a tiger - such was the decorum of the WhiteGirl. Oh, why, when spring clothes are ready and spring grasses green, and when spring days grow longer, are spring lives cut short? Ah, Ye spirits! How can I send you off? I bear a secret sorrow for you?
Alas! A hobbyhorse ride of a mile, a firefly bag half-filled - Little Boy Fate had no call for anger. The money for washing has not been given, but little bird shoes have flown to the Western Abyss; a pair of pillars, first decked in red, now don white goosefeather robes and play in the Purple Vale. Ah, Ye spirits! How can I send you off? I bear a secret sorrow for you.
And think of Confucius, who, as a lad of seven hid in the bed curtains and chirped like a cricket! And think of Zheng Shen, who when only two feet tall offered lichees from under the stairs! Oh why do you no longer speak of such proprieties? Jade is split in the southern field, a lotus shatters on the eastern lake. The jujubes, floating red, are not gathered; the sap that hangs from the dong tree is not chewed. Ah, Ye spirits! How can I send you off? I bear a secret sorrow for you.
Alas! Not to the Souht or North or West or East can I write lines to bring back your souls. Are you Zhang or Qian or Xu or Zhao? How can I tell from these old gravestones? Ah, Ye spirits! How can I send you off? I bear a secret sorrow for you (6).
By the time Monkey finished reading, he had come to the peony tree. He saw the Master asleep, his head drooped on his chest, while Friar Sand and Pig lay sleeping with their heads on a stone. Monkey laughed to himself, "The old monk is usually more vigorous - he's never been so drowsy. My stars are lucky today! I won't have to suffer from the charm."
Then he picked some grass and flowers, and after rolling them into a ball, stuffed them in Pig's ear. He yelled in the other ear, "Wuneng! Don't have upside-down dreams!"
Pig mumbled a reply in his dream, "Master, why are you calling me?"
Monkey realized that in his dream Pig mistook him for the Master, so he imitated the Master's voice and said, "Disciple, Bodhisattva Guanyin passed here and asked me to give you her regards."
With his eyes closed Pigsy mumbled through the grass, "Has the Bodhisattva said anything behind my back?"
Monkey said, "Oh my, yes! The Bodhisattva just now evaluated me and you three as well. First she said that I couldn't become a buddha and told me not to go the Western Paradise. She said Wukong will surely become a buddha, and that he should go on to the Western Paradise alone. Wujing cna be a monk. She said he should go and cultivate himself in a pure temple along the Western road. After making these three comments, the Bodhisattva stared at you and said, "Wuneng likes his sleep. He'll never reach the Western Paradise either. Please tell him that I said he should take a loving and faithful wife."
Pig said, "I don't want the Western Paradise or a lovely wife! I just want half a day in the dark, sweet village of sleep." And he snored like a bull.
When Monkey saw that he wouldn't wake up, he laughed and said, "Disciple, I'll go on ahead." Then he went west to beg for food.
(1) Yang Guifei was the favourite consort of Tang Xuanzong (r. 712-755). The emperor's infatuation with her was a factor that contributed to the disastrous An Lushan rebellion that ended his reign.
(2) Gatha is a type of Buddhist poetry composed of four lines of unspecified length. In this case, the first two lines are four characters long, and the second two are five characters long.
(3) Chan is the Meditation School of Chinese Buddhism (known also by its Japanese pronunciation, Zen), whose tenets place primary emphasis on direct apprehension of the true nature of exsistence and hold reliance on such verbal means as composing and reciting poems and discussing texts such as sutras and their commentaries to be secondary or supplementary in the effort to attain that goal.
(4) The pi-i is a fabulous bird that has only one wing and must therefore be always with its mate in order to fly. They are said to be quick-green and crimson.
(5) Having soft bones in the ears means that one is not able to resist sweet words, pleas or lies.
(6) This seems to be Monkey's attempt at "literary Chan." Clearly, its opaqueness and ineptness is meant to satirize this kind of practice.