AND THE JOURNEY TO THE WEST
The birth of the Monkey King
Far across the Eastern Sea, on the island called the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits, a magic boulder had sat on the mountain’s peak since the creation of the world. Bathed in the energies of Earth and Heaven, nurtured by the light of the Sun and Moon, the stone became fertile, and at last it cracked. From this stone egg emerged a full-grown monkey. As he gazed about and above, the golden light shot from his eyes to the farthest reaches of Heaven and Earth.
High above in Heaven, the Jade Emperor, the Ruler of Heaven and Earth, was startled by the rays of light reaching his Celestial Throne. “See what’s causing that,” he said to his chief minister, who later returned with his report, “Your Majesty, a stone has given birth to a monkey. The golden light came from his eyes.” The Jade Emperor replied, “A monkey?? Is it a lucky omen or a bad omen?”
Elsewhere in Heaven, Taoist Lord Lao-Tzu was refining Elixir of Life, when just for a moment the golden light penetrated his alchemy laboratory. “Such a powerful beam,” murmured Lao-Tzu in wonder. “The one who produced it will surely become an Immortal.”
Far off in the Western Pureland, Buddha paused in his blessed teachings to his disciples as the golden light shone into the temple hall. He closed his eyes a moment in silent meditation, then turned to Kuan Yin, the Most Compassionate Bodhisattva and Goddess of Mercy, and said, “A remarkable creature has been born: a Monkey, yet not an ordinary one. I see that he is destined to become an enlightened being, a true Buddha. Yet, before he does, he will offer us a lot of mischief.”
“About five hundred years from now,” said Buddha, ” I will need a master from the Eastern Lands to come to the Western Pureland and carry back Three Bundles of Scriptures, or San Tsang (Tripitaka: Sutra, Vinaya, Shastra). It will be your job to find a man worthy of the difficult task. At that time, too, you will recruit our penitent monkey friend to protect the master on his long and perilous journey to the west. By doing so, the Monkey will atone for his mischief and attain Enlightenment.”