AND THE JOURNEY TO THE WEST (2)
The Journey (Continued)
It was now early spring. The traveling pilgrims were approaching Cloud Ladder Cave and the Monkey King saw a pig-faced demon with a nine-pronged muckrake in his hand at the entrance to the cave. After they argued for some time and insulted each other, the monster was surprised to learn that the Monkey King was traveling with the scripture-seeking Master. The demon explained that Kuan Yin instructed him to wait for the Master. He also explained that the merciful Kuan Yin put him on a vegetarian diet so he could atone for his acts of eating travelers. The Monkey King took the demon to San Tsang and convinced his Master that Kuan Yin had converted him. The demon kowtowed (bowed low) to San Tsang and made a solemn vow. So, the demon became Pig King traveling together with San Tsang and the Monkey King to the West in search of the scriptures.
Summer was now slowly changing into fall and the three pilgrims came to a very broad river with flowing sand, which looked difficult to cross. The Monkey King told them that with his keen vision he calculated the river was 800 miles across. A red-haired monster with a yellow cape rose from the water. The sea monster had a string of nine big prayer beads hanging from his neck. Pig King fought the sea monster with his muckrake while the Monkey King protected San Tsang and the horse. When the Monkey King saw that Pig King could not defeat the sea monster, he rushed in with his iron rod trying to club the sea monster’s head. The sea monster retreated back into the water and escaped.
The Monkey King now suggested getting help from Kuan Yin. So, he somersaulted to the Southern Ocean where he found Kuan Yin at the the Purple Bamboo Grove beside Mount Potalaka. The Monkey King told KuanYin about the sea monster. Kuan Yin told him that the sea monster was placed there waiting to help the scripture-seeking Master. With Kuan Yin’s help, the sea monster came out of the water. He became Sandy Monk and joined them in the quest for the scriptures.
The seasons and the years passed. New adventures provided new learning experiences. The Master and his disciples were being tested in the hard realities of life and each had to master a task and to overcome a weakness. San Tsang had to gain the respect of his disciples; the Monkey King was responsible for the Master’s safety; Pig King had to take care of the white horse; and Sandy Monk was in charge of the luggage.
Sometimes the traveling companions fought with one another, and that’s when they revealed their weaknesses. The Monkey King was always impatient; Pig King was jealous of the Monkey King’s easy job; Sandy Monk preferred to take it easy and not work hard; and the Master, San Tsang, had many mortal limitations.
One day they came to the summit of a peak and saw an unexpected red glow on the distant horizon. They had traveled to a volcano. They were blocked by the Flaming Mountain. A business man came to tell the Monkey King that the only way to pass is to extinguish the volcano using a magic fan belonging to Princess Iron Fan.
Princess Iron Fan, who was angry with the Monkey King for having sent her son to be a disciple of Kuan Yin, refused to lend him the fan. A fight between them broke out. Failing to snatch the magic fan, the MonkeyKing turned himself into a bee and followed Princess Iron Fan into her place. When the Princess was ready to drink from a cup of tea, the Monkey King leapt into the cup and was swallowed by the Princess. Tumbling inside her and causing terrible stomach pains, the Monkey King forced the Princess to relent and lent him the magic fan.
The Monkey King at once waved the fan and the flames went out; he waved the fan a second time and a cool breeze started to stir; and when he fanned a third time a gentle rain began to fall. The Monkey King returned the fan to the Princess after she granted the local deity his wish to put out the fires permanently. The following morning, San Tsang and his disciples continued their journey over the mountain westward.