AND THE JOURNEY TO THE WEST (3)
The Journey (Continued)
After 14 years of traveling, one day, San Tsang and his disciples approached a skyward-towering pagoda. A young monk emerged to greet them. The Monkey King whispered, “Master, it is the Golden-Crested Immortal of Spirit Mountain.” The young monk smiled as San Tsang kowtowed (bowed low). He led San Tsang and his disciples inside for tea and a vegetarian meal. The next morning, the young monk showed them the path behind the temple. He pointed to a peak in the distance and told them to go in that direction. That is Spirit Vulture Peak, the holy region of Buddha.
They had gone about five or six miles when they came to a turbulent body of water that was at least 8 miles across. San Tsang and his disciples were not sure how to get across. Just then, San Tsang caught sight of a boatman coming their way. When the boat pulled up to shore, San Tsang was shocked to see a boat with no bottom. The Monkey King who knew the boatman’s real identity, reassured his Master that the boat would carry them safely across. So, they got into the boat and shoved off. All at once they saw a body floating downstream. San Tsang stared in terrified disbelief at the body. “Don’t worry, Master, ” said the Monkey King. “It’s only you.” All the others cheered and celebrated their Master’s achievement of discarding his earthly body. San Tsang wasgetting close to attain an enlightenment.
When San Tsang and his disciples passed through the monastery gates of Spirit Mountain, they were received by two rows of monks and guardians. When they reached the Great Hero Treasure Hall of Western Pureland, SanTsang prostrated himself and said, “By the order of the Emperor of Tang Dynasty, your disciple Shuan-Chuang has come to this monastery to get Three Bundles of Scriptures, or San Tsang (Tripitaka: Sutra, Vinaya, Shastra).”
Kuan Yin appeared to congratulate San Tsang and his disciples for going through 81 ordeals and reaching Immortality. Buddha commanded Three Bundles of Scriptures to be given to San Tsang. After their short stay listening to Buddha‘s lecture of his teachings, Buddha ordered eight guardians to transport San Tsang and his disciples with Three Bundles of Scriptures back to the Eastern lands. (Note: Nine times nine equals 81. In Chinese, the number “nine” and “long time” share the same pronunciation “jiou.” So, the double of “long time” signifies immortality.)
The elders of the village established a shrine called Life-Perpetuating Temple to show gratitude to San Tsang and his disciples. They also invited San Tsang and his disciples to their homes and offered them with a vegetarian meal. That night San Tsang kept guard over the scriptures, he feared that the villagers might try to get the scriptures from him. So, he woke his disciples and told them they needed to leave while it was still dark. They sneaked out the main gate and were soon traveling once again toward the Eastern Lands.
When San Tsang and his disciples returned to the homeland, Chang-An Cheng (or Chang-An City), Emperor Tang Tai-Chong ordered the scriptures to be brought into the Audience Hall. San Tsang told the Emperor about their journey to India. When the Emperor asked to have the scriptures read, San Tsang said they needed to be read in a holy temple. So they all went to the Wild Goose Pagoda to hear the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism being read for the first time in China. And, San Tsang was named Venerable Master San Tsang by the Emperor.
During the reading, San Tsang began with Buddha‘s saying: “We all have the Buddha Nature and we all posses the seeds for full enlightenment,” and heemphasized the Six Harmony that lead to enlightenment as follows: Harmony of Views, Harmony of Morality, Harmony of Benefits, Harmony of aims, Harmony of Speech, and Harmony of Being.
Countless people, including the Emperor, took refuge in the Triple Gem (i.e. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) in a ceremony conducted by Master San Tsang.
“I take refuge in the Buddha,
wishing all sentient beings understand the Dharma and make the supreme vows.
I take refuge in the Dharma,
wishing all sentient beings study the sutras diligently and obtain prajna wisdom.
I take refuge in the Sangha,
wishing all sentient beings lead the public in harmony with no obstruction.”
The deeper meanings of taking refuge in the Triple Gem are as follows:
“We become the students of the Buddha; we will accomplish good things; we will increase our merits and virtues; we will have the opportunity to meet many good people, including the Sangha community (monks and nuns); we lay the foundation for our moral and spiritual growth; and we will be on the path to becoming a Buddha ourselves.”
Today, the Buddha is a symbol of universal peace, the Dharma is a symbol of healing and transformation, and the Sangha is a symbol of living in harmony.
Buddha rewarded San Tsang and his disciples new titles according to their merits as follows:
San Tsang, who was apure person with full awakening in the enlightened mind,became the Buddha of the Purest Merit.
Pig King and Sandy Monk removed their negative attitudes, developed positive ones, and conquered illusion. Both of them became golden-bodied Arhats .
The white horse became the Dragon Prince one more.
The Monkey King’s cap got disappeared by itself and became the Buddha of Striver. His mind was calm with a deep understanding of Emptiness , which is the ultimate nature of all beings and phenomena. He obtained full liberation and enlightenment, and became a true Buddha.
Tripitaka: Buddhist canon. The Buddha’s teachings form a canon known as the Tripitaka, or “three bundles,” or “three divisions” as follows :
1. The Sutra Division: Spoken for the study of Samadhi (or inner serenity, concentration);
2. The Vinaya Division: Spoken for the study of morality; and
3. The Shastra Division: Spoken for the study of wisdom.
There are two major sets of Tripitaka or canon: The Theravada canon written in Pali, and the Mahayana canon written in Sanskrit and preserved in Chinese and Tibetan. The Mahayana canon includes all the texts of the Theravada canon in addition to its own sutras and commentaries.
I am pleased to present to you my version of “THE MONKEY KING AND THE JOURNEY TO THE WEST,”whichbrought back my fond memories when I was a kid reading the comic books about the stories. For those of you who are familiar with the story will find something new in my version. The whole story is too long to be included here. However, if you are interested in reading the whole novel, either borrow it from your local library or visit other websites which have the complete stories.