Episode 120: Journey To The West 3 – Searching For The Truth

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Today we will keep talking about stories from the book Journey to the West 西游记. Last time in Episode 91, we talked about the monkey King left his home – Mountain of Flowers and Fruits 花果山 and traveled over the seas and continents for years to learn to be immortal to escape the doom of death. He met the Patriarch Subodhi who became his master and gave him the name Sun WuKong 孙悟空. WuKong means aware of vacuity.

The monkey king was so satisfied with his new name. The Subodhi ordered this pupils to take the monkey to the outer room and teach him how to sprinkle and dust, the rules to come in and out and the proper way to talk. In the morning, they studied together that they practiced speech and discussed doctrine, writing, burning incense. In the leisure times, they cleaned the house and garden, plant flowers and trim the trees. Getting wood and lighting the fire. So he lived in the cave like this for 6 ~ 7 years.

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One day, the Patriarch summoned all his pupils and began a lecture on the great Way. The monkey was excited and delighted by what he heard and started to tweak his ears and rub his cheeks like a monkey. He couldn’t help himself from dancing. The Patriarch caught the sight of him and asked, “what are you doing? You jump and dance instead of listening carefully?” The monkey said, “I am listening with all my heart. Your wonderful words are so enlightened that I couldn’t contain myself for joy. Please forgive me.” The Patriarch asked, “so you understand the profundity of my words. How long have you been here?” “I am silly enough to notice the seasons. All I remember is when I got firewood in the back mountain, I found a whole slope covered by peach trees. I have eaten my fill of eating the peaches for 7 times.” “If you have eaten 7 times of peaches, I suppose you have been here for 7 years. What sort of wisdom are you expecting to learn from me?” said the Patriarch. “Any sort. It depends on you master.” answered the monkey.

“There are 360 schools of wisdom” said the Patriarch, “and all of them lead to the self-attainment. What about Shu 术? ” “What sort of wisdom is that?” asked the monkey. “You would be able to summon fairies and ride the phoenix. By shuffling the yarrow stalks and know how to avoid disaster and pursue good fortunes.” The monkey asked , “Will I live forever?” “Certainly not.” “No.No. I wouldn’t learnt that ” answered the monkey.

“How about the wisdom of Liu 流. It means the natural philosophy like the teaching of Confucius, of Buddha, of Taoism, of MoZi. Read scriptures and learn how to have sages at your beck and call.” explained the Partriarch. “But would I live forever?” asked the monkey. “I am afraid philosophy is no better than a prop in the wall. “ “I am a plain, simple man. What do you mean by a prop in the wall?” “When men are building a house, they put a pillar to prop up the wall. But one day when the house falls, the pillar rots.” “That doesn’t sound like being immortal. No. No. I wouldn’t learn that” answered the monkey.

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“How about the wisdom of Jing 静? Quietism requires inactivity, meditation, restraint of words and deeds,yoga practiced prostrate or standing. ” “But would I live forever?” asked the monkey. “The results of Quietism is no better than unbaked clay in the kiln. ” “I am a plain, simple man. What do you mean by unbaked clay in the kiln?” “The bricks and tiles may look shaped and ready. But if they have not yet baked in the fire, there will be a day when heavy rain falls and they would collapse.” “No. No. I wouldn’t learn that” answered the monkey.

“How about the wisdom of Dong 动. Movement requires various forms of activity like gathering the Yin and Yang, drawing the bow and treading the catapult. There are chemical practices such as the magical explosion, burning the reeds, strike the tripod, promote red lead and melt and autumn stone.” “Would I live forever?” asked the monkey. “This way is no better than trying the catch the moon out of the water.” “Not again!” said the monkey, “please explain what do you mean by that.” “The moon in the water is the reflection of the moon in the sky. It looks like the real thing but is is only an illusion.” “No. No. I wouldn’t learn that” answered the monkey.

The Patriarch jumped down from the platform and pointed at the monkey with a knuckle-rapper, saying”you wretched simian! You wouldn’t learn this or that. What do you want to do?”as he struck the monkey over the head three times. Then he left the room dismissing the whole room of audience and lock the door behind him.

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西游记 Journey to the West

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