Unformatted text preview: The Monkey & the Monk THE Monkey & THE Monk
TheJourney to the west Translated and Edited by Anthony C. Yu THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS Chicago & London ANT H 0 NYC. YU is the Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service
Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at the University of Chicago,
where he held appointments in the Divinity School and in the
departments of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, English, and
Comparative Literature, and served on the Committee on Social
Thought. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637
The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London
© 2006 by The University of Chicago
This is a revised abridgment of TheJourney to The West originally
published in four volumes, © 1977, 1978, 1980, 1983 by The
University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 2006
Printed in the United States of America
14 13 12 II 10 09 08 07 06
ISBN-I0: 12 3 4 S 978-0-226-971SS-1 (cloth)
0-226-971S6-2 (paper) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Wu, Cheng'en, ca. IS0o-ca. IS 82.
[Xi you ji. English Selections.]
The monkey and the monk : a revised abridgment of the
journey to the west / translated and edited by Anthony C. Yu.
ISBN 0-226-971SS-4 (cloth: alk. paper)ISBN 0-226-971S6-2 (pbk. : alk. paper)
I. Yu, Anthony C., 1938- II. Title.
20060n826 @ The paper used in this publication meets the minimum
requirements of the American National Standard for Information
Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,
ANSI Z39.48- 1992. ForJames E. Miller}Jr.} MichaelJ. Murrin} Edward Wasiolek}
and} in memoriam} Wayne C. Booth CONTENTS Preface ix I The divine root being conceived} the origin appears;
The moral nature cultivated} the Great Dao is born. 2 Havingfully awakened to Bodhi}s wondrous truths}
Cut Mara} return to the root} andfuse the primal spirit. 19 3 The Four Seas and the Thousand Mountains all bow to submit;
From Nineftld Darkness ten species} names are removed. 35 4 Appointed as a Bima} how could he be content?;
Named Equal to Heaven} he}s still unpacified. 51 5 Disrupting the Peach Festival} the Great Sage steals elixir;
With revolt in Heaven} many gods try to seize thefiend. 67 6 Guanyin} attending the banquet} inquires into the affair;
The Little Sage} exerting his power} subdues the Great Sage. 82 7 From the Eight Trigrams Brazier the Great Sage escapes;
Beneath the Five Phases Mountain} Mind Monkey is stilled. 97 8 Our Sovereign Buddha makes scriptures to impart ultimate bliss;
Guanyin receives the decree to go up to Chang}an. III 9 Chen Guangrui} going to his post} meets disaster;
Monk River Float} avenging his parents} repays their kindness. 128 10 The Old Dragon King} infoolish schemes} transgresses Heaven}s decrees; 143
Prime Minister Wei sends a letter to an official of the dead. II Having toured the Underworld} Taizong returns to life;
Having presented melons andfruits} Liu Q!!an marries again. 160 12 The Tang emperor}firm in sincerity} convenes the Grand Mass;
Guanyin} revealing herself, converts Gold Cicada. 178 13 In the Den of Tigers} the Gold Star brings deliverance; At Double-Fork Ridge} Boqin detains the monk. I 203 14 Mind Monkey returns to the Right; 217 The Six Robbers vanishfrom sight.
15 At Serpent Coil Mountain, the gods give secret protection; 234 At Eagle Grief Stream, the Horse of the Will is reined.
16 At the Guanyin Hall the Tang monk escapes his ordeal; 248 At the Gao Village the Great Sage disposes of the monster.
17 At Cloudy Paths Cave, Wukong takes in Bajie; 259 At Pagoda Mountain, Tripitaka receives the Heart Satra.
18 Bajiefights fiercely at the Flowing-Sand River; 275 Mok$a by order receives Wujing's submission.
19 Tripitaka does notforget his origin; 289 The Four Sages test the priestly mind. of the cart;
The mind, righting monstrous deviates, crosses the spine-ridge pass. 20 The dharma-body in primary cycle meets theforce 305 21 At the Three Pure Ones Temple the Great Sage leaves his name; 321 At the Car Slow Kingdom the Monkey King reveals his power.
22 Heresyflaunts its strength to mock orthodoxy; 338 Mind Monkey shows his saintliness to slay the deviates.
23 The Chan Master, takingfood, is demonically conceived; 355 Yellow Hag brings water to dissolve the perverse pregnancy.
24 Dharma-nature, going west, reaches the Women Nation; 370 Mind Monkey devises aplan toflee thefair sex.
25 Deviantform makes lustful playfor Tripitaka Tang; 386 Upright nature saftguards the uncorrupted self.
26 The true Pilgrim lays bare his woes at Mount Potalaka; 401 Thefalse Monkey King transcribes documents at Water-Curtain Cave.
27 Two Minds cause disturbance in the great cosmos; 416 It's hardfor one substance to reach Pe':ftct Rest.
28 Priests are hard to destroy-that's great awakening; 431 The Dharma-kingpe':ftcts the right, his body's naturalized.
29 Only when ape and horse are tamed will shells be cast; 449 With merit and work pe':ftcted, they see the Real.
30 Nine times nine ends the count and Mara's all destroyed; 466 The work of three times three done, the Dao reverts to its root.
31 They return to the Land of the East; The Five Sages attain immortality. 480 PREFACE The skeletal plot of The Journey to the West (Chin. Xiyouji) was based on
the famous pilgrimage of the priest Xuanzang (S96?-664 CE), who traveled overland from Tang China to distant India in quest of additional
Buddhist scriptures, the doctrines of which were deemed canonical to his
particular division of the faith. His furtive departure from his homeland
in defiance of an explicit proscription by the Tang Emperor Taizong (ca.
600-649, r. 626-649) against travel through the western frontiers at the
time rendered him liable to criminal arrest and execution, but he fared
much better on his return. The protracted and arduous journey lasting
nearly seventeen years (627-644) won him the scriptures he desired no
less than immediate imperial recognition and patronage. Installed by the
emperor in the western Tang capital of Chang'an (the modern Xi'an), the
pilgrim spent the remaining twenty years of his life as a master translator
of Indic Buddhist texts. Together with his collaborators recruited by the
imperium throughout the empire, he gave to the Chinese people in their
own language seventy-five volumes or 1,341 scrolls of Buddhist writings,
surpassing the accomplishment of any scripture translator in Chinese history before or since. To this day, the sites (e.g., the Big Wild-Goose Pagoda,
the Xuanzang Crematorium Pagoda) and relics of his devoted labor as a
cleric of the court can still be enjoyed by tourists of xi'an.
Although the priest was by no means the only person who undertook
such a lengthy peregrination in the cause of Buddhist piety, the records
and accounts of his experience (by himself and his disciples after his death)
encountered in Central Asia and in India made Xuanzang one of the most
celebrated religious personalities in Chinese history. His own privations
and sufferings during the sojourn on the Silk Road and beyond, his religious activities during each stage thereof, his irrepressible spiritual commitment and stupendous scholastic accomplishments, and the immensity
of imperial favor finally bestowed all combined to transform him into a X PREFACE cultural hero. The profile of this hero's story in the popular and literary
imagination, however, quickly departed from known historical record and
events and took on characteristics all its own. Told likely by mouth and also
by writing over a period of almost a millennium and in various media-the
fragments, the short poetic tales, short prose fiction, developed dramas, and
longer works of prose fiction-the final version that appeared as one of
the proverbial four masterworks of the Ming novel had changed from the
exploits of a human monk to a pilgrimage narrative fashioned as itinerant
adventure, fantasy, humor, social and political satire, and serious allegory
built on intricate religious syncretism. There are three significant elements
in this fictive transformation of the scripture-seeking journey.
The first concerns the protagonist's personal history and disposition.
In complete contrast to the historical character's attested background and
experience, the account of the fictive Xuanzang evolving through dramatic
and religious texts (e.g., the various "precious scrolls" appearing in late
Ming times) tells of someone born and raised from the coastal region of
Southeastern China. Abandoned at birth by a widowed mother abducted
and raped by a bandit, the infant was raised by a Buddhist abbot and,
upon reaching adulthood, succeeded in avenging a father's murder and
a mother's disgrace. As told in chapters 8-13 of the present novel, Buddhist "providence" assumes a crucial role in so shaping events that they
would lead eventually to the Tang emperor's selection ofXuanzang as the
scripture seeker. In this rewriting of history, the intensely personal zeal
of a plebian priest will be displaced by different motivations undergirding
such an enormous enterprise : Buddha's compassionate wisdom in offering
scriptures as a salvific gift to unenlightened, sinful Chinese in the Land of
the East counterpoints the fictive pilgrim's religious devotion and political
loyalism (to imperial mandate and favors). Whereas the historicaljourney
began as a secret, transgressive act of a pious zealot, the fictive pilgrimage
was foreordained by Buddha, superintended throughout by Guanyin (the
most popular Goddess of Mercy in Chinese religions), and enthusiastically
commissioned by the Tang emperor.
The second distinctive feature in the fictionalizing process appears when
the priest took for a disciple a monkey figure, an animal guardian-attendant
who was also endowed with enormous intelligence and magical powers.
Though this figure's association with the pilgrim could already be found in
snippets of verse as early as the twelfth century and in further development
thereafter in narrative form, it remains for the hundred-chapter novel of
late Ming to endow this simian character with its grandest and most attractive delineation. The importance aSSigned to Xuanzang's chief disciple may PREFACE xi be seen in the fact that fully seven chapters at the beginning are devoted
to relating Sun Wukong's birth and development, his training and attainment in esoteric Daoist self-cultivation, his daring exploits throughout
Heaven and Hell that climax in his wreaking horrific havoc at the Celestial
Palace-episodes that not only read like those of an independent tale by
itself but also have been adapted in fact as such in Beijing opera and other
dramatic media. Once converted to Buddhism after having been subdued
and imprisoned by Buddha himself, Sun eventually became Xuanzang's
most able and devoted disciple. The monkey's restless intelligence, martial
and magical prowess, and almost boundless resourcefulness have reminded
many a modern Chinese and foreign reader of another simian hero across
cultures: Hanumat of the great Indian epic Ramayatta, attributed to the
poet Valmiki. Scholarship of the I920S to the I980s has equivocated on
direct linkage of the two stories because decisive information on textual
or historical influence was at first lacking. More recent research, however,
has gradually but firmly uncovered possible references to various aspects
of the Rama story in major Buddhist texts that had been widely circulated
since their translation into Chinese. Moreover, astonishing parallels in details of description and plot in various episodes beyond mere similarity of
characterization of the two monkeys (courage and prowess in battle, ability
to fly, the tendency to attack their enemies through their bellies) have thus
led others to doubt posited coincidence as an adequate explanation.
As Xuanzang embarked on his pilgrimage, his circle was then enlarged
to encompass the fictive human priest and four disciples: the monkey, a
half-human and half-pig comic (actually a Daoist god exiled from Heaven),
a reformed cannibal (another Daoist pariah), and a delinquent dragon-horse
as the priest's transportation. This sharp contrast between known history
and the full-length novel also marks the third distinctive development in
the journey's fictionalization. Whereas the former is constituted by the
dedicated efforts of a lone human devotee, the latter represents the combined exertion of a community of invented figures that, in turn, may be
construed variously in the story-as different aspects of a single personality, as different constitutive elements of a process (an interior journey in
quest of moral self-cultivation, spiritual enlightenment, or physical longevity through alchemy), or as different kinds of individuals in a society.
The world of this community, moreover, spans the entire cosmos, natural
and supernatural, generated by the multicultural religious imaginaire of
Structured throughout the long tale, the ubiquitous but unobtrusive
voice of the narrator in fact provides a running, reflexive commentary- xii PREFACE usually through interpolated verse of many varieties and the brief prose
introductions to new episodes-and gently reminds the reader of allegory's
possible presence even within the fun-filled and lively depictions of cosmic battles, fantastic beings, bizarre experiences, and extraordinary feats
of mental and physical bravura. To craft a story radically different from a
synopsis of Buddhist history, the author has apparently made extensive use
of the idioms and terminologies stemming from both the Daoist canon and
an amorphous movement commonly known as "Three Religions as One
(sanjiao guiyi or heyi)" that began to flourish in medieval Song China and
gained widespread adherence in late imperial times among official elites,
merchants, clerics of different regions, and the general populace. As articulated frequently and perhaps most pointedly in fiction and fiction commentaries of the Ming-Q!..ng periods, the movement's syncretic discourse
was verily a hermeneutics of fusion, wherein the widely disparate concepts
and categories of traditional Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism were
deliberately harmonized and unified. That this discourse was intimately
known to our novel's author could be seen in lines of poetry describing
a lecture by Subodhi (chapter 2), the religiously ambiguous master who
first transmitted to the Monkey King the secrets of immortality and other
magic powers: For a while he lectured on Dao;
For a while he spoke on ChanTo harmonize the Three Schools is a natural thing.
The Three Schools or Lineages (sanjia) here, of course, refer to a standard
name of the three religious traditions. Another and even more decisive
indication of such syncretism may be found in the very mouth of Buddha,
who proclaimed at the novel's beginning (chapter 8) that his scriptures
were "for the cultivation of immortality and the gate to ultimate virtue."
Repeated at the end (chapters 28, 29 in the present edition) and in more
expansive form, the scriptures also became "the mirror of our [Buddhist]
faith ... the source of the Three Religions." Such remarks would surely
astonish real Buddhists, both historical and contemporary.
Who was the author of this narrative of such imaginative magnitude
and complexity? Neither a pseudonymous editor nor the named publisher
and preface writer associated with the full-length, hundred-chapter version printed in Nanjing in 1592 (generally regarded as the earliest authentic
version) had provided even the merest clue to this question. Chinese scholars from the early decades of the twentieth century had begun to focus on
the minor late-Ming official, Wu Cheng'en (ca. 1500-1582), as a likely candidate on the grounds that Wu was a skillful and versatile lyriC poet (thus PREFACE xiii answerable to the estimated seventeen hundred-plus poems of all genres
and styles enshrined in the narrative), was fond of writings and myths on
the uncanny and the strange, had a reputation for excelling in satirical and
humorous compositions, and was a native of the southeast coastal region
of Huai'an, the peculiar dialect(s) of which had supplied the narrative with
a huge amount of colloquial expressions apparent to readers since the seventeenth century. Most important of all, the Gazetteer ojHuaiJan Prefecture,
compiled in the period of the Ming Tianqi reign (1621-1627), listed after
Wu's name several works, among which, prominently, the title Xiyouji appeared, although no student of the novel since then had any clear notion
as to what kind of work this Journey to the West was.
These arguments for Wu's authorship, certainly not to be ignored, have
failed to win universal assent, and they have been repeatedly questioned
by both modern Japanese and European scholarship. More recently, some
Chinese scholars have turned once more to probing the history of certain
branches of syncretic Daoism for possible hints of the novel's authorial
identity and the context of its production. Despite anonymity in authorship, the novel since its publication has not only enjoyed vast readership
among Chinese people of all regions and social strata, but its popularity
has also continued to spread to other peoples and lands in the last four
centuries through increased translation, adaptation in different media (illustrated books, comics, plays, Beijing and other regional operas, shadow
puppet plays, radio shows, film, TV serialization, and reportedly even
a contemporary Western opera in the making), and rewriting (e.g., by
Timothy Mo, Maxine Hong Kingston, Mary Zimmerman, and David
Henry Hwang in England and the United States).
My labor on The Journey to the West, begun in 1970, was doubly motivated: to rectify the acclaimed but distorted picture provided by Arthur
Waley'sjustly popular abridgment, l and to redress an imbalance of criticism
championed by Dr. Hu Shi, the Chinese scholar-diplomat who supplied
the British translator with an influential preface. Therein, Hu asserted that
"freed from all kinds of allegorical interpretations by Buddhist, Taoist,
and Confucianist commentators, Monkey is simply a book of good humor,
profound nonsense, good-natured satire, and delightful entertainment."2
My own encounter with this marvelous work since childhood, under the
kind but skillful tutelage of my late Grandfather, who used Journey as a
I. See Monkey: Folk Novel of China by Wu Ch'eng-en, trans. Arthur Waley (New
York: Grove Press, 1943).
2. Ibid., 5. xiv PREFACE textbook for teaching me Chinese during the terrible years of the SinoJapanese war on the mainland, had long convinced me that this narrative
was nothing if not one of the world's most finely wrought allegories.
The thirteen years of studying and translating the text together with the
subsequent decades of teaching it at Chicago and elsewhere have also made
me a happy witness to the new turns in scholarly research and interpretation. The distantly collaborative result of our studies has made it clear that
religion is not only crucial to the novel's conception and formation, but
also that its nearly unique embodiment in this work need not clash with
"good humor, profound nonsense, good-natured satire, and delightful
My completion of the first plenary and annotated English translation of
Journey in 1983,3 however, was not spared from spawning its own ironies.
No sooner had all four volumes of the work appeared than friends and
colleagues far and near began complaining about its unwieldy length and
impractical size-for general readers no less than for use in the classroom.
After years of resistance to their plea for a shorter edition, I have now
reached the conclusion that Professor Waley might also have had a valid
perspective, although my present abridgment continues my attempt to
differ from his ve...
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