Work Header

Mother of Wood Deludes the Monk into Binding the Mind-Ape / Guanyin Puts Her Face in Her Hand

Work Text:

The story tells how soon after they had set out, master and disciples found themselves in another wilderness. It was uninhabited and entirely wild, as is proven by the following poem:

Ten-thousand-foot crags cast shadows like night,
Overgrown trees shut out the day.
A jungle so tangled wood-doves cannot roost,
A forest so foul even rats stay away.
Vultures grow gaunt with nothing to eat.
The wolf pack starves for lack of prey.
Each direction a journey into darkness,
Every step a losing of the way.

The vegetation was so thick and tangled that even Pig with his nine-pronged iron rake couldn't hack through it -- only Monkey's gold-banded as-you-will cudgel was heavy enough smash down trees and flatten thickets to hew a rough path for them, and even that was hard going for him. By late afternoon, Monkey was tired and hungry. After tripping over the stumps and stubble while carrying their baggage over his shoulder, Pig was tired as well, and still more hungry -- and even Friar Sand had started stumbling. Finally the Monk Sanzang reined in his white horse and called a halt. "It is time to think about dinner."

"Finally," said Pig, dropping the baggage to rub his stubbed toes, "I'm starved." "Yes, but you always are," said Friar Sand from the broken log on which he rested, "more to the point, even I'm hungry." "It's all very well to talk about food," said Monkey, "but as the saying goes, 'wishes don't make horses.' We're miles and miles away from anyone we could buy food from, let alone beg it." "We would all be fine if Monkey here hadn't gotten us lost," said Pig maliciously, who resented the state of his toes. "We're not lost, idiot," retorted Monkey, "we're heading west, as you could see for yourself if you weren't too lazy to hop up on a cloud and check the direction of the sun." "Never mind that," said Sanzang, "we're still hungry and need food." "Since Monkey's the one who led us very far away from any anyone else, he should be the one to get it," insisted Pig. Sanzang agreed.

Monkey, however, was tired enough he wanted to rest few more minutes first. "But it's pointless! There's no one for scores and scores of miles around." "You barbarian, don't go disrespecting our master," said Pig. Sanzang was tired enough to be cranky and hungry enough to be short-tempered, and so easily swayed by Pig's words. "You are indeed being willfully disobedient," he told Monkey, and recited the Band-tightening Spell three times. "Ouch, ouch, ouch, my head!" cried Monkey as he rolled on the ground in pain, "I'll go! I'll go!" Convinced that Monkey would obey him again, Sanzang released the spells.

As Monkey dusted off his kilt, he said, "There was no need to do that. I'll go look for food, but don't be surprised if I can't find any." And with that, Monkey mounted a cloud and rose up in the air. High above the tree-tops he looked hard in all directions with his fiery eyes, but all he saw was

Barren peaks to the north,
Broken rocks to the south,
Impenetrable wilds to the west,
A rugged trail to the east;
Above, empty sky;
Below, dense wilderness:
Not a sign of habitation,
Nothing resembling civilization.

He looked around a second time, but still found nothing but deserted wilderness as far as he could see -- not a whiff of rising smoke nor glint of light off a rooftop. And so he hopped back to the ground. "There's nothing at all here -- not even an evil spirit or ogre to defeat and take food from." "But then how will we eat?" asked Sanzang. "He's clearly lying," said Pig, "it's impossible that there's nothing at all. He must have seen something that's further away than he wants to bother with, the lazy brute." "Shut up, you blockhead," retorted Monkey, "you know nothing about it." But Friar Sand nodded, "Brother Pig is right -- Elder Brother gets the most flustered when someone sees he's hiding something." "I do not!" protested Monkey, stung by the accusation.

But Sanzang was irritated enough by the delay that he agreed with Pig, and berated Monkey. "Go find us some food at once. Sloth is a sin, as is disobedience. Doesn't the saying go, 'If someone teaches you for a day, treat them as your master for a lifetime'?" "But Master," Monkey started to say, but Sanzang interrupted him, "No more arguments, you sluggard," and he recited the Band-tightening Spell thirty-three times. Monkey rolled on the ground, writhing in pain. "Ow, ow, ow! I'll go! I'll go!" Convinced that Monkey would obey him again, Sanzang released the spells.

Monkey staggered as he got up, and dusted off his kilt. "There was no need to do that. I'll go find you some food, but don't be surprised if it takes me a while." And with that, Monkey mounted a cloud and rose up high in the air. He looked all around again, harder than before, but again there was not a sign of habitation. So Monkey reached behind himself and pulled out twelve of his hairs, blew on them, said "Change!" and turned them into a dozen copies of himself, which he sent off in all twelve directions. Then he settled down on his cloud to rest while he waited.

After a while, the first of his hairs returned, saying it had found someone. Monkey leapt onto another cloud, leaving his hair behind to tell the others when they returned, and somersaulted away to beg for dinner. He traveled a long ways before finding a rude hunter's shelter erected just beyond edge of the deepest wilderness, where the trees and vines opened out just enough one could call it merely a very thick jungle. Monkey landed his cloud across the small clearing from the hut and called out a greeting. Someone came out from behind the hut, and he was

A man skinny and lean like a rope draped over bones
Dressed in clothes that had worn through the patches;
Pelts of martins and otters hung in layers from his belt:
A huntsman making his living from the furs of his catches.

Although he lived outside the most impenetrable wilderness, the forest was still dense enough that very little game could live there and he barely caught enough to eat. But even accounting for this, he looked like he was starving.

But having come this far, Monkey bowed and said, "My name is Sun the Novice. My master, the Tang Monk, is traveling to the West to worship the Buddha and retrieve the scriptures, and we are in need of vegetarian food." "I would gladly give you half of what I have that is not meat," said the poor huntsman, "but it is lies beneath Essential Stone Member." Monkey was surprised to meet a Taoist in a wilderness that had no caves, but he'd met Taoists in stranger places. More problematic was that he could not remember from his Taoist studies what you might place an Essential Stone Member on top of, or even what spell used one at all. "I can see how that might be a problem," said Monkey. "Yes," said the huntsman, "I was stretching pelts out to dry in the sun, and I accidentally bumped Holder Up of Heaven, and Essential Stone Member fell onto Earthly Female Chamber, entirely covering it up." "Ah, the Earthly Female Chamber -- of course, of course," said Monkey, for he had realized that this man had been alone for a very long time and gone a little bit queer in the head -- an occupational hazard of Taoists, to be sure. "And Earthly Female Chamber," said the huntsman, "is where Treasure of Pearly Seed stays, you see?" "Of course," said Monkey as polite as could be. He now understood the huntsman had in fact gone quite mad from loneliness, and there was nothing for it but to humor him long enough to be polite and then leave. "After all," he thought to himself, "as the saying goes, 'By helping the feeble-minded, you achieve great merit'."

The huntsman said, "So if you could help me move Essential Stone Member, I could make dinner and give you some." "Certainly, I'd be glad to help you move your Essential Stone Member," said Monkey. "It's not my Essential Stone Member," said the huntsman, "it was here when I arrived." "I beg your pardon," said Monkey smoothly, "I carelessly misspoke." "It's over here," said the huntsman, leading Monkey around the hut to a big boulder. Next to it lay a length of wood with one end broken into splinters over a rock set as a fulcrum next to the much larger boulder. On the hillside above, the vegetation had a hole the size of the boulder. Monkey put two and two together and pointed. "This would be the Essential Stone Member?" "Exactly," said the huntsman, who picked up the broken wood and added, "and this is Holder Up of Heaven, which unfortunately got a bit bent on Jade Axis of the World. Holder Up of Heaven just hasn't been the same since I accidentally kicked it."

Monkey smiled. "Not to worry, my good man -- I'll relieve you of your Essential Stone Member in no time at all." And with that, Monkey shook his gold-banded as-you-will cudgel, and it became a long pole that he propped on Jade Axis of the World. Even with his great strength, however, he had to pull and push and pull again to move the massive boulder. Underneath where it had rested was the wooden lid of a storage jar buried in the ground. Monkey pointed at it and asked, "Earthly Female Chamber?" "Of course not," said the huntsman, "that's Veil of Earthly Treasures." "Ah, I see," said Monkey faintly, thrown off again. The huntsman lifted the wooden lid to reveal the open mouth of the jar, and said, "This is Earthly Female Chamber." "And inside it would be ... ?" prompted Monkey. The huntsman reached his skinny arm inside, groped about a moment, and pulled something out. "Treasure of Pearly Seed," said he, holding out a rice-bag that was, alas, mostly empty.

Indeed, it was growing more empty with every moment as white grains spilled out of a tear and onto the ground. Quick as a blink, Monkey stretched out his cupped hands under the hole, and caught the last few. "Oh dear," said the huntsman, "it looks like Earthly Female Chamber has swallowed the rest of the Pearly Seed." "No matter," said Monkey, and he reached inside the storage jar. Feeling around, he found the bottom covered with grains -- not much, to be sure, but enough to make a small meal. Monkey had the huntsman fetch some water, and they poured in just enough to cook the remaining rice. Then Monkey put the end of his pole into Earthly Female Chamber and recited a spell that turned it red-hot. He stirred his pole around to distribute the heat, and soon enough, the water was boiling. Before long, they had cooked the huntsman's last meal.

Using a ladle, they scooped out the rice, and the huntsman gave half of it to Monkey. In the end, it didn't come close to filling Monkey's begging bowl, but Monkey figured it would be enough to feed his master if no one else ate any. With many bows and mutual thanks for each other's aid, Monkey and the huntsman said farewell. Monkey returned to his first cloud, retrieved all his hairs that had gathered there, and jumped down to the ground.

For some time Pig had been complaining to Sanzang about the long wait for dinner, insisting over Friar Sand's protests that Monkey had abandoned them yet again. He had been at it long enough that Sanzang was taken in by his evil words as usual, so when Monkey returned the Monk was even more irritated than before. Before Monkey could say anything, he snapped, "Where have you been?" "Master," replied Monkey, "the only person I could find was hundreds and hundreds of miles away and very poor, and what he gave is enough for only you." He offered his bowl to Sanzang.

"What, is that all?" said Pig, who could have eaten it all in a single mouthful with nothing left over to pick out of the bowl, "you certainly don't seem to have put much effort into begging." "You might almost think he was lazy," said Friar Sand, who was also a little irked at going hungry. Sanzang frowned, but said nothing. "Lazy, nothing," retorted Monkey, "I worked hard for our master's dinner." "So hard you got us hardly anything," said Friar Sand. "He must have gotten a lot, but ate most of it himself," insisted Pig. "You imbecile," said Monkey, "just because you'd cheat our master like that doesn't mean anyone else would." Sanzang interrupted to order Monkey to account for his time away.

Monkey said, "I sent out my hairs as scouts in each of the twelve directions, and the only one to find anybody led me to a huntsman's hut. He was having household difficulties, but I helped resolve them, in return for which he gave me half of all he had. Indeed,

I pushed and pulled the Essential Stone Member,
Reached into the Earthly Female Chamber;
But the Treasurehouse released its load early,
And the Pearly Seed spilled on the ground.
With my pole in the Earthly Female Chamber
I stirred its contents till it came to fruition.
Half its offspring remained behind,
The other half gathered merit in my bowl.

And this is what I have for you." He felt quite pleased with himself for improvising a poem on the spot, even if it didn't rhyme properly.

Sanzang greeted this speech with an astonished silence. "Why it's plain as the snout on my face," said Pig, "Monkey's been spending his time in a brothel." "Shut up, moron," retorted Monkey, "I told you the truth." "Exactly," said Friar Sand, "and you should be ashamed of breaking your vows like that, and boasting of it as well." Even Sanzang's white horse snorted his disbelief at the story. "I broke nothing of the sort," protested Monkey, his voice all confidence. But inwardly, Monkey was confused. And do you know why? It was because he had not been born like the others, but rather hatched from a stone egg formed when the elements first separated from the primal chaos, and unlike his brother disciples he had never married before taking vows. He knew nothing of the language of a man and a maid, or the words of love. As a result, he did not hear what his companions had in his words.

That was enough to break Sanzang's astonishment. "Never before -- never have I heard you display such wickedness. You really are trapped in your evil ways, and will never reach Thunder Mountain if you do not reflect on your actions and repent." Before Monkey could protest his innocence again, Sanzang started reciting the Band-tightening Spell three hundred and thirty-three times. Monkey fell to the ground, writhing in agony. "Please stop, Master! I told you the truth!" But this only confirmed Sanzang's anger, and he continued reciting the spell. Monkey clutched the band around his head. "Master, please, I didn't do anything wrong!" But Sanzang kept reciting the spell over and over. Soon Monkey could do nothing but lay on the ground whimpering. Finally, after ninety-nine times, Sanzang got tired of repeating the spell and stopped. "I hope that's shown you the error of your ways."

Monkey did not answer, or even move.

Pig snorted. "He's faking it, of course. Say the spell again." "Wait, master, I think Elder Brother may really be hurt," said Friar Sand, bending over Monkey. He checked Monkey's vital nature, and announced, "He's not breathing." "That means nothing," said Pig, "he can hold his breath for three years." But Sanzang came over, starting to get concerned. "Can you revive him?" "I'm not that powerful," said Friar Sand. "But surely he can't be dead!" wailed Sanzang. "You killed him," said Pig, changing his tune. This only distressed Sanzang all the more, for as the reincarnation of Golden Cicada he had lived ten blameless lives without killing a living being.

"But what can we do about Eldest Brother?" asked Friar Sand. "We'll have to leave his body here and return home without him," said Pig. "Stop talking about giving up," said Friar Sand, "we're still going on." "But what will we do without Sun the Novice?" wailed Sanzang. "We don't need him," said Pig, "you have us to protect you." "And of course without Elder Brother we did so well protecting our master against Yellow Robe," Friar Sand reminded him, "and against Red Scorpion, and the time that goldfish -- " but Pig interrupted him, saying, "Never mind all that, Younger Brother, it's all our job now."

No soon had he spoken, they heard a wolf howl echo off the ten-thousand-foot crags, and moments later a dozen more answered. "How large must those wolves be," wondered Friar Sand, "to hear them this far into an impenetrable wilderness?" This made Sanzang, already quaking with remorse over killing Monkey, tremble in fear. "Never fear," added Pig, "the two of us can take care of a few wolves." Then they heard, as from a far distance, the growl of a great tiger followed by the snarl of a giant leopard. Sanzang cried out in fear, and Friar Sand hastened to hold him up. "Not to worry," said Pig, "luoluos, huihuis, wolves, monsters, tigers, and leopards are nothing to speak of." Then they heard the voice of a demon cry out that he smelled the blood of the Tang Priest, and he wanted revenge. At that, Friar Sand said, "That sounds like voice of the Gold Horn King. He must have escaped Lord Lao Zi again and returned to earth to find us." Sanzang collapsed in fear and the cowardly Pig began to quail, "We're doomed!" Even Friar Sand grew afraid.

"But what will we do without Sun the Novice?" wailed Sanzang. "We need the help of the Bodhisattva Guanyin," said Friar Sand. For hadn't the merciful bodhisattva always rescued them whenever there was trouble Monkey couldn't handle? "Yes!" exclaimed Sanzang. He clutched Friar Sand's arm and said, "You must go get her!" At that, Friar Sand grimaced and scratched the back of his head in embarrassment. "But Master, I don't know where she lives. It was Elder Brother who always went to petition for her help." Behind him, the white horse coughed, and Friar Sand felt his face redden. Sanzang turned to Pig and said, "Surely you know where the Bodhisattva lives?" Pig shook his head so his ears flapped. "That selfish Monkey kept that knowledge to himself, to make himself more important." Behind him, the white horse coughed again, but the shameless Pig reddened not one bit. "But then how can get Guanyin's help?" Sanzang asked. Behind him, the white horse coughed again, then shook himself and turned into a dragon.

Astonished, Pig stumbled backwards and fell on his buttocks. "Demons of all the hells, what is that?!" "Why Brother Pig," Friar Sand said, "don't you remember that the horse is really a dragon from the Western Sea who was punished for offending against the Heavenly Code by carrying our master to the West?" "Of course I do now," said Pig, "but it's been years since he's done anything but be a horse." "You haven't needed me," said the young dragon, "not with Elder Brother Monkey to rescue you all the time." "Does this mean you know where Guanyin lives?" asked Sanzang. The dragon bowed his head low and admitted he knew something of the way, having visited Potaraka Island once or twice with his father, the Dragon King of the West.

Sanzang blessed him and told him to hurry. Without wasting a moment, the dragon mounted a cloud and quickly flew off to the Southern Sea. See how he went!

Storm clouds parted for the departing dragon,
Mists of the air obeyed the prince's whim.
Rainbows arched beneath like leaping deer.
Halos circled his head as coiled sea-serpents swim.
His speed: ever quick;
His clouds: never dim.
The white horse went for help for his master
As fast as a racing boat skims over water.

Sanzang and his disciples could only marvel as they watched him disappear, leaving them behind to listen to the wolves, tigers, leopards, and the occasional demon's complaint about the thickness of the undergrowth. Every so often, Friar Sand checked Monkey, but his vital nature never revived. Finally, at the end of a night longer than the River of Heaven, the dragon returned with Guanyin.

As the Bodhisattva stepped off her propitious light, Sanzang and the others made their obeisances, dazzled by her divine beauty and endless mercy. Indeed,

Her hair is black clouds piled like coiling dragons;
Her embroidered girdle lightly sways, a phoenix wing;
Her gown of white silk is bathed with sacred light;
Her sandals of gold are shielded by propitious vapours.
Eyebrows like crescent moons, eyes a pair of stars,
A jade face of heavenly joy, scarlet lips a touch of red.
Wisdom fills her golden body,
Her understanding completes the four virtues.
She rescues the suffering when she hears their cries,
Infinitely divine and miraculous.

She looked around the small clearing that had been hacked out of the forest, took in Monkey's unmoving body and the state of the band she'd placed around his head, and raised one crescent-moon eyebrow. Before Sanzang could speak, she looked at him and said, "Nice job breaking it, hero."

"Blessed One?" said Sanzang, "I do not fully -- "

"Never mind," Guanyin said, "just tell me how you screwed up this time." And with a snap of her fingers, she cancelled the Band-tightening Spells.

Sanzang bowed again, and told his story. "It was growing late, so I sent Sun the Novice off to buy or beg food. He didn't want to go, however, claiming there wouldn't be anyone nearby, and I had to recite the Band-tightening Spell three times before he would leave. He came back quickly, however, claiming to have found exactly nobody for miles around. I was angered by his sloth, but he refused to try harder till I used the Band-tightening Spell thirty-three times. He left for a long time, and when he returned it was with very little food, barely enough for my own meager needs, let alone the rest of my disciples. When Novice Pig accused him of eating most of it, Sun the Novice denied it, and told us that he had found a poor huntsman who had, he claimed, given us half his stores. He then changed his story and claimed he had visited a brothel, and this was all that was left over. When I chastised him for breaking his vows, he insisted the story was true. This so angered me, I recited the spell ninety-nine times, after which he collapsed and now he isn't breathing."

Guanyin pinched the bridge of her nose. "Oh for -- " she started to say, then shook her head. "Monkey, in a whorehouse? Out in these boonies? What, did he pull one out his ass?" Before Sanzang could reply, she held up her hand. "Don't answer that. Just tell me what he actually said." Recalling Monkey's words only flustered the pure monk all the more. Friar Sand came to his rescue, however: "He told us he helped solve the poor huntsman's household problems by pushing and pulling the Essential Stone Member and reaching into the Earthly Female Chamber to stir it with his pole until the Treasurehouse released its Pearly Seed."

Guanyin blinked. "Well, that certainly is suggestive." Pig snorted and declared, "If that's not consorting with divine birds of consolation, I don't know what is." Gunayin looked at him sharply, but the reminder was enough for Sanzang to grow angry again. "Exactly! Earthly Female Chamber! Stirring it with his pole!"

"Oh, bite me," Guanyin said. "Like you would know what an Earthen Female Chamber is. Even with half the women from Chang-an to here throwing themselves on you, you're still as cherry as when you started." Sanzang stammered and blushed, but could not respond. Guanyin went on, "You certainly don't know what do with your pole."

Pig snickered, but stopped when Guanyin glared at him. She turned back to Sanzang. "First of all, did you actually ask Monkey what he meant by 'Earthly Female Chamber'? I know he has a way with words, but that's slang I've never heard before." "No, Blessed One," admitted Sanzang.

"What about those other things? The Essential Stone Dingbat and the Treasurepack of Seed Pearls?" Sanzang shook his head.

Guanyin took a deep breath. "Right -- moving on then. Second of all, you are just a teensy-weensy bit trigger-happy with that restraining bolt." When Sanzang looked confused, she explained, "The band on his head what's keeping him in line? That thing."

"But that's all that controls him!" protested Sanzang.

"Listen," Guanyin said, "this is the last time I'm going to say it, and I mean it this time. You only have to zap the band once or twice -- the pain is incapacitating. Anything more is overkill."

Sanzang looked down at his feet, considering his actions. As the bodhisattva said, he had indeed given in to anger instead acting with compassion. Looking at it that way, the pure monk felt remorse for his behavior.

Guanyin went on, "I realize most people find him a total pain in the ass to work with, but that's why you were picked for the job."

Sanzang kowtowed to Guanyin. "I am sorry, Blessed One. I lost my temper and took it out on him. I should not have done that. I shall apologize to his spirit, in hopes that what little merit I have can lessen his burdens in hell."

"Um, hello? -- not dead yet," Guanyin said.

"He isn't?" said Sanzang in amazement.

"Monkey's a tough one -- it takes more than squeezing his head to the size of a jujube to kill him."

"After all," said Friar Sand, "he can hold his breath for three years." He ignored Pig's snarl.

"Exactly," Guanyin said. She dipped her willow twig into her bottle of sweet dew, sprinkled it onto Monkey's head, and breathed on it with magic breath. After a moment, nothing happened. Guanyin tapped her foot, and then shouted, and Monkey bolted upright with a gasp. He looked around, and cried, "Bodhisattva!"

"Never mind the thanks, monkeyshines -- just tell me what happened once you reached the huntsman's hut."

Monkey coughed twice, bowed, and began. "I explained to the starving man that my master was traveling to the West to retrieve the scriptures, and was in need of food. He said that as a huntsman he had only a little vegetarian fare, all of it trapped in a buried storage jar he called Earthly Female Chamber by a boulder he named Essential Male Member. I told him I would gladly help, but the boulder was indeed essential stone, and so heavy that even using my gold-banded as-you-will cudgel as a lever, I had to push and pull to get it off. When we reached inside, we found that his rice-sack, which he styled the Treasurehouse of Pearly Seed, had ripped and spilled out the rice. Rather than try to pick out each grain, we poured water into the jar and boiled it by heating up my cudgel. When it was cooked, he gave me half and I returned, but that meal was only just enough for my master to eat. These fellows here were annoyed there wasn't any for the rest of us, and talked my master into reciting the Band-tightening Spell until I passed out, but thanks to you I've woken up again, and here we are."

"Okay then," Guanyin said. "That seems clear enough." She looked steadily at Sanzang, who bowed to Monkey. "I am sorry. I regret my actions and repent of my mistakes. I should not have recited the spell so many times."

Monkey looked at him, then set his jaw and said, "That's not your mistake." Sanzang looked at him, uncomprehending. "You've got everything wrong way round. I work as hard as I can, and you accuse me of laziness. I tell the truth, and you believe it's a lie. I acquire merit by helping the helpless, and you insist that it's wickedness. It's not 'so many times' that's the mistake."

Sanzang looked puzzled. "I should have said it more?" Monkey glared at him with his fiery eyes. Pig trembled and shouted, "Watch out, Master, he'll kill us all in a rage." Sanzang stumbled back. "Save us, Blessed One!"

Guanyin brought her hand to her face, and said into her palm, "Sometimes I really wonder why we sent the poster boy for Stupid Good on this quest." To Pig, she said, "Don't make me shut you up." To Sanzang, she said, "No, he means that you should not have recited the spell, period. You know, that whole eensy bit trigger-happy thing?"

Sanzang stammered, and shook his head. "But I apologized!"

Monkey got up and stomped over to where the dragon stood, then spun around and stomped back to Sanzang. "You think you can just apologize, like all those times you've thought better of ignoring my advice and getting into trouble for it, and that'd be enough? No. I am sick and tired of you muttering that damned spell every time you get a spot of indigestion. It's not enough." Monkey stomped away again.

Guanyin called after him, "You done now?"

"Yes," said Monkey. "No." Monkey stomped back to Sanzang. "What's especially galling is being accused of lying when I'm telling the plain and honest truth. If you punish me for telling the truth, what reason would I have not to lie?" He turned and stomped off. Then he stomped back again. "And another thing -- "

"Bored now," Guanyin announced. Monkey stopped and narrowed his eyes, but then folded his arms and nodded. Guanyin looked at Sanzang, and then to Monkey. "You say an apology is not enough, and given your master's a few yarrow sticks short of a hexagram, I don't blame you. So what do you want?" "Take off the band," said Monkey promptly.

"No can do, monkey-boy. It's the Buddha's dingus -- only Himself can do that." Monkey gnashed his teeth. Guanyin turned to Sanzang and asked, "So what are you offering?"

Sanzang thought for a moment, then drew himself up. "I promise never to recite the Band-tight -- "

"Get real," Guanyin interrupted. "You really think he'll never get out of hand? Ever again?" "Of course I won't," said Monkey promptly.

Guanyin raised one eyebrow at him. "Pull the other one, monkey-pants." Monkey smiled beatifically and said, "You can trust me." "Master, don't trust him," said Pig, "remember how often he's angered you with his excesses!"

"That's enough out of you," Guanyin said to Pig, and with her thumb and forefinger pinched together, she gestured between them to one side, making a zipping sound. Pig could no longer open his mouth or speak. Monkey grinned and cackled at his discomfort.

Sanzang bowed to Guanyin. "You are right, Blessed One. Monkey's behavior is too erratic to be safe, too uncivilized. He kills innocent people and distracts us from our journey by rescuing others. I cannot promise not to recite the spell when it is needful."

"Offer withdrawn," Guanyin said with a nod. "Next offer?"

Sanzang shook his head, troubled and uncertain what to do. Monkey shook his as well, more pugnaciously. Finally Friar Sand spoke up, "Bodhisattva, do you have a suggestion?"

"Glad you asked, gentlemen." Guanyin laced her fingers together and stretched her hands, palms out, until her knuckles cracked. "Your next good meal, whenever you get out of these boonies, Monkey gets first dibs. Serve Monkey first, then the Master, then the rest of you lot."

Pig protested frantically, but being unable to open his mouth, all that could be heard was muffled squeals. "But I couldn't do that!" insisted Monkey, "that would be most unfillial! As the saying goes, 'Lord first, then master, then father, then elder brother'."

"It would be," Guanyin said, pronouncing each word patiently, "if you took it from him. If he offered it to you, abasing himself to honor you, you would be honor-bound to accept."

Pig continued his muffled protests. Sanzang slowly nodded. "Indeed, Blessed one. That is a good plan." He bowed to Monkey. "Our next meal in a civilized place, I will serve you myself, in recognition of all that I owe you." After a moment, Monkey reluctantly bowed in return.

Pig's muffled squeals reached a frantic pitch, until Friar Sand swatted him on the back of his head to shut him up.

"Just remember," Guanyin told Sanzang, "Pig is a glutton, yes? He's jealous of Monkey -- because of this rice bowl. Remember that, every time Pig opens his mouth -- that he's jealous of Monkey." Sanzang bowed and said, "I understand, Blessed One."

Guanyin made a crooked smile and said to Monkey, "It's worth a try, anyway." Monkey nodded his understanding. For indeed,

Pig envied Monkey's power to protect their master,
Monkey was jealous of Pig's influence over the Monk;
With both mired in their desires, neither could move:
Guanyin cleared Sanzang's sight so they could come unstuck.

But Friar Sand remained puzzled. "But what happened to the giant wolves, tigers, leopards, and demon?" Monkey asked, "What about them? I don't hear anything." For indeed, the wild beasts were silent. "But we heard them all night!" said Sanzang, gesturing around them. "But how?" asked Monkey, "the forest is too dense for anything to approach, except along the path I made. They must be miles and miles away." "And yet they were quite audible," said Friar Sand. Monkey and Guanyin exchanged puzzled looks, then Monkey said to Sanzang, "Wait right here, Master." Then he mounted a cloud and rose into the air to look around.

After a few moments, they heard Monkey shout, and then he hopped back to the ground, chuckling. "You know what it was? Echoes off those tall crags, like voices in a well-built theater. Right here, they reflect sounds from that ridge we crossed just before we entered the more tangled wilderness. The animals are up there on that stage, and we're down here in the audience." Friar Sand's expression lighted. "Ah! Thank you, Elder Brother. That relieves my spirit greatly."

"As for the demon," Guanyin said, "I'll just go take a look, just to be sure it isn't the Gold Horn King again."

As she prepared to leave, Pig made one last muffled protest. "Oh," Guanyin said, slapping her forehead with the heel of her hand, "knew there was something else. Tempting as it is to 'forget' about it," and with thumb and forefinger together she gestured in the other direction. Pig's mouth opened, but before he could do more than draw breath, she caught his snout in her hand, and in a low voice told him, "If you're smart, you won't say one. Single. Word. About this. Eh?" Pig trembled and said, "Yeb, Bleddib One."

As she let go, Sanzang bowed to her and asked, "Blessed One, how much longer must we travel till we reach the West, and what dangers must we face next?"

Guanyin shook her finger. "Nuh-uh -- spoilers." And with that, she stepped onto her propitious light and flew back to the Southern Sea.

After they watched her disappear, Pig said, "I'm starving." "Shut up," said Friar Sand. Sanzang told them to be both be quiet. Monkey said nothing at all.

Then the dragon shook himself and turned back into a white horse, which Monkey helped Sanzang mount. With Pig carrying the baggage, Friar Sand walking alongside, and Monkey in front, knocking down the forest to make a path, master and disciples once again started on their journey West. Indeed,

The priest went on a journey to visit the Buddha,
The hardships were great and long was the road.

If you don't know how much further they had to go, or what other terrible trials faced them, listen to the explanation in the next chapter.