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Journey to the West Abridged: Part 13

He Falls into the Tiger’s Den and Is Saved by the Planet Venus, On Double-Forked Peak Boqin Entertains the Priest Sanzang starts the journey in the company of two attendants. While they travel in the early morning when it is still dark, his horse stumbles and all of them fall into a pit and are captured by a thoroughly evil demon king. The demon king eats his two attendants and keeps Sanzang for later. Just when all seems lost, an old man appears, walking towards Sanzang with the help of a stick. He comes up to Sanzang, breaks all his bonds with a wave of his hand, and revives him by blowing into his face. Sanzang falls to his knees and bows low to him, saying, “Thank you, venerable

He Falls into the Tiger’s Den and Is Saved by the Planet Venus,
On Double-Forked Peak Boqin Entertains the Priest

Sanzang starts the journey in the company of two attendants. While they travel in the early morning when it is still dark, his horse stumbles and all of them fall into a pit and are captured by a thoroughly evil demon king. The demon king eats his two attendants and keeps Sanzang for later. Just when all seems lost, an old man appears, walking towards Sanzang with the help of a stick. He comes up to Sanzang, breaks all his bonds with a wave of his hand, and revives him by blowing into his face. Sanzang falls to his knees and bows low to him, saying, “Thank you, venerable ancient, for saving my humble life.”

“The reason they did not eat you was because your fundamental nature is enlightened. Come with me and I’ll show you the way.” Overcome with gratitude, Sanzang puts the packs on his horse and leads it by the bridle as he follows the old man out of the pit and on to the main road. Tying the horse to a bush beside the road, he turns round to bow low to the old man and thank him, but the old man changes into a puff off wind and rises into the sky on the back of a red-crested white crane. All that could be seen was a piece of paper drifting down in the wind with four lines of verse written on it:

I am the Planet Venus of the Western Heaven,
Who came to save your life.
In the journey ahead you will have divine disciples:
Do not in your troubles feel angry with the scriptures.

Sanzang continues his journey alone when a ferocious tiger appears in front of him. Being by himself and unable to think of a way out, Sanzang prepares to abandon his mind and body and let Heaven do as it will. However the tiger runs away when a man comes across the hillside with a steel trident in his hand who introduces himself. “My name is Liu Boqin and I am known as the warden of the mountain. I came along here because I wanted a couple of animals for the pot. You must come with me to my hut, and your horse can rest. I’ll take you on your way tomorrow.” Sanzang, who is delighted to hear this, thanks him and goes along behind him, leading the horse.

After they arrive at the hut Sanzang is introduced to Liu Boqin`s mother. She says; “Tomorrow is the anniversary of your father’s passing away, and I would like to trouble the venerable monk to say some prayers and read a sutra for him; you could take him on his way the day after.” The next day, Sanzang recites first a prayer to purify his mouth, then a holy spell to purify his body and mind, and finally the Sutra to Deliver the Dead. When he has finished, Boqin asks him to write out a letter of introduction for the dead man and also recite the Diamond Sutra and the Guanyin Sutra. Sanzang recites them in a loud, clear voice and then ate lunch, after which he reads out the several chapters of the Lotus Sutra and the Amitabha Sutra.

The soul of Boqin’s father, now delivered from being a drowned ghost, comes to the house that night and appears in a dream to everyone in the family. “I suffered long in the underworld, unable to find deliverance,” he says, “but now that the saintly monk has wiped out my sins by reading some scriptures. King Yama has had me sent back to the rich land of China to be reborn in an important family. You must reward him generously, and no half measures. Now I’m going.”  The next day Sanzang is thanked for recommending their father for delivery from sufferings and rebirth. Sanzang refuses to accept any gift of gratitude. He simply asks Boqin to escort him for the next stage of his journey. The warden accompanies Sanzang for a while and then says: “Venerable monk, I must ask you to take yourself on from here. I have to go back.”

On hearing this Sanzang tumbles out of his saddle to say, “Please, please, take me another stage, High Warden.” When Sanzang is bowing repeatedly to the hunter, a shout like thunder comes from under the mountain: “My master’s come, my master’s come.” “That must be the old monkey who lives in a stone cell under this mountain shouting,” says the high warden. “What old monkey?” asked Sanzang, and the high warden replies, “This mountain used to be called Five Elements Mountain. I once heard an old man say that in the days when Wang Mang usurped the Han throne, Heaven sent down this mountain and crushed a monkey under it. It must have been him shouting; there’s nothing for you to be afraid of, venerable sir. Let’s go down and have a look.”

Great is the significance of the majestic Law,
That saves the dead from suffering and the morass.


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