The Monkey King introduced himself as a disciple hoping to learn the Way of Immortality. The apprentice laughed before offering to take him to the Immortal. Accepting the guidance, the monkey straightened his clothes and followed the apprentice through the gates.

Inside, the sanctuary was filled with splendor. Precious stones formed majestic works of art and massive buildings. After they passed countless cells, the Monkey King finally saw the Immortal amidst a crowd of disciples.

Subhuti sat on a dais made of jasper. Their countenance was pure and golden, freed by enlightenment from the imperfection and desires of mortal beings. Upon seeing them, the Monkey King bowed and proclaimed them his master.

“Where are you from?” Subhuti queried. “You must tell me your name and address before you can become my pupil.”

The monkey uncertainty answered, “I have no name, but I have come from the Mountain of Flower and Fruit.”

The Immortal was angry, thinking that he had lied. In desperation, the Monkey King declared his truthfulness and described his origin and journey. Subhuti subsided, now interested. After some consideration, they proposed a surname of “Wu.” The Monkey King was delighted, and enquired after a personal name to further identify himself. On that day the monkey received the name Sun Wukong, meaning Monkey Awakened to Emptiness.

I claim no ownership of the image.

==> land

The raft did not reach land for several days, but the Monkey King’s determination did not wane. When he did finally reach a shallow point, he leaped off of the raft and raced to the shore. The people who saw him screamed and fled, but the Monkey King managed to catch one and make them give him a disguise. Afterwards he was able to wander as he pleased among their society.

He would imitate the people he saw, but never forgot his goal and was always asking of the Immortals and Sages. Nobody cared about death or the secret of immortality, and after years of exploring he realized there was nothing for him on the small island. After hearing of a continent to the west over a great sea, he built another raft and set sail once again.

The Monkey King arrived and journeyed over the land, always enquiring as to the nature and whereabouts of the immortal beings. The effort paid off eventually, when he arrived at a massive yet graceful mountain. Awed and uncaring of any predators foolish enough to attack, he climbed until he reached a small forest. From it came a simple melody, which was sung by a woodcutter engrossed in their work. It mentioned Immortals, at which the Monkey King interrupted delightedly, “So this is where the Immortals have been hiding.” However, when he greeted the worker as an Immortal his assumption was quickly refuted.

“No, no. I don’t even have enough to eat or drink, so how can I possibly let you call me an Immortal?” The Monkey King was confused, as the song had also used a term that he had learned to associate with the way of Immortality. When asked, the worker explained that they were taught the song by another and directed the monkey to the cave where the Immortal lived.  

The Monkey King made his way along a path until he reached a forest with doors set in a giant rock wall. He did not dare knock, and instead waited for somebody to emerge. When the doors finally did open, it was an apprentice with a noble bearing who he saw.

“Who is making that row out here?”

I claim no ownership of the image.


The Monkey King was hosting a banquet one day when he began being plagued by a fear for the future. Servants noticed his sudden change in spirits and crowded around, querying as to the source of his anxiety. When he told them, they merely laughed.

The Monkey King responded by saying, “Although we are not restricted by the laws of human kings, and we fear no beast, the time will come when we are old and weak and are taken to the underworld by the King of Hell. When the time comes for us to die, we won’t be able to go on living among the Blessed, and our lives will have been in vain.”

Most of the monkeys were stunned and worried of the relentless pursuit of time. Another, though, was knowledgeable and proclaimed, “If Your Majesty is thinking so far ahead, this is the beginning of enlightenment. Of the Five Creatures, there are only two that do not come under the jurisdiction of the King of Hell:  the Immortals and the Sages. They are free from the chains of mortality and last as long as the world.”

The Monkey King was delighted and immediately decided to leave and search for a teacher. When he informed the others, all the monkeys clapped in approval and promised to gather enough food for a great feast.

The next day, the host of monkeys ushered the Monkey King to the seat of honour. Each of them took brought him wine, flowers, and fruit in turns. The next morning the Monkey King woke and ordered the monkeys to build a raft of pines. He boarded the raft, pushed off with all his might, and floated off towards the waves of the ocean.

I claim no ownership of the image.

Skip to toolbar