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.

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