Sun Wukong soon settled into the calm way of the monastery, learning and meditating with all the other disciples. In his free time he would do whatever work needed to be done. It was a simple life that provided all necessities of life, and years passed without the Monkey King noticing.

One day the Immortal called all the disciples together to learn the Way. Their profound teaching excited Sun Wukong, who began eagerly jumping and clapping. Disturbed by the commotion, Subhuti asked why he was leaping about instead of listening. Sun Wukong answered, “I was listening to your teachings with all my attention, but your marvellous words amazed me so much I jumped without realizing. Please forgive me.”

“If you truly understand my words, then tell me how long you have been here.”

The monkey did not know, but remembered that he had fetched firewood for the stove seven times. According to the Immortal’s words, that meant he had lived there for seven years.

With this knowledge, Subhuti queried what Way the Monkey King wished to learn. He was offered the Way of Magic Arts, the Way of Sects, the Way of Silence, and the Way of Action. Each time, Sun Wukong asked whether he could gain immortality through that method. Each time, the answer was no and he refused. Frustrated, the Immortal descended and slapped him three times, yelling “You won’t study this and you won’t study that, so what do you want, you monkey?” before leaving.

I claim no ownership of the image.

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