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Su Mu Kong's bet with the Buddha

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The Bet With The Buddha
jasonlankinocreative in Philosophy February 23, 2015 1,250 Words

Sun Wukong – The Monkey King, wreaked havoc in Heaven after taking offense at the Jade Emperor who refused to recognize his title – The Great Sage, equal of Heaven, and for not inviting him to the Heavenly Banquet.

The Dragon-stick wielding Monkey had already defeated Heaven’s great warriors, and the Jade Emperor’s attempt to keep him subordinate by making him the stable keeper had failed. Sun Wukong, now demanded that Jade Emperor should be banished from Heaven and let him take his position. Running out of options and time, the desperate Emperor turned to the Buddha for help, to restore order in Heaven and Earth.

The Buddha, moved by his eternal compassion, decided to intervene. He called Sun Wukong to the Himalayas.

The Monkey King, pleased with this invitation, which he regarded as an acknowledgement of his new title – The Emperor of Heaven, flew over the snow-clad mountains and finally stood face to face with the Enlightened One who sat meditating in lotus position, towering over the Himalayas.

"Abandon this greed for vengeance and power. You must search for enlightenment and truth instead." The Buddha spoke as the mighty Himalayas trembled with his booming voice.

"Never!" Screamed the angry Monkey King. "How dare you attempt to protect the Jade Emperor! He failed to recognize my supernatural powers, my strength, my ability to shape shift and my immortality. He did not have the decency to extend an invitation to me and refer to me by my title. He must leave the Western Paradise immediately!"

The ever-patient Buddha spoke.

"Indeed. You mentioned your powers, but you never spoke of wisdom, patience and compassion. These are some of the greatest powers any being can possess as they are difficult to find and cultivate".

Sun Wukong stamped on his feet an pointed his finger at the Buddha as his voice quivered with anger.

"Are you doubting my powers? I am immortal! I can do anything and show you that I am worthy of the title – Emperor of Heaven!"

The Buddha smiled. "Very well, I shall make a bet with you. If you can fly out of my palm and prove your powers, I shall request the Jade Emperor to leave Heaven and you shall sit on Heaven’s throne. But if you fail, you shall return to Earth and learn patience by practicing meditation, and chanting dharma scriptures and good conduct for five hundred years".

Sun Wukong laughed. "I hope you are ready to greet the new Emperor of Heaven then! I accept the bet!" He sang out.

The Buddha then extended his right hand. "Very well. Now then, try and fly out of my palm, O Great Sage".

With a hoot and a screech, the playful Monkey King jumped on to the palm of the Buddha, and then pulled a small cloud for him to stand on. Then with one quick move, he faced away from the Buddha and flew away.

Through the clouds, over the Himalayas, over the great river basins, the scorching deserts, the blue ocean, the glittering stars, iridescent star dust and in to the darkness of deep space. Sun Wukong couldn't stop laughing as he raised past the whirling stars.

"This will show silly Buddha and that intolerable Jade Emperor who the real ruler is!" The Monkey King chuckled to himself as he sped past gigantic clouds of stardust, deeper and deeper in to space. Then, he saw them.

Five gigantic pillars, that appeared to be made of ivory, rising out of the depth of cosmic darkness and seem to rise forever. The Great Pillars of Heaven, marking the edge of the Universe. Sun Wukong was ecstatic. He had now reached what no man, animal, god or demon had ever reached.

"I should not let anyone doubt me ever again. I must leave my name here", thinking thus, the Monkey King pulled a hair from his head, turned it into a brush, and wrote;

Satisfied with himself, and now in a great mood, ever-playful Monkey King felt that it was necessary to mark one of the pillars, just in case any one doubted that he wrote the above, of course. After leaving his territorial scent on one of the great pillars of Heaven, marking the end of the Universe, Sun Wukong got back on his cloud, and flew back. All the way back, through the silent emptiness of space, through the glowing star dust, through the gigantic constellations, clusters of stars and planets, and finally over the mighty Himalayas, face to face again with the Buddha.

Bursting with laughter, gleeful Monkey King somersaulted in front of the One who is in Eternal Meditation. "There! I bet you thought old Sun couldn't do it, eh Sage? I have travelled faster than a beam of starlight and through the great spirals of stars, dark clouds of dust and endless emptiness of space and to the very end of the Universe! And you, old man, you with all your wisdom and power, could not stop me! You may be a great Sage, but you are no match for me, Sun Wukong, the Great Sage of Heaven! Now, why don't you tell your friend, that sneaky old Jade Emperor to hand over the keys of the Western Paradise, to me!" He sneered.

The Buddha smiled again.

"Sounds as if you had a difficult journey. Are you sure, O Great Sage, that you reached the end of the Universe though?"

"You dare doubt me old monk?" Sun Wukong stamped his feet. "Of course I did! I saw the Great Five Pillars of Heaven that mark the end of the Universe, and I even wrote my title on one of the pillars!" He roared.

Then the great Lion of the Shakya tribe, the Conqueror of Mara, the Bearer of the Ten Great Powers, the Great Son of the House of Gautama, the ever compassionate and merciful Buddha raised his palm, his fingers gleaming over the Himalayas like great ivory towers;

"Did you mean this title, O Great Sage?"

The Monkey King froze in disbelief, and embarrassment, as his widened eyes read the title which he wrote with his own hand, on one of the fingers of the Buddha.

"After traveling all that distance, with all that haste, through the deepest, darkest depths of space and through the heights of Heavenly light, I … I had not even ventured past your palm!" Su Wukong stammered.

"You must realize, O Great Sage…" Spoke the Buddha."That which is unknown far outweighs what is known. That which is knowable by the five senses is but a mere speck of dust in a vast expanse of the great Unknown. The genuine seeker, humble and patient, compassionate and loving, who sets his path on the Four Noble Truths may begin to discover this great expanse, and able to set the course to the ultimate truth of all – Nirvana. There is no greater power or greater truth than this".

The great peaks of the Himalayas trembled as the Enlightened One spoke, throwing the shocked Monkey King off his cloud, down the northern slopes in to the rocky ravines below. There he remained for the next five hundred years, practicing patience and meditating on the last words he heard from the Greatest of All Sages.

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