Exploring the Journey to the West (5)*

Chuan Jiang

PureInsight | October 3, 2007

(5) The Emperor Ordered Tang Xuanzang to Bring Back Buddhism Scriptures

[PureInsight.org] When Tang
Monk received an order from the Emperor and was getting ready to
depart, many monks tried to persuade him not to go and told him that
his prospects would include danger and the final outcome was a big
unknown. Common people know it is good to be an immortal, but how many
firmly believe in it? In spite of many people worshiping Buddha and
reciting scriptures, how many actually have a firm belief? The first
step in cultivation is to have a firm righteous belief and be ready to
bear hardship. Buddhism promotes belief, hope, and ethical behavior.
The first step is having belief. There are sayings: "Something only
exists if you believe in it, and it does not exist if you do not
believe in it." "It truly works when you sincerely believe."
Polarization exits when people talk about cultivation. Lao Zi said:
"When a wise person hears the Tao, this person will practice it
diligently. When an average person hears it, this person will practice
it on and off. When a foolish person hears it, this person will laugh
at it loudly. If this person doesn't laugh at it loudly, it's not the

Tang monk possessed high inborn quality such that interference would
not have any effect on him. He thus went on his pilgrimage for
scriptures. He brought two ordinary persons as his entourage. They were
eaten by demons at the very beginning. Because of his inborn quality,
he escaped and was rescued by a god. A cultivator will encounter tests
from the very beginning of cultivation. First of all, one must be
persistent. Three characters made up the entourage that followed Tank
Monk on his journey. They were common beings and not cultivators. They
didn't embrace steadfast aspiration. It was actually more dangerous.
When a cultivator possesses steadfast belief, he will have god's help
when he encounters demons.

* Journey to the West is a classic novel of Chinese mythology. The
Buddhist monk Tang Xuanzang and his three disciples went to India to
obtain the Buddhist Scriptures. On the surface, it is a novel about the
adventures of the monkey with unsurpassed supernormal capabilities
battling demons of all sorts. Underneath, it is a story about
cultivation and tells the attachments that cultivators have to overcome
one by one.

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