Exploring the "Journey to the West"* (32)

Chuan Jiang

PureInsight | November 1, 2007

Tang Xuanzang Ultimately Reached Consummation

[PureInsight.org] The next thing that happened was this:

An immortal named Jin Ding of the celestial Yu Zhen Temple and the
Buddha of Directions from the celestial Lin Yun Ferry greeted and
directed Tang Xuanzan and his team. Tang Xuanzang finally reached

In the celestial Yu Zhen temple, one must be bathed before landing in a
celestial space.  Here, "bath" is a metaphor that means constantly
bathing and washing one's mind and body to remove bad things. Only
then, is one able to enter the heavenly world of the Buddhas.

It was mentioned in the previous chapter that the heavenly worlds of
the Buddhas are extremely beautiful and pure. Human beings who have
dirty thoughts and bad things are not permitted to enter the heavenly
worlds. Therefore, they must continuously wash and clean themselves.
Perhaps people heard about "Guan Ding," which means a way that a master
uses to wash his disciples. We wonder whether "baptism" from the
western countries also has the same connotation.  


There is a saying in cultivation field that you are what you have in
your mind. Therefore, it is vitally important to purify one's mind.

Even at the moment before reaching consummation, a cultivator still has
to face tests about his belief. For example, the boat that Tang Seng
was sent to ride over to the shore of consummation had no bottom. It
was really a test for Tang Seng on whether he believed he could reach
consummation. Tang Seng boarded the bottomless boat without hesitation.
Actually the boat had a bottom, but it was invisible to human beings.

Tang Seng also saw his dead human body. This was a very complicated
theory and it was related to the nature of the different methods of

One of the characteristics of Buddha Sakyamuni's method of cultivation
was nirvana, which means giving up the human body upon consummation. In
his method, a cultivator forms a celestial body through cultivation in
the human space. But the celestial body exists in a different space,
located at the same level of the dimension of the human body. 
Upon consummation, the celestial body will carry the main spirit and
the human body is dumped. Tang Seng's dead human body that he saw when
he reached consummation was the dumped body. At the moment when he
reached consummation, his celestial body was completely formed and took
over his main spirit.  

However, some other Buddhist schools did not cultivate in this
way.  In some schools, a cultivator does not form a celestial body
during his cultivation in the human space.  Rather, he will be
given one upon consummation. His master in the celestial space will
pick him up and offer him a celestial body when he reaches

These methods of cultivation are very different from the one which
cultivates both mind and body. Cultivation of both mind and body exists
in Buddhism and Daoism. Daoism especially emphasizes this method.  

The body of human beings consists of the material of the human space.
In the method of cultivating both mind and body, a cultivator is able
to gradually change the material.  The body looks as the same as
an ordinary one, but the nature of the basic material of which the body
consists changes. Consequently, the body gradually consists of
different material which came from another space. Hence, the changed
body which consists of the material which came from a different space
is able to access to that space. Upon consummation, the cultivator will
obtain both a celestial body and the changed human body.

It was said that Buddha Sakyamuni's cultivation method was able to
change the human body and bring it with him upon consummation. However,
Buddha Sakyamuni wanted his disciples to completely let go of their
attachments, including their attachment to the human body. So he left
the method of cultivation in the form of nirvana on Earth. In fact, the
Buddhist relics are the changed material of a human body. An ordinary
person does not have such a thing.  

It was said that whether a human can change his human body through
cultivation and bring the changed body with him upon consummation
depends on the characteristics of the different heavenly worlds, which
consist of different material systems.  

The depths of the theory are very complicated and hard to understand.

The author wanted the readers to thoroughly understand the essence,
rather than being curious. Human history and culture coexist with
causes and reasons.

People may think that gods stand high above the masses and reality.
However, in reality, human society is only a micro particle in the vast
universe. Instead, the majority of the universe is heavenly worlds.
There are many examples about the human beings achieving godhood
through cultivation. That means that gods are around us, but human eyes
are unable to see them.  

People live in such an environment where they can somehow feel the
existence of the gods and miracles. The environment also provides
humans with an opportunity to cultivate and walk towards godhood.  

You can see Buddhas when you reach the celestial worlds.

The Buddha worlds are so wonderful that it is hard to use human words
to describe them.  There are lots of descriptions about the Buddha
worlds in some Buddhist scriptures.  But it is hard for human
beings to imagine how wonderful the heavenly worlds are.  Human
society is not a heavenly world. It is impossible to set up a heaven in
the human world.

Buddha described the human world as: "The eastern land (human space)
has a high sky and large land. Human beings are living in abundance.
But some of them are too greedy and ignorant. They kill a lot, wallow
in luxury and pleasure, cheat and outwit each other, do not follow and
respect the heavenly law, harbor ill intent, do not treasure the five
food crops, are not honest, righteous or benevolent. They've committed
boundless sins that bring retribution and reincarnation." 
Tribulation and reincarnation are the basic rule of the human world.

The novel also mentioned that when Buddha met Tang Seng, Buddha wanted
to inspect Tang Seng's passport to heaven. It is said that a cultivator
will come across numerous tests and tribulations on the path toward
godhood. The cultivator must pass all those tests one after another. He
is then able to move one step each time he passes a test.  

One must experience such a tough cultivation procedure to reach
consummation. Nobody is allowed to enter the heavenly world directly
without cultivation.

A cultivator can build up his own virtue and merit through cultivation.
Without virtue and merit, he will be ashamed to stay in the heavenly
world. He will feel so uncomfortable and restless there that he will
wish to descend to a lower-level space where he feels more comfortable

Therefore, there is no short cut for cultivation. Any cultivation
methods of so-called "express ways" or "clever ways" are crooked and
evil ways. Do not believe them.  


Conclusively, the key point for cultivation is perseverance and firm determination.

* 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 a 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.

Translated from:


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