(Minghui.org) In Journey to the West, Chapter 71, “Under a False Name Monkey Beats the Demon Hound, Guanyin Appears to Subdue the Demon King,” tells the following story: when the Monk Tang and his disciples came to the Kingdom of Purpuria to have their passports inspected and approved, the king of Purpuria, who had been ill for a long time, had just issued a notice calling for doctors to treat his illness. The Monkey King took down the royal notice, prepared some magic medicine, and cured the king’s illness that had been lingering for years. 

As it turned out, the Golden Queen of Purpuria had been seized by demons headed by Evil Star Matcher three years prior, and the demons would demand two ladies-in-waiting from Purpuria from time to time. The king had been so worried day and night that he became very ill for the past three years as a result. Fortunately, Monkey King came along and helped the king free himself from this misery.

When Monkey King was about to finally destroy Evil Star Matcher with the magic bells (the golden elixir treasure the beast had with him), Bodhisattva Guanyin showed up and took back the beast. She explained to Monkey King that Evil Star Matcher was in fact a golden-haired giant hound she used to ride on. It escaped and came down to the mortal world to save the king of Purpuria from disaster. 

Monkey King was confused and couldn’t understand how the beast could have come to save the king of Purpuria from disaster. Bodhisattva Guanyin went on to explain that when the king was still the crown prince, he was a superb archer and enjoyed hunting. One day he wounded a young peacock and killed a peahen. Both the peacock and the peahen happened to be children of the Bodhisattva Maurya Vidya Rani, who then ordered that the prince would be separated from his wife for three years and suffer the way birds do when they are parted from their parents. 

“That was three years ago, and now the misdeed has been paid for,” Bodhisattva Guanyin said to Monkey King. “It was fortunate that you came along to cure the king. I am here to recover the wicked and evil creature [Evil Star Matcher].”

This story tells us that people get sick for a reason and that everything is connected by a cause and effect relationship. 

Root Cause of Human Misfortune

It is believed in the community of spiritual practice that those who have done bad deeds or caused harm to others accumulate bad karma for themselves. When a person has a lot of bad karma, they suffer illness, misfortune, hardship, disaster, accidents or even death; when a region contains a lot of bad karma, it suffers poverty, wars, natural and man-made disasters, plagues, etc. 

Chapter 87 of Journey to the West, titled, “When Heaven Is Offended in Fengxian It Stops the Rain, The Great Sage Urges Goodness and Brings a Downpour,” tells a story about how a severe drought came to an end after the marquis admitted his wrongdoing and led his people to sincerely pray to Heaven for mercy and rain.

When Monk Tang and his three disciples arrived in Fengxian Prefecture, they saw devastation everywhere. The prefecture, once the land of wealth, had been hit with a severe drought for three years straight, and two-thirds of the population had perished due to starvation. Out of desperation, the marquis of the prefecture ordered that a notice be put up calling for masters of the Dharma to pray for rain and save the people. Monkey King took the notice and offered to help out. 

When Monkey King came to the Western Gate of Heaven, he learned that the drought in Fengxian Prefecture was a heavenly punishment. As it turned out, when the Jade Emperor and his aids were on an inspection tour three years ago, they saw that the marquis of Fengxian Prefecture behaved badly; he quarreled with his wife over her wicked conduct and unintentionally knocked over the table with vegetarian offerings to heaven. He then called in dogs to eat the offerings, an act that deeply offended the Jade Emperor. 

As punishment, the Jade Emperor had three items set up in the Hall of Fragrance – a 100-foot high rice mountain, a 200-foot high flour mountain, and a golden padlock about one foot three or four inches long, and ordered that “Fengxian Prefecture would only be due for rain when a chicken has eaten all the rice, a dog has licked up all the flour, and the lamp has melted the bar of the lock.” 

The heavenly teachers who showed Monkey King the three things told him to persuade the marquis to return to goodness, and then blessings would come of themselves. 

After Monkey King came back, he told everyone what he had seen in the Hall of Fragrance and said to the marquis, “If your heart can return to goodness, start invoking the Buddha and reciting scriptures, then I’ll be able to help you. If you persist in refusing to reform, there’ll be nothing I can do to get you off. It won’t be long before Heaven executes you, and your life will be beyond saving.”

The marquis vowed to take refuge. He summoned all the Buddhist and Taoist clergy in the city and ordered that a site be prepared for religious ceremonies. The marquis led his followers in burning incense and worshiping, thanking Heaven and Earth and repenting of his sins. The Monk Tang also recited sutras on his behalf. At the same time, all the men and women, young and old, in all the households inside and outside the city burned sticks of incense and invoked the Buddha. From that moment on, all ears were filled with virtuous sounds.

In no time, the rice and flour mountains in the Hall of Fragrance disappeared, and the bar of the lock melted. The Jade Emperor issued an edict to grant rain to Fengxian Prefecture, and the drought came to an end. 

The story tells us that even though Monkey King had tremendous extraordinary powers, he was unable to help unless the marquis changed himself toward goodness and led his people toward goodness as well.

The Harmony of Man and Nature

It is difficult for people nowadays to understand such concepts as harmony of man and nature, largely due to the limitations of modern empirical science. 

Ancient Chinese believed in “harmony of man and nature” and that “I Ching [Book of Changes] and medicine share the same origin.” Sun Simiao, a renowned physician in the Tang Dynasty who was also hailed as “King of Medicine,” once said, “If one does not understand I Ching, he is not good enough to be an imperial doctor.”

Taoists regard the human body as a small universe, which has a corresponding relationship with the outer universe. Nature has four seasons and five elements; cold weather and hot weather rotate in an orderly cycle; humans have four limbs and five organs, and follow the path of birth, old age, sickness and death.

The great ancient physicians all had a deep understanding of astronomy and the heavens, geography and the earth, and major events in society. They were capable of curing illnesses and saving people, predicting the future, and foretelling a person’s fate, whether good fortune or misfortune. 

Yi He, a famous physician during the Spring and Autumn Period, predicted the fate of Duke Ping of Jin and the destiny of the Jin State. All of his predictions came true, even though many court officials didn’t believe what he said at the beginning.

Sun Simiao, the great physician in the Tang Dynasty, mentioned above, also accurately predicted that his grandson Sun Pu would serve under Lu Qiqing, that Lu would later become the governor of Xuzhou, and that his grandson would serve as magistrate of Xiao County in Xuzhou.

Such supernormal abilities, often referred to as extra-sensory perception in modern times, was commonplace amongst the great ancient physicians, who obtained the abilities through meditation and spiritual refinement.

(To be continued.)

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Category: Perspective