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The Ape Sun Wu Kung

” “Will it give one eternal life?” “Not so.” “Then I will not learn it! I will not learn it!” Thereupon the Master pretended to be angry, leaped down from his stand, took his cane and scolded: “What an ape! This he will not learn, and that he will not learn! What are you waiting to learn, then?” With that he gave him three blows across the head, retired to his inner chamber, and closed the great door after him.

The disciples were greatly excited, and overwhelmed Sun Wu Kung with reproaches. Yet the latter paid no attention to them, but smiled quietly to himself, for he had understood the riddle which the Master had given him to solve. And in his heart he thought: “His striking me over the head three times meant that I was to be ready at the third watch of the night. His withdrawing to his inner chamber and closing the great door after him, meant that I was to go in to him by the back door, and that he would make clear the great truth to me in secret.” Accordingly he waited until evening, and made a pretense of lying down to sleep with the other disciples. But when the third watch of the night had come he rose softly and crept to the back door. Sure enough it stood ajar. He slipped in and stepped before the Master’s bed. The Master was sleeping with his face turned toward the wall, and the ape did not venture to wake him, but knelt down in front of the bed. After a time the Master turned around and hummed a stanza to himself:

“A hard, hard grind, Truth’s lesson to expound. One talks oneself deaf, dumb and blind, Unless the right man’s found.”

Then Sun Wu Kung replied: “I am waiting here reverentially!”

The Master flung on his clothes, sat up in bed and said harshly: “Accursed ape! Why are you not asleep? What are you doing here?”

Sun Wu Kung answered: “Yet you pointed out to me yesterday that I was to come to you at the third watch of the night, by the back door, in order to be instructed in the truth. Therefore I have ventured to come. If you will teach me in the fulness of your grace, I will be eternally grateful to you.

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