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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The Ape Sun Wu Kung"

The Ape Sun Wu Kung

I will teach you the magic incantation for turning somersaults on the clouds. If you turn one of those somersaults you advance eighteen thousand miles at a clip.”

Sun Wu Kung thanked him, full of joy, and from that time on he was able to move without limitation of space in any direction.

One day Sun Wu Kung was sitting together with the other disciples under the pine-tree by the gate, discussing the secrets of their teachings. Finally they asked him to show them some of his transforming arts. Sun Wu Kung could not keep his secret to himself, and agreed to do so.

With a smile he said: “Just set me a task! What do you wish me to change myself into?”

They said: “Turn yourself into a pine-tree.”

So Sun Wu Kung murmured a magic incantation, turned around—and there stood a pine-tree before their very eyes. At this they all broke out into a horse-laugh. The Master heard the noise and came out of the gate, dragging his cane behind him.

“Why are you making such a noise?” he called out to them harshly.

Said they: “Sun Wu Kung has turned himself into a pine-tree, and this made us laugh.”

“Sun Wu Kung, come here!” said the Master. “Now just tell me what tricks you are up to? Why do you have to turn yourself into a pine-tree? All the work you have done means nothing more to you than a chance to make magic for your companions to wonder at. That shows that your heart is not yet under control.”

Humbly Sun Wu Kung begged his forgiveness.

But the Master said: “I bear you no ill will, but you must go away.”

With tears in his eyes Sun Wu Kung asked him: “But where shall I go?”

“You must go back again whence you came,” said the Master. And when Sun Wu Kung sadly bade him farewell, he threatened him: “Your savage nature is sure to bring down evil upon you some time. You must tell no one that you are my pupil. If you so much as breathe a word about it, I will fetch your soul and lock it up in the nethermost hell, so that you cannot escape for a thousand eternities.”

Sun Wu Kung replied: “I will not say a word!

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