Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
"Here I am, only four hundred years old," said the Monkey King,
"and I've already reached the heights of greatness. What is left to hope
and strive for? What can be higher than a king?"
"Your Majesty," said the gibbon carefully, "we have ever been grateful for
that time four centuries ago when you hatched from the stone, wandered into
our midst, and found for us this hidden cave behind the waterfall. We made
you our king as the greatest honor we could bestow. Still, I must tell you
that kings are not the highest of beings."
"They're not?" said the Monkey King.
"No, Your Majesty. Above them are gods, who dwell in Heaven and govern
Earth. Then there are Immortals, who have gained great powers and live
forever. And finally there are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who have conquered
illusion and escaped rebirth."
"Wonderful!" cried the Monkey King. "Maybe I can become all three!" He
considered a moment, then said, "I think I'll start with the Immortals.
I'll search the earth till I've found one, then learn to become one