Western Monks: A Journey from the Western Lands to China

Read about the fascinating journey of two Western monks who traveled from their homeland to China, encountering perilous landscapes and sharing tales of their quest for enlightenment.

Two monks from the Western Region arrived in the inland of China. One headed straight to Wutai Mountain, while the other sought refuge in Mount Tai. Their clothing, appearance, and language were entirely different from the people in the Chinese mainland.

The Western Region monks claimed, “We came from the Western lands, passing by the Flaming Mountain. The mountain had layers upon layers, and walking on it felt like being steamed on a stove due to the intense heat. Therefore, we had to travel swiftly after the rain and walk with complete concentration, never taking our eyes off the path. Our steps had to be extremely light; otherwise, if we accidentally kicked a rock, flames would burst forth and burn us. We also passed through the Quicksand River, where there was a Crystal Mountain in the river with cliffs soaring into the sky, shining brilliantly and transparently. Looking across the mountain, it seemed as if there was nothing obstructing the view. There was also a narrow and treacherous pass on the mountain, only wide enough for one vehicle to pass through. Guarding the pass were two dragons, facing each other with their mouths and horns. To pass through, pedestrians had to first pay respects to the dragons. Once the dragons allowed passage, their horns and mouths facing each other would naturally separate. These dragons were white, and their scales, as well as the whiskers on their mouths, were as clear and transparent as crystal.”

The Western Region monks continued, “We have been traveling for eighteen years on this journey. When we initially left the Western lands, there were twelve of us, but upon reaching China, only the two of us remain. It is widely rumored in the West that China has four famous mountains: Mount Tai, Mount Hua, Wutai Mountain, and Mount Putuo. It is said that these mountains are covered in gold, and the Guanyin Bodhisattva and Manjushri Bodhisattva on the mountains are as lifelike as real people. It is also said that anyone who can reach these four famous mountains can instantly attain Buddhahood and eternal life.”

Listening to their words, one comes to understand that Westerners envy the East, just as we in the East envy the Western world. If the Western pilgrims and the Eastern travelers were to meet halfway and share their aspirations, they would surely exchange knowing smiles and alleviate the hardships of their long journeys.

《西僧》

西僧自西域来,一赴五台,一卓锡泰山,其服色言貌,俱与中国殊异。自言:“历火焰山,山重重,气熏腾若炉灶。凡行必于雨后,心凝目注,轻迹步履之,误蹴山石,则飞焰腾灼焉。又经流沙河,河中有水晶山,峭壁插天际,四面莹澈,似无所隔。又有隘,可容单车,二龙交角对口把守之。过者先拜龙,龙许过,则口角自开。龙色白,鳞鬣皆如晶然。”僧言:“途中历十八寒暑矣。离西土者十有二人,至中国仅存其二。西土传中国名山四:一泰山,一华山,一五台,一落伽也。相传山上遍地皆黄金,观音、文殊犹生。能至其处,则身便是佛,长生不死。”听其所言状,亦犹世人之慕西土也。倘有西游人,与东渡者中途相值,各述所有,当必相视失笑,两免跋涉矣。

Leave a Comment