Chapter 53: A Premature Pregnancy?

Episode 11: The Child-and-Mother River

Spiritual Masturbation

After crossing a small river Tripitaka and Piggy take a drink of its clear waters and immediately become pregnant. They find out from a local resident that they have reached the Nation of Women, which uses the water from this Child-and-Mother River to become pregnant because they have no men. Rightfully alarmed our travelers ask for a way out of their dilemma. The woman tells them that there is a Male-Undoing Mountain with a Child Destruction Cave, which contains an Abortion Stream, whose waters will terminate the unwanted pregnancy. The problem, she says, is that a Taoist has taken over the cave and changed the name of the cave to Shrine of Immortal Assembly. Furthermore he has started charging exorbitant prices to obtain the water. Evidently everything is out-of-balance sexually at this point - pregnant men, women without men, and a Taoist, who is charging for healing waters.

Undeterred Monkey proceeds to the cave and requests some of the water to heal his compatriots. The eldest disciple waits until his Taoist master has finished playing with his lute - masturbating. Again a man is having sex without women. After finishing the Taoist comes out to greet Monkey and immediately recognizes him as the one who helped bring the Red Faced Boy to submission. He wants revenge, as he is the boy’s uncle. Although Monkey says that this was a good thing, in that the Red Faced Boy is now serving Kuan-yin as the Boy of Goodly Wealth, the Taoist is unimpressed saying:

“Is my nephew better off being a king by himself, or being a slave to someone?” JW 3 p44

Again another reference to doing it by yourself. Self-cultivation is just the starting point. But it is not complete. Each of our pilgrims had reached a high level of attainment due to practicing austerities combined with meditation. But they needed the Quest to focus their talents. Symbolically the yang of self-cultivation needed the yin of the Mission to bear the child; else it was just another form of spiritual masturbation. In this case Piggy and Tripitaka hadn’t completed their Mission and so weren’t ready for the birth of the child - hence the symbol of the unwanted pregnancy.

This is especially relevant to me, the Author. Cultivating wisdom without passing it on, writing books without seeking publication, mastering Tai Chi without teaching, are all forms of spiritual masturbation. Each has its time and place and each has a time for moving to the next level, which is sharing the internal with the external. This is another form of the Bodhisattva vow.

On the other hand it’s important not to give birth too soon. A premature pregnancy can be destructive. Wait patiently for the fruit to ripen, practicing wu wei, non-action in the midst of action. But don’t hold onto the fruit or let it rot on the tree after it has ripened. As Liu I Ming says:

“Wait for the time to break free.

No thought, no doing, not obsessed, not indifferent.

Basically there is a time to break free, transformed;

It will not do to be too early or too late,

Truthfulness within reaches outside, not admitting force;

When a melon is ripe, it naturally separates from the stem.” Inner Teachings p 45

Wanting to avenge the Red Boy’s defeat the Taoist attacks Monkey with his hook. Although Monkey is dominant he is unable to obtain the water because the Taoist hooks him with his weapon throwing him off balance as soon as his attention shifts to drawing water from the well. Realizing he needs assistance he returns and solicits the abilities of Sha Monk. Together they are able to defeat the Taoist and draw the necessary water to cure Piggy and Tripitaka of their premature pregnancy. At the same time Monkey breaks the Taoist’s hook and warns him never to charge for the water again. No price on truth as it should dispensed free of charge. A testimonial poem sums up the chapter.

“For smelting true lead you need water true;

True water mixes well with mercury dried.

True mercury and lead have no maternal breath;

Divine drugs and cinnabar are elixir.

In vain there is the form of the child conceived;

Earth Mother with ease has merit achieved.

Heresy pushed down, right faith held up,

The lord of the mind all smiles now returns.” JW 3 pp49&50

Home   Chinese Alchemy   2. Journey Episodes   Previous   Next