Summary and Analysis
In Chapter 26 the Great King arrives to eat the sacrifice, but flees when Monkey reveals who he is. The monster realizes the sanctity of Tripitaka, and that eating one piece of him would let him live forever. The monster speaks with his followers, among them a perch-mother who advises him to make enough ice for the travelers to cross the large river, and then collapse it underneath them. The travelers see others crossing and follow them as predicted, despite the warnings of their host Mr. Ch'en. The ice collapses; the Great King takes Tripitaka (now called “Old Down at the Bottom”) captive, while the others return to Mr. Ch'en.
Chapter 27 tells of the disciples attempt to save Tripitaka, by diving through the water to Turtle House. The monster is deciding how to eat Tripitaka, while Monkey goes to the Bodhisattva for help. She tells Monkey who the monster truly is. Monkey saves Tripitaka, and thus the entire village from the yearly sacrifices of their children. In return, a Turtle carries them across the large river and reclaims his home, which the monster had taken over previously. He asks one favor in return for his services: that Tripitaka ask Buddha when the Turtle will become human again, and Tripitaka promises to do so.
As Chapter 28 begins, the four travelers have been on the road for several months, when they finally arrive at Buddha's true citadel, and are met by a great Immortal who treats them to a feast and some rest. Soon enough, they continue on their way and come to a narrow bridge across yet another river. All but Monkey are too wary to cross--but luckily, a bottomless ferry comes along to transport them. As they sail in this boat, the four travelers see their earthly bodies discarded in the water below, demonstrating that they are becoming true Buddhas. At the Temple, Father Buddha is overjoyed to meet them and offers them food and treasure. He sends Ananda and Kasyapa to get the scrolls of scripture. However, instead of handing over the real scriptures, they supply the travelers with blank scrolls, since they would not pay a commission. Dipankara, a Buddha of Past realizes their trickery and sends a messenger to bring the four travelers back. Father Buddha smiles when they return and remarks that he expected something to happen--such Holy Scriptures are not easily obtained. Tripitaka offers a gold begging bowl to Ananda and Kasyapa as their commission and they hand over the 5,048 scrolls, which are said to be "the source and origin of all 3 religions." As the travelers depart, Kuan-yin speaks with Buddha, asking that Vajraparis be sent to speed the pilgrims up so that they might reach the city, leave the scriptures, and return to Paradise in 8 days.
In Chapter 29, all of those who have helped the travelers along their journey appear to Kuan-yin. They remark that the travelers must face one more calamity, as they have faced 80, and it needs to be "nine times nine." Kuan-yin calls back the Vajraparis, who leave the pilgrims at the same river where they originally met White Turtle. In fact, the latter surfaces and asks Tripitaka if he got an answer from Buddha, and it becomes clear that Tripitaka completely forgot to ask Turtle's question. Turtle leaves them in the middle of the stream and they only manage to escape as the white horse transforms into a dragon and carries them safely to land. As they are drying the soaked scrolls, Mr. Ch'en passes by and brings them home. In their hurry, a piece of the Lativavistara is torn off--which is why, to this day, this scroll is incomplete. Mr. Ch'en offers the pilgrims another feast, which they partake in sparingly, as they no longer have bodies since being in Buddha's citadel. The eight Vajraparis return and carry the travelers to Ch'ang-an.
Once back in the city in Chapter 30, Tripitaka meets with the Emperor and recounts his 14-year adventure. Impressed and grateful, the Emperor writes The Introduction to Buddha's Holy Teachings in the middle of the night, which Tripitaka titles. The Emperor makes many copies of the scriptures so that they may be widely distributed throughout the empire. Having accomplished his mission, Tripitaka and his three disciples are taken back to Paradise by the eight Vajraparis. Once there, Buddha promotes all four of them, plus their white horse. In a previous life, Tripitaka was a close disciple of his who fell from grace, but luckily found and earned his place back in this new life--thus he is now the “Buddha of Precocious Merit.” Monkey is made “Buddha Victorious in Strife” and Pigsy becomes “Cleanser of Altars,” as he still has some learning and evolving to do. Sandy is now called “Golden Bodied Arhat,” while their white horse (who is the son of a dragon) is made one of the eight senior Heavenly Dragons. At this point, Monkey remembers and asks that the golden fillet that helps Tripitaka produce the headache-inducing spell be removed, and Tripitaka points out that as Monkey ascended to the position of Buddha, the fillet disappeared on its own. All pray and praise Buddha and the newcomers.