Monkey: "The mountain at long last. Our journey is nearly over." (The group stand in awe as they survey the mountain in front of them) "Why isn't everyone cheering? Hey Buddha you better put the kettle on!"
Tripitaka remarks to Monkey that he is often disrespectful to Buddha and that he should be more careful not to offend him. He then notices that it has become very hot. While the group stand arguing about the heat, the ground bursts into flame before them. Tripitaka asks Buddha, "Do you want to test me in some way, then tell me if I understand you? We may not come to you unless we transform ourselves. The greatest transformation, can it possibly be what it is to die? If it must so we must die unafraid tonight." The others are shocked by Tripitaka's comments to Buddha and state that they are not ready to die.
Buddha: "You are right not to be afraid of death Tripitaka, you will not enter my paradise while you are still preoccupied with life and death. Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy, you may have to die to be born again."
Monkey: "Who wants to be dead? I'm quite happy the way I am."
Pigsy: "I've grown rather fond of this body thankyou. I don't want to die."
Buddha says they will be soon exposed to dangers and if they cling to life they may lose. Tripitaka takes these comments seriously but the others feel he is only joking - "He's a funny Buddha."
Suddenly, Pigsy spies water. Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy squabble about who should drink first. Monkey says as leader he should be first. As he bends forward to drink he sees his "human" reflection in the water. He tells the others. Sandy says, "We can sell that water if it makes you look human." Tripitaka explains that Buddha has allowed Monkey to see himself in some future incarnation. ** The others ask will they also become human? Tripitaka says that the evolution of each spirit is upwards until Buddhahood is achieved. Pigsy pushes Sandy out of the way to look in the pool of water and remarks, "Impossible! I look handsomer than I do already." Sandy then looks into the pool, and says, "A human being. Worth waiting to see. How long do you think it will be?"
Monkey proclaims in an excited tone that they are almost in Buddha's Paradise. "I can see it now. Standing there with all those Sages surrounding us, and Buddha will make us human. Isn't that right Buddha?" The friends then see Buddha's Western Paradise before them in the clouds. Pigsy says, "Come on I'll race you. The one who gets there first will be the holiest and handsomest of all." Sandy says, "No no. One's look will depend on whose karma is the best." They then start arguing again about who will be first. Tripitaka scolds them for quarrelling in Buddha's own country.
Buddha says, "You obviously have a lot to learn still. How many lives before you become human? The answer is infinite …… unless you learn." Pigsy says, "I knew it was too good to be true."
Storm clouds gather overhead. A demon spirit appears, The King of All Geological Ages. He says he will not allow the pilgrims to get to India. Monkey says, "Oh! Just how will you stop us?" The demon spins his staff and suddenly encases Tripitaka in solid rock. "Ha ha ha ha!" he laughs. Tripitaka implores the others to help him. Initially they are dumbfounded but then Sandy remembers something that could melt the rock and free Tripitaka - a type of water buried in the Earth's core.
"But there will be difficulties", he says, "There is a certain lady involved. She is the keeper of the Water Cave. We are betrothed since our childhood. She is a water spirit like me. The Ying to my Yang." Sandy is reluctant to see her. "If I am human I am not sure I am keen to see her." Monkey persuades Sandy to go. The Water Spirit smiles with surprise when she sees Sandy.
Pigsy is left wandering around by himself. He smells something sweet and remarks, "A woman, a beautiful woman, a very beautiful woman." Pigsy introduces himself to the woman. He feels he knows her from somewhere. She looks at him apprehensively. He continues to try and charm her and moves closer. She runs away as he moves to embrace her. After she has gone he reflects how he felt strangely attracted to her he was but "more as a brother than a lover."
The woman runs all the way to a large temple and throws herself at the feet of her husband, the King of Ages. She asks him for comfort, "Is my face ugly?" To which he replies, "What? It's still lovely. Did you think it wouldn't be?"
Sandy has arrived back with his betrothed. Monkey berates him for taking his time and hurries him to pour the water. Monkey then sees the face of Sandy's betrothed and collapses. Sandy remarks, "She's not that awful is she?" She pours the water around Tripitaka. This melts the rock and frees Tripitaka. Tripitaka thanks them. Sandy is happy that for once he has been useful.
Monkey and Sandy argue about who is the most important. Monkey says, "I know how to solve this." He summons up his magic cloud and jumps on. He flies off to see Buddha and asks Buddha if he is still the leader of the pilgrimage and will he get the best reward? Buddha says that Monkey and his friends will not come to his kingdom while they quibble about such silly matters. Monkey says, "We are too close to the mountain to need your (Buddha's) philosophy."
Buddha says that they will still need to find their way there. "It does not grow closer to you, you grow closer to it. I wonder whether you have grown farther away." "What a load of old nonsense!" says Monkey, "If you walk towards a place you get there. You still haven't answered my question. Am I the first disciple?" Buddha says, "All are equal."
Monkey feels that is unfair, "Those other two are so lazy. I do all the work." Buddha says, "It does not matter as long as the work gets done." Monkey replies that he will give up and see what happens then. "I want recognition", Monkey says, but Buddha replies, "Then recognise yourself. You can only be free after you chose freedom." Monkey asks, "How can I be free with this ring on my head?" Buddha replies "Don't you want it? Should I release you from it? Freedom is an empty word without duty and then you will need love. With that Buddha removes Monkey's head ring. Monkey proclaims that he is free, "Free again to do what I want" He then flies off.
Sandy's fiancée is chasing him around asking for a kiss when the wife of the King of Ages appears. She falls, pretending to hurt herself, and says now she won't be able to get home. Sandy offers to help her by carrying her home, "It would be an honour to carry such a beautiful woman." Sandy's fiancée throws herself on him begging him not to leave her, but he does anyway.
The King of Ages then appears and captures Tripitaka. Tripitaka warns him that he is on a mission from Buddha himself. The King of Ages laughs and says he will never allow their mission to succeed; all the demons of hell appointed him to kill Tripitaka. "It will put all us monsters out of business," he explains. He commands his soldiers to put an iron collar around Tripitaka's neck. He tells Tripitaka that this collar will grow tighter until it chokes him to death. Tripitaka calls for his disciples. The King of Ages snarls and tells him, "They cannot help you. You are going to die." He walks away, laughing.
Sandy is helping the consort of the King of Ages. She asks him for some water. He gives her the water from the Earth's core. Once she has this she laughs and calls soldiers to grab Sandy and his fiancée and take them away.
Pigsy then comes across the woman (the consort of the King of Ages) again. He is again overcome by her beauty. He insists he knows her. Moving closer to her he then embraces her. Pigsy says that she should stop trying to resist him. She struggles with him and in doing so she spills the water on the ground. Her reflection in the pool of water shows her to be a pig spirit - Ton Ton, Pigsy's sister. She tells him of how her appearance was changed. As a child she gazed into water "hour after ugly hour" wishing to be beautiful. She kept wishing until she came here and sold her soul to the King of Ages. Pigsy is tearful and sad after hearing her story. He thinks it has taught him a lesson, "How lucky I am to have been born so handsome?"
The collar around Tripitaka's neck tightens more. He calls for Monkey. Flying overhead Monkey heads hears Tripitaka's cry for help. Struggling with his conscience he says, "I am no longer your servant. Ask the others to help." Finally, he gives in and goes to Tripitaka's aid.
The King of Ages looks down at Monkey straining to break the collar around Tripitaka's neck, and laughs, "Monkey, you are such a fool, don't you recognise the collar of death?" Monkey falls back, exhausted, unable to remove the collar.
Tripitaka notices that Monkey no longer has his head ring and realises that Buddha has given Monkey his freedom. He then asks Monkey why he came to help him. Monkey turns to him and says, "You don't realise you are dying?" Tripitaka replies, "Yes …. it's nothing. We all have to die and now it's my turn. Monkey says, "You must be a little scared aren't you?" Tripitaka says, "We are all everybody. I was but a wave on an infinite ocean." "But its drowning you though", says Monkey.
Then Monkey has an idea. "Of course. I know what to do to save your life. I'm magic. If I turn into you, you could come into my body, then you wouldn't die. Let me do it, yes?" Tripitaka answers, "You think I'm really that important. Nobody is very important. If you do that you will die yourself. You are Monkey. You are immortal as you are, but you would die in my body. I will not let you do this thing. You don't owe me anything." Monkey says, "You can't stop me though. It is not a question of owing you. I love you."
Tripitaka says Monkey is a fool. The collar tightens further. Monkey starts the transformation. Seconds later Tripitaka is free. Monkey in Tripitaka's body bids him farewell and then dies. His dead body is then transformed back into his normal form and the collar is gone. Tripitaka lays him down and turns to a statue of Buddha and asks, "Was it your plan that Monkey should die?" Buddha replies "There is no plan. We are all Buddha." He gives Tripitaka Monkey's head ring and tells him to tend to his friend. Tripitaka places this on Monkey's head and starts chanting the Headache Sutra.
Monkey comes back to life. Amazed, he says, "I was dead, wasn't I?" Tripitaka says, "Death has taught something to both of us. Buddha showed me there can be no freedom without responsibility." Monkey rejoices about being alive even though he has his head ring back.
The demon spirits look on. The Queen of Hell says, "It will mean total war, or all is lost." Tripitaka and Monkey come across Sandy. His betrothed has gone home. Pigsy arrives soon afterwards with a large basket of fruit and asks if anybody wants some. Monkey then dresses the other two down for not looking after Tripitaka properly.
The demons appear and a fight ensues. Monkey defeats the King of Ages after a long fight by hitting him in the "goolies" (slang for 'groin'). After the fight, Monkey remarks that the way is clear. The mountain is closer than ever. The pilgrims walk onwards into Buddha's country talking about what they will do when they become human. Tripitaka pours cold water on these ideas, "As humans your lives will be planned. You will become priests and spread the word of Buddha." The others are not very happy about this.
They finally reach Buddha's house. Buddha shows them the scriptures and says they may take them. Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy try to lift the scriptures, but find them too heavy to carry. Buddha suggests that Monkey should use his magic cloud to fly home. Before they depart, Buddha sets one condition: They must not read the scriptures before they reach China. The pilgrims agree.
Pigsy's sister then bursts in and pushes the scriptures over, showing them to be fakes. Buddha's palace then disappears. They find themselves back in the wilderness surrounded by demon spirits. Pigsy's sister confesses she exposed the hoax so that Pigsy might become a man.
The King of Ages casts an iron collar around her neck. She says she wants to die. In her next life she will not be a pig spirit. After she has died, Pigsy mourns her death and regrets his part in it. The demon spirits then again profess that they will not allow the pilgrims to pass. Another fight follows. Pigsy kills the King of Ages and falls onto his knees in tears.
They bury Pigsy's sister and then make the journey onwards. Sandy asks, "Where must we go and how do we know when we get there?" Monkey cries out to Buddha. "How far is it to India?" Buddha answers, "I will show you." Buddha's hand lifts them off the ground to show them where they have come and where they are going. "It's still a long way." Pigsy remarks. Buddha agrees, "Where you are going is a state of mind. What matters is how you travel." The pilgrims walk on.
Narrator: "There is one it is eternal. Yet what is called Buddha outlasts us. The one is like a wheel and the wheel we are on turns endlessly. Life, death, the wheel is one way. Even Buddhas are born again. If the one, the wheel, the way are Buddha, how can there be an end of the way?"