Fangzheng didn't care what the other party thought. Blacklisting the number was more important. How could he as a monk drive a car? He could at least consider it if it were a helicopter.
The next two days passed by peacefully. On the third day, Fangzheng could finally see again. Furthermore, his vision was extremely clear, and everything appeared perfectly! It felt satisfying, like upgrading from a black-and-white television to a 4K high-resolution television!
Time flew by quickly. Whether it was because of the calligraphy competition or the success of the couples who came up the mountain to pray for children, the reputation of One Finger Temple began to spread.
In short, Fangzheng's tiny temple began to have people streaming in constantly! Although the patrons were from neighboring villages and winter brought cold and snowy days that made the mountain path difficult, Fangzheng was still very pleased with the growth.
Every day, he would sweep the temple and chat briefly with the occasional patron who would offer a stick of incense and make a wish.
Fangzheng would happily watch the other party leave before closing the main doors. He would flip the cushions and search the surroundings for anything left behind.
However, Fangzheng would be disappointed most of the time. No money was given! Not a single dime!
Furthermore, there was not a single high incense. People basically only offered ordinary incense. With regards to this, Fangzheng could only shake his head gently. It was not like he could force them to offer high incense, right? Therefore, other than shaking his head, there was nothing he could do.
A month passed again, and the incense offerings for it reached the unprecedented monthly amount of twenty sticks! Fangzheng was laughing until his mouth slanted from seeing the incense count. This was how much One Finger Temple received during a whole year in the past! Now, he had accomplished it in a month. With that, the mission of a hundred incense sticks seemed not to be as difficult as Fangzheng had imagined.
He would walk the dog or tease the squirrel every day. The days were as easy and relaxing as they could be.
In December, there was a festival the village liked to call the Twelfth Lunar Month Festival.
In this month, the incense Fangzheng's temple received increased greatly. People came nearly every day! For the first time, Fangzheng truly felt like an abbot. He would stand by the entrance every day, greeting everyone. How great it felt!
One day, Yang Hua came up the mountain. Upon seeing Fangzheng, he said with a loud laugh, "Fang- Abbot! Uh, is that how you are addressed?"
Fangzheng said with a wry smile, "Patron Yang, feel free to call me anything you like. Why does it sound so odd hearing you call me abbot?"
Yang Hua chuckled foolishly and said, "Well, my wife has been pregnant for almost three months, so it isn't convenient for her to come up the mountain. However, she told me to ask you something. Seeing how it's almost Laba, Hongyan Monastery from the neighboring village has already announced that there will be a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha for this year's Laba Festival. Laba Congee will be given out. Should your One Finger Temple hold one too? If you were to hold one, my wife is afraid you won't have enough help. She wants me to give you any help you need."
When Fangzheng heard that, he was immediately dumbfounded!
Laba? Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha?
He was enlightened almost immediately. He had only been paying attention to the incense offerings he received the past few days and had nearly forgotten this matter!
A Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha was a grand event in Buddhism. It was typically held on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. This day was known by the people as the Laba Festival. Buddhists claimed it to be the day when Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Buddha, attained buddhahood. According to them, it was the day Siddhartha Buddha gained enlightenment under the bodhi tree. Therefore, it was a day for all Buddhists to celebrate!
And besides bathing the Buddha to commemorate the day Buddha attained buddhahood, the day was also an invitation to everyone to eat Laba Congee. The people call it Laba Congee, but buddhists call it the congee of seven treasures and five tastes.
Later on, from the influence of Buddhism, it became a custom of the people to eat Laba Congee during the Laba Festival.
However, One Finger Temple was a tiny temple. In the past, it was already tough for them to make ends meet, so they naturally had no ability to run a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha. Over all those years, the old monk One Finger had never held a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha. Instead, every year on that day, he would mumble to himself, "How good it would be if One Finger Temple were able to hold a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha one day... Sigh."
Thinking back of One Finger's long sigh, Fangzheng said without a second thought, "For this year's Laba Festival, not only will This Penniless Monk provide Laba Congee, he will also hold a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha. It will be a baptism of the people's hearts and minds as well as myself!"
"What? You want to hold a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha? Haven't... you never held one before?" Yang Hua asked Fangzheng as he stared at him.
Fangzheng said with a laugh, "This Penniless Monk has naturally never held it. Although one has never eaten pork, one has seen a pig move. A Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha isn't that hard."
"Fang-, Fangzheng, do you know how much it costs to distribute Laba Congee?" Yang Hua asked.
When Fangzheng heard that, he was immediately dumbfounded! He nearly forgot that it was not something that could be held without any funding. Distributing Laba Congee was fine if two or three people came. But if nearly a hundred people came, Fangzheng estimated that his bit of wealth would not be enough!
Just as Fangzheng was beginning to falter...
"Ding! On the day of a Buddhist festival, the System will provide for all ingredients. A bonus recipe of the congee of seven treasures and five tastes will also be provided. All ingredients were farmed from the foot of Mount Numinous by arhats! Therefore, there is no need to worry about the ingredients for Laba Congee. What you should worry is if people will come that day."
When Fangzheng heard that, he was moved to tears as he thought, "System, well played! When I return to the secular world, I'll reward you with a lady!"
System: "2#[email protected]!"
With the System backing him, Fangzheng had nothing to fear. Immediately he became bold from his wealth. However, he did not show it on his face. He said with a smile like he was profound and deep, "Patron, there is no need to worry. This Penniless Monk naturally has a solution."
"Eh, seriously? Alright! I'll support you! However, my support alone won't be enough. When I get back, I'll get Yang Ping and his wife to help. I'll see who else is free to help out!" Yang Hua said in excitement. He had immediately turned spirited when he heard that Fangzheng was seriously doing it.
Fangzheng was touched when he heard that. If the ingredients were prepared early and he taught them the cooking procedure, wouldn't he end up being rather free? As the sloth in Fangzheng reared its head, he almost nodded in appreciation.
"Ding! If you want to hold a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha and distribute Laba Congee, the Laba Congee has to be prepared personally by you to have any meaning," said the System.
Fangzheng rolled his eyes and said, "Bro, do you know how many people will come that day? If a few hundred people come, are you sure that I will be the one cooking the porridge and not the one being stewed? If I were to die from fatigue, you can just leave after patting your buttocks, but what about me?"
The System continued, "It's just a friendly reminder. You can get them to help. However, I have to remind you that the Laba Congee given to you by the System is not only meant for eating. This congee can cleanse one's soul and at the same time rejuvenate one's body in every aspect. It will make the people who eat it beam and be rid of any hidden ailments! Illnesses will be treated, while those without illnesses will be protected from illnesses! However, if the congee is made by the hands of others, this augmented capability will be gone. It's not that I'm looking down on you. I just wish for you to be aware of reality. With the present influence One Finger Temple has, the number of people that will come that day is really nothing worth mentioning."
Fangzheng agreed with the System after some thought. Furthermore, those who could come were mostly villagers from down the mountain. He was indebted to all of them. It wouldn't be right if he could not provide them with a classic meal of Laba Congee.