Fang Yunjing left a message on Fangzheng's Moments post, "Master, your calligraphy is truly beautiful. By the way, I want more cute pictures!"
Fangzheng felt a little speechless after seeing the comments from them. He was such a handsome monk. Was he only capable of cute pictures? Why didn't anyone request a few cool pictures from him? They truly had poor taste and little substance!
Following that, Fangzheng made a 'V'-shape with his fingers and blinked as he took a cute picture of himself. He sent it out, and it was immediately met with laughter.
Fangzheng sent another picture of the ice lanterns on the mountain...
"Wow! It's beautiful!"
"Heavens! Master, was all of that done by you alone? Isn't this a crystal palace? Do you have concubines hidden in it?"
Fangzheng's pictures were shared again by the quartet. It was met with astonishment as people sent all sorts of inquiries. When they learned that it was Mt. One Finger, they rushed to check a map. After going through great efforts to find the place and the road directions, all of them gave up.
However, that was also considered a form of promotion for One Finger Temple.
After Fangzheng had his fun, he went offline. The monastery needed to pass the new year too. It was not simply a matter of couplets and ice lanterns.
Fangzheng came to the temple hall and climbed to the top where he lit the oil lamps. They were only lit during important occasions. Usually, Fangzheng would have been unwilling to light it as lantern oil was expensive.
Then, Fangzheng went to the backyard and took out a bronze lotus flower lamp. He placed it in front of the Buddhist sculpture in the temple hall and placed a lit candle in it.
He could not use lantern oil and had to resort to candles. There were two reasons. First, it held the notion that one had to burn oneself first so as to illuminate others. It reminded practitioners that they had to constantly hone themselves arduously so as to save mankind. They were not to degenerate. Second, just like how a lamp could destroy the darkness, the wisdom of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas was able to destroy all worries. Practitioners had to delve deep into the sutras and learn from the wisdom of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas so as to save mankind.
Fangzheng sat cross-legged in front of the lamp as he recited a blessing sutra.
Before he finished reciting his sutra, Lone Wolf howled from outside. Fangzheng ignored him. The monastery was small and poor. It was unlikely anyone would climb the mountain to rob it. Even if there was someone, would they be able to get past Lone Wolf?
Lone Wolf had spent a long time in the monastery. He ate Crystal Rice every day and drank Unrooted Clean Aqua. His physique had improved greatly. If he were to return to the woods, he would definitely be capable of winning back the title of alpha wolf. How could any ordinary person be the match of an alpha wolf, and an intelligent one at that?
Lone Wolf would also not easily injure others. Therefore, Fangzheng felt at ease as he recited his sutra with total peace of mind!
Fangzheng might have been at ease, but there was someone who wasn't!
"Chen Jin, is what you said true?" Wu Ming nearly yelled when he heard what was said through the phone.
"It's true! I'm not sure what happened to all those people. They are collectively heading to Mt. One Finger in a bid to snatch the first incense offering. Master Wu Ming, are you... going to handle this matter?" Chen Jin was already very displeased with Fangzheng. When he saw the villagers gather to scale the mountain to vie for the first incense offering, he immediately snitched on them.
Wu Ming was incensed the instant he heard that! He could forget the vying for incense offerings with his Hongyan Monastery back during the Laba Festival. But now, One Finger Temple was in the way of the first incense offerings? One Finger Temple was clearly opposing his Hongyan Monastery!
However, Wu Ming's rage was useless. It was not his place to determine where people could go.
However, Wu Ming suddenly had a thought. How was the young monk so capable that he was praised by everyone? There was likely something fishy about the matter! He had suffered back during the Laba Festival and had not recovered from his failures. Master Hongyan seldom sought him now. Yet he was eager to perform well.
Therefore, Wu Ming did not say a word and left the monastery directly. He rode a motorcycle and rushed to Mt. One Finger!
Chen Jin was already waiting for him.
Wu Ming alighted and asked, "What's the situation?"
"All of them are beginning to scale the mountain. We can still chase up to them!" said Chen Jin.
Wu Ming nodded. He and Chen Jin rushed up the mountain to chase after the villagers.
Wu Ming had not decided what to say after he chased up to them. He decided to take a look and act as the circumstances dictated. In summary, he was not planning to let Fangzheng have a good new year's if Fangzheng prevented him from having one!
Wu Ming frequently trained physically, so it was naturally not difficult for him to scale the mountain. As for the villagers, there were the young and elderly. They proceeded up the mountain merrily, so they were not fast. Soon, Wu Ming chased up to them.
"Venerable Wu Ming, why are you here?" Yang Ping, who was walking at the back, asked in astonishment when she saw Wu Ming.
Wu Ming wiped the sweat from his forehead and held his palms together. He gave a Buddhist proclamation and had a look that seemed to bemoan the state of the universe and show pity for all mankind. He said gently and benevolently, "Greetings Patron Yang, it's been a while."
"It has indeed been a while, Venerable Wu Ming. Why are you here?" Yang Ping was an accountant, and he knew the ways of the world. When he saw Wu Ming and Chen Jin, he immediately knew that there was trouble. Something was probably going to happen! Therefore, he quickly asked about Wu Ming's intentions.
Wu Ming chuckled and said, "Nothing much. I recently heard many things about One Finger Temple. Back then, Zen Master One Finger and my master had quite a good relationship, so I specially made the trip here." Despite saying so, he was unhappy deep down. In the past, Yang Ping would always address him as Master Wu Ming! Today he was addressed as 'venerable.' He found it lacking and was unhappy about it!
Although Wu Ming knew that the term 'master' was not something afforded to anyone, he was a vain person. He still wished that these people who appeared foolish to him would address him as master.
"I see. Venerable Wu Ming, the village chief is up ahead. Shall I bring you to him?" asked Yang Ping.
Wu Ming nodded and said, "Alright. Thank you, Patron."
Yang Ping got his family to walk slower as he led Wu Ming forward. Chen Jin followed silently behind.
"Venerable Wu Ming, why are you here?" Wang Yougui knitted his brows when he saw Wu Ming. Wu Ming was quite peculiar. Zen Master Hongyan and the other monks seldom left the monastery. However, Wu Ming frequently left the monastery and visited the various village chiefs and secretaries. Every time the monastery had an event, he would rush over to inform them. He always had a way to get everyone to come on his account and help promote the event.
From Wang Yougui's point of view, Wu Ming did not resemble a monk but a businessman! However, he kept his thoughts to himself. After all, Wu Ming had never done anything bad. There was nothing wrong with promoting his monastery.
"Patron Wang, where are you going this late at night?" Wu Ming did not reply but instead asked a question he already knew the answer to.
"It's almost the new year. Everyone wants to try their luck at snatching the first incense offering. They wish that they will be blessed in the upcoming year, so all of us came together," explained Wang Yougui.
"I see. The mountain path is treacherous, and there are the young and elderly. Without lights, isn't it a little too dangerous?" asked Wu Ming immediately.
Wang Yougui said with a smile, "Might I know what you are suggesting, Venerable Wu Ming?"
Wu Ming smiled without a word. Behind him, Chen Jin said, "I say, Mt. One Finger's mountain path is steep. It's not suitable for walking at night. Why don't we return? There's still time for us to head for Hongyan Monastery together. The path there is more amenable to walking. There's also little traffic."
Wang Yougui stared at Chen Jing, who clearly didn't align his interests with the village, and said, "I think we'll pass. The village doesn't have any trucks or vans. Everyone has to ride motorcycles there. The cold weather makes it unsuitable. Besides, Hongyan Monastery is so far away. We have the young and elderly. It might lead to untoward circumstances."
Yang Ping added, "That's right. We are almost halfway there. It doesn't make sense to return. Chen Jin, if you think Hongyan Monastery is better, nobody is stopping you. Your family has a car after all. It works for you better than us anyway."