Chapter 149: Too Passionate
Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
“Amitabha. If I were to give you a chance to live, what would you do?”
“Do what? If I were to revive, I don’t want to be a monk anymore. I want to return home. I want to educate my children and take care of my wife. Even if the sky fell, I would be their pillar of support and shelter them from the squall,” Wu Ming muttered as he stared at his wife, his face tight with emotion.
“Amitabha.” Fangzheng held his palms together and made a Buddhist proclamation.
The next moment Wu Ming felt that everything in front of him became an illusion. Buddhist flares burst out in a manner so dazzling that he could not open his eyes. He subconsciously covered his eyes. By the time his eyes acclimatized to the brightness, he was shocked to discover that he was still standing on the edge of Village Viewing Cliff!
As for Fangzheng and company, they had only just reached the top of Village Viewing Cliff. From afar, he saw Fangzheng looking at him with his palms held together. Fangzheng was smiling at him.
Wu Ming was taken aback momentarily. He could not tell if what he had experienced was real or just an illusion. If it was real, what was going on? Time reversal? If it was an illusion, was he in a dream? Regardless, Wu Ming understood that everything was because of Fangzheng! It was the young monk who appeared to be harmless!
The two experiences of Fangzhen’s crossing a river on a reed and A Golden Millet Dream completely convinced Wu Ming of one thing. The young monk in front of him not a simple individual. Even if he wasn’t a real Buddha, he was close to one! He was not to be offended!
Since he could not offend Fangzheng, his mind returned to the problem of returning home. When thinking of home and everything that had happened in the dream, Wu Ming’s eyes turned red. Regardless of the authenticity of his experience, he knew that Fangzheng had shown him his true thoughts. He was no longer lost. It left him greatly indebted! Upon coming to this realization, Wu Ming widened his stride and walked towards Fangzheng.
“Wu Ming, what are you doing? Have you not realized your folly?” Zen Master Hongyan was incensed when he saw Wu Ming rush up to Fangzheng. He berated him loudly. At that moment, although no one had said anything about Wu Ming’s involvement, Zen Master Hongyan already knew all that had happened. Wu Ming was the one behind everything.
However, Wu Ming had no intention to stop. His eyes were a little red and his face looked anxious as though he was worried about something.
The crowd of monks saw Wu Ming walking over. Many of them had a sense of foreboding and thought, “Could this Wu Ming be beating someone in his rage?”
Everyone looked worriedly at Fangzheng. Elder Du and Hong Xiang took a step forward, prepared to stop Wu Ming.
Fangzheng blocked Hong Xiang and held his palms together. He said with a smile, “Patron, have you thought of where you would like to go?”
Wu Ming’s body jolted. Following that, he plopped to the ground in front of Fangzheng under everyone’s shocked eyes. He kowtowed thrice, leaving the crowd baffled. They had no idea what was happening. Instead of causing trouble for Fangzheng, Wu Ming even knelt down and kowtowed?
Besides, Wu Ming was also a monk so why did Fangzheng address Wu Ming as patron? Everything seemed wrong!
“Thank you, Venerable Fangzheng for pointing a way out for me. I finally realize what I want. I’ve thought it through. I want to renounce asceticism. I wish to return home!”
When this was said, everyone present was dumbfounded. What was going on? Why did Wu Ming, who had been discussing Buddhist philosophy with them just moments ago, suddenly want to renounce asceticism? What did this have to do with Fangzheng? It was not as if Fangzheng had done anything.
Everyone was puzzled. Even Zen Master Baiyun and Zen Master Hongyan were baffled. They looked at Fangzheng and then Wu Ming. Masters of a generation realized that their brains were lacking!
Wu Ming’s decision was within Fangzheng’s expectations. He was not surprised so he spoke calmly, “In that case, return from whence thou came.”
Wu Ming nodded and kowtowed once again! Then Wu Ming came in front of Zen Master Hongyan, knelt down and kowtowed.
Zen Master Hongyan could not help but ask, “Wu Ming, what exactly happened?”
“Master, I have sinned. I became bankrupt years ago and in order to escape my creditors, I went to many monasteries but none of them were willing to accept me. It was you who accepted me into Hongyan Monastery to be a monk. As your disciple, I am truly grateful! But all these years, instead of repaying your gratitude, my actions have been for selfish reasons” Wu Ming revealed all his previous thoughts, his conflict with Fangzheng and how he tried to make things difficult for Fangzheng. He expressed his intentions of how he pined for his family and had no interest in being a monk. He wished to shoulder the responsibility and duty he should have shouldered by renouncing asceticism and returning home.
As he neared the end of his explanation, Wu Ming was kowtowing once every sentence. His forehead was bleeding incessantly from all his kowtowing. Only when he was done did he stop as he awaited Zen Master Hongyan’s verdict.
After everyone heard his confession, they realized that the person to force Fangzheng into crossing the river on a reed was actually Wu Ming! His goal was only to seek revenge against Fangzheng for snatching his incense offerings
At that point, everyone looked at him angrily. Some even rebuked him silently, “How can our Buddhist school of thought retain such a person?”
Hong Jin’s face was flushing red. After hearing Wu Ming’s explanation, what he had called into question had all been answered. He had drawn a conclusion without any investigation and blamed Fangzheng. It would be fine if no one pursued the matter but if someone did, he would truly be humiliated. Thankfully, everyone’s focus was on Wu Ming
Zen Master Hongyan sighed, “How can This Penniless Monk not know about your situation? That is why you were made to study the Dharma daily. This Penniless Monk hoped that you would one day be enlightened and recover your true self. However sigh! So be it. You have finally recovered your true self. In that case, you may leave the mountain!”
“Thank you!” Wu Ming kowtowed again before he stood up and took off his monk robes. He descended the mountain barebacked despite the cold winter. He walked quickly and there was no longer that scheming deep look in his eyes. Replacing them was a sense of freedom and ease!
Fangzheng held his palms together and spoke towards Wu Ming’s departing back, “Amitabha!”
Only Fangzheng understood what was on Wu Ming’s mind. For Wu Ming to do so, the courage he needed was not something any ordinary person could muster.
It was also a path Fangzheng truly envied
Although Wu Ming was gone, the questions remained. How did Fangzheng enlighten Wu Ming? The both of them did not have any interaction. Could everything be a farce that they had arranged ahead of time? However, the farce had Zen Master Hongyan involved. It was impossible for him to do such a thing.
Everyone was puzzled but none of them felt it was right for them to meddle and pose a question. All they did was fidget by scratching their ears or cheeks and glance at the composed Fangzheng from time to time.
They obviously did not know that Fangzheng was feeling rather depressed too!
When he had scaled the mountain and saw Wu Ming looking like he was in a trance, Fangzheng struck first to gain the upper hand for he was afraid Wu Ming would do something foolish. He used A Golden Millet Dream to lead him into an illusion and watched what he planned to do so that he could prepare ahead of time. In the end, the situation developed to the point of him seeing the thoughts and worries that were buried deep in Wu Ming’s heart. Fangzheng did not think too much and guided him. But now things were problematic. How was he to explain the situation?
Thankfully, the meeting was about to begin and no one had the chance to press for an answer. The meeting was simple. Jobs were handed out to the various monasteries, making them responsible for a particular aspect of the Spring Welcoming Blessing Dharma Assembly. Their positions were determined during the reciting of the sutras, etc The entire process was insipid. Fangzheng sat there with his eyes wide open but his mind was elsewhere.
He was the only person from One Finger Monastery and he did not know anything about the assembly. Zen Master Baiyun gave him special treatment so there was nothing Fangzheng was asked to do the only thing he needed to do was recite the scriptures.
With that, the afternoon passed.
That evening, Baiyun Monastery held a feast and invited all the monks. Fangzheng was alone and was worried over his seating arrangements but when he arrived
“Venerable Fangzheng, why don’t you sit here?”
“Venerable Fangzheng, Tongzhen Monastery has too many people there. Why don’t you sit with us? We don’t have many people.”
“Amitabha. Venerable Fangzheng, This Penniless Monk has been studying the scriptures for more than ten years. Might it be possible for us to discuss some questions that have been plaguing me?” requested an old white-bearded monk.
It was initially fine for Fangzheng. All he did was thank everyone starting with the old monkperhaps people felt that Fangzheng was an accomplished monk or perhaps they were trying to show off their Dharma knowledge to elevate themselvesall of them began clamoring to discuss their insights with Fangzheng over the Buddhist scriptures. Some wanted to discuss the Diamond Sutra while others wanted to discuss the Medicine Buddha Sutra. There were even many sutras that Fangzheng had never heard of.
Fangzheng was not well-versed in Buddhist scripture to begin with. All the Buddhist text he had read could be counted with one hand! As such, how did he dare sit down with monks that had really studied the scriptures and talk about his insights? He yearned to avoid them.
On the surface, Fangzheng looked composed and carefree as he constantly chuckled and returned their bows. He did not slight anyone but in fact, his back was completely covered in sweat. He was wondering if he should make an excuse so he could escape.
Just as Fangzheng was plagued by these thoughts, Zen Master Hongyan spoke up, “Venerable Fangzheng, why don’t you sit with This Penniless Monk? This Penniless Monk is a little curious about the recent situation regarding One Finger Monastery.”
When Fangzheng heard that it was a discussion of trivial household matters instead of Buddhist scriptures, he knew he had a way out. He was confident that he could chat aimlessly.
Noticing that Fangzheng had chosen to sit at Hongyan Monastery’s table, all the monks immediately lamented inwardly. From their point of view, Fangzheng was no longer a young monk. Crossing a river on a reed truly made him a godlike existence. Zen Master Hongyan had failed to enlighten Wu Ming all these years but Wu Ming was enlightened upon sight when confronted with Fangzheng. Such a person was definitely skilled! Fangzheng was still young but it was possible that, in the future, he would slowly but surely become a master of a generation!
Everyone wanted to befriend Fangzheng. They did not care what the topic was. One day, if Fangzheng were to truly become famous, becoming a true master, they would first of all have already been acquainted with a master and secondly they could brag.
Although monks should not be particular about such things humans were living beings. Social contact was unavoidable. Even if they did not covet anything, society still demanded mutual help. No man is an island
When Fangzheng saw the ravenous eyes of the monks of various seniorities look elsewhere, he heaved a sigh of relief.
Indeed, Zen Master Hongyan only made idle chatter. Hong Chan was respectful to Fangzheng and did not interrupt. Wu Xin was an honest person and a man of few words. Since Wu Ming had left, Wu Xin wasn’t in a good mood. He ended up speaking even less.
This suited Fangzheng perfectly. It was easy to say something wrong if he spoke too much; thus, the fewer words, the better.
However, there was someone who wasn’t happy.
“Master, why be this bothered? That Fangzheng crossed the river on a reed and came with the flair of Patriarch Bodhidharma. Who can stop him when he is this favored by the world?” A young monk who was about the same age as Fangzheng, sat beside Hong Jin with a bitter smile.