When people saw Fangzheng in a daze, no longer looking as composed as usual, their impression of Fangzheng dropped like a rock in a river. Yet when they remembered Fangzheng’s abilities, no one dared to belittle him.
Of course there were others who were secretly hoping for Fangzheng to stumble. There was no grudge between them but simply because destruction pursues the great.
Zen Master Baiyun was not mad but instead said with a smile, “Abbot Fangzheng, you aren’t twenty this year. You happen to be able to enter the lineup of new talent. Your One Finger Monastery has never participated in Baiyun Monastery’s Dharma Assembly so you might not be aware of it. It’s also understandable that you didn’t submit an application previously. Therefore this Penniless Monk is now asking for your opinion. Are you willing to participate in this new talent competition and preach the sutra on behalf of the Buddhist disciples?”
With that said the look in everyone’s eyes changed. They now looked at Fangzheng oddly.
Although they wished to see Fangzheng stumble everyone knew that simply his crossing of a river on a reed was enough to let this youngest abbot ascend to the throne of rookie king! Although Yi Xing was a genius it was only hearsay. How could it compare to their witnessing of Fangzheng crossing the river on a reed?
Yi Xing’s brows finally knitted together. Noticing how Fangzheng did not speak he could not help but say, “Zen Master Baiyun, according to your monastery’s rules, the application period is already over. Abbot Fangzheng might not be aware but that does not give him reason to break the rules.”
Once that was said everyone present fell into chaos!
Hong Jin, who was sitting to the side, nearly jumped up in fright to pull him back down! He managed to endure it despite the anxious look on his face. His mind raced as he tried to think of a way to alleviate the situation.
Who was Zen Master Baiyun?
He was the most accomplished monk in Black Mountain City!
Be it the Spring Welcoming Blessing Dharma Assembly or the debate from before, they were presided by Zen Master Baiyun! It could be said that he was the number one monk in the entire Black Mountain district. His words spoke volumes!
Why did he question Zen Master Baiyun in front of so many? No one had ever done so!
Hong Jin did not dare do so but he never expected his disciple to have the gall! Hong Jin was close to tears. If it wasn’t handled properly they could be kicked out!
The rest maintained their silence. However from their eyes it was evident that some people looked worried while there were others who were taking pleasure in their misfortune.
Yi Xing saw all of this. Yet he still had no intention to stand down. Youths were easily rash and he was in his defiant phase. He believed that he was in the right. So what fault was there in speaking the truth? He raised his head and puffed his chest appearing completely undaunted.
What astonished everyone was that Zen Master Baiyun did not lose his temper. Instead, he thought through it, “Yi Xing, what you say makes sense. However, do you know why my Baiyun Monastery originally organized this Dharma Assembly?”
Yi Xing said without any hesitation, “To advance and enrich Buddhist Dharma, to benefit everyone!” Yi Xing was momentarily stumped when he registered his own words.
When Zen Master Baiyun saw this, he smiled and remained silent.
Yi Xing sighed and held his palms together. He bowed, “I have been too attached. I know that you are the one who determines who recites the sutras and preaches the Dharma. But today there is a reason for me to compete. Therefore regardless of who joins, I wish to compete with him!”
When Hong Jin heard this, his heart palpitated. He knew Yi Xing’s character. He was stubborn but he was definitely not someone who desired to prevail over others! Yi Xing had done so mostly because of the monastery and him! He felt touched as he nearly cried out. However Hong Jin stood up and rebuked him, “What do you mean compete? A monk doesn’t compete! Yi Xing, sit down!”
Hong Jin gave Zen Master Baiyun a hand salute, “Abbot Baiyun, Yi Xing is young. Please do not blame him.”
Yi Xing refused to sit and instead stared at Zen Master Baiyun, “Abbot Baiyun, all I want is for it to be fair, nothing more!”
“Fair? How can your Buddhist Dharma compete with the feat of crossing the river on a reed?” asked Hong Jin.
Yi Xing shook his head, “Crossing the river on a reed is a divine power. Buddhist Dharma is about cultivating one’s mind and body. It’s not a divine power! If we are competing on divine powers then which one of us present can match Abbot Fangzheng?”
Hong Jin was left speechless. He was the one who had said so in the beginning. Now that it was used by his disciple against him he truly was at a loss.
Zen Master Baiyun spoke up, “Abbot Hong Jin, congratulations on having a good disciple. Since Yi Xing insists on it, we can have a competition. Abbot Fangzheng what say you? Are you willing to participate in today’s sutra preaching? Are you willing to compete with Yi Xing on Buddhist Dharma insights?”
Everyone aimed their gazes at Fangzheng once again. Everyone had already come to a conclusion. One was absolutely a retard if they did not grasp such an opportunity! It was obvious without looking that Fangzheng would definitely nod his head vigorously to agree!
Fangzheng shook his bald head like a rattle!
Everyone thought that they were seeing things. Many of them rubbed their eyes to make sure that they were not seeing things.
Fangzheng said, “This Penniless Monk is unwilling!”
“What?!” Hong Jin widened his eyes and gave a look of disbelief!
Zen Master Hongyan was stunned too. Wu Xin fell into a daze. Hong Chan’s mind went blank! The rest were dumbstruck. No one expected that such a good opportunity that everyone tried their best to vie for would be rejected so directly by Fangzheng! Was this person a fool or simply a retard?
Yi Xing was slightly taken aback then a look of realization flashed in his eyes. Not only was there no look of gratitude in the way he looked at Fangzheng there was instead a derisive and mocking tone to it! He thought to himself, “This monk might have crossed the river on a reed but it’s possible that he used magic tricks to accomplish it. It was all a fabrication. The only truth is the Buddhist Dharma. Previously he might have answered my question but it was not an accurate answer. When he left, his eyes beamed with a look of delight as though he was afraid I would press him for more answers. Back then I felt that his attainments in the Buddhist Dharma was bad but from the looks of it he truly is lacking. He’s afraid! Crossing the river on a reed, a legendary monk, the youngest abbot? Hmph! This Penniless Monk shall crack down on fake news today and rip apart his facade!”
Upon thinking of this he lifted his head. His eyes looked calm but his heart was raging with a fighting spirit.
Zen Master Baiyun was slightly taken aback. This was the first time in many years that someone rejected him.
Zen Master Baiyun thought that Fangzheng did not understand so he asked again, “Abbot Fangzheng, are you really not participating?”
Fangzheng shook his head decisively, “Of course. Didn’t This Penniless Monk say so clearly? This Penniless Monk really doesn’t intend to participate.”
Zen Master One Finger frowned, “Abbot Fangzheng, do you know what it would bring to your One Finger Monastery if you were to participate and win this competition?”
Someone advised Fangzheng out of good will, “Abbot Fangzheng, if you receive the title of rookie king, One Finger Monastery will definitely become famous. It will not be a nameless monastery anymore.”
“That’s right. This is such a good opportunity. We are too old and we do not have any talented disciples or we would have joined in the competition.”
“That’s right. Zen Master Baiyun made an exception by allowing you to participate. Why would you do this?”
“If you have any insights, there’s no harm sharing it. We can learn from each other to improve.”
Fangzheng smiled wryly in his heart. If he truly had any knowledge, he would have participated without the need for others to encourage him; of course, unless someone was pulling him back to prevent him from participating. The problem was: he knew nothing. What was the point in participating? To humiliate himself?