One is Many; Many is One. Many people had understood it as: the heart manifests the myriad Dharma; the myriad Dharmas return to one; despite the world being huge; only the heart was the biggest! Never did anyone think of things from such a simple angle.
What Fangzheng had said today filled them with wisdom. They felt enlightened!
For instance, why did they have worries? Although they claimed to cast off their worries could they really cast them off in practice? If they had truly discarded their worries, why did they care about winning or losing when discussing Buddhism? Shouldn’t they draw on the strong points of others to make up for the weak points of themselves, and approach it from different angles sincerely? If they truly had cast everything off, why did they care who was rookie king? Everyone turned more embarrassed the more they thought. They looked at Fangzheng again and realized that he had not vied for anything from beginning to end, to the point of it being forced upon him. His pure eyes and radiant smile made everyone feel ashamed about their unworthiness.
Yi Xing was stunned rooted to the spot. He originally believed that Fangzheng was a cheat but now from the looks of it, he was not a cheat but a true master! He had real intellect!
Yi Xing could not help but ask, “Abbot Fangzheng, since you have such an understanding, why didn’t you compete previously?”
Fangzheng definitely could not say that he lacked the knowledge to compete. Instead, he said perfunctorily with a smile, “To compete is to not compete. To not compete is to compete.”
Everyone was confounded when they heard that. They did not figure out what he meant after thinking all day. Finally all of them came with their own conclusions and felt that Fangzheng was even more unfathomable. Who would dare belittle such an extraordinary person after his crossing the river on a reed and his explanation of the scriptures?
Despite remaining unsatisfied, Yi Xing no longer dared to challenge Fangzheng. He had a sudden stroke of brilliance as he asked, “Abbot Fangzheng, what you said is truly enlightening. You have benefited This Penniless Monk a great deal. Especially the insight you gain regarding the myriad things in the world. It is not anything like insipid sutras. It has really broadened This Penniless Monk’s perceptions. This Penniless Monk wishes that Abbot Fangzheng will continue preaching more.”
With Yi Xing taking the lead, everyone jolted to their senses as they clamored.
“Abbot Fangzheng, please preach more.”
“Abbot Fangzheng, what you said was too short. It wasn’t enough. Give a longer sermon.”
“Abbott Fangzheng, what you said was excellent. We want to hear more!”
Fangzheng came close to tears when he heard everyone’s shouts. Preach more? He had already delivered all he knew. Did they really think that meaningful insights were so commonplace!? After being on the mountain for so long, that was all he understood. He had poured out all he knew so what else was there for him?
Fangzheng said, “Everyone, it’s not early. The sun is about to set. If this continues, everyone will have to starve.”
“The ancients say that acquiring comprehension of the truth in the morning leaves one contented even if one dies in the evening! What’s mere starving when there is truth to be heard today?”
“That’s right. Abbot Fangzheng, don’t stand on ceremony. Continue explaining the scriptures.”
“Abbott Fangzheng don’t worry about our stomachs. Scripture allows for an empty stomach!”
“That’s right, that’s right…”
Fangzheng truly wanted to cry when he heard that. He thought to himself, “You guys might acquire comprehension of the truth in the morning leaving you contented even if you die in the evening. That’s just perfunctory talk. If I really have to continue, I’ll actually die! There’s nothing at all, what else can I say? Also, who’s standing on ceremony with you? Can’t you show some grace to This Penniless Monk? Let This Penniless Monk have a meal, a good sleep, so as to run off the next day!”
At that moment Zen Master Hongyan said, “Abbot Fangzheng, why don’t you continue?”
Zen Master Baiyun also added, “Abbot Fangzheng, since everyone is so keen on it, why don’t you continue? This Penniless Monk would like to know what sort of Buddhist Dharma insights you gained from nature. What you just said previously is, in fact, shared by This Penniless Monk as well.”
Everyone was given a fright when they heard this. Fangzheng was actually almost on par with Zen Master Baiyun! This was equivalent to Zen Master Baiyun affirming Fangzheng’s conclusion. That was impressive! It made everyone wish to listen to any subsequent teachings!
Fangzheng’s heart was filled with sad bitterness. Now that both the accomplished monks had said so, he was truly being forced to do something beyond him! It was as though he was riding a tiger and had no way to get off.
Yi Xing was completely relieved when he saw the two accomplished monks give the word. He thought to himself, “Once tested, it will be known if he’s a cheat or not! If he’s an accomplished monk, I’ll offer a humble apology. If he’s a fake monk, hmph! How can Buddhism accommodate such a heinous person?!”
Just as Fangzheng was having a terrible headache
“Ding! Do you need any help?” asked the System.
“Cut it out. What can you help me with? Can you help me explain the scriptures?” Fangzheng could only show a wry smile, one hidden from others.
“You had previously accumulated quite a bit of merit. Do you know what merit is? Merit can influence the worldly favor you experience. It can help you turn calamities into blessings. That is one of the aspects of merit. Now that you are in trouble why don’t you do this? If you were to give me some of your merit, I’ll help you survive this calamity. Of course you have received two verbal commendations and you can still draw a prize. You can also try your luck at the lottery but the chances of you getting something useful from the lottery…”
“I can still have another chance at the draw?” Fangzheng was taken aback as he suddenly remembered something. Indeed, he could have a chance at the lottery.
“Yes, are you certain you want to draw?” asked the System.
“Yes! Merit is good stuff. Do you think it was easy for me to gather this bit of merit? I still wish to renounce asceticism through it. If you deduct it, what am I to do?!” quipped Fangzheng.
“Are you certain?” asked the System.
“Yes, very certain! Do the draw!” said Fangzheng.
“Ding! Congratulations on obtaining a Lotus Flower Conveyance Experiential Card!” After the System announced his draw it paused and added, “You really lucked out!”
Fangzheng was puzzled, “What’s that? What’s it for?”
“Lotus Flower Conveyance, Golden Fountains Arise. It is an ability only our Buddha has. During the conveyance of the Truth, lotus flowers would bloom as the golden fountains arise from the ground. Lotus Flower Conveyance gives you that ability. However this card is of the lowest grade. Therefore, it only has an effective period of twelve hours. Once it’s used, it will vanish after twelve hours. This ability will also disappear but it’s more than enough to help you tide through this calamity.”
When Fangzheng heard that he truly had to to stop the grin from forming on his face. Although the card was expensive it was much better than humiliating himself. Besides, it could win him fame and reputation!
With the card, Fangzheng finally felt confident as he pressed his palms together. He bowed, “Amitabha. Since everyone wishes to see This Penniless Monk make a fool of himself, This Penniless Monk will do so.”
Everyone was delighted when they heard that. Everyone took their seats and listened attentively as if they were students. The way they looked so serious made Fangzheng a little embarrassed. Their attitudes were much better than the attitude he had when he was listening to the scriptures.
When Yi Xing saw this he heaved a sigh of relief. He had originally wanted to step up and force Fangzheng into giving the sermon but now that there was no need to do so, he returned to Hong Jin’s side and sat down.
Hong Jin whispered, “Yi Xing you did it deliberately, didn’t you?”
Yi Xing replied, “Yes. Crossing the river on a reed is vague and insubstantial, something possible as a magic trick. I had a short conversation with him and he doesn’t appear like an accomplished monk. I’m just testing him. If he really is accomplished, I’ll admit my mistakes and ask for forgiveness. If he’s a cheat it’s perfect that he can be exposed.” He added in his mind, “Count it as revenge for stealing my limelight.”
Yi Xing seemed to forget that Fangzheng had stolen his limelight only because he himself had forced him up on stage…
Fangzheng sat down cross-legged and was at a loss of where to look. He took on a stern expression.
When everyone saw this, they held their breaths and focused as they waited to hear his sermon.
Only Yi Xing was distracted. He still refused to believe that Fangzheng could say something astonishing. After all his age was evident.
At that moment, Fangzheng silently chose to use the Lotus Flower Conveyance card!