“That feeling gives me insomnia. I want to know that I truly I understood. Can you repeat what you said?”
Fangzheng was stunned. He never expected Monkey to chase after him once he gained some insights from listening to his recital. The thought of scripture spreading across species fascinated Fangzheng. Back when he delivered Lotus Flower Conveyance, he realized that true Buddhist Dharma was not beholden to language. Instead, it was communication at the spiritual level. The sounds he produced were not necessarily a language. It was merely a way of communication.
Fangzheng had been working hard and had been studying the scriptures recently so he learned many new things.
Back when Patriarch Bodhidharma came from the West, he was unable to spread the Dharma because of the language mismatch.
Back then, Hinayana Buddhism was popular in China. It was the same in Sanskrit so in order to practice Buddhism, one had to first know Sanskrit. It also turned out that education was not for the masses. Most people were illiterate, much less having any literacy in Sanskrit. Therefore, practicing Buddhists in China were either nobility or wealthy. Ordinary people had no chance to practice Buddhism. This also resulted in a way to trumpet their power. And since the Hinayana Buddhism focused on an individual’s path towards enlightenment, they ignored others. All they did was redeem themselves and not the masses.
As such, no one taught others Sanskrit.
After Bodhidharma arrived, he learned of the situation. Coupled with the language barrier he faced, all he could do was sit on a mountain and meditate for days, creating the Zen school of thought. There was no need for language in the Zen school of thought. All one did was sit to comprehend the world, watching the mountains or water bodies, their every move. Even eating and farming was a part of the cultivation. From the moment it spread, everyone could practice Buddhism, ushering in an era of the big-vehicle Buddhist Dharma.
Thus, true Buddhist Dharma was indeed not limited by language. In theory, it was not even limited to humans. Even beings that had gained sentience could understand it. Fangzheng had never before heard of animals gaining any insight after listening to a monk’s recital.
But on second thought, he had the ability to speak with animals. Animals could understand his normal speech so it was not that strange that they could understand his recital. Augmented by the Lotus Flower Conveyance, it was quite normal for Monkey to end up infatuated.
After coming to this realization, Fangzheng patted Monkey on the head. “It’s day time. Stop dreaming. Return to Mt. Baiyun.”
What a joke. Although Fangzheng had calmed his mind to begin comprehending the Buddhist Dharma, how was he to reach the level of Lotus Flower Conveyance? At the very least, he had to be a Bodhisattva or Buddha. It was already an impressive feat to deliver the recital once. To do it again? That would only expose his inadequacies. Therefore, Fangzheng would rather die than deliver it again.
“Please Master. I came from afar and chased after you the entire way. I did it to listen to your scriptures. You can’t do that.” Monkey turned anxious.
Fangzheng heard Monkey’s pleading just as he was about to leave. He came to a sudden realization as he looked at the pious look on Monkey’s face. Fangzheng realized that Monkey had experienced quite a lot of changes. His fur was no longer as tidy as it was back in the monastery, looking unkempt. Despite appearing low in spirits, Monkey’s eyes were filled with determination.
Fangzheng asked subconsciously, “How… how did you come all the way here?”
Monkey scratched his butt. “I followed you when you went down the mountain. When you crossed the river, I swam over. Later, I suffered through a mishap and lost you. I followed the direction in which you left and ran around blindly. I found you in a village but you ran off inside a huge metal box. I couldn’t chase up to you.” Later, I dawdled and finally arrived here. I never expected…”
Fangzheng asked, “You just arrived?”
“Yes, I’ve traveled to many places but I didn’t see any baldies. If there were no baldies, I would go elsewhere,” the monkey stated.
Fangzheng immediately felt respect for Monkey! A wild animal had embarked on a journey that spanned across two mountains. It was definitely not as easy as Monkey described. Furthermore, he had traveled the most of winter. The biting cold from the winds was something that even humans would shrink back. However, Monkey had managed to persist. He even managed to find him by sheer luck!
Perhaps… this was fate.
Fangzheng pressed his palms together, “Amitabha. Patron, the scriptures from before are only something you encountered by chance. If you are truly are sincere in consecrating Buddha, follow This Penniless Monk. You can listen by the side while I recite the sutras.”
Monkey instantly turned enlivened as he grinned, “That’s good! That’s good! I like that! Thanks! Darn dog, watch your back!”
Lone Wolf did not know what Monkey was saying but he knew from the hand gestures that he was asked to look back. Therefore, the naive but adorable lone wolf turned his head, allowing Monkey to tug his tail. After that, Monkey roared with laughter and ran up the tree. It infuriated Lone Wolf as he howled angrily under the tree. However, he could do nothing but give Fangzheng an aggrieved look.
Fangzheng chuckled and ignored them. He continued digging for the vegetables.
Seeing Fangzheng continue the digging up of vegetables, Squirrel obediently did his duty for his lunch and dinner. As he became more skilled at it, his speed was in no way slower than Fangzheng’s. Having learned a lesson from Monkey’s theft of the basket, Lone Wolf no longer dared to run freely. He gripped the basket tightly with his jaws and followed Fangzheng.
Monkey watched on the tree for some time before he jumped down and began digging the vegetables according to what he observed. A monkey was a monkey after all. He learned quickly and soon, the team comprising of a human and three animals quickly filled the basket with Wormwood sprouts. Satisfied, Fangzheng made plans to return.
At that moment, Fangzheng saw the branch that Monkey had used to strike Lone Wolf. He said with a chuckle, “Lone Wolf, come over. Let’s play a game. I’ll throw it out and you are in charge of fetching it. If you do well, you will be given an additional helping of rice dinner!”
Lone Wolf had a disparaging look when he heard the first half of the sentence. Clearly, he had no interest in such a childish game but when he heard about the reward, he became excited. He yelped, “No problem!”
“An additional helping of rice? What additional helping of rice? Don’t wolves eat meat?” asked Monkey, perplexed.
Fangzheng smiled, “It’s the rice from the rice dumplings you stole previously.”
Monkey’s eyes lit up the moment he heard that. He screamed, “I want to play too! I want to play too! I want more rice if I win!”
Lone Wolf had no idea what Monkey was saying but from the bastard’s eager look, he felt that Monkey was doing something sinister.
Fangzheng laughed unleashed an evil chuckle in his mind. He was afraid that this would be no fair competition.Yet it would only be interesting with competition. “Both of you can participate. Remember, I’ll throw a stick. Whoever delivers it back into my hand wins! The winner will have more rice for dinner!”
With that, Lone Wolf realized that the darn monkey was here to steal from him! Immediately, he glared at Monkey. It seemed to say: If I had not turned vegetarian, I would definitely have swallowed Monkey whole.
Monkey bared his red ass at him and couldn’t even be bothered with Lone Wolf. He flicked his tail provocatively at him.
Realizing that the two animals were about to get into another fight, Fangzheng quickly spoke up, “Enough. Friendship first, competition second. You are not to fight or you will be disqualified. Now… Hey, Squirrel, are you joining?”
Squirrel hugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes at Fangzheng. He couldn’t be bothered with the scoundrelly monk! The stick was more than three times taller than him. How was he to fetch it? It would be more likely that he would be the item they fetched.