Fangzheng had no plans on doing the farming at the foot of the mountain. The Crystal Rice was precious and it would take a lot of effort to tend to it at the bottom of the mountain. He wouldn’t be able to keep as close of an eye on it if he planted at the foot of the mountain. Most importantly, the cultivation of the Crystal Rice needed Buddha’s aura and scripture recital. None of those would be found at the bottom.
After having lunch at noon, he continued the irrigation in the afternoon. Fangzheng finished everything just before the sky turned dark. He had also begun planting the seeds.
At that moment, the film crew also noticed the changes over here. When they saw Fangzheng carrying buckets of water up the mountain, irrigating the tiny plot of land, forming puddles of water, they were fascinated.
Lin Dongshi came over and asked curiously, “Venerable Fangzheng, what are you doing? Making a reservoir?”
Luo Li laughed. “That’s impossible. It’s difficult to store water on the mountain.”
Fangzheng pressed his palms together and gave a Buddhist proclamation. “This Penniless Monk isn’t making a reservoir but is planning on opening up a plantation on the mountain.”
“Eh…” Old Tao, who had been silent, could not help but laugh. “Venerable Fangzheng, I bet you haven’t done any farming before, am I right?” It’s so cold and you want to farm? All those seeds of yours will freeze to death. It’s still not the time for them to germinate. Venerable Fangzheng, what are you planning on planting?”
Lin Dongshi asked, “That’s right. This area freezes up at night. Any seeds will die. If you really want to farm, shouldn’t you do it in a large greenhouse tentage or any similar building that will aid the plants growth?”
Fangzheng smiled, “Forget about the tentage. This Penniless Monk does not have the money. This Penniless Monk is planting paddy rice. As for solutions, This Penniless Monk will give it further thought.”
“Hehe, you sure are a stubborn monk. Fine, forget about our advice. If this field can produce anything, my name will be read backwards.” Luo Li rolled his eyes. He found the young monk amusing. At the same time, the monk did not seem to be able to know chalk from cheese. Their well-meant advice had fallen on deaf ears. Give it further thought? How was he to do any farming without a tentage in early spring? It would be useless even if the world’s experts were gathered here. They guessed the monk would not come up with anything even if he thought about it for a decade.
Just as the trio wanted to continue, someone ran over and summoned them under the director’s bequest. Without having enough time to waste it on Fangzheng, they returned to their jobs.
The film crew bustled but Fangzheng was equally busy. He went up and down to the river, fetching water. He did not stop once.
When the film crew found some free time, Old Tao, Lin Dongshi, and Luo Li would mention Fangzheng’s hopes of planting paddy in March.
When everyone heard that, they were rendered speechless. Someone commented, “Perhaps he plans on preparing the land, get some water, and start planting when the temperature gets warmer?”
“That makes sense. Old Tao, I think you guys are overthinking things. Scattering the seeds in such weather? If he’s not a retard, he’s a retard’s mother. Basically, he can’t be that far off from a retard,” remarked another person.
Old Tao thought for a few seconds. “That might be the case”
“Old Tao, look! What is that monk doing, bending his back in the water? He has a bag in his hand too.” Luo Li cupped his hands around his eyes and looked into the distance.
When everyone heard that, they stopped whatever they doing. Standing up like a row of weasels, they stretched their necks and looked into the distance.
They saw Fangzheng take out something from the bag and stuff it into the water.
“From the looks of it, he’s planting the seeds,” said Old Tao.
“Oh my, there’s really such a retard?” the person who made the retard comment sighed.
“He’s just too young after all. He lacks general knowledge,” said Old Tao.
“Good advice falls on deaf ears. Benevolence does not help those who do not help themselves. We have already said what should be said. Since he insists on it, let him be,” said Luo Li.
Everyone shrugged their shoulders and agreed before they continued working.
When Old Tao saw Director Yu, he informed him about Fangzheng. He hoped that the director could earn a laugh out of it.
“Old Tao, look at me. Are there any changes?” asked Director Yu.
Old Tao leaned over, carefully observed before shaking his head and said, “There aren’t any.”
“Here…” Director Yu wrapped his arms around Old Tao’s shoulders, “I have not had any sleep since last night. I haven’t combed my hair, washed my face, brushed my teeth. I’m already dog-tired, like a grandson of a dog, and you have the time to enjoy the affairs of others? It appears as though you have too much free time!”
Old Tao’s expression changed. Instead of sucking up, he had stepped on a landmine!
Director Yu shouted, “Everyone, take a rest. Leave everything else to Old Tao.”
Old Tao cursed himself.
No one noticed that someone in a nearby luxurious tent had heard the entire conversation.
Li Xueying looked out of the window and saw the scene of Fangzheng tending the farm. She smiled wryly, “He really is an innocent fool…”
Fangzheng finally finished planting the seeds by evening. With everything ready, Fangzheng sat by the side of the field and began reciting the Diamond Sutra. As he recited it, he seemed to hear popping sounds in his subconscious as though tender sprouts were growing out of the seeds. The feeling felt extremely real but when he opened his eyes, he did not see anything different other than calm, still waters.
Fangzheng did not think about it and continued reciting. The scenes appeared once again in his mind as though he was seeing the birth of new life. As the tender sprouts grew bit by bit, each growth seemed to be filled with exuberance. Fangzheng was fascinated and overjoyed. He gained a new understanding of life.
At that moment, Fangzheng finally understood the meaning behind Zen farming. It was not simply farming but to give up everything and calm oneself down. It was to appreciate natural growth, the strength of life and the myriad Dharma of the world. It was a wholly natural process. It was a form of cultivation, a form of reflection and a form of emotional stimulation.
As Fangzheng immersed himself in the happiness of nature’s slow growth, he felt the life in the soil working hard,unwilling to remain buried under the soil. He also sensed the pride of breaking out of the soil and the beauty of life…
Fangzheng’s body emitted a vibrant exuberance as his entire being shimmered with vitality and energy.
Squirrel, Monkey, and Lone Wolf, who were originally a little impatient, calmed down when they heard the scriptures being recited.
Squirrel lay on Fangzheng’s leg while Lone Wolf lay behind him. His large silverish-white body merging with Fangzheng’s shadow. He rested his head on his paws as he closed his eyes as though he was listening.
Monkey mimicked Fangzheng. He sat cross-legged and closed his eyes. However, it was unknown if he was listening or dozing off.
As the sun set in the west, it hung behind Fangzheng’s head as though there was a Buddhist halo. It brought out his extraordinariness as though he was an embodiment of a living Buddha.
The distant film crew had quietened down as well. Other than a few unlucky ones that had to watch the equipment, most of them had descended the mountain for their dinner. A few people were bantering and bragging as they ate.
There was an exception…
At the foot of the mountain.
“Why is Xueying gone again?”
“Sister Xueying is a true god. She was here a moment ago. Yet she dissapeared in the blink of an eye?”
“Don’t ask me. Sister Xueying is always like that. Whatever I say is useless.”
“I really wonder how you became Xueying’s manager. You always lose her…”
Xiaoliu grinned cheekily. “Well, the ones that found her in the past were fired,”
Everyone cursed inwardly.