Fangzheng smiled, knowing what was on Wang Yougui’s mind. “Patron, This Penniless Monk has a clear idea on such matters. It is good to know that the village will receive new roads, as for the mountain roads… It is a shame but This Penniless Monk will make do.”
“About that… don’t worry. I’ll settle the bill for you. The reason why the county is willing to mend the roads is mainly becauseCity-Toppling Beautycame to our village recently. When they left, they were all up in praises of Mt. One Finger and the authorities probably believed that it would become a popular destination onceCity-Toppling Beautyis released. When the time comes, Mt. One Finger can use it as an opportunity to stir up some interest. It might not be a major scenic area but it shouldn’t be a problem becoming a minor one. It can also be considered as an early investment. Your mountain path should also be within their plans. I was pulling your leg when I asked you to produce the money. But who knew, sigh…” Wang Yougui could only smile wryly.
Fangzheng was surprised. He never expected that theCity-Toppling Beauty‘s filming would bring him such a boon. But on second thought, it was a large film crew and it was filming a blockbuster. Once it was released, Mt. One Finger would definitely become famous if the movie caused a stir. When the time came, the monastery’s incense offerings would increase. With more people, there would be more people he could help. Wouldn’t he earn merit in copious amounts when that happened?
Fangzheng beamed like a blooming flower.
Wang Yougui continued his chat with Fangzheng for a short while. He did not say much after realizing how the seemingly heartless young monk thought nothing of five hundred thousand. After hanging up, he went to Tan Juguo and Yang Ping to discuss the road mending.
Time passed quickly. The number of visitors began increasing. The amount of incense offerings One Finger Monastery received increased. Fangzheng sat under the bodhi tree everyday to welcome the visitors.
But one day, Fangzheng woke up especially early in the morning. It was pitch black outside.
When he opened the door to his room, Lone Wolf ran out of his kennel. As the monastery’s number one protector, he was still great at his job despite being lazy most of the time. Realizing it was Fangzheng, Lone Wolf shook his head and poked it over, using his leg to scratch his head.
Fangzheng swept the temple hall as per normal. When Monkey saw Fangzheng awake, he did not laze around and ran out to begin sweeping. Days had passed with him sweeping the fallen leaves from the ground and listening to scripture, causing his impetuous disposition to change drastically.
Squirrel diligently helped in clearing the spiderwebs and dust from the roof frames.
After finishing their chores, the sky had gradually begun to light up. Fangzheng cooked a pot of rice as the three animals and Fangzheng ate breakfast. After that, Fangzheng descended the mountain. This time, he did not bring Lone Wolf and Squirrel along. Since the monastery was gradually earning more incense offerings, it could not be left without someone there. Lone Wolf’s combat strength was the greatest and Squirrel was meticulous and wary. They were the best choice for protecting the monastery.
Fangzheng brought Monkey with him. Compared to Lone Wolf and Squirrel, Monkey’s perception of the Buddhist Dharma was the highest. The only thing lacking about Monkey was his active personality and his lack of propriety. However, for Monkey to travel great distances to seek Buddha, it also indicated that he was inclined towards Buddha. Fangzheng would talk about the scriptures with Monkey whenever he had the chance. Fangzheng never thought of weening off Monkey’s habits. All he wanted was for him to understand what should and should not be done.
On the way down the mountain, Monkey was puzzled. He asked, “Abbot, where are we going? What are we doing?”
“Tomorrow is the Tomp-Sweeping Day. It is a traditional Chinese festival for people to honor their ancestors. Everyone was born from a father and mother. Without their care, how is one to grow up? People need to be grateful. Even if one’s parents are gone, they are to be commemorated. Today, we are going down the mountain to solicit donations. The things obtained can be used to honor our ancestors,” said Fangzheng.
The commemoration was not very troublesome since he was a monk, all he needed to do was pray for his ancestors every time he recited the scriptures to honor Buddha. However, Fangzheng grew up in the village after all. Furthermore, Zen Master One Finger also placed great emphasis on traditional customs. The duo had always lived their days in such a manner.
Although Zen Master One Finger was no longer with him, Fangzheng had no plans on changing the practice.
Monkey scratched his head. Although he did not fully understand, all he needed to do was work hard at memorizing the information.
When Fangzheng reached the foot of the mountain, the villagers had already begun lighting their stoves to make breakfast. Some had even woken up early and left in a rush after breakfast.
People saw Fangzheng the moment he arrived. Someone greeted him, “Venerable Fangzheng, are you here to solicit donations?”
Fangzheng pressed his palms together. “Amitabha, tomorrow is Tomp-Sweeping Day. This Penniless Monk is here to solicit donations.”
“Hehe, I knew it. Wait a moment. I’ll get the paper money out.” The person was Sun Qiancheng. It meant bright prospects but unfortunately, he did not lead a very good life. Despite so, he was very warm and friendly to others.
Fangzheng bowed. “Thank you, Patron.”
Sun Qiancheng laughed out loud. “Look how polite you are. You are giving me goosebumps.” The laughing Sun Qiancheng returned to his compound and returned with a tray of firecrackers, an incense stick, and a stack of paper money wrapped in a plastic bag. He handed over and asked with a smile, “I prepared it the day before yesterday. Venerable Fangzheng, is this enough?”
Fangzheng bowed. “Thank you, Patron. There’s no need for the firecrackers. Just the incense and paper money is sufficient.” Although the monastery had countless incense sticks that he could use, Fangzheng only wished to use incense sticks he obtained from soliciting. It was a way of respecting Zen Master One Finger.
Sun Qiancheng chuckled, “I forgot. You never released firecrackers. Alright, I’ll take them back.”
Putting away the paper money and incense, he had a short chat with Sun Qiancheng before heading to the next house. Sun Qiancheng did not give him much. This was also due to Zen Master One Finger’s habit of soliciting donations. He would not take too much from each family. It was not easy for every family and it would only burden them if he took too much.
The moment Fangzheng left, Sun Qiancheng shouted at the top of his lungs, “Venerable Fangzheng is here to solicit donations!”
Dog Song, who was sweeping the streets, immediately threw his broom away when he heard that. He returned home and shortly after, carried a huge bag out and ran towards Fangzheng.
Yang HuaMoneybags Yangwas brewing chicken soup. The moment he stuffed some timber into the stove, he saw Du Mei appear. She kicked him. “Are you deaf? Fangzheng is here to solicit donations. Now that you have money, shouldn’t you reciprocate? Don’t forget that the child was all thanks to the monastery. Even your striking of lottery was because of his oracular advice.”
Yang Hua said bitterly, “I know, obviously. I just didn’t hear. Dear, don’t be so rough. What happens if you hurt our little dear?”
“Look at you. You think I’m so frail? I’m telling you, if it wasn’t for you stopping me, none of the chores in this house would be left for a man like you to do.” Du Mei scolded him but her eyes were filled with gratitude and the glimmer of love and care. The corners of her mouth could not help but prick up. Now that she was with child and had money, with the days getting only better as their relationship grew stronger, all she felt was bliss.
Yang Hua chuckled, “Got it. My dearest is the best. I’ll be going out now. Wait for me. Don’t move around. If you can lie down, lie down. Don’t sit…”