Fangzheng was taken aback. He’d never expected Tan Juguo to suggest him. He was well-versed in the Buddhist Dharma? Fangzheng did not agree with that assessment. At best, everything he considered stemmed from good intentions. Fangzheng still took a sidestep and avoided the bow. “Amitabha. This Penniless Monk has only read a few scrolls of scripture. It’s faulty to be called well-versed in the Buddhist Dharma. Patron, please come on in. If you have any questions, This Penniless Monk will try his best to answer.”
Shi Dazhu nodded and followed Fangzheng into the monastery.
He casually sat down on a boulder beneath the bodhi tree as a stool. Fangzheng took out two bowls of water and handed one to Shi Dazhu who thanked him but did not as of yet take a drink. Instead, in a rush he spoke up, “Abbot Fangzheng, I have a son. He’s rather intelligent but for some reason, he has no ambition to improve. Every time I want to bring him out to broaden his horizons, he refuses to do so. He would instead tend to the farm at home. Tell me, in this day and age, how can farming amount to anything? I’ve already reprimanded him on more than one occasion but he just doesn’t listen. He even quarreled with me a few times and left fuming. It would take him days to return. Abbot Fangzheng, do you think it’s easy for me? I simply wish for him to improve. He’s still young. It would be better for him to broaden his horizons than stay here cooped up in the village. Abbot Fangzheng, do you have a solution that would make him leave the village?”
Fangzheng smiled. He drank a mouthful of Unrooted Clean Aqua and folded his hands, “Patron, why don’t you listen to a story of mine?”
“Ah?” Shi Dazhu was taken aback. He was here for help, so how did it become storytelling time? Yet Shi Dazhu nodded politely, expressing his willingness to listen.
Fangzheng said, “In ancient times, there was a country with an imperial preceptor. The preceptor enjoyed high prestige in his country but as he advanced in his years, he wished to pass his mantle to another. He had no one around him except for an attendant. The attendant was an honest man and showed great respect to the preceptor. He was meticulous in the way he tended to the preceptor. The preceptor decided on passing his mantle to the attendant. Therefore that night, he suddenly shouted at the attendant, “Buddha?”
Shi Dazhu was startled, “He called the attendant Buddha? Who… Who would dare respond to that?”
Fangzheng nodded, “That’s right. That was what the attendant thought too. He knelt down and shook his head. “I’m an attendant, not Buddha. Preceptor, you addressed me wrongly.”
The second night, the preceptor called the attendant Buddha again.
The attendant knelt down once again and denied being Buddha with a shake of his head.
It continued for three consecutive days. When the preceptor saw this, he sighed helplessly and said, “He carried an iron yoke with no hole and left a curse to trouble his descendants. If you want to hold up the gate and the doors, you must climb a mountain of swords with bare feet. Not much later, the preceptor passed away. The attendant remained an attendant and nothing changed.”
Shi Dazhu failed to understand. “What do you mean?”
Fangzheng looked up at the bodhi tree. “The preceptor might be well-versed in the Buddhist Dharma but due to his eagerness in old age to force the attendant to gain enlightenment, the attendant was instead stuck in place, he failed to gain enlightenment and remained an attendant.”
Shi Dazhu realized the moral of the story. “Abbot Fangzheng, are you telling me that I’ve used the wrong method? What should I do then?”
Fangzheng smiled and poured the water in the bowl to the ground.
Confused, Shi Dazhu asked, “What does that mean?”
“Look at this water. If you do nothing the water will flow down and into the ground. But…” As he spoke, Fangzheng used his finger to draw out a tiny trench beside the water, causing the water to flow through it.
Shi Dazhu smacked his head and exclaimed, “I get it! Guide according to the circumstances? Thank you, Master. I know what to do!”
“Amitabha. This Penniless Monk does not deserve the title of master.”
“Master, you are being modest. You deserve it! You definitely deserve it!” Shi Dazhu thanked him profusely and finished the bowl of water. “Master Fangzheng, I’ll be heading out… Hey? Why… is the water so delicious?”
“Everything is good when you are in a good mood.”
Shi Dazhu did not think deeper on the subject and left after bidding farewell. He ran down the mountain.
Fangzheng watched Shi Dazhu leave and felt his heart wince a little. A child with parents is truly blessed.
“System, now that the mission of gaining a little fame has been complicated, isn’t there supposed to be a follow-up mission?” asked Fangzheng out of curiosity.
“You have already completed all the newbie missions. Now that One Finger Monastery has achieved a little fame, it is expected that the fame will stabilize. Therefore, the way the System will hand out missions will change as well. Missions in the future will depend on the visitors to One Finger Monastery. There are currently no visitors that match the conditions needed for the handing out of mission, for now there are no missions for you to complete.”
“Alright.” Fangzheng felt a little disappointed. Although the System’s missions were a little perverse every time, the prizes still left Fangzheng’s mouth watering. The missions he had received, while hard, were doable. Besides, even without the System, Fangzheng would still aim to finish them. Since he would do it regardless of the circumstances and there were benefits to be gained, there was no price to pay. He naturally felt a little disappointed now that there were no missions.
After Shi Dazhu reached the foot of the mountain, he saw Tan Juguo smoking a pipe by the village entrance. The moment they met, Tan Juguo joked, “Old fool, why are you here instead of spending time making yourself rich?”
“Hehe, old bastard, are you asking for the obvious? But I have to thank you for this. This abbot is a true monk. Although it was obvious, I refused to heed the advice of others. He convinced me with a simple story and a few words. It was the same reasoning and logic as others told me yet I chose to listen to his explanation! He’s nothing like you. All you know is how to curse.” Shi Dazhu laughed.
“Since you heeded the advice, quickly return to deal with that brat of yours. I have never seen someone as worthless as him.” said Tan Juguo.
“Enough of that. I have no time to waste on you. I have a bone to pick with you after I deal with the kid.”
“What about that? I did not do a thing. All credit goes to Fangzheng. You saw that crappy mountain path, it is in dire need of stone so it can be fixed. If you sincerely want to thank him, what do you think needs to be done?”
Shi Dazhu laughed. “As long as I settle things with my son, leave the stone to me!”
“Leave quickly then. I’m not providing you with dinner.” Tan Juguo waved his smoke pipe.
Shi Dazhu laughed, left the village and stepped into a sedan and drove off. He lied to Fangzheng in the beginning. Although he had a background as a farmer, he was no longer any ordinary farmer. He was a part of a farming conglomerate. He had his own stone quarry and earned tons annually. However, he had a son whose actions baffled him. He refused to work and would simply waste his time in the factory. He did not even act like a young man. He watched as children left the villages and no matter what they did, regardless of the amount of money they earned, they had gained independence through their own abilities as they remained filial to their parents.
This was something that Shi Dazhu was extremely envious of. Comparing his son with them, he was completely a good-for-nothing mentally even though his living conditions were much better than the others. Shi Dazhu had used all his strength for his son. He had resorted to physical and verbal punishments but they were of no use. They even quarreled and became estranged…