It did not take long for Liu Tao to rush over breathlessly. What alarmed Fangzheng was that Liu Tao had taken out a wade of cash. It looks like it was a thousand yuan. Some were crumpled and others dirty. It was probably scraped together in a rush.
Fangzheng furrowed his brows and stood up. “Patron, showing respect to Buddha is all about the intention. If you end up in debt to show your respect that is not respect for Buddha. You are only causing Buddha harm. This is not something Buddha or Bodhisattva would want.”
Liu Tao was taken aback. This was the first time he had encountered such a monk, one that did not even want to earn some money? But thinking back to the various miracles related to Fangzheng, it was quite normal for such an unfathomable and erudite person to not be enticed by money. Liu Tao brought his hands up. “Venerable Fangzheng, don’t worry. I didn’t get into debt for this money. My salary is more than this. I just didn’t have much of a choice. Everyone came here to mend the roads so we don’t have much money on us. I could only get this after borrowing from everyone. It’s just a way to show my gratitude…”
Fangzheng smiled. “As long as it does not cause trouble for you, then the amount will depend on you. Remember This Penniless Monk’s words. Buddha wants you to lead a better life and cause yourself issues in the attempt to pay respects. It would bring the result that is opposite to your intent.”
“Haha… I understand.” Liu Tao nodded and stuffed the money into the Merit Box before heaving a sigh of relief. The feeling of owing someone vanished as a result.
Fangzheng bent down to pick up Liu Tao’s cell phone and handed it over with both hands. “Patron, be careful with your cell phone.”
Liu Tao scratched his head as he gave an embarrassed smile. Following that, he diverted the topic. “Master, well… I’ll get back to work!”
With that said, Liu Tao ran off. Thinking back to the awkwardness from before, Liu Tao felt his face burn up. He could not handle the embarrassment.
After Liu Tao left, Fangzheng closed the monastery’s door. Since construction work was happening on the mountain path, no one else could scale the mountain. It was meaningless to leave the door open.
With the door closed, the monastery was Fangzheng’s own world. There was no need for him to act like he was an esteemed monk anymore. He smiled brilliantly and without the need to be restrained, he felt a lot more free as he smiled, “System, where’s my reward?”
“Do you want to draw now?”
“Yes! I’m in a good mood today. I want to see what I can get!” Fangzheng grinned in anticipation.
“Ding! Congratulations for obtaining a Frost Bamboo seed.”
“Eh? System, are you kidding me? I saved someone after waiting for days and all you give me is a seed?” Fangzheng felt faint.
“Be content. This is a Frost Bamboo seed. Frost Bamboo is a special bamboo grown on Mount Numinous above the snow line. It looks similar to ordinary bamboo but it’s an emerald green as if it is carved from jade. The bamboo contains a unique smell that can ward off bugs. Most importantly, it smells pretty good…”
Fangzheng rolled his eyes. “So what? It’s just a seed; no matter how impressive it is, will it send me up to the heavens?”
“Just a seed? Heh heh… Ignorant fool. Read up on what sort of plant bamboo is. Also, do you want it or not? If not, I’m throwing it away.”
“No! I want it! I want it! How can I not want something that I earned through painstaking effort?” shouted Fangzheng. No matter how minute it was, it was still something. Leaving something he had drawn was still better than throwing it away.
A Buddha halo flashed the next instant in front of Fangzheng. When it dissipated, it revealed an emerald green seed. Fangzheng picked it up and observed it against the sunlight. It was very clear like a piece of jade. It was beautiful!
“A friendly reminder, this is a Buddhist Frost Bamboo. You can set much it can grow.”
Fangzheng was taken aback as he exclaimed, “I can determine how much it can grow? System, stop joking. How much could one seed grow? I guess it’s fine if I grow it in the yard.”
“Heh heh…” The System sneered, its voice filled with contempt for the illiterate.
Fangzheng felt a dark cloud hang over his head. “System, it’s really tempting to beat you up for laughing like that.”
“Heh heh…” The System continued laughing.
Fangzheng took out his cell phone and quickly searched for information regarding bamboo. Even Clay Bodhisattva would be infuriated by such incessant mockery by the System, much less a fake monk like him.
“Bamboo is part of the subfamily, Bambusoideae. There are many bamboo species such as Arrow Bamboo… They spread mainly through their rhizomes widely underground.”
“They spread through rhizomes?” Fangzheng quickly realized the crux of the matter. He exclaimed, “Bamboo doesn’t grow one stalk a seed?”
“When you have nothing better to do, watch some documentaries. I’m also not your babysitter.” The System criticized him in exasperation. It still replied, “Frost Bamboo has all the advantages and unique properties of bamboo. It’s true that a seed only grows one bamboo stalk but bamboo roots can spread out without end. Furthermore, they can produce countless bamboo. In addition, the growth of bamboo far exceeds that of other trees. You will soon understand what it means that a single bamboo stalk can transform into a forest in a year.”
Fangzheng was delighted! He originally thought that one bamboo stalk was useless. Now from the looks of it, he could still see the green bamboo woods in the south from the north. Thinking back to the beautiful bamboo forest scenery, Fangzheng beamed as he said in delight, “Not bad, not bad at all…”
Fangzheng continued reading the information.
“It can even populate itself by flowering. The seeds are known as Bamboo Rice. Certain species of bamboo can be eaten.”
Fangzheng’s heart palpitated as he exclaimed, “It can even be eaten?”
“The bamboo shoots of Frost Bamboo can be eaten. It is also rich in all sorts of vitamins and antioxidants. It has many benefits, one of them being the ability to slow down aging. Of course, mature bamboo can be eaten as long as your teeth and stomach can handle it,” said the System languidly.
Fangzheng grinned from ear to ear. Food had always been what Fangzheng was most concerned about. Perhaps an accomplished monk needed more scriptures or Buddhist notes, but Fangzheng was someone who just wanted to renounce asceticism. He placed great importance on eating. Although Crystal Rice was delicious, eating it daily was still somewhat bland and monotone. If he did not eat Crystal Rice, everything else tasted vapid, hardly swallowable.
As for Wormwood sprouts and dandelion greens, they were seasonable. They would be gone after some time. As for leafy vegetables, all he could do was grow them himself. But where was he to get the seeds? Request for them from the village? He was quite thin-skinned so how was he to overcome his embarrassment to ask from the villagers?
Fangzheng saw hope now that he had the Frost Bamboo. He could finally change his menu! Furthermore, it was crisp and tasty bamboo shoots. Even without eating them, just the thought of them made him smile with his eyes squinted.
Fangzheng continued reading the information and the more he read, the more astonished he became. Apart from the effects the System had mentioned, it was also very nutritious. It was low in sugar and fat and high in fiber. It was divine! There were many records in Chinese medical records and had many uses. In the ‘Compendium of Materia Medica,’ it stated that it mainly quenched thirst, facilitate the water pathways, boosted qi and could be eaten as a staple. In ‘Supplements to the Compendium of Materia Medica,’ it said that it was beneficial to the nine orifices, unblocks blood circulation, dissipating phlegm, and aided digestion. It was especially good at clearing ‘heat’ in the body.
Fangzheng’s appreciation for the Frost Bamboo became intense. But the question was, where should he plant?