Su Yun chuckled and placed a tiny basin of water on the ground. Lone Wolf quickly lapped it up with his tongue. It was quite noisy.
Su Yun went into the kitchen to busy herself with the cooking. Instantly there were only the kind-looking Fangzheng and the cold-looking, brows furrowed Lu Hui in the living room. The situation turned a little awkward.
After some time, Lu Hui suddenly spoke up. “Little Monk, you were watching the basketball match just now, right? You were here too yesterday, right?”
Fangzheng nodded. “This Penniless Monk was indeed here.”
“If you have the time, why are you watching basketball matches instead of consecrating Buddha?” Lu Hui sneered. He was certain that the young monk in front of him was a fake one. Even if he was a real monk, he was clearly a monk who had yet to fully turn ascetic. If not, why would he have the time to watch a basketball match?
Fangzheng smiled. “This Penniless Monk left his mountain to take in the world and see the myriad traits of people. The basketball court is also a part of human life. This Penniless Monk watched it as it seemed interesting. Besides, what was truly interesting might not necessarily have been on the basketball court.”
“Oh? That intrigues me. If the interesting thing wasn’t on the basketball court, where was it?” Lu Hui’s curiosity was piqued hearing what Fangzheng said.
Fangzheng said in a profound manner, “Naturally it’s beyond the basketball court, the heart of man.”
Lu Hui was taken aback. However he said unsatisfied, “Are you telling me I shouldn’t have chased them away? You know sh*t!”
Fangzheng shook his head. “Patron, how is This Penniless Monk connected to anything you do?”
Lu Hui was stunned. “What do you mean?”
Fangzheng smiled without a word as Lu Hui looked suspiciously at Fangzheng. He was a little baffled as to what the young monk was up to.
At that moment, Su Yun served the dishes. They were all vegetables without any meat. From the looks of it, their family’s financial situation wasn’t that great either. Su Yun said, “Venerable One, please forgive us for not having much.”
Fangzheng quickly stood up and pressed his palms together. “Amitabha. Patron, This Penniless Monk is already greatly indebted to you for feeding him. How can This Penniless Monk blame you?”
Only then did Su Yun return to the kitchen happily to do something else.
The moment Fangzheng sat down, Lu Hui commented. “There are quite a number of monks out soliciting for donations these days, but most of them have been taken away by the police. I heard that Buddhism is split into the Mahayana and Hinayana schools of thought. Mahayana Buddhism teaches the redemption of people, while Hinayana Buddhism teaches the redemption of self. Mahayana Buddhism doesn’t endorse the solicitation of donations while Hinayana Buddhism does. Is that true? Little Monk, are you from the Hinayana Buddhism school of thought?”
From the series of questions, it was evident that Lu Hui knew something about Buddhism. Furthermore, he had questioned Fangzheng bitingly. In China, Mahayana Buddhism was the mainstream. If one was considered part of the Hinayana Buddhism school of thought, they could be treated with contempt. At the very least, the commoners were of such an opinion. Of course, in the eyes of monks
“Patron, it is true that Buddhism is split into the Mahayana and Hinayana schools of thought. However, they are neither superior nor inferior to each other. Be it the redemption of others or self, they are both about having one more better person in the world. Why would that be bad? As for This Penniless Monk, This Penniless Monk believes in Buddha, which isn’t split into the Mahayana or Hinayana schools of thought. As long as it’s right, This Penniless Monk will believe in it.
As for the solicitation of donations, there are rules to doing so. As the saying goes:
Solicitations are never past noon; money is not to be solicited, and no more than seven families should be sought.
As such, if one fails to solicit donations,
one will have to meditate with an empty stomach, and not be a nuisance.”
“You believe in Buddha? Which Buddha do you believe in?” Lu Hui wanted to test Fangzheng.
Fangzheng pointed at his heart. “The Buddha in the heart, the Buddha in yourself, and the Buddha in the world.”
“What sort of Buddha is that?” Lu Hui was stunned.
“Seeing one’s true nature and one’s Buddhist nature, everyone can become Buddha. Why not believe in yourself, your heart, and the good in every being in the world? This Penniless Monk wishes to be true to his heart and to benefit the world with meritorious deeds. As the saying goes, how is one tobecomeBuddha when one’s heartisthat of Buddha?”
Lu Hui was stunned silent, looking at Fangzheng like he was a monster. The monks he had met in the past would often talk about Buddha and his deeds. This was the first time he was seeing someone like Fangzheng! He was practically a monster among Buddhists!
Lu Hui was even more intrigued about Fangzheng as he sat up straight. His furrowed brows eased greatly as he asked, “If what you said were to spread, it’s likely you would be beaten to death by other Buddhists.”
Fangzheng shook his head slightly. “That wouldn’t happen. Buddha is able to accommodate everything. As long as it’s right and good, it can be accommodated. The Buddha exists not in only one school of thought being right, but in the amalgamation of many schools of thought. In everyone’s heart is a Buddha that belongs to them. However there are people who believe in the Buddhas of others. That is all.”
“Would it not be ostracized?” asked Lu Hui seriously.
Fangzheng wanted to nod, but when he thought about Zen Master One Finger, he fell into a dilemma. What Fangzheng had said was what Zen Master One Finger had said. Back then, Zen Master Hongyan also said that Zen Master One Finger was quite an outlier, which was why he had left for Mt. One Finger The monastery he was in could not accept him.
Upon recalling this, Fangzheng sighed. “Not everyone can cultivate to this step. Different beliefs lead to contention, which won’t necessarily be something happy. It can only be avoided.”
Lu Hui smiled when he heard that. He began to believe that Fangzheng was a real monk. This was because he realized that the monk in front of him spoke with extremely clear eyes. There were no mixed or distracting thoughts in them. Everything he said stemmed from his heart. This was the first time he had met such a pure person.
At that moment, Su Yun came out with another dish. She asked with a smile, “What are you talking about? You guys seem to be having a good time.”
Lu Hui gave a rare smile. “I’m chatting with the Venerable One about Buddhism.”
Su Yun looked at Lu Hui in astonishment. She had not seen him smile in a very long time. When she looked at Fangzheng again, she found him even more pleasing to the eye! Therefore Su Yun said, “There’s still some more ingredients. I’ll go prepare them. Continue your chat.”
With that said, Su Hong left.
Lu Hui looked at Fangzheng. “Venerable One, according to what I know, the Buddhist Association has fully barred monks from soliciting donations, right? What do you think of that?”
Fangzheng smiled. “It’s good.”
“Since it’s a good thing, why do you solicit donations?” Lu Hui looked at Fangzheng perplexed.
Fangzheng chuckled as he looked back at Lu Hui. “Patron, do you know the difference between soliciting donations and begging?”
Lu Hui frowned. “It’s about the same, right?”
Fangzheng shook his head. “Back in the Ming dynasty, Emperor Hongwu divided people into different strata. Beggars were ranked tenth, which was dead last. In the three religions and nine schools of thought, beggars were existences that ranked dead last as well. From this you can see how the Chinese despise begging. This is because begging implies obtaining without putting in any effort. This is what people despise. Therefore when Buddhism entered China, although the Chinese could accept Buddhism, they could not accept soliciting donations which looked no different from begging. Therefore they believe that soliciting donations is begging.
However soliciting donations and begging are different. The goal of soliciting donations is not to solicit something, but to give monks an excuse to leave their monasteries and to integrate with society and to experience the world. If one does not see the world and all its different facets, how is one to cultivate a bodhi heart? How is one to become Buddha?
Monks build good karma by soliciting kindness, which is why it’s called soliciting donations. Since there is the existence of karma, how can the solicitations be for nothing?”