When Fangzheng and Monkey heard that, they were rendered speechless. This fellow was a bum who shunned labor to indulge in ease and live on idly without work! More critically, he was especially narcissistic!
Fangzheng frowned before standing up, walked over and entered the temple hall. He also lit up some incense and kowtowed. Following that he mumbled, “Bodhisattva, please bless This Penniless Monk tol be able to become Buddha early.” At the same time, he activated A Golden Millet Dream!
Upon hearing this, the man was given a shock. There was actually someone making such a wish? He turned his head and nearly literally jumped up in fright. The person kneeling beside him looked extremely familiar!
He looked up at the Buddha portraits on the Ten Thousand Buddha plaque above and then back at the person beside him. They looked identical! The man’s soul nearly jumped out of his skin
At that moment, Fangzheng turned his head and smiled. “Patron, is something wrong?”
“You You She” Pan An pointed at Fangzheng before pointing at Guan Yin Bodhisattva on the Ten Thousand Buddha plaque but failed to finish his sentence.
Fangzheng did not speak except for waiting quietly.
Pan An gulped a mouthful of saliva before mustering his courage. “Are you her?”
Fangzheng nodded. “Yes.”
“You are this Bodhisattva?” exclaimed Pan An.
Fangzheng continued nodding.
When Pan An saw how Fangzheng looked righteous and seemed to pose no danger, he turned emboldened. “Since you are Bodhisattva, why are you praying to Bodhisattva? Wait, no. Why are you praying to yourself?”
Fangzheng smiled. “That’s because This Penniless Monk knows that praying to others can’t beat praying to myself. If one doesn’t work hard, what’s the point in praying to anyone else? If This Penniless Monk wants to become Buddha, he has to rely on himself. To rely on others? Would that work?”
Pan An was stunned.
After Fangzheng finished his sentence, he stood up and walked out the temple hall. He transformed into a stream of light and vanished. Of course, Fangzheng did not know how to fly. But since it was an illusion, he could fly as he wished
Pan An was dumbstruck. If he thought he had been seeing things, hallucinating, or tricked by someone in a cosplay attire, he was not utterly convinced! Could an ordinary person fly? Of course not! When he turned to look at the Ten Thousand Buddha plaque, he felt lost. He asked, “Bodhisattva, are you giving me advice?”
Unfortunately, the Ten Thousand Buddha plaque did not respond.
However, Pan An laughed. “Yes, Bodhisattva must be giving me advice! Haha! I knew I was extraordinary. Even Bodhisattva descended personally to guide me. If even Bodhisattva thinks highly of me, how can I not succeed? Yes, I should return and work hard.” As he mumbled, Pan An left the temple hall and ran out the monastery, heading straight down the mountain.
Monkey stood beside Fangzheng and asked, “Master, why is that fellow acting so sanctified?”
Fangzheng smiled. “Some people do not have deities in their hearts, but they still pray to deities. Some people have deities in their hearts, and would also pray to the deities. However, they do not know that it’s better to pray to themselves when it involves matters of this mortal plane.”
“Master, in that case, why even have a monastery? What’s the point of incense? Wouldn’t everyone just pray to themselves?” Master scratched his head and asked, baffled.
“Praying to oneself is just the superior choice. Praying to deities is a medial choice, while giving up is the inferior choice. It’s because there are too many people lost, who have no idea how to work hard themselves, that it results in there being so many monasteries and deities. Those who do not know how to count on themselves can only relegate themselves to praying to deities. At least they still have hope. The existence of deities gives people hope. The deities will stand on your side when you pray to them no matter when. They will listen to all the joys and sorrows in your life, and use their means to resolve your problems and spread your joy. If everyone would be unable to see hope while they are lost, and with no one to understand them, it would be easy for them to take a path of no return.”
“Then If everyone prayed to themselves, wouldn’t deities be useless?” asked Monkey worriedly.
Fangzheng laughed out loud. “If everyone prayed to themselves, the world would become Mount Numinous. Everyone would be Buddha, so how can it be useless? If the virtues such as understanding and being true to yourself or being tenacious are awakened in everyone’s hearts, all life will be promoted to be Buddha. That would be a flourishing world.”
Monkey was enlightened as he pressed his palms together. “Amitabha, I’ve learned something.”
Fangzheng patted Monkey on the head before returning to the temple hall to chant in satisfaction.
Days passed as he ate vegetarian and chanted, fetched water and did farming. His days were carefree and comfortable. However, on this day, Fangzheng received an invitation from Sunglow Monastery.
Although Sunglow Monastery was not Jilin Province’s biggest monastery, it was one of the more famous ones. It had centuries of history and had experienced different dynasties without waning. Sunglow Monastery was situated on Mt. Changbai, being one of the few monasteries that were built on Mt. Changbai.
Although they were all on the Mt. Changbai mountain range, Mt. Changbai was split into the broader and narrower regions. The narrower regions referred to the southwestern corner of Mt. Changbai. It was where the mountain’s main peak was. And the broader region stretched out three provinces into the northeast. It also was the general name of the eastern mountains in the northeast. From the north, the Wanda Mountains reached to the Qianshan mountain range’s Laotie Mountain, spanning more than 1300 kilometers. From east to west, it spanned about 400 kilometers. It was also the source of the Yalu River, Tumen River, and the Songhua River.
Sunglow Monastery sat in the broader regions of the Mt. Changbai mountain range in the northeastern-most region of Jilin Province. Fangzheng would take two days and nights to reach there by car. If he were to transfer to the high-speed rail going from Black Mountain City to Gulin City, it would be fast, but it would be expensive
Fangzheng sat at the monastery’s door with the invitation in hand. He had a bitter look. Ignoring the high-speed rail, he could not even afford renting a car!
Just as Fangzheng was wallowing in his misery, he suddenly heard a voice. “Is that an invitation from Sunglow Monastery?”
Fangzheng was taken aback as he looked up. He saw a girl staring at him with large, limpid eyes, looking curiously at the invitation letter in Fangzheng’s hands. She was no stranger either. She was Ouyang Fenghua, the daughter of Ouyang Huazai who had competed with Fangzheng in a calligraphy contest previously. With a ponytail, she was dressed in a yellow t-shirt, three-quarter jeans, and canvas shoes. She was not adorned in many accessories, looking simple and relaxed. However she had the energy stemming from her vibrant youthfulness. Her large pair of eyes were very bright, and her eyelashes were long. She was very attractive when she blinked her eyes.
“Amitabha. So it’s Patron Ouyang.” Fangzheng stood up, pressed his palms together and greeted.
“Aiyah, Master, you are being too polite with me. Aren’t you a little too old-fashioned? My impression of you wasn’t like that.” Ouyang Fenghua’s eyes blinked playfully.
Fangzheng grinned and returned with a question. “Patron, how is This Penniless Monk like in your eyes?”
“Although you are a little old-fashioned, you are quite an interesting person. At least you aren’t really old-fashioned.” Ouyang Fenghua wanted to described him as radiant, handsome, and a little crafty, but she was afraid Fangzheng would not be happy if she said so. Therefore she kept it in her heart.
Fangzheng smiled. He had no way of retorting Ouyang Fenghua’s evaluation of him because he really wasn’t an old-fashioned person. He was like a master in front of others, but an ordinary person behind their backs. He had a history of mischievous deeds under his belt.
“Patron, thank you for your commendation.”
“Don’t thank me, and don’t call me patron. We know each other so well, so just call me by my name. My name is Ouyang Fenghua. Most people address me as Fenghua,” said Ouyang Fenghua cheekily.
Fangzheng thought about it before replying, “Greetings, Patron Ouyang.”