The other girl in the group was relatively quiet. She wore glasses and had the aura of a scholar. She shook her head. "Don't say that. Some of them might be genuine believers and good people."
"Hold that thought. Temples these days have monks that are ridiculously rich. I don't believe in Buddhism. My faith is in God Almighty. I'm one of God's children and God will watch over me wherever I go." The man with the long face gestured for the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
"Enough, it's bad manners to speak ill of a person in their own temple. I'm dead tired, so I'm going in to rest and look around. You coming?" the boy with the pimples asked.
"Hu Han is right, let's go. Since we're already here, we might as well enter and take a look," said the slightly plump girl.
The boy with the long face flapped his hand around. "Alright then, let's enter and take a look. We can take a break and drink some water before we begin our picnic and after we finish our meal, we can pitch the tents."
Upon thinking of the picnic, the youths started donning eager smiles.
As they approached the temple, they felt their minds grow calm. Their not-so-devout thoughts gradually disappeared. Once they stood before the entrance of the One Finger Temple, all of them had fallen silent. When they did speak, their tone had grown gentle and their words soft. The boy with the long face glanced at the plaque and said, "One Finger Temple? It truly is a land of a single finger. It really is tiny... much smaller than any churches I've been to."
"Enough. I know you believe in God, but you should refrain from proclaiming it when you're in a Buddhist temple, it's disrespectful." The quiet girl glanced at him with her eyebrows drawn together.
The boy with the long face grunted before catching up.
"Yunjing, it's so odd. Why has all my earlier frustration disappeared upon entering the temple? It feels, unnatural yet natural at the same time, how is that possible? It's so calm and peaceful. It's as though all worries are of no importance once you have entered," the slightly plump girl whispered to the quiet girl.
"Juan, I also think it's odd. I feel completely relaxed. It's as though all the distracting outside noise has vanished. This is something that's never happened to me before, it's even more calming than home," Yunjing whispered, almost unwilling to break the temple's gentle silence.
"It's probably the legendary Zen-like state. There might even be a master that has made this temple his home," the pimple boy replied.
"Hu Han, can you stop being so offhand with Ma Juan and Fang Yunjing? If there's a master here, I'll treat you to meals for a month. It's because you guys have been thinking mischievously. When people enter temples or churches, they naturally feel a sense of reverence and perhaps even a slight touch of fear. Conversely, you might innately believe that celestial beings will protect you. With such beliefs strengthening your inner spirit, your frustration lessens." The long faced boy smirked as he stared at the rest.
"Eh? Zhao Datong, listen to you trying to make sense. Who knew that a single hike up a mountain would make you a philosopher." Ma Juan scoffed with a giggle.
Zhao Datong threw his head up and stared down at them with fake disdain. "I have always been a philosopher!"
"Amitabha, good day Patrons. This Penniless Monk is One Finger Temple's abbot, Fangzheng. Is there anything I can help you with?" Fangzheng never received any orthodox Buddhist training, so he could only speak in the manner he learned from television dramas or emulate gestures that Zen Master One Finger used to do.
Zhao Datong stared down his nose at Fangzheng. "Eh? Are you the Zen Master here? Why do I think you aren't much older than us? Yet you claim to be an abbot? Is this an attempted scam?"
"Zhao Datong! Don't be so impolite!" Fang Yunjing tugged at Zhao Datong's sleeve.
Zhao Datong smirked. "I'm not being impolite, am I not just stating facts?"
Fangzheng was just about to frown at Zhao Datong's words but heard the System's voice echo in his mind: "As an abbot and a future Zen master, you should not get upset over such trivial matters. You have to be benevolent, such is the way of the monk."
"Someone is insulting both me and my temple yet I am not allowed to frown?" Fangzheng directed his thoughts to the system, keeping his frown inward.
"No, such is the basic temperament that any true master must have. If you should decide to do so, points will be deducted from the completion of the current mission."
"F**k, are you blackmailing me!?" Fangzheng directed a string of other curses in the system's direction.
The System fell silent, ignoring him.
Fangzheng angrily thought, Don't think you can threaten me! After that, he began intoning to himself, "With a heart as still as ice, unperturbed even when the sky collapses..." Then he said, with an amiable expression, "The difference in age between us is small indeed, yet I am nonetheless the abbot here. Patrons, this is but a small temple. Only the hall and courtyard are open to the public. Please feel free to look around."
Fangzheng wanted to add, 'shout if there's anything you need' but the System interrupted him before he could utter the words. "As a master, you should be respected by others and not be a minion at their beck and call. You are not to lower your status at any time."
Fangzheng kept the words to himself. He turned and left. However, the instant he turned, his facial expression was one of utter unpleasantness. It was not because of the visitors but because of the System! "You can't voice your displeasure when disrespected but you should make sure you are respected, bloody hypocrite system!" He directed his angry thoughts towards the system and was once again ignored.
"Abbot, if you could wait a moment, I have a question. May I ask which kind of Buddha is consecrated here?" A girl's voice interrupted his silent raging towards the system.
Fangzheng wiped the nefarious look from his face and turned around, face flowing with monk-like calmness. He looked at Ma Juan, who had asked the question and responded with a soft smile, "This temple consecrates Guan Yin. Anything else you would like to ask?"
"No, that's all. We'll just be looking around. Little monk, you can go fool around by yourself," The cocky Zhao Datong waved his hand in dismissal.
Fangzheng immediately felt a blast of fury rise up his heart but calmed himself after a few unnoticed breaths. The reason was none other than the System declaring to him that anger is banned!
"F**k you!" Fangzheng cursed inwardly as he repressed his pangs of fury. Taking it out on the system that tied him down with its infinite restrains. Just as he was about to say something, he was left astounded.
The scene before his eyes flashed, transforming to a scene of Ma Juan walking out of the temple's hall. Her leg got stuck behind the sill of the door and she fell head first onto a ledge of the door, her head started bleeding profusely. Although it wasn't fatal, it was a painful event for the girl. When he looked closer at Ma Juan, he noticed that her glabella showed a soft tint of red.
Fangzheng was about to warn her when the System yet again interrupted, "The secrets of Heaven can be seen but must remain unspoken. Violation will result in the reduction of your lifespan!"
"What the f**k!? System, you seriously suck, what use are these powers if I cannot use them!" Fangzheng's anger started overflowing despite the calming aura of the temple. The System was truly torturing him. Yet its words did cause him to swallow his own. He looked silently at Ma Juan before saying, "Patron, be careful in everything you do. There might be bloody misfortune in your imminent future."
"Darn monk! What did you just say? You think I won't show you your own bloody misfortune!?" Zhao Datong growled as he rolled up his sleeves to reveal his muscles. He looked unappeasable and, with that face of his even somewhat intimidating.
Fangzheng had to refrain himself from rolling his eyes. According to the System's annoying rules, he was probably prohibited from making any expressions that disgraced the title of master. Therefore, he held back and calmly shook his head. "What should have been said has been said. The choices you make are your own."
Then, he turned around and left.
Behind him, Fangzheng heard Ma Juan's exclaim in anger: "What an evil monk! Why would he randomly curse me!? I wanted to comment that he was somewhat handsome and his presence felt like early morning sunshine. I nearly lowered my guard! Seems he really is a fraud after all!"
"I already told you that all the monks these days are frauds! How could he have any true ability? Now you guys know why I was asking him to scram! It's because I was afraid he would do something like this. You guys might not know, but back when I was going to temples, all the monks were like this! They would say scary things like 'bloody catastrophe' and 'clouds of adversity' to scare you before convincing you to donate incense money and pray for safety. In the end, isn't it just a scam? Don't be deceived by this asshole's appearance, he's just a fraud like the others. Let's take a look before we get out of here. I don't think highly of this place. For such a temple to be in the rural mountains, it's either a haunted place or a gathering place for murdering cultists..." Zhao Datong raised his voice to make sure he was heard.
It was clearly a deliberate attempt to provoke Fangzheng...