However Fangzheng did not say a word. Instead, Zhineng spoke first. “Venerable Fangzheng, This Penniless Monk would like to ask. Did you go to a hotel to get a room last night with this female patron?”
Zhiyun immediately understood Zhineng as he echoed, “Right, did you?”
The other monks looked over as well. All of them stared intently at Fangzheng, as Fangzheng nodded without any hesitation, Yes, but”
“If there’s a yes, why do you need any buts? If you did it, you should have the guts to admit it,” Zhiyun rushed to speak out.
Zhineng did not give Fangzheng a chance to continue either. He said to Yi Xing and Hong Jin, “Venerable Ones, you heard it for yourself.” He then asked Fangzheng, “Senior Brother Tongguang mentioned the rules very clearly to you just now, but you refused to heed them. You even wanted to quarrel. Did this happen?”
Fangzheng knew what was on Zhineng’s mind. He was using sophistry on him and being a scoundrel. When had Fangzheng been afraid of that? Back then, he was a little devil in the village, his reputation having been on the same level as that of rats! An idea came to Fangzheng’s mind as he smiled. “Patron, are you Sunglow Monastery’s abbot?”
“Of course not. My senior brother is Southwind Monastery’s” exclaimed Zhiyun subconsciously.
Fangzheng interrupted Zhiyun. “Since you aren’t Sunglow Monastery’s abbot, and this is Sunglow Monastery, things should naturally be left to Sunglow Monastery’s monks to handle. There’s no need to say so much.” In between the lines he was saying, ‘This has nothing to do with you, so screw off.’
“Amitabha. That’s not right. Everything under the heavens is left to everyone under the heavens to manage. Venerable One, how can This Penniless Monk watch idly if you do not obey the rules and violate the Buddhist precepts?” Zhineng immediately prevented the topic from going astray.
Just as Fangzheng was about to say something, there was a cold snort from behind. “What a nice saying that everything under the heavens is left to everyone under the heavens to manage. In that case, This Penniless Monk would like to manage it.”
The voice was very familiar. Everyone looked over and saw an old monk with several disciples appear behind the crowd. No one knew when they had arrived. Fangzheng looked at him in astonishment, and Yi Xing, Hong Jin, and Fangzheng quickly pressed their palms together and bowed. “Greetings, Zen Master Hongyan.”
“Amitabha.” Zen Master Hongyan returned the bow and smiled. “Abbot Hong Jin, Abbot Fangzheng, long time no see. Yi Xing, you are very perceptive in the Buddhist Dharma, but you are too driven. Too much ardor will eventually wane, so it’s best you control your emotions properly. Intelligence is typically a double-edged sword. It can slay through obstacles, but it can also sever one’s cultivation. Keep that in mind.”
Yi Xing naturally did not dare act proud in front of Zen Master Hongyan. He obediently and respectfully said, “Yes, advice taken.”
Although Hongyan Monastery was not considered a big monastery and could not be compared to Southwind Monastery either, Zen Master Hongyan was famous! He was a truly accomplished monk. Southwind Monastery’s abbot, Abbot Southwind had mentioned that Hongyan Monastery had an accomplished monk several times. He even encouraged his disciples to visit if they had the opportunity. However few actually went. Zhiyun and Zhineng thought nothing of it. They only cared about the size of a monastery and not the profoundness of one’s Buddhist Dharma. However, the two were not idiots. They knew that they could not offend Zen Master Hongyan.
Tongguang was even more afraid of speaking. His forehead was covered in cold sweat. The situation in front of him had exceeded his expectations. He naturally knew of Zen Master Hongyan. He was a frequent guest at Sunglow Monastery, and he was always invited for any of the huge Dharma Assemblies! There was even one time when Zen Master Sunglow was asked why an abbot from a mid-sized monastery was invited for a Dharma Assembly. The answer had been: “In terms of Buddhist Dharma cultivation, I’m inferior to him!”
Back then the entire monastery reeled in shock. Tongguang was among those present. For Zen Master Sunglow to say this in front of numerous disciples depicted how high a standing Zen Master Hongyan had even if it was just humble talk. As for Zen Master Hongyan, he looked at Fangzheng as though he was his equal. He also had a tinge of benevolence, admiration, and respect in his gaze!
Such a look made Tongguang realize that the situation was terrible for him! He was bent on remaining silent. He absolutely did not want to be embroiled in this matter. At the same time, he cursed Zhiyun and Zhineng, as well as all their ancestors. No one screws people over like that! Darn it!
Among the three, Zhiyun was the dimmest one. He had not realized what had just happened as he whispered to Zhineng, “This old monk looks impressive, but didn’t Master say so? The more accomplished a monk, the more abiding they are to rules. He’s probably only treating him respectfully because the young monk is an abbot.”
Zhineng thought that was possible as he nodded slightly. However he also planned to escape as soon as possible. He thought that Fangzheng would be afraid of Sunglow Monastery and scram down the mountain after being threatened by Tongguang. It would have pleased him greatly, but now it was as though he had stirred a hornet’s nest. People came out one after another to stand up for Fangzheng. At this moment, numerous monks were taking up residence in Sunglow Monastery, so there were many monks. The number of onlookers was increasing by the second. Zhineng knew that if this continued, things would get out of hand, and he would be unable to bear the consequences of failure.
Zhineng hoped to signal to Zhiyun to run, but Zhiyun thought that Zhineng had given him silent approval. With confidence, he said immediately, “Zen Master Hongyan, although you have a high standing, you can’t hold down the truth. Regardless of what background this monk has, he has violated the rules. There’s nothing wrong with us brothers saying something, right?”
Fangzheng knitted his brows tightly. These fools really did not know when to stop. Were they planning to go on and on?
Zen Master Hongyan was there to help him, so Fangzheng naturally would not let him suffer. Since there was a debate, he might as well have a go at it. At least not for himself, but for others! Just as he was about to say something, however
“Amitabha. Are you saying that Zen Master Hongyan is using his status to hold down the truth? From This Penniless Monk’s point of view, the few of you are in cahoots trying to malign Venerable Fangzheng, isn’t that so?” The voice sounded strict!
Everyone looked over and saw an old monk walk over. Beside him were two other monks. One of them was plump with a ruddy complexion, and his eyes were enlivened like torches. He wore a red Kasaya and was extremely eye-catching. The other monk had high cheekbones, and his brows were white. He was half a step behind the two.
Upon seeing the three monks, Zhineng, Zhiyun, and Tongguang felt their legs go limp!
The other monks bowed hurriedly. “Amitabha. Greetings, Zen Master Sunglow, Zen Master Baiyun, Zen Master Southwind!”
That’s right, the people who had just come were Zen Master Baiyun, Sunglow Monastery’s abbot, Zen Master Sunglow, and Southwind Monastery’s abbot, Zen Master Southwind! And the person who had spoken was none other than Zen Master Baiyun!
Tongguang did not dare to say a word out of fright. He lowered his head, sweat rolling profusely down his head.
Zhineng wished he could beat his idiot brother to death. He knew that the matter had blown out of proportion. If he did not handle this well, their good days would be numbered. He had to think of a way to redeem the situation. As for retreat? There was already no room for retreat.
Zhiyun’s mind went blank. What the heck was happening? Why was this like killing monsters in a dungeon? Waves came in one after another! The young monk had not spoken, but people kept appearing! Also, the ones that appeared were successively more frightening than the other. He lowered his head and stole a glance at Zhineng.