“What about you? Just go!” Zhineng stood up and headed out the door.
“Bro, are we just going to let the matter rest?” Zhiyun cried out in indignation.
“Go!” Zhineng only said one word. He even sped up, so Zhiyun could only follow after him.
Some people were down on their luck, while others were overjoyed. Ouyang Fenghua held Red Boy’s hand as she followed behind, her face beaming with excitement. She had seen and heard of the masters in front of her. However it was a first for her to see them appear together, and she was so close to them at that. Of course this was not what made her the happiest, but that the disaster Fangzheng had been facing had been resolved. The trouble had mainly stemmed from her. She would have felt very sorry if Fangzheng had ended in trouble because of her. Now that everything had passed, and with the two fat monks in trouble, she was extremely happy.
“Jingxin, Master Fangzheng is really impressive. He almost didn’t say a word, and the matter was resolved. So many masters supported him.” Although Ouyang Fenghua was talking about Red Boy’s master, she was the one reeling in delight.
“That’s my master!” Red Boy immediately reminded Ouyang Fenghua when he saw how she treated herself as one of them.
Ouyang Fenghua curled her lips. “Don’t be so petty. Look, I have been paying for food and lodging our entire trip. If your master is touched by that suddenly and becomes willing to teach me calligraphy, he will be our master.”
“But you didn’t buy me clothes! What the Internet said is true. The more beautiful a woman, the better she is at lying! Hmph!” Red Boy raised his head and shirked off Ouyang Fenghua before chasing up to Fangzheng. He gave Ouyang Fenghua a beautiful look of his back.
Ouyang Fenghua was immediately rendered speechless when she saw this. She did want to buy him clothes, but they had not had the chance to! She grumbled, “Darn kid. Back when you were eating the good food I provided, you kept calling me Sis so sweetly. Now, you are kicking me to the curb when I’ve outlived my usefulness! Hmph!”
Ouyang Fenghua scrunched up her nose before following.
Having encountered Zen Master Baiyun and Zen Master Hongyan, it could be said that Fangzheng had found his place. The little worries he had completely dissipated. On the way, Zen Master Baiyun formally introduced Fangzheng to Zen Master Sunglow and Zen Master Southwind. As they walked over, they had quite a jovial conversation. Fangzheng also realized that the more accomplished and famous a monk was, the less airs he put on. They were also more affable when it came to conversations, making it stress-free to speak to them. Also, Fangzheng inquired about certain matters on the Buddhist Dharma which had puzzled him. The Zen Masters were all accomplished monks with deep insights into the Buddhist Dharma, so it was not difficult for them to answer him. The only thing that left Fangzheng melancholic was that everyone had different takes on the Buddhist Dharma. Their answers were different, which resulted in a debate.
Thankfully everyone took their seats after reaching the abbot quarters. After downing some tea, the debate came to an end.
“Zen Master Sunglow, you are way too stingy. This Penniless Monk recommended you Venerable Fangzheng, but you gave him a periphery invitation?” After introducing each other and taking their seats, Zen Master Baiyun rebuked jokingly.
Zen Master Sunglow said with a wry smile. “You only made a casual comment over the phone the last time. This Penniless Monk got the disciples to handle it, but who knew such a misunderstanding would happen?”
Zen Master Baiyun stretched his hand out and said domineeringly, “Hand it over. Write an invitation personally.”
Zen Master Sunglow smiled in resignation. He took out a brush and really began writing.
Fangzheng said immediately, “There’s no need. It’s just consecrating Buddha and praying for blessings. It’s the same both on and off the mountain.”
“Heh heh, Abbot Fangzheng, what you said is right, but it’s also incorrect,” said Zen Master Hongyan with a smile.
Fangzheng was perplexed as Zen Master Hongyan continued, “When it comes to consecrating Buddha and praying for blessings, it’s naturally the same everywhere. But if that were the case, why would Sunglow Monastery organize such large-scale Dharma Assemblies? Everyone could simply pray for blessings at home.”
Zen Master Baiyun added, “The purpose of the Dharma Assembly is not praying for blessings or consecrating Buddha. Instead, it’s to attract more people to listen, look, and meditate over Buddha. There are many matters regarding Buddhism in the world, but most of them have been distorted. They have been changed be it deliberately or inadvertently. It’s just like the phrase ‘alcohol and meat pass through the intestines, while Buddha remains in the heart.’ Typically, many people only know the former half, but not the latter half. They take it out of context and use it as an excuse for mistakes they make. There are many similar situations. Once things spread, the truth gets concealed, and it leads society on a wrong path. A Dharma Assembly is an opportunity to gather the scripture recitals and Dharma preaching in one spot. It’s also a way to spread out the proper ideas.”
Only then did Fangzheng understand the meaning behind Dharma Assemblies. People said that Dharma Assemblies were purely religious activities used to promote the Buddhist Dharma, and to proliferate the ideals of a particular Buddha. There were also others who said that Dharma Assemblies were a way to accumulate wealth through covert means. Of course Fangzheng did not deny such claims, but at least, for the few monks in front of him, their understanding of Dharma Assemblies was not that. If all monks in the world had the same beliefs, there would be great merit and goodness!
However Fangzheng still asked perplexed, “Then why is there a need to split it into the upper and lower mountain? Must there be a need to have such divisions?”
“Of course not. The mountaintop is narrow and steep. If everyone goes up the mountain, any unforeseen circumstances that happen might easily lead to chaos and injury. In fact, Sunglow Monastery’s Dharma Assemblies in the past permitted everyone to enter, but back then, there were not many people. Many people came and left, which rendered us quite helpless. Another time, a patron suggested we split the Dharma Assembly into two, one at the top of the mountain and one at the bottom. We originally thought that fewer people would come, but to our surprise, more and more people came. Now, there’s already too many people,” said Zen Master Sunglow with a bitter smile.
Fangzheng was stunned before he was enlightened. “Buddhist scriptures which are easily instructed end up not being cherished. People only begin cherishing it when they realize it is hard to obtain.”
Everyone nodded. The principle was that, but to have to resort to such schemes to preach the scriptures made them feel a little uncomfortable.
After the group finished a round of discussion, they suddenly heard chaotic sounds outside.
Everyone exchanged looks and saw the puzzlement in each other’s eyes. Was someone stirring trouble again?
Everyone got up and headed out.
The abbot quarters were behind the Mahavira Hall. They arrived at the Mahavira Hall after crossing a side door which led to a square. At that moment, a man was arguing with a group of monks. He looked aged, and his eyes were blood-red. His dark skin was filled with wrinkly spots.
When Fangzheng, Zen Master Sunglow, and company came out, the man had been thrown out by the monks. However the man indignantly took out a stack of paper from his bag. He threw it into the sky, causing the paper to flutter everywhere. The monks immediately turned anxious. Tomorrow was the Dharma Assembly. Yet this man had charged in like a madman and even thrown paper. Did he not know that they had been sweeping the entire morning?
The furious monks chased the man out
At that moment Fangzheng, Zen Master Sunglow, Zen Master Baiyun, and company walked out. Red Boy tiptoed and looked at the entrance that connected to the Mahavira Hall. “He’s gone.”