Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Zheng Jiaxing said, “I wish to turn anti-gambling. I want to use myself as an example and promote this message to the various villages. I wish for no one to ever fall into such a trap again.”
“I’m very happy that you have such thoughts. Go ahead. I will support you in whatever you do.” Li Na smiled.
“Daddy, I’ll support you too!” Zheng Xiaoyu exclaimed as well.
“Son, you have finally grown up.” Zheng Huo sighed wistfully.
Meanwhile Fangzheng had returned to Mt. One Finger. He ate, recited his scriptures and when he had nothing to do, he would gather his disciples and preach the scriptures to them. He passed his days with extreme leisure. Fangzheng no longer worried about incense offerings as people came daily. There was no end to the incense offerings his monastery received.
The only thing that left Fangzheng pissed was that despite doing so much, not a single thing had caused a societal commotion.
Crossing the river on a reed? People thought of him as a cheat.
Lotus Flower Conveyance? No one mentioned it at all!
Despite redeeming the people who engaged in fake charity, it appeared as though no one cared.
Now that he had resolved the gambling vice beneath the mountain with the police nabbing them and the case going on the news, it still did not seem like he had been involved!
Fangzheng obviously did not know that what he had done was simply too amazing. People in the know did not profess what he had done for his own good. Occasionally they might mention it to others, but since there were no further testimonies from people in the know, it was treated as fake news. Apart from the people who lived close to Mt. One Finger, there were more who cursed him among those who lived a bit further. This way, although he had done much, few really knew who he was.
Fangzheng would lean over the wall daily, hoping for huge batches of devotees to come, but… Sigh.
“System, when can this monastery of mine level up? It’s already enjoying quite a substantial amount of incense offerings. I don’t think it’s much worse than Hongyan Monastery, right?” asked Fangzheng.
“What has your monastery’s leveling up got to do with me”
“No… Isn’t this matter under your purview?”
“You yourself said so before. Is there a need to distinguish a monastery by size? It’s only a place to consecrate Buddha, so a tiny space is sufficient. The sincerity is what defines the size of the monastery. Why are you so concerned about the size of your monastery?”
Fangzheng was taken aback as he smiled wryly. “I don’t mind the size of the monastery, but Old Dad One Finger did back in the day. His greatest dream was to turn One Finger Monastery famous, making it become one of the best and largest monasteries! Besides, didn’t you say back when you first came to me…”
“I said I would help you become a master and that the temple would become the biggest monastery in the world. Is your present monastery small? A person will not grow in worth just because they live on a huge mountain, but a mountain will grow in worth with the presence of an accomplished person. Since ancient times, there have only been cases of mountains becoming famous because of people, and not people who became famous because of mountains.”
“I understand that, but…” After repeating a few buts, Fangzheng suddenly realized that perhaps he had mistaken Zen Master One Finger’s intentions. Could the size he had referred to also have not been the size of the construction? Nor the number of monks? Instead it was…
Fangzheng suddenly recalled a question he had asked Zen Master One Finger when he was little. Back then, a wealthy man had offered to build a few grand halls for the monastery, but Zen Master One Finger had rejected him. Fangzheng was baffled over the choice, so he asked, “Master, why did you reject the offer? Wouldn’t it be nice if we tore down this crappy place? The monasteries of others are huge, but isn’t ours a little too small?”
Zen Master One Finger had shaken his head in return. “Having money without the merit to match it is a calamity. It’s bad for oneself and for others as well. My Buddhist Dharma cultivation, my own moral conduct, and my merit to the people in the world are still lacking. I’m afraid I won’t be able to hold down a huge monastery if it is suddenly built just like that. Fangzheng, remember, all is empty. Everything you see is empty. You will not be able to bring away anything the day you depart. Only what you have in your heart is real. If your heart is all-encompassing, your monastery will be large. The huge monastery in your heart will be able to withstand all sorts of difficulties. Only then do you have the right to watch over a bigger monastery. If your heart remains unchanged, giving you a mountain or a palace is only giving you a bigger cage for yourself.”
Fangzheng had been puzzled back when he heard that. Later, he figured out something from that talk—the size of monasteries did not matter; sincerity was most important. But now, it appeared that that was not all. The size of a monastery could be huge, but it had to have a complementing moral conduct too.
With this in mind, Fangzheng nodded silently. He realized what he needed to strive for in the future. His cultivation and merit outside had to go hand-in-hand. That was the right way.
With this in mind, his mind was cleared. He felt extremely comfortable as he smiled. “System, I have accumulated three mission rewards. I want to have a go at the draw. I’m already beginning to look forward to this reward.”
“Do you want to do the draw now?” asked the System.
“Yes!” Fangzheng said very firmly.
“Ding! Congratulations on obtaining a Buddhist building, Morning Bell!”
Fangzheng was instantly delighted upon hearing that. What was the trademark of a monastery? The monastery? No, it was the morning bell and the evening drum! Be it in ancient times or in modern times, it was common not to see a monastery but to hear its bell or drum. The phrase ‘morning bell and evening drum’ had become another name for monasteries and Daoist temples. To hear the sound meant that there was likely a monastery or Daoist temple nearby.
Bells were natively Chinese since they were dated to the third millennium BC in China. They stemmed from official residences which were later used by Buddhists and Daoists. However the usage was different between the schools of thought.
For Daoism, the bell was known as the Dao Bell. Apart from using it to signify the time, it was also an artifact and an architectural ornament. In many famous Daoist temples, they had huge bells hanging high above! Its existence made the Daoist temple appear more grand and solemn, and it was not to be violated. It was not only the most readily identifiable religious artifact, but was also believed to be able to ward off evil. This made it one of the most important artifacts in Daoism. As such, Daoism called their bells ‘fazhong’ or the Bells of the Law. Large Daoist temples would all have Bell Towers. Every day they would engage in a ceremony of striking the bell in the morning and drumming the drum in the evening. It was used to alert cultivators to work hard and forge forward bravely instead of being lazy and relaxing.
The Daoist Book of Aids to Divine Conformance mentioned that the ancients involved chimes and percussions in their music. Each rack had sixteen bells to match the twelve-pitch scale and the four fundamental keys. There were also specially hung bells and chimes that were hung separately. Those of the golden bell and jade percussions included variations such as grand bells and so on. It was also stated that the morning bell and evening drum summoned the spirits, so as to enhance the majesty of the Daoist temple and the mountain’s grandeur. The ceremonies had to be performed at dusk and dawn without fail every day. Cultivators of the Dao paid great respect to the resonance between the bells. Hearing the striking of the bells from afar could enlighten the masses from their delusions. It was said that ‘The sound of the bells in the upper realm was heard by all in the lower realm, and a strike of the bell awakened thousands.’
As for Buddhists, bells had another meaning to them.
The Buddhist bells were known as Buddhistic Bells. In many famous ancient monasteries, there would be a Bell Tower and Drum Tower installed in front of the main hall. Collectively they were known as Left Bell Right Drum.
Most monasteries would strike the bell once in the morning and once in the evening. And in other places, the bell would only be struck in the morning, with the drum being drummed in the evening. As for One Finger Monastery’s Morning Bell, its charter required both bell and drums to be struck 108 times each consecutively. It could report the time, but that was just one of its many functions. Its main function was to admonish all humans. Buddhists believed that the ‘hearing of the bell could generate goodness in one’s heart and increase one’s mindfulness,’ while the ‘shocking of the drum reached out to all life, spreading across all the land.’ Buddhism taught people to be good and to salvage all life. Cultivators who wanted to promote the Buddhist Dharma not only needed to be enlightened themselves, they also needed to help others or even all of humanity to gain enlightenment, allowing them to extricate themselves from misery. Therefore there was also the saying: ‘The Great Bell signifies the beginning. The dawn strikes as it destroys the night and wakes one’s slumber. The dusk drumming sends one dazed in preparation for slumber.’