Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Daoist Letian walked out of his yard. He looked at the tea pot on the table which had little liquid left. Hence he poured it away and washed the tea pot and cups before filling them up. Then he leisurely returned to his yard. This was a tiny rule of cultivating Daoists. Many of them consecrated the Three Pure Ones, and there were others that consecrated the Heaven and Earth, but all of them had a unique trait. They did not open their doors to receive incense but instead reclused themselves to lead their days. They did not enjoy being disturbed by outsiders. If a person passed by their Daoist temple, there would be tea by the door if they were thirsty. The passer-by could drink it before leaving without disturbing the host’s cultivation.
Similarly one could gift Fangzheng something at One Finger Monastery, and Fangzheng would typically repay the gratitude by giving some advice. However most cultivating Daoists did not have a Heavenly Eye to foresee any future calamities that might plague someone. Therefore they absolutely refused to want anything from others. This was also a rule. If they took something, they would be tainted by karma. If there was a request in the future, they would have to leave the mountain to answer the request regardless of what it was.
As such many Daoists would not put themselves in a position of being indebted to others unless absolutely necessary. They severed all karma and stayed in the mountains to enlighten themselves on nature. Being free was their goal.
As Perfected Letian enjoyed his carefree hermit life, he suddenly heard a bell gong come from afar. Perfected Letian was stunned! Following that, a streak of brilliance flashed in his eyes as he laughed out loud. “Hahaha! This Penniless Priest finally figured it out! Finally! If This Penniless Priest had known it was this easy, would he have ever needed to think about it so much? Hehe. Not bad. Over this matter, This Penniless Priest even had a falling out with that scholar. There is a need to apologize to him today.”
Meanwhile, in another spot in Mt. Tongtian, there was a man dressed in a traditional Han costume outside a cave. He sat on a straw mat while holding an ancient text in his hand. He was having a great time reading it, but when he read a line, he said unhappily, “Letian was speaking nonsense. How can this line be explained in that way? If everyone in the world were happy to submit themselves to fate, how could there be any progress in this world? No, I have to debate him. I must attain victory even if I have to debate him for a decade.”
With that said, the man stood up and headed out. And at that moment…
The bell gong sounded. The scholar was taken aback as he knitted his brows. He then looked down at the book in his hand.
Another gong sounded. Scholar’s brows eased as an enlightened smile plastered his face. “Forget it. Things are naturally different when you view them from different viewpoints. Only through a clash of thoughts will there be sparks. It are precisely these sparks that ignite the light of wisdom. If everyone had the same thoughts, that would truly be terrifying. My tirade at him the day before was quite bad. I should apologize to him today.”
With this in mind, Scholar went out and ended up meeting Letian along the mountainside. They exchanged glances but did not say a word. They laughed out simultaneously and bowed at each other before returning home. However their moods were clearly much better. Still, they were very intrigued about the bell’s gong.
“It leaves one reflecting and alleviates one’s anger. The sound of the gong is like the chanting of Buddhist scriptures by one’s ears. It’s truly impressive. I should pay a visit when I have the time. I must see where the gongs come from,” mumbled Scholar.
Letian flicked his sleeves directly as he nimbly descended the mountain like a monkey. He was pure in heart and did anything he wished without stalling or waiting. When he heard the pleasant-sounding gongs, he guessed they came from Mt. One Finger’s One Finger Monastery. It wasn’t as nice listening from afar, so he naturally had to hear it up close.
Fangzheng did not know that his striking of the bell had caused the scriptures on the bell to seemingly glow. The gongs seemed to be infused with countless scripture text. When the sound spread, it urged people to do good, forgo their grudges, and it calmed them. Although the gongs could not really make a person change their ways, it allowed people to calm down and carefully ponder over problems.
Many things were done on impulse, which only led to mistakes.
Having more time to think, listen, inquire, ponder, and reflect would naturally reduce conflicts, dangers, and troubles to nothing.
However, Fangzheng knew one thing. He was almost dying of exhaustion! The bell hammer was unlike other bell hammers. It turned heavier the more he struck it. Even with his astonishing strength, he felt enervated simply from striking it a bit over ten times. However every strike he delivered gave him new insights. Certain Buddhist scriptures he had failed to understand became clear to him suddenly. Meanwhile Fangzheng also carefully looked at the countless scripture texts on the bell’s surface. He realized that there were several different sets of scriptures on it! On the exterior surface, there was the ‘Compendium of Various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Venerated, and Holy Monks,’ ‘Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra,’ and the ‘Twelve Causes and Conditions.’ In its interior was the ‘Lotus Sutra.’ On the bell’s lips was the ‘Diamond Sutra.’ On the bell’s neck was the ‘Shurangama Mantra.’ There were a total of 27 scriptures, numbering tens of thousands of characters!
Fangzheng read the scriptures as he struck the bell. Strangely, the bell’s body was circular and had an inside and outside, but every time Fangzheng struck it, he would see something different. As he continued striking it, he was surprised to realize he had finished reading a complete piece of scripture! And so there was no need for him to circle around the bell, nor did he have to peek underneath it! That feeling was as though the Buddhist scriptures were automatically turning their pages for him. It was extremely fascinating.
This also made Fangzheng decide that the bell was only to be struck by members of the monastery or things would only become troublesome if the news spread.
Fangzheng clenched his teeth as he struck the bell again and again. He kept maintaining a speed that wasn’t too slow as the gongs resounded through the mountainous woods.
It was as though that was the only sound in the world.
The gongs turned louder. Even the people in Songwu County City which was more than a hundred kilometers away could hear it. The gongs were melodious and pleasing to the ears. Instantly, it attracted many curious looks. Many people posted on WeChat Moments to seek out the source of the gong. It was finally decided that it came from Mt. One Finger. As a result, One Finger Monastery became a casual topic of conversation once again. Unknowingly, One Finger Monastery’s reputation was increasing. More people specially came to the southern suburbs to the east of the city to listen to the gongs. Gradually Songwu County began a strange habit. Everyone would turn silent in the morning. They would either stay in their balconies, sit by the roadside, or stand on their roofs to listen to the gongs that came from the distant mountains while enjoying the tranquility of that day.
Due to the gongs, it became more apparent that people were inclined to stay in the southeastern areas of the city when they bought their homes. Many developers saw a business opportunity as they invested in property in the southeast. Instantly the old city region in the southeast seemed to enjoy an injection of vibrancy. There were more and more people, and the business circles turned more active. It made the government have no choice but to abandon their plans of developing the northeast and take the opportunity to develop the economy in the southeast. It was termed the Buddhistic Bell Economy.
Fangzheng obviously did not know that his bell gongs would ultimately bring about so many changes in the future. All he did know was to clench his teeth and use all his strength to desperately strike the bell.
Fangzheng struck the bell 108 times, a complete number before he felt alleviated of his burden. Then he somewhat unwillingly released the hammer and pressed his palms together. He let out a Buddhist proclamation. “Amitabha.”