Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Fangzheng had truly benefited greatly this time. He was very satisfied with the rewards the System had given him. It also gave him ideas. “I shouldn’t be in a rush to redeem rewards in the future. It’s still advantageous to accumulate the merit.” Simultaneously, Fangzheng looked at the drum tower across him. It was still empty. The day he could get a drum would be when things would be truly perfect.
While Fangzheng lamented inwardly, the people below him jolted out of their reverie. Master Ma, Luo Yang, Fatty, Monkey, and company could not help but be amazed at the bell’s charming powers. Fatty even sneakily recorded the sounds with his cell phone, hoping to use the recording as his alarm.
Fangzheng walked down the bell tower and expressed his gratitude to everyone. Wang Yougui hosted a celebratory feast and invited the workers to have a meal at the foot of the mountain. Fangzheng escorted them down.
The bell tower and drum tower which had taken nearly two months to construct were finally done. However Monkey still looked indignantly at his drum tower before shaking his head slightly. He mumbled, “To find a drum that can match that bell will probably be a life endeavor.”
Everyone left, and One Finger Monastery’s tranquility was once again restored. However Fangzheng now had a few additional things to do every morning. Clean the bell tower and drum tower before striking the bell…
From afar, One Finger Monastery no longer looked lonely. On both sides of the monastery were a tall bell tower and drum tower which looked like two divine beings that guarded the entrance to One Finger Monastery. Its backdrop a distance away was the bamboo forest, and even further were the Mt. Tongtian and Mt. Changbai mountain range. It was magnificent and extremely scenic.
Time quickly passed. One day, Fangzheng just came down the bell tower when he saw Red Boy run up to him, exclaiming, “Master, Master! Should we prepare something for tomorrow’s festival?”
Fangzheng was taken aback as he replied with a question, “Festival? What festival?”
“Chinese Valentine’s Day!” shouted Red Boy matter-of-factly.
A dark cloud instantly hung across Fangzheng’s head. Why the hell would a bunch of monks—single men—celebrate Valentine’s Day!? He shook his head and stroked Red Boy’s head, while saying earnestly, “Jingxin, celebrating Valentine’s Day requires companions. We are all single, so how do you plan on spending it?”
Red Boy was taken aback before he wryly said, “Why don’t I find a temporary one and make do with it?”
Fangzheng raised his hand and rapped Red Boy on his head before walking away. His back faced Red Boy as he walked briskly. His back was straight, and he looked all righteous, but Fangzheng’s heart was welling with tears. “I wish to do so too…”
Red Boy returned to the monastery with his head hanging down. The moment he stepped in, a loud laugh sounded from behind him. “Haha, Abbot Fangzheng, long time no see. Your monastery is looking grander with time. This bell tower and drum tower are truly beautiful.”
Red Boy turned his head and frowned. “So it’s this Cow Snout.”
The person who had arrived was none other than Perfected Letian. The fellow had descended the mountain to seek the source of the bell gongs but ended up being chased by wild boars. He rested for several days before he left the mountain again to rush over to One Finger Monastery. Perfected Letian thought nothing of Red Boy’s words and instead smiled. “Heavenly Lord of the Immeasurable. Venerable Jingxin, long time no see.”
Red Boy returned the bow when he saw Perfected Letian bow. “Amitabha. Perfected Letian, long time no see.” He then ran off. He did not know why, but he felt that Letian was even more like a child when he saw him. He could not stand a child that could be his father in appearance!
When Fangzheng heard Perfected Letian, he immediately walked out and pressed his palms together. “Amitabha. Perfected One, please come on in.”
Perfected Letian did not stand on ceremony as he walked in. After they exchanged pleasantries and drank some water, he asked with a smile, “Abbot Fangzheng, might This Penniless Priest see your bell tower? You might laugh, but I’ve never seen such a huge bell before.”
Fangzheng rolled his eyes. Laugh? Pui! Perhaps no one in this world had seen a bell bigger than this! However he smiled calmly. “Perfected One, feel free.”
Perfected Letian was instantly delighted as he scaled the bell tower and observed the Morning Bell. Perfected Letian was an unrestrained man, but he knew propriety. He did not strike the bell without Fangzheng’s permission. All he did was look at it, but he spent more than an hour doing so…
Beneath the bell tower, Red Boy’s neck ached from looking up. He mumbled, “Master, is this fellow possessed? It’s just a bell, but he has spent an hour looking at it…”
Fangzheng shook his head. “He’s not looking at the bell but reading the Buddhist scriptures and gaining insights into the Dao.”
“Gaining insights into the Dao? A Daoist is reading Buddhist scriptures to gain insights into the Dao?” Red Boy exclaimed in surprise.
“It’s simply a matter of the same goal through different means. The reasoning in the world is all the same. Why would there be that many boundaries? These are demarcated by humans, not by Buddhism or Daoism.”
Red Boy pondered and recalled Fangzheng’s previous mention that Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism shared the same principles. He instantly became a little enlightened.
Another hour passed before Perfected Letian came down beaming. He bowed towards Fangzheng with his hands in front of him. “This Penniless Priest has really learned much. Many principles that evaded This Penniless Priest in the past have been figured out. Thank you for letting This Penniless Priest take a look, Abbot Fangzheng.”
Fangzheng smiled. “Perfected One, you are being polite. The Buddhist scriptures are nothing but Buddhist scriptures when placed on a bell. Only by spreading the wisdom will there be merit. This Penniless Monk is just doing what he needs to do.”
“Heavenly Lord of the Immeasurable.” Letian exclaimed a Daoist proclamation. Following that, he took out a scripture text from his baggy Daoist robes and handed it to Fangzheng. “This was bestowed by my master when This Penniless Priest first became a Daoist. It’s a gift, Abbot Fangzheng.”
Fangzheng magnanimously received it. By giving a Daoist book he carried with him all the time to Fangzheng, Letian was severing the karma between them. He had seen Fangzheng’s Buddhist scriptures, so he gave Fangzheng Daoist scriptures. None of them owed each other. This also revealed Letian’s character. He had truly extricated himself from the mortal world. He did not taint himself with karma and led a carefree life.
“Thank you, Perfected One. This Penniless Monk will definitely read it carefully before returning it.”
Letian was slightly taken aback before he smiled. “There’s no need for you to return it. A good book should be given to someone who deserves it. If it’s with This Penniless Priest, no one will read it even until it rots. Abbot, what you said was right. Merit is only gained by spreading the scriptures. Wouldn’t it be a pity if it’s kept with This Penniless Priest only to grow worms? Keep it. Let’s hope that more people will get to read it in the future.”
Fangzheng nodded as a form of agreement. Red Boy secretly tugged at Fangzheng’s sleeves, but Fangzheng ignored him.
Perfected Letian came quickly and left without dragging things out. He saw what he wanted to see and gave what needed to be given. He turned and left, carefree in his unrestrained manner.
Fangzheng looked at Perfected Letian’s back as he felt envious of him. However when he thought about himself, he shook his head slightly. Perfected Letian lived in Mt. Tongtian and although the mountain was abundant in produce, it was still a mountain. It did not have the Internet, electricity, or the necessities of a modern person. Everything was dependent on farming. There were countless mosquitoes and venomous snakes too. Such an environment was not something anyone could get accustomed to…