Fangzheng did not have any hopes of converting Dog Song to Buddhism. All he wished was for him to change his bad habits. However, Fangzheng was stumped when he was questioned about knowledge from textbooks. Thankfully, Dog Song had never studied those books before either! Wouldn't whatever was said still be up to him? Therefore, according to this line of thought, he said, "The books say that a life for a life is only right."
Dog Song cried once again.
Fangzheng continued, "However, the law also takes into consideration various human sensibilities. If it isn't deliberate murder, it can mete out punishment leniently. For someone with a case like yours, a serious sentence would be imprisonment."
"Aiyah! Sob," Dog Song cried again.
Fangzheng shut up and waited for him to finish his crying.
"Fangzheng, continue speaking. Why did you stop? Sob," Dog Song lamented as he cried.
Fangzheng said, "Amitabha. Patron, you cry so loudly. This Penniless Monk isn't able to drown out your cries. You can cry first, and we can continue once you are done. However, the village has already called the police who might come up the mountain soon. If we do not settle the matter before they come up, well..."
"I'll stop crying! I'll stop crying!" Dog Song hurriedly shut up.
Fangzheng said, "Alright. Let's continue. Circumstances such as yours might not need any sentencing if it's not that serious. A fine would do."
"Ah!? That nice?" Dog Song widened his eyes into round circles, having never expected such an outcome. However, he immediately came to a realization of a serious problem. He was too lazy and as a result, was so poor that all he had was a wok at home. He couldn't afford a fine! Hence, he asked, "What if I don't have the money?"
Fangzheng continued, "That's problematic. If you can't pay a fine, you will be imprisoned!"
"No... no... that won't do! Fangzheng, Uncle is begging you. Help me think of other means. Think carefully. If you think of a good one, Uncle will treat you to a meal of chicken! Eh- You are a monk, so you can't eat chicken. Do you want chicken eggs?" Dog Song pleaded along with offering bribes.
Fangzheng was truly impressed at the fellow's lack of knowledge. He did not know much about monks. Since Dog Song was so uncultured, he could make a bigger bluff. He continued, "There's another method which is to repay your wrongdoings with hard work!"
"Repay wrongdoings with hard work? What sort of punishment is that?" Dog Song asked curiously.
Fangzheng said, "Very simple. The village will act as guarantor, ensuring that you would pay up within a period of time. During this period of time, you will work for the village, and the village will pay it for you to redeem yourself. The better you do, the more you will redeem yourself. On the contrary, if you were to act treacherously and be lazy, you might end up being imprisoned if the villagers aren't happy with your actions."
"Ah... Ah? Work for the village? That..." Dog Song felt a little hesitant. He was truly a lazy man!
Fangzheng said solemnly, "Work or imprisonment. Patron, make your choice. If you choose to work, This Penniless Monk can help you plead with the village chief and the secretary, so that they can speak on your behalf. If not, based on your old behavior, they will probably wish for you to be imprisoned."
"I- I haven't done anything bad in the past," said Dog Song in a guilt-ridden manner.
Fangzheng chuckled and said, "Which year did you not bring harm to those few chickens in the village?"
Dog Song turned embarrassed.
Fangzheng suddenly turned austere as he bellowed, "Do you want to do it or not? If not, prepare to be jailed. If you want to do it, go down the mountain now!"
"Yes! No- Hey, you have to guarantee that I'll be fine. If I'll be jailed when I go down, I will not go down!" yelled Dog Song.
Fangzheng said, "Amitabha. A monk doesn't lie. Patron, feel free to go down the mountain. If you are imprisoned, This Penniless Monk will accompany you in prison. How about it?"
"Really?" Dog Song believed Fangzheng's guarantee. It was because Master One Finger was a famous person that kept his word. From a young age, Fangzheng was also a person of his word despite him being playful. Although he was still afraid, he had no other options. There was only one path on Mt. One Finger, with the remaining paths just leading to cliffs. If the village were to make a police report, the police would definitely seal off the mountain. He had no other choice.
Fangzheng said, "Yes!"
"Alright, I'll believe you this once!" Dog Song gritted his teeth and said.
Fangzheng immediately wrote a letter and handed it to Dog Song. He said, "You cannot read this letter. Take it to the village chief and the secretary. They will naturally help you once they read this."
Dog Song received the letter doubtfully. He nodded before he began his descent.
Seeing Dog Song leave, Fangzheng hurriedly took out his cell phone and called Village Chief Wang Yougui and Secretary Tan Juguo. He explained to them his thoughts.
Wang Yougui said in a teasing manner, "Darn kid, you sure have many naughty ideas! Alright, I've long since wanted to teach Dog Song a lesson. If we can turn him into an honest man this time, I'll owe you a big one! Don't worry. I know what has to be done."
With such a serious matter happening in the village, Wang Yougui and Tan Juguo were naturally beside each other. When he explained it to Tan Juguo, both of them laughed. They even collaborated with the policemen to put up an act.
As for Dog Song, how could he have listened to Fangzheng after leaving the temple?
He came to a remote spot and took out the letter. He was really afraid that Fangzheng would act contrary to his words and betray him!
In the end, the content of the letter was identical to what Fangzheng had told him. Indeed, it was the matter about the guarantor. Seeing how Fangzheng had promised that if Dog Song was imprisoned, he too would be imprisoned. It moved Dog Song nearly to tears. He mumbled, "Fangzheng, you truly are a good kid! It was all my fault in the past. I shouldn't have spoken badly about you. In the future, I will definitely be good to you!"
After Dog Song said this, he carefully kept the letter before running down the mountain.
"System, this doesn't count as violating the precepts, right?" Fangzheng was a little worried. After all, he had said quite a few lies.
"Ding! Amitabha. Buddhists are not supposed to lie, and it is forbidden. However, the root reason for the ban on lying is to lead a person to do good. Your actions were to lead another person into doing good. It is intrinsically good. A white lie is not a violation of the precepts. If not, you would have already been struck by lightning," replied the System.
Fangzheng immediately heaved a sigh of relief. At the same time, he understood an additional thing. The Buddha System was different from the traditional monk. It pursued what was intrinsically good and not the superficial good. As such, Fangzheng was relieved.
With Dog Song gone, Fangzheng began cleaning up the temple hall. He swept the place and wiped down the area, before returning to the backyard. He looked at the water in the Buddha Vat. His showers, cooking and drinking had drained more than half of it. Fangzheng immediately yolked the water buckets down to fetch water. As for Lone Wolf, he had no idea where he had gone. Fangzheng also couldn't be bothered with him.
After a few trips, Fangzheng finally filled the vat with water. When he looked up, he saw the moon gradually rise.
"I must be sick. I even forgot to eat lunch!" Fangzheng rubbed his belly. He was indeed starving!
He hurriedly went to the back kitchen and washed a pot and put rice and water in it before lighting a fire. The Crystal Rice was extremely clean, so there was no need for him to wash it. It was very convenient.
After all of this was done, Fangzheng took out his cell phone and sat on a tiny stool in the courtyard. He began surfing the Internet in a relaxed state.
Fang Yunjing wasn't online, but Zhao Datong had sent him a message, "Master, I have been feeling a little weak recently. I can't seem to get my mind together. In the morning, I find it hard to get out of bed. Is there a problem with me?"