Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Perfected Letian blushed and said, “I am actually not a pure Daoist. I became one midway in life, so there are things I do not know. Some time ago, I asked someone and learned something new. The disciples of the Three Pure Ones would usually sing ‘Supreme Heavenly Lord’ or Supreme Heavenly Lord of Primordial Unity’ when greeting others. If they encountered believers who had met with mishaps, they would sing, ‘Supreme Heavenly Lord of Primordial Unity and Hardship,’ or ‘Supreme Heavenly Lord of Primordial Unity and Salvation.’ This call for help is a way to move the benevolent Heavenly Lord of Primordial Unity, similar to Buddhism’s Guan Yin Bodhisattva. We wish for the Heavenly Lord of Primordial Unity to save the unfortunate and rescue them from hardship. This kind of greeting has been used for many years.
“In the early eighties, a particular book critic celebrity would often use the words ‘Immeasurable Buddha’ when a Daoist character appeared. Later, at an institutional conference, the critic happened to be grouped with a Buddhist master. The master suggested to him that Daoists should not use the word ‘Buddha’. Therefore, ‘Immeasurable Buddha’ did not suit Daoists as a pet phrase. For his book reviews, the celebrity requested the master to think of a phrase that was similar to Buddhism’s ‘Amitabha’. The master was helpless, being a Buddhist. How was he to decide on a phrase for Daoism? However after giving it some thought, he realized that the critic was ultimately a worldly artist. He actually had little to do with Daoism. Therefore he informed the critic that Daoism honors deities with the term ‘Heavenly Lord’. The critic drew parallels from the two terms, and thus the term ‘Heavenly Lord of the Immeasurable’ was produced.
“In the nineties, a few esteemed Daoist Masters passed away. The moment of their passing happened to coincide with society’s new trends. Fresh Daoists sought the trends of society, so some people began using ‘Heavenly Lord of the Immeasurable’. It slowly spread, and everyone felt that ‘Heavenly Lord of the Immeasurable’ was quite fashionable. Daoists soon started greeting each other in this manner at gatherings. Later, it became the default greeting which eventually spread to the south…
“Some people, like the former me, ended up randomly using it without even knowing of these origins. Now that I understand, I’m naturally not using it.
“In Daoism, we often use the words ‘grand,’ ‘paramount,’ ‘supreme’ to express the extreme supremacy of the Dao.
“‘Immeasurable Temple’ then becomes a phrase of blessing, wishing the other supreme blessings. Well, to put it simply, while others use Heavenly Lord of the Immeasurable, I feel like ‘Immeasurable Temple’ has a deeper meaning. To describe it fashionably, it sounds more awesome,” chuckled Perfected Letian.
Fangzheng was instantly rendered speechless. The man was truly pure in heart, and he really spoke his mind. Fangzheng could not take offense at such child-like babble.
As the two conversed, they arrived in front of Perfected Letian’s Daoist temple.
The so-called Daoist temple was made up of three grass-mud huts. A plaque which had the words ‘One Letian Peaceful Temple’ on it hung at the door. The words were written with forceful flair. Clearly the vigor in the calligrapher’s strokes was forceful, magnanimous, and righteous.
When they entered the yard, facing them was a mud hut which had a plaque above it too. On it was written: Three Pure Ones Hall.
There were huts to this hut’s left and right. There were also plaques hanging above those. On the left was written: ‘Falling Leaves Indicate the Coming of Autumn,’ while the right one had: ‘Crouching Dragon Swamp.’ There was vegetation planted at the entrance, and although the entire Daoist temple only had a few straw huts, it had a wattle fence which made it look quite proper. It effused the charms of the Dao, making anyone who walked in feel especially comfortable.
With regards to this, Fangzheng could not help but be impressed with Perfected Letian. This was something Fangzheng knew he absolutely could not have achieved prior to the System’s help! What seemed like a casual setup actually coincided with the rationale of Heaven and Earth. Thus, it could be seen that Perfected Letian was no fake Daoist. At the very least, his insights into nature were quite formidable.
However, the present Fangzheng had gained many insights from the Buddhist scriptures. He too would be capable of this much now. He wondered if he should decorate Mt. One Finger’s summit when he returned.
Fangzheng brought his disciples into the Daoist temple with Letian.
Fan Qing fed the elder some water as he slowly awakened.
Fan Qing immediately recounted what had happened. He made clear his displeasure about the present environment they were in as well as Fangzheng’s and Letian’s attitudes towards them.
The elder shook his head and said, “Fan Qing, how do you think others should treat you?”
“At least…” With that said, Fan Qing was stunned to realize that he was at a loss for words.
“He is completely unrelated to you, yet he saved me and even gave us a temporary place for shelter. That already makes us greatly indebted to him. At home, your parents can spoil you, give in to you, and take care of you. In school, teachers can do the same. At work, I can do likewise, but outside, why would others do the same? If they are completely unrelated to you, no one has the obligation to give in to anyone. Unless…” The elder came to a pause.
“Unless?” asked Fan Qing.
“Unless they have ulterior motives! You should be especially wary of people who offer their help with supposed great magnanimity for no reason. As for these men, they are true gentlemen,” said the elder.
“But Master, you haven’t even been cleansed of the venom,” said Fan Qing.
The elder chuckled. “I should have long been dead. Living a little longer means I lucked out. Why think so much? Fan Qing, sit down. I’ll be testing your basic skills.”
Fan Qing immediately wore a bitter look when he heard that. He sat down and waited for his test.
Inside the hut, Fangzheng and Perfected Letian took their seats as guest and host. There was a black tea set placed on Letian’s table. The black tea set looked ordinary on the surface, but it had a white lotus flower carved on the inside. It was unknown how it had been created, but it was extremely intricate. Letian smiled. “This was handed down to This Penniless Priest by his grandfather. It’s said to have several centuries of history. It’s good stuff, made of authentic Yixing clay. The lotus inside is jade. With a guest visiting today, This Penniless Priest does not have anything worth showing, so all that can be shown is shown. Abbot, please don’t mind it.”
Red Boy sat to the side with his neck craned. He gave a look of disdain! He grumbled inwardly, “It’s not gold or silver; what nerve do you have to flaunt it?”
Monkey stood behind Fangzheng, eyes filled with curiosity, yet he tried to maintain immobility like an elderly monk in meditation.
Lone Wolf swept a glance at the tiny cup and shook his head, mumbling inwardly, “How stingy. How can that tiny cup be enough? To think he’s so stingy even when it comes to a mouthful of water…”
Among the group, Squirrel was the happiest. It was the first time he saw such a heartfelt cup that seemed like it was made for him. How happy!
Fangzheng did not know anything about tea or tea sets, but he innately felt that the tea set was very extraordinary.
Fangzheng smiled. “To be honest, This Penniless Monk isn’t able to produce such an extravagant tea set in that monastery of mine. To be able to use such a tea set today is truly a blessing.”
Letian rolled his eyes. “Come on, I can’t see how it’s truly a blessing from the look in your eyes. You seem completely unmoved. That is what’s bad about you monks. You are unperturbed no matter what you see. If you truly see through everything, there’s nothing interesting, so what’s the point in living then?”
Fangzheng helplessly chortled twice. He did not debate Letian, because he was actually truly surprised to see the tea set. However, how was he to blame when there was a clear glint in Letian’s eyes from the very beginning, one that seemed to yearn for approbation?
Letian said, “Venerable One, wait a moment. I’ll pluck some tea leaves.”
“There are tea leaves so deep in the mountains?” Fangzheng was surprised. He looked out the window and saw Perfected Letian walk to a corner of the yard. He carefully plucked something tiny which could hardly be discerned.