Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Therefore Fangzheng joined Jiang Zhou. As he looked at the carefree Jiang Zhou beside him, Fangzheng looked up speechless at the ceiling, thinking miserably to himself, “I’m still young. Why am I like an old man? Sob!”
After watching the military parade in the morning, Fangzheng returned to Mt. One Finger. As for Lone Wolf, Red Boy, Squirrel, and Monkey, they wanted to continue enjoying themselves at the foot of the mountain. Fangzheng did not stop them and allowed them to do so.
As he opened the door to One Finger Monastery alone and walked into the monastery, he sat beneath the bodhi tree and looked up at it. The atmosphere made Fangzheng fall into a reverie. As he gently caressed the bodhi tree, he whispered, “It’s said that life is like a dream. The past year has really been like a dream for This Penniless Monk. If you weren’t the same as always, This Penniless Monk would really want to pinch himself to see if he was in a dream. You came from the south and courted death by taking root on Mt. One Finger. Now that you revived, This Penniless Monk wishes to see more miracles happen to you. Amitabha.”
Unfortunately, the bodhi tree was still a bodhi tree. This world was not suited for cultivation, so there were no demons, fiends, ghosts, or monsters. The bodhi tree naturally had no means of replying to Fangzheng. Fangzheng was only airing his emotions, so with a shake of his head, he walked into the temple hall and while striking the huge wooden fish, he began reciting his scriptures.
This was the first time in a very long time that Fangzheng was the only one in One Finger Monastery. It was also the first time it was so quiet. As Fangzheng recited the scriptures, a discernible breeze blew through the yard and rustled the bodhi tree’s leaves. It also blew past his ears, bringing him fresh coolness.
He caught a whiff of a fragrance…
As Fangzheng’s mind turned increasingly calm, he ultimately forgot everything. All he had on his mind were the scriptures and the way of life, and he was removed from himself and all ways of form. Simultaneously, what he did on a typical day was replayed in his mind. His every action was compared to the Buddhist Dharma. What he did right or wrong became obvious at a glance.
Fangzheng’s heart throbbed. Was this him finding his true self?
Yet precisely because he had this sudden palpitating thought, he woke up from that special state. Although Fangzheng attempted to get the same feeling, he could not find it again because…
“Get over here!” An angry bellow could be heard from outside the monastery. Following that, a man pulled a young lad to the monastery’s entrance. He had a head of white hair, and his skin was sallow. He wore a dark blue shirt, trousers with a camouflage pattern, and a pair of rain boots that were caked in mud.
The man was furious, but deep in his eyes, it was rather a sense of exasperation that could be discerned.
Fangzheng walked out when he heard that. Finally, he saw the boy behind the man. The boy was rather thin and not very tall. His hair was dyed an inconspicuous yellow, and his eyes were filled with stubbornness and displeasure. He was struggling with all his strength, attempting to escape the man’s grasp.
“Amitabha. Patrons, is there something?” Fangzheng went forward and said.
“Venerable Fangzheng, we are here for you.” When the man looked at Fangzheng, his expression relaxed a little.
Fangzheng carefully sized up the man and found him familiar. He looked like someone from the neighboring villages, but Fangzheng couldn’t remember the man being this old! Why would a man in his thirties look like he was in his fifties?
“Patron, are you Patron Liu Hongyun?” asked Fangzheng.
“Yes, it’s me.” Liu Hongyun had a bitter look. This was not the first time someone was confirming it it was really him. He had been asked the same question several times on his way to the mountain.
Fangzheng was taken aback. It was indeed the Liu Hongyun he knew! Liu Hongyun was not from One Finger Village but from a neighboring village. He was supposed to be thirty-eight years old this year and should thus be in his prime. However, Liu Hongyun looked more like an elderly man in his fifties! The difference was just too huge.
“Venerable Fangzheng, it’s a long story.” Liu Hongyun knew why Fangzheng was in surprised. He felt upset about it as well, but what could he do?
“Amitabha. Patrons, please come in and have a seat.” Fangzheng made way and invited the two to sit on the bamboo chairs under the bodhi tree.
Liu Hongyun’s son, Liu Beijun, stopped struggling after he entered the monastery. For some unknown reason, he felt more relaxed after entering. After he saw Fangzheng, his mind calmed down completely. He silently sat down with Liu Hongyun and lowered his head. He did not look at others, so no one knew what was on his mind.
The few of them took their seats, but Fangzheng did not say a word. He waited silently, for he knew that Liu Hongyun definitely had something to say having come all the way there.
Indeed, after a moment of silence, Liu Hongyun let out a long sigh. “Venerable Fangzheng, help me persuade my son. He does not wish to study. Tell me, how can he not attend school? What can he do in the future if he doesn’t? Be a farmer like me?”
Liu Beijun said unhappily, “What’s wrong with farming? Farming is better than school. What’s the use of going to school? There’s so many people who have attended school, but aren’t they all doing the same old things when they return?”
“You! You can only farm if you fail to be admitted into college!” raged Liu Hongyun.
“I think farming is quite nice. Look at my classmates. All of them are leading great lives after they quit school. They ride motorcycles everywhere and when they come to school, they don’t care about anyone. Even my teachers share meals with them. Isn’t that better than school?” Liu Beijun said as though that was really how it ought to be.
“Those are ruffians. If you join them, what can you amount to?” said Liu Hongyun.
“Aren’t you also farming despite all you say? Anyways, I’m not studying. It’s useless no matter what you say. I want to be free. I do not want to be caged. It’s useless no matter whose help you seek!” Liu Beijun made it clear that he wouldn’t be studying, regardless of anything.
Liu Hongyun was not good with words and was left speechless by Liu Beijun’s retort. In his rage, he raised his palm to smack him.
Fangzheng hurriedly stopped him. “Amitabha. Patron, violence does not solve the problem.”
“Hit me! Hit me! That’s what you always do! What else do you know except hitting me! Other kids can ride motorcycles to school, and all I can ride is a bicycle! Other kids can buy tablets, and all I have is a paper notebook! Why do you care about me when you are so incapable yourself?” Liu Beijun stiffened his neck and roared with his face flushed red.
“You little! I’ll f**king kill you!” Liu Hongyun burned with rage. It was fine if his son behaved like that at home, but to do the same in front of someone else, in a monastery at that, was too embarrassing! How could he stand such embarrassment?
Fangzheng hurriedly stopped him and thought of a tactful way of getting him to calm down. At the very least, he wanted to stop him from being violent. Therefore he said, “Patron, violence isn’t appropriate in a monastery.”
When Liu Hongyun heard that, he nodded. Then, he pulled Liu Beijun in a bid to leave. “Fine, I’ll beat him up outside.”
After Fangzheng’s repeated persuasion, Liu Hongyun finally calmed down. He sat down, grunting angrily. “Look at yourself! You should learn from Venerable Fangzheng!”
Liu Beijun grumbled. “Fangzheng also dropped out of school midway.”
Liu Hongyun was taken aback. He was preoccupied with Fangzheng’s achievements and forgot momentarily that Fangzheng was also a darn kid that had dropped out of school! Apparently, he had found the wrong role model…
Fangzheng wore a look of exasperation. He never expected to be thrown into the crossfire for no reason. What luck!