Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Red Boy, Monkey, and Squirrel stood by the door to Fangzheng’s meditation room as they looked at him in curiosity. They were filled with questions and puzzlement. What had just happened?
Fangzheng ignored what was on their minds and after he charged into the meditation room, he opened the Sutra Cabinet and saw a brand new book inside! On its blue cover were written a couple of words with a forceful flair: The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra!
When Fangzheng saw this, he raised his head and laughed out maniacally.
At that moment, Red Boy and Squirrel walked over furtively. When they saw Fangzheng hug a thin book while laughing unceasingly, they exchanged looks, completely lost at his behavior.
Red Boy could not help but ask, “Master, why are you laughing while holding that tiny book? Is that from the island nation?”
Fangzheng rolled his eyes and struck him violently. “Don’t speak nonsense when you aren’t sure about things. This is no ordinary item. It’s a sutra book!”
Squirrel immediately zoomed on top of Fangzheng’s shoulder when he heard that. Then, he followed the arm and came to Fangzheng’s hand. He touched The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra and asked curiously, “Master, isn’t this sutra book too thin? How many words can there be in it?”
Fangzheng laughed. “This book is indeed thin. As for words, there aren’t many. There’s only 260 words.”
“Ah? So few?” Squirrel and Red Boy exclaimed in unison.
Fangzheng said, “Be content. Although The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra is short, it’s precious! In Tibetan Buddhism, there is this sentence: ‘Buddha said that among the 84,000 Dharma, The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra is the most special.’ That means that the standing of these 260 words in Buddhist literature is as transcendent as that of the Diamond Sutra. To put it simply, it has the core essence among all the Dharma! Many monks can spend their entire lives studying just this sutra and can still achieve a lot. However, most monasteries use it as the most basic sutra for beginners.”
Only when Red Boy and Squirrel heard that did they understand the value of the thin book. Immediately, their curiosity was piqued. What exactly was written in it that with just two hundred plus words, it was able to be a head above the rest? Also, no matter how awesome it was, it was ultimately a beginner’s book. Was there a need to be that happy?
Fangzheng could not be bothered with them. There were numerous Buddhist scriptures, each having multiple volumes. Even if people were poor their entire lives, it was unlikely they could finish reading all of them. Since it was impossible to finish reading them, understanding the core essence of all the scriptures became the simplest and most efficient way of studying. By fully internalizing the core before reading other scriptures, one could gain insights at a far superior speed by drawing analogies.
This was just like for the study of writing essays one first had to learn how to write in general. By learning to write simple things first before learning how to write an essay, the process was much easier. If one did not know how to write and was made to write an essay immediately, who knows what one could write…
Fangzheng had never read the Heart Sutra. He had only heard Zen Master One Finger recite it to him. Based on his impression from Zen Master One Finger, all monasteries had The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra as a beginner’s book. Its name was often shortened to the Heart Sutra. Some people even said that a monk was not a real monk if he could not memorize the Heart Sutra.
Of course, such sayings were a little subjective, but one could also tell how prevalent and important the Heart Sutra was from them.
Fangzheng had memorized the Heart Sutra as well. Logically speaking, he did not need to be so excited about the Heart Sutra. However, first of all, the appearance of the Heart Sutra proved that the Sutra Cabinet could indeed produce sutra books. Secondly, Fangzheng knew very well that the sutras on Mount Numinous were different from the sutra books of his world! He also wished to see what the real Heart Sutra was like!
Fangzheng eagerly opened the Heart Sutra and flipped to the first page. He was taken aback, for the Heart Sutra was identical to the one he had memorized. 260 words, not one word less or more.
“This… System, did the Sutra Cabinet take the wrong book?”
“Ding! No. The Sutra Cabinet’s function is to search the sutra information of this world before amalgamating a book. Therefore, the Heart Sutra you see is the Heart Sutra from your world. If you wish to obtain the true sutras of Mount Numinous, you must create a Sutra Repository at the very least.”
Fangzheng rolled his eyes. “Are you kidding me? I remember quite clearly that you said that it would produce sutra books from Mount Numinous.”
“That’s right. If you were in the world where Mount Numinous is located, the amalgamated sutra books would be the sutra books you could find on Mount Numinous. But from here, it cannot cross worlds to gather information, so all it can do is produce sutra books of this world. To tear through the world barriers, you need a Sutra Repository,” said the System matter-of-factly.
Fangzheng was instantly left speechless. The Heart Sutra in his hands suddenly felt lighter. He was pissed! Extremely pissed! He had been filled with so much anticipation, but this was it?
“Don’t be angry. Flip to the back before you continue,” the System said.
Fangzheng speechlessly flipped to the last page, and…
“Bodhidharma’s explanatory notes!”
“What!?” Fangzheng’s eyes widened as he continued flipping through the back.
“Shenxiu’s explanatory notes!”
“Faxian’s explanatory notes!”
“Kumārajīva’s explanatory notes!”
“System, this isn’t fake right? Why are there so many notes? Also, it’s such a thin book, so how can there be so many pages?” Fangzheng was truly shocked. Each page had the explanatory notes of an esteemed historical monk! The value of those notes was far greater than the Heart Sutra itself!
“Although the Sutra Cabinet is unable to cross worlds to gather information, it can gather all the information in this world and fuse that into a book. These explanatory notes were handed down in books which were written. Some appeared in history before they were lost. Some were never written and only orally transmitted. Some were thoughts in people’s minds. As for why there are so many pages, do you think you humans are the only ones who can have digital books? Can’t Mount Numinous have unlimited pages? How’s that? Do you still feel disparagement towards the Sutra Cabinet?”
Fangzheng immediately shook his head like a rattling drum. Although he could not obtain true sutra books yet, being able to obtain the explanatory notes and insights of so many accomplished monks was better suited to him despite true sutra books being more valuable anyway. There was no such thing as the best, there was only the most suitable. When it came to comprehending the Buddhist Dharma, there were no shortcuts. It had to be taken one step at a time. Being too greedy would only swell one’s stomach in discomfort.
With the Heart Sutra, Fangzheng did not stay in the monastery. Although it was pretty quiet, there were many visitors. This still resulted in some disturbances.
Fangzheng ran to the bamboo forest behind the monastery and placed a chair on the ground. He sat down and leisurely read the Heart Sutra as well as the explanatory notes in the back. He could not help but recite,
“Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, was deep through the Perfection of Wisdom, saw clearly that the five aggregates of human existence were empty, and so released himself from suffering.
“Sariputra! Form is nothing more than emptiness, emptiness is nothing more than Form. Form is exactly emptiness, and emptiness is exactly Form. The other four aggregates of human existence—feeling, thought, will, and consciousness—are also nothing more than emptiness.
“Sariputra! All things are empty: Nothing is born, nothing dies, nothing is pure, nothing is stained, nothing increases and nothing decreases. So, in emptiness, there is no form…”