Chapter 1020 – Sand in the Heart, the Dharma Ceremony of Meditative Chan
Qian Rongzhi opened her mouth, but she seemed to have lost her voice, emitting a hollow, meaningless sound that resembled a snake’s hiss slightly. An extremely tiny sense of pain pierced her heart, but it was even more unbearable than when she was entwined in snakes. Almost unable to bear with it, she tried to curl up.
Xiao An sighed gently and draped a piece of clothing over her.
Qian Rongzhi’s eyes flickered with a hint of surprise. In her memory, she always gazed at everything with a pair of clear, empty eyes. There was no like or dislike, no sorrow or joy, so she would never do something like that. Suddenly, a sense of fury overcame her. The two words seemed to be a query too.
“Then what exactly is our original selves?” Xiao An countered with a question.
“Thank you for visiting me. I’ve already seen you. You can go and return to Li Qingshan’s side.” Qian Rongzhi lowered her head. She felt a sense of disappointment that even she was unable to describe properly.
Wind blew across the lone island, making the grass and trees rustle.
Xiao An drew the Affliction Severing blade and raised it high in the air. “You’ve once guided me, so let me guide you too!”
Qian Rongzhi suddenly raised her head. The hell snakes on her let out a hiss of caution together. She suddenly smiled and shut her eyes. “Sure!”
The blade moved like lightning, brilliant and pure, vanishing in a single flash.
A long time later, Qian Rongzhi opened her eyes slowly and discovered that she was still alive. Her body was completely unscathed, but the blade had left a mark in her heart, having severed and ripped away something.
The memories she had abandoned long ago filled her head once more. As a result, she understood just what was still causing her pain.
Even when she had already twisted, crushed, and annihilated these matters of the past, certain things only became more refined and condensed, like glistening grains of sand.
Since she chose to associate with snakes, then she should become a snake. Only then would this hell become normal, or even paradise. Otherwise, all that awaited her was this endless, hellish pain.
This was the source of her afflictions, her troubles, but even the Affliction Severing blade could not cut it away, because it did not just contain her memories of the past, but also all the wonderful hopes that a human possessed, the hopes for happiness, the hopes for peace.
This was even more firmly rooted than all of the greed, wrath, and foolishness of humanity. This was why gods and buddhas dwelled high above in the heavens.
She gazed at the sky. She was lost. She murmured, “Just what is our original selves?”
No one answered her. There was only the rustling of wind.
Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, before the Demon Suppression hall.
Yue Wuyang gazed at Li Qingshan sincerely. Li Qingshan had no reason to turn him down, so he agreed to his request.
“Though, weapon spirits aren’t easy to subdue. Your life might even be in danger if you don’t handle it well.”
Li Qingshan did not have any doubts at all that Yue Wuyang could take out even more weapons to offer than him, while his strength should not be any weaker than his. At the very least, he was unable to clash with the Blade Spirit of Frenzy Flower like how Yue Wuyang did. He could only restrain it through the use of his innate abilities.
“I will be careful. As for the dangers specifically, I’ll have to ask for your advice when the time comes, fellow.”
Yue Wuyang’s change in attitude was not unnatural at all. He had not become an asura yet, but he followed the principle where the strong were to be respected. The fact that Li Qingshan could refine the Frenzy Flower Blade of Path’s End already demonstrated his strength. It definitely was not as simple as his battle against Si Qing.
The Frenzy Flower Blade of Path’s End clearly had not submitted to Li Qingshan, but no matter how she cursed away, she never actually attacked them. That could already be regarded as quite the recognition.
Li Qingshan’s ill impression of Yue Wuyang vanished as well. After all, he was still Han Qiongzhi’s master. He said modestly, “I wouldn’t call it advice. I just have some experience. Let’s go to the great general’s estate first?”
“Hold on!” The Unraging monk suddenly grabbed Li Qingshan’s shoulder.
“What now?” Li Qingshan asked.
“Something good!” The Unraging monk smiled.
“Sure doesn’t sound like it.”
“What, am I supposed to screw you over? Please hold on for a few days, fellow Yue. Come up Great Buddha mountain with me. Hide your demon qi first!”
The Unraging monk grabbed Li Qingshan’s shoulder and arrived at the top of the mountain with a single step, right in front of the grand hall.
The Dauntless monk sat before the buddha in a lotus position and said without even looking back, “You’ve emerged.”
His voice echoed through the spacious, deep hall. Together with the curling hint of incense, it gave off a sense of solemnity of its own.
“The abbot has been waiting for me?” Li Qingshan was surprised.
“Because you have a buddha nature.”
“Pft!” Li Qingshan burst out laughing, earning him a glare from the Unraging monk. Only then did he stifle his laughter. “Cough, cough. My apologies. I couldn’t help myself. What did you say I have?”
“A buddha nature.”
“Since when?” Li Qingshan found this to be rather funny. Just recently, the Dauntless monk had been tempted to suppress him as a Demon King, so why did he suddenly say he possessed a buddha nature now?
“The buddha dwells in the heart at all times.”
“Damned disciple, why don’t you keep laughing?”
The moment Li Qingshan’s lips began to curl upwards, the Unraging monk scolded him, and the smile vanished again. He raised his hands. “Alright, alright, alright. I’ll stop laughing. But how can you tell, abbot? I’ve said this a long time ago that I have never cultivated good karma in my life, with a special liking towards conflict and sins…”
Before he could even finish what he was saying, the Dauntless monk interrupted him. “There’s a strong buddha nature behind those words!”
“If I recall correctly, the only reason why I was imprisoned in the Demon Suppression hall back then was because of these words.”
Li Qingshan shook his head. These words did indeed come from the mouth of a great monk. The dharma name of the monk was Zhishen. As for whether it contained any buddha nature, he had absolutely no idea at all. He just found it extremely hearty to say.
TL: Zhishen is referring to Lu Zhishen from the book Water Margin. The saying originates from the first two lines of Lu Zhishen’s ode when he dies, which you can read more about here.
“You entered the Demon Suppression hall, but you ended up cultivating the Demon Suppression Statuary. You practise demonic arts, yet you haven’t fallen into the demonic path, so you obviously have a buddha within you. It was me who was mistaken back then. Instead, it’s junior brother Unraging who was wise and insightful enough to accept you as his disciple.”
The Unraging monk chuckled, feeling quite proud of himself.
“Now that you mention it, it suddenly seems quite reasonable. Though, don’t tell me you want me to become a monk again!” Li Qingshan said cautiously.
“The breadth of buddhism is vast, and people are free to come and go. We won’t force you to do anything. If you want to be a secular disciple, then you can be a secular disciple!”
“That’s not what you said originally.”
Originally, in order to prevent him from influencing Xiao An’s cultivation, the Dauntless monk had been quite determined for him to take on some precepts.
“That was a temporary measure back then. This is the buddhist dharma now.”
“Alright then. You called me here just to tell me this?”
“You may be a secular disciple, but you’re also a disciple of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. You possess a buddha nature, but if you don’t receive any further guidance, it’ll be corrupted by demonic thoughts, and you’ll become a true Demon King in the end, so I’ve prepared a dharma ceremony for you.”
“Stop right there. I get a headache as soon as I hear about scriptures.” Li Qingshan wanted to leave the moment he heard those two words. He was stopped by the Unraging monk. “Don’t worry. You don’t need to understand the scriptures, and it can develop your root of wisdom. The Dharma Ceremony of Meditative Chan isn’t one that anyone can enjoy.”
“The Dharma Ceremony of Meditative Chan!”
Li Qingshan could vaguely recall that Xiao An had once mentioned that she had also experienced a Dharma Ceremony of Meditative Chan during the time she cultivated in the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. Apparently only the most outstanding disciples of the monastery could experience it. It had brought tremendous benefit to her cultivation of the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty, and the effect was akin to the Fruit of Wisdom, except schools of chan had their own realms and enlightenments.
So this monk realised he can’t overwhelm me and wants to rope me in now. Though, I obviously won’t turn down something free like this. He clasped his hands. “Then thank you for your generosity, abbot.”