Chapter 1023 – The Bane of Monks
Li Qingshan smiled.
Xiao An drifted over to the grand hall and landed at the entrance. The sunlight turned one side of her golden. She smiled. Even the heavenly flowers and golden lotuses would have paled in comparison to her. She did not hide her aura, and she seemed to be wrapped in a holy haze, both with the self-restraint from the school of vinaya as well as the wisdom and natural grace of a disciple from the school of chan.
“Greetings, Dauntless abbot.”
“Amitābha, you’ve finally returned, One Will!”
The Dauntless monk held back his joy and uttered the buddha’s name softly. Compared to a stubborn and foolish secular disciple who had almost fallen into the demonic path like Li Qingshan, Xiao An was the true hope of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, while her almost-divine speed of cultivation left him overjoyed yet again.
The Unraging monk glanced at Li Qingshan. Compared to his murderous, unruly appearance, Xiao An, who resembled a heavenly maiden, truly did possess a bearing that was more befitting of a buddhist disciple.
“You’re One Will?”
The Seven Treasures Monk King’s eyes lit up. He tried judging Xiao An harshly, but he realised he could not find any flaw with her at all. Even when she was only dressed in a plain set of blueish-white monk’s robes, it outshone his embroidered kasaya, yet he was simply unable to become envious of her.
Xiao An nodded and said nothing more.
“You want to face me?” the Seven Treasures Monk King asked.
Xiao An nodded again. Her rather-disrespectful silence instead gave her a sense of solemnity and grandeur, which the Seven Treasures Monk King could not resent at all. Instead, he said in praise, “I’ve heard many things about you even back in the Spirit Kṣetra temple. I didn’t expect you to have undergone the third heavenly tribulation already. You truly are a wondrous prodigy of buddhism!”
“The Monk King has been too kind.”
“You want to face me for his sake?” The Seven Treasures Monk King pointed at Li Qingshan.
“For the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga’s sake.” Xiao An brought her palms together and stood her ground without coming off as too rude.
“Amitābha,” the Dauntless monk uttered the buddha’s name and showed delight from the bottom of his heart.
Li Qingshan pouted. He thought, This guy. I did all those good things, and you ignored them all. Xiao An has just said that as a formality, and you hold her on such a high pedestal!
As it seemed, even eminent monks of buddhism would be fooled by her falsehoods of great beauty. In particular, ever since she comprehended buddhism and the demonic in one and rediscovered her humanity, her great beauty had reached a whole new level. It seemed to be particularly effective against people of buddhism.
The Seven Treasures Monk King sank into his thoughts for a moment and let out a sigh. “So be it. We’re both disciples of buddhism. I don’t wish to face you.”
Li Qingshan could not help but say, “Hey, I’m also a disciple of buddhism, even if it’s just a secular disciple!”
The Seven Treasures Monk King shot Li Qingshan a glance and did not even dignify him with a response. He turned back to Xiao An and said pleasantly, “With your cultivation, it’s enough for you to be conferred the title of Monk King. Why don’t you return to the Spirit Kṣetra temple in the Dragon province with me to accept the conferment? The grand preceptor has specially asked about you in the past. He’ll definitely honour you with a gift if he sees you.”
“The grand preceptor knows about me too?” Xiao An asked.
“Yes, and he admires you very much! Having seen you today, you really do live up to your reputation!”
“Senior brother Seven Treasures, it’s not exactly mandatory to go to the Spirit Kṣetra temple to accept the conferment of Monk King!”
The Dauntless monk immediately stood forward and expressed his objection. He felt deeply threatened.
“They all say that you haven’t really been a monk until you visit the Spirit Kṣetra temple. The conferment is secondary. The important part is broadening your horizons!”
After seeing Xiao An, the Seven Treasures Monk King had already changed the goal of his trip. Standing up for Si Qing was secondary. Recruiting an extraordinarily-talented disciple for the Spirit Kṣetra temple—now that was what mattered.
The Spirit Kṣetra temple had not become the greatest temple in the world through the Great Xia empire’s support alone. It had also achieved its current status through absorbing talent from across the nine provinces, constantly nurturing their foundations. The Great Xia empire might crumble one day, but the Spirit Kṣetra temple would be passed down through the ages.
Many of the talents that the Spirit Kṣetra temple absorbed were outstanding disciples from other sects and temples, but normally, they would not use force, nor did they have to use force. Buddhist disciples all had a habit of wandering the land to grow their knowledge and experiences and to toughen their mentality. As a holy land of buddhism, the Spirit Kṣetra temple would often be their first choice.
Countless monks visited the Spirit Kṣetra temple on short stays. As long as they demonstrated sufficient strength or talent, they would receive special treatment. The resources they received might even surpass what their original sects could offer. Most of these monks would just stay there for good. Even though they did not originate from the Spirit Kṣetra temple, they were no different from monks of the Spirit Kṣetra temple.
As time went on, the Spirit Kṣetra temple became stronger and stronger, and they could learn from everyone’s strengths. They embraced all the streams of thought. Even when many monks did not receive any special treatment, they would still be willing to stay behind and cultivate there, to grow through constant discussion and communication.
While the other temples and sects would lose their disciples to their chagrin, they could only suffer in silence, as this was a set of rules that had existed from the very moment buddhism had been established. It was highly beneficial to buddhism overall, and the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga in the Green province was no different too.
“One Will has only just returned from the Mist province. She doesn’t have to go to the Dragon province to broaden her horizons!” The Dauntless monk’s face immediately sank. His voice became cold and rigid too.
“The Mist province is a land of wilderness, where evil sects are rampant and demonic cultivators run amok! How can it be compared to the Dragon province, the Spirit Kṣetra temple?” The Seven Treasures Monk King countered.
“In senior brother Seven Treasures’ eyes, even the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga of the Green province pales drastically in comparison to the Spirit Kṣetra temple!” the Dauntless monk said coldly.
“I never said that,” the Seven Treasures Monk King said, except his expression was much more convincing than his words.
“Seven Treasures, you better not go too far. This is the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, not the Spirit Kṣetra temple!”
The Unraging monk was infuriated, but he felt a little uncertain inside. Xiao An had not grown up in the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, and her abnormal personality was particularly difficult to grasp too. She did not seem to possess much loyalty to the sect, only on an arduous search for the boundless buddhist dharma.
Going to the Spirit Kṣetra temple was truly the best choice, let alone the fact that the grand preceptor paid special attention to her too. If she actually agreed to go to the Spirit Kṣetra temple for cultivation, it could not even be regarded as betrayal.
“What, you also want to spatter Great Buddha mountain with blood, junior brother?” The Seven Treasures Monk King smiled.
As the Dauntless monk and the Seven Treasures Monk King bickered with one another around Xiao An, Li Qingshan suddenly felt like he had no business here anymore, so he could not help but shrug. “Do you still need me to be here?”
Xiao An arrived by his side silently and held his hand gently. “You’re free to go.”
“Girl, you sure know how to steal thunder. You’re basically the bane of monks!” Li Qingshan rubbed her head, only to see the Seven Treasures Monk King glaring straight at him when he raised his head.
“Bane of monks? What a horrible name.” Xiao An stuck out her tongue. She said to the Seven Treasures Monk King, “Master, thank you for your kind offer, but please forgive me as I cannot venture to the Dragon province for now.”
The Dauntless monk sighed inside. Some things still had not changed after all. In the past, he had not been able to stop her from going to the Mist province, except he never imagined that there would be a day when she would stay in the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga through the exact same way.
“Fine then!” The Seven Treasures Monk King sighed before suddenly looking at Li Qingshan again. “Do you still want to face me?”
“Up to you.” With this interruption, especially with how he was put in a great mood after seeing Xiao An, he no longer had much murderousness remaining.
“Then come with me!” The Seven Treasures Monk King waved his buddhist staff.
“Master Seven Treasures, just let me witness your brilliant moves instead!”
“You move aside. I said that I don’t wish to face you.”
“If I somehow manage to win, then please return to the Dragon province. If I lose, I’ll go to the Spirit Kṣetra temple with you.”