Chapter 497 – The Chant of Deva-Nāga
Li Qingshan leapt to his feet as his eyes widened into a scowl. At this point, he even wanted to vent everything he had gone through with the Spider Queen at her.
The malice of the tiger demon had already merged with his bones. A sliver of it appeared. If regular people saw him right now, they would truly be frightened to death. Even cultivators would lurch inside and develop some fear.
However, Ru Xin merely drank her tea with composure, completely ignoring Li Qingshan’s actions. The corner of her lips even seemed to curl up into a complacent smile. Whenever they clashed verbally, they would emerge victoriously if they could make the other lose their temper. Now, it was basically a victory for her, so she was delighted inside.
Li Qingshan ground his teeth, truly unable to do anything to her. Even vicious tigers could not extend their claws and teeth at friends.
And, while he said he was angry, he actually experienced a rare sense of peace inside. As he drank the tea and listened to the story that she rambled on about, the shadow from the underground world seemed to recede from his body bit by bit.
Before he knew it, he was no longer the moon demon, and he recovered some humane sensations. His tense heart loosened up. As a result, he played along with her. If any old person wanted to scam him out of his spiritual stones, they had better check whether they had enough lives to.
In order to hear the entire story, Li Qingshan could only pay up obediently.
“Thank you for your patronage! I won’t be refunding any extra payments, but you do have to make up for it if you’re short!”
Fortunately, after succeeding with her “scheme”, Ru Xin had no intentions of purposefully extending the story any further. She gave him a simple explanation about what had happened, but even with that being the case, she had earned almost ten thousand spiritual stones.
“This bastard Chu Tian sure is clueless,” Li Qingshan said casually. He did not take this too seriously. A trouble-making clown like Chu Tian was no longer worth his attention.
More importantly, the Annihilum Light Chan Master actually wanted to take Xiao An to the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga.
Although Li Qingshan did plan on visiting there with Xiao An, it was rather inappropriate right now.
A visit to the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga would definitely not take three or five days. It would be rather fast if it took three or five years. The issue was he had just set up some groundwork in the Clear River prefecture for himself. He had yet to reap the fruits of his labour. If he left now, it would be far too great of a pity.
Now that he had forcefully unified the night roamers, the spiritual herbs he collected would not be offered up like before. Instead, he could directly take it from them. His harvest would definitely be much, much greater than in the previous years.
And, he would be able to make full use of the underground resources. He could attempt to carry out long-term trades with the Academy of the Hundred Schools. The profits from that would definitely be impressive.
Even though regular pills were already useless to him, as long as he accumulated enough spiritual stones, he was more than able to visit the Ruyi commandery or even better places. He refused to believe he could not find and buy pills he could use.
He was like a farmer, toiling in the land laboriously and shedding who knew how many droplets of sweat. Finally, he reached autumn, the season of harvest he had been longing for all this time after so much difficulty. However, then he had to let go of the land and go start up a new field. No one would be willing to accept that.
And, he had yet to deal with the latent issue of the Spider Queen, which made it even more impossible for him to leave like this.
Of course, there was a way to deal with this, which was to have Xiao An cultivate in the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga alone while Li Qingshan remained in the Clear River prefecture, doing whatever he wanted.
However, Li Qingshan did not even consider this idea. Like the promise he had given in the past, only death could separate the two of them.
Li Qingshan sank into his thoughts. His expression changed several times before he suddenly stood up. “I’ll go to the academy and take a look.” If that old monk decided to act on his own and forcefully take Xiao An back to the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, that would be horrible.
“You don’t have to fret. A master from the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga won’t resort to something so rude and unreasonable, as long as you don’t insist on marrying their genius disciple.” Ru Xin seemed to read his mind. As she spoke, she sounded like she was testing him.
“Why would I marry her for no good reason?”
“As long as you have no interest.” Ru Xin eased up before pressing Li Qingshan back into his seat. Suddenly, she brought up something completely random. “Did you know, this world originally had gods.”
“What?” Li Qingshan was taken aback. He had no idea why she had abruptly mentioned this.
“This is another story.” Ru Xin smiled.
“You want to scam more spiritual stones from me?” Li Qingshan raised an eyebrow.
“Forget it. Considering how cooperative you were earlier, I’ll tell you this story for free.”
“Even if you want me to pay, I have to be willing first. Go on!”
“Your mind is elsewhere, so forget about it today. I’ll tell you once your mind settles down. C’mon, let’s go to the academy.” Ru Xin stood up complacently and made her way out through the door. Her lips curled into a somewhat mysterious smile.
I’m not taking over ten thousand spiritual stones from you for nothing.
In the great buddha’s hall of the Anāsravāṃ temple, the monks were all silent as they stood around.
The rings of spiral incense fell bit by bit as curling smoke dispersed. The figure of buddha smiled with his head lowered.
An old man and a young girl sat in front of the buddha, discussing the dharma. One was as withered as wood, while the other was tender like a flower.
As they listened to them speak, the monks were all left at a loss. Even Mind Enlightenment was not too certain he understood everything.
Xiao An seemed to be absorbed in her thoughts, lowering her head and thinking hard from time to time. Often, it would only take her a short while before she raised her head and continued.
The joy on the Annihilum Light Chan Master’s face that had been described as withered deepened. When he saw her several years ago, they had only agreed on their master-disciple relationship. They had not conversed too much. Today, he originally planned on giving her some guidance, but none of his difficult questions managed to stump her.
She developed her own style with buddhism, comprehending certain things by herself. Although her understanding for most things was still rather shallow, she did mention words of elegant wisdom from time to time, which instead made him feel like he was interacting with a senior.
And, it was only “shallow” in comparison to him, the head monk of the Bodhi courtyard who had spent several centuries on the buddhist dharma. There was probably no one among the internal disciples of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga that could match her. He was only filled with praises for her inside.
The Path of White Bone and Great Beauty was not a simple cultivation method. It contained the life’s work of an eminent monk of buddhism, which was equivalent to having a bodhisattva as a teacher, pointing out a path for her among the buddhist scriptures that were as vast as the sea. She used this as a foundation to read buddhist scriptures far and wide before coming back and practising the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty. The two processes supplemented each other, allowing her to advance step by step.
She felt like she had benefited quite a lot from the discussion with the Annihilum Light Chan Master. However, the bodhisattva was still the White Bone Bodhisattva after all, so Xiao An was unable to actually tell him what she had comprehended. Otherwise, he would not be approving and praising her. Instead, he would fly into a rage. With lightning speed, he would directly annihilate this heretic who blasphemed the buddha.
Most of Xiao An’s attention was not on the discussion. Instead, she was thinking about Li Qingshan’s safety. However, as she was always expressionless and her replies were clever and alert, even the Annihilum Light Chan Master failed to notice this. If he found out Xiao An had only been using minimal effort to deal with him, who knew whether he would become angered and displeased or even more delighted.
Xiao An’s dark pupils were perfectly still. Through her eyes, the gloriously-adorned hall seemed to become a transparent black and white. The rich fragrance of sandalwood was light yet tasteless. The Annihilum Light Chan Master opened and closed his mouth, mentioning subtle buddhist dharma that only slipped through her mind. The sound of morning bells and evening drums were barely discernible and distant too.
This was not because her senses were not sharp, but rather she was close to a state of emptiness and formlessness as described by buddhism. Regular buddhist disciples could spend three years facing a wall, and a moment of this was enough to enlighten them and allow their cultivation to leap forward. She was in this state right now.
Xiao An heard a loud sound, and she turned around in delight. Li Qingshan stepped into the great buddha’s hall. He formed an extremely distinct contrast to his surroundings. His bronze skin, shining eyes, and resonant laughter broke the silence.
Li Qingshan arrived beside Xiao An and bowed deeply. “I’m Li Qingshan. Greetings to the Annihilum Light Chan Master. I’ve heard how Xiao An had the pleasure to study under a renowned master like you. Having witnessed the solemnity of your bearing, you truly do live up to your name, Annihilum Light Chan Master.”
The Annihilum Light Chan Master did not even glance at Li Qingshan, like he did not exist. All he could see was Xiao An. As the head monk of the Bodhi courtyard in the Annihilum Light Chan Master, he could be regarded as powerful even among cultivators who had undergone the second heavenly tribulation.
However, he was not looking down on Foundation Establishment cultivators like Li Qingshan. Instead, that was merely his nature. Prior to meeting Xiao An, he had already practised meditative silence for twenty years.
Meditative silence was extremely renowned among chan sects, which focused on letting go of the obsessions of speech. However, it was rumored in the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga that his meditative silence was not for cultivation at all but purely because he did not want to talk and waste time expounding the buddhist dharma to others.
During the half a day he had spent here, he had almost spoken more words to Xiao An than everything he had said in the past decade in the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. If the disciples of the Bodhi courtyard found out about this, their jaws would definitely drop and begin suspecting whether their master was actually an imposter or not.
But clearly, the Annihilum Light Chan Master was not particularly fond of Li Qingshan who had just barged in.
Mind Enlightenment went up and tried to persuade him gently. “Junior brother, it’s best if you leave for now!”
“In the past, the One Thought master said I had a destiny with the buddha. I’d like to listen to the Annihilum Light Chan Master’s profound buddhist dharma and see whether I actually have a destiny or not.” Li Qingshan smiled at Xiao An, finding himself a cushion to sit down on.
Xiao An smiled faintly. The moment of beauty left all the monks in the hall slightly stunned. Some who did not have self-restraint naturally developed some impure thoughts.
The Annihilum Light Chan Master frowned. He had no idea what the Aspect of Heavenly Fragrance and Beauty was, but he could not help but think of a legend. In the legend, when the buddha attained buddhahood under the bodhi tree, the demonic māra came to stop him, conjuring celestial maidens to delude his enlightened heart.
He had never seen celestial maidens, but her smile made her buddhist nature fade away, going from a buddhist genius to a celestial maiden conjured by demons. This was also the first time he truly took notice of her appearance before realising he had probably been over worrying. She was still a child after all, so having some impure thoughts was unavoidable. If she really was completely pure and stainless, then it would be unbelievable. She would resemble a demon more that way.
The Annihilum Light Chan Master turned his withered face, and his eyes recovered their turbidity, finally looking at Li Qingshan. His still heart suddenly rippled.
He was the only obstacle to her cultivation!
“As the buddha says, three pairs of listening ears may be too many for certain dharma. You want to listen to my sermons, but I wonder if you have that right, sir?”
TL: “Three pairs of listening ears may be too many” is a Chinese saying that describes something as top secret. Basically, you want to keep it between two people (two pairs of ears), without a third person knowing (the third pair of ears).
In contrast to the hoarseness when he gave sermons, the Annihilum Light Chan Master’s voice suddenly became mighty, grand, and magnanimous with a hint of a lingering dragon’s roar. It fell from above, pouring directly into Li Qingshan’s head.
Li Qingshan’s face changed and immediately dismissed his thoughts. His soul began to shake as he felt like electricity was running through his body.
Is this the Chant of Deva-Nāga!?