Chapter 564 – To Be Unfazed By Emotion
A warm breeze arrived. The wind chimes jingled, and the lotus leaves rose and fell.
Li Qingshan had never seen Gu Yanying with an expression like that. Of course, it was not like they had met a lot of times in the first place. He was curious what could make her so solemn.
Gu Yanying stood on the side of the terrace with her hands behind her back. “In the past, outside the Boundless mountains, someone had once said something to me. Back then, I didn’t give a reply, as that person did not particularly care about my reply, but right now, I think it’s best if I give a clear reply.”
Outside the boundless mountains! Li Qingshan recalled it. There, he had confessed to Gu Yanying in front of countless people.
Back then, a great difference still existed between their strength, but today, never had they been so close before. Even if a difference still existed, it was not insurmountable. As a matter of fact, Li Qingshan was even confident that he would surpass her sooner or later and become stronger than her.
Then, what would her reply right now be?
Li Qingshan could not help but become rather eager. He checked his surroundings again and felt like he was extremely close to success.
Gu Yanying bent over slightly. “Thank you for your interest, but I can’t accept it unfortunately.”
So she’s specially called me out just to put me in the friend zone.
Li Qingshan grinned and had no idea how to react. Although he had vaguely guessed this result, he still felt rather disappointed. He said, “It’s fine. I’m still too weak!”
“You’re so weak that you can rival a Corpse King in terms of brute strength with only a single heavenly tribulation. Your luck well surpasses mine, and the rate at which you grow is even more startling. I’m confident that your future strength will definitely exceed mine, just…”
Gu Yanying spoke extremely sincerely. She was definitely not trying to brush him aside. She paused there and dipped her index finger in the tea, writing six words on the table.
“To be unfazed by emotion,” Li Qingshan murmured.
Gu Yanying said, “In times of need, we can provide one another with mutual help and relief. We can support each other today, but if any of us leaves the other behind in the future, there’s no need to be overly attached. Even a parting of life and death could be dismissed with a single smile.”
“That’s reasonable!” Li Qingshan nodded. As it turned out, it was not emotionlessness, but being unfazed by emotion.
“It’s not an issue of reason. If you can’t accept it, then you can’t even begin to discuss this. We have some good will and recognition between us, which provides convenience to cooperation. However, if too many feelings become involved, it’ll be quite detrimental instead, and I won’t be able to work together with you.” Gu Yanying’s eyes were sharp like a hawk’s, staring straight at Li Qingshan.
For a moment, Li Qingshan had no idea what to say. This woman clearly had something that needed his assistance. Even if he would not agree to it, she could avoid the topic altogether and make use of his affection towards her. Yet, she had to draw a clear boundary between them, leaving absolutely no room for any ambiguous feelings.
As a matter of fact, if he refused to give up on his feelings for her, it would be downright impossible for them to work together. He could not help but grieve for Hua Chengzan. His infatuation and regretlessness might have been able to move any woman in the world, but it was completely useless against her.
“You may have a fortuitous encounter and a legacy, but your foundations are too shallow. For example, the many resources from underground. You have always struggled with converting them into your own strength. There’s also the issue of your identity. It can fall apart at any time right now. You won’t be able to hide it from observant and perceptive people forever. I think I can help you out in many of these aspects.”
Seeing how Li Qingshan remained silent, Gu Yanying thought he was still hesitating, so she increased her bargaining chip, solemnly persuading him to give up on meaningless emotions so that he could focus on pursuing the great path of cultivation.
“I accept, but not because of the various conditions you’ve offered. If others have no interest in me, I’m not one to become entangled with them. I’m going to be a person with a family very soon. Don’t overestimate your charm.”
“Alright. You really are a man I admire.”
Gu Yanying smiled and immediately switched out the tea for alcohol. She filled their cups to the brim before clinking hers with Li Qingshan’s, downing it all in one gulp.
Li Qingshan said, “You can tell me just what you need my help with now.”
“Now’s not the time. You will obviously know by then. I feel like as long as I give you some time, you’ll become even more powerful. By then, the chances of success will become greater too.”
“If you only help me out with a pile of trifles, yet want me to risk my life needlessly when the time comes, wouldn’t it be very difficult for me to accept?”
“There shouldn’t be any life-threatening danger. If there is danger, I will state it clearly. You are more than welcome to turn me down. There’s no need to feel embarrassed either, as I won’t insist on a single request. If you are tied down by the favours you owe and do something against your convictions, you probably can’t blame anyone else either.”
Li Qingshan did not lose anything and gained a powerful support instead. The way they cooperated was for her to deliver the goods first before accepting payment. If he felt like it was not worth it, he could even decline paying. There was nothing he could be displeased about, but she left him slightly dissatisfied by not viewing him as a man.
The two of them stood side by side, gazing at the endless lotus pads.
Gu Yanying suddenly said, “I won’t fall in love with anyone, if that makes you a little happier.”
“I’m in a much better mood now.” Li Qingshan glanced at her.
Gu Yanying smiled. “That’s good then. Sigh, female cultivators just have it tougher than men. Their tribulations of attachments are the heaviest, making it extremely easy for them to adversely impact their cultivation. Even I’m unable to transcend my own gender. As a result, it’s best if I just avoid the danger altogether without being involved in this matter.”
Li Qingshan fell silent for a while before asking, “What if you can’t uphold what you’ve said?”
Gu Yanying only smiled. She raised her head and gazed at the white clouds drifting past on the horizon. A question like that was not worth answering at all!
Li Qingshan gazed at the side of her face. He could not help but admit that her charm was truly extraordinary.
TL: Less of a translation note and more of a clarification for the interaction between Li Qingshan and Gu Yanying, as well as Gu Yanying’s philosophy.
First of all, the title of the chapter is 太上忘情 (tàishàng wàngqíng). 太上 (tàishàng) is a reference to 太上老君 (tàishàng lǎojūn), the highest deity in Chinese daoism. Basically, it says that Taishang Laojun is unfazed, or unruffled, by emotion. Like what the author explained, it doesn’t mean emotionlessness and disregarding your emotion. You can still feel emotion, but emotions aren’t a hindrance to you anymore—they don’t tie you down. You can say this is a goal for cultivation in real life. Yes, the concept of cultivation in novels is based on a real concept, but in real life, it’s more of a cultivation of the mind, the cultivation of disposition.
The other thing is how Gu Yanying won’t fall in love with anyone. This does not imply Gu Yanying is afraid of falling in love, or becoming overly attached, or afraid of losing the person she loves—she’s not afraid of anything in this case. She knows what will happen if she falls in love and this is a conscientious, rational choice she’s made regarding the path of cultivation she’s chosen. Of course, she might just end up falling in love, but the consequences will be far worse than just becoming attached to someone. She’ll essentially be going against the belief she’s been holding onto all this time and the path she’s chosen.
If you haven’t realised, this is also where her “graceful, unrestrained bearing” comes from. She refuses to be tethered down by anything, making her free like the wind, yet also making her seem a little heartless at times.
Leaving the Waterside Pavilion of Listening Wind, the heavy fragrance of flowers had yet to completely vanish. Heavy snow drifted through the air right before him.
Li Qingshan said to Xiao An and rode off on a cloud, heading into the horizon. He did not glance back even once the entire time.
Sitting on the cloud, he opened the mental map of the Green province. He could still remember the word of advice she had given him, “The Green province spans fifteen thousand kilometers. The jianghu is only but a corner.”
He smiled gently. “The nine provinces are like a well, trapping me in here. I’m just a tiny tadpole. I better leap upwards as hard as I can! I can’t let this bird woman look down on me.”
Although riding clouds was nowhere near as fast as flying in his daemon form, it was still extremely fast. He reached the edge of the Ruyi commandery very soon and shot past it without halting at all. It was like he had crossed through an invisible barrier, stepping into a higher land.
Although there was as much as five thousand kilometers between them and the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, Li Qingshan was in no hurry. When he came across any particularly touching sights, he would stop and take a look, witnessing the fine landscape and scenery of many lands.
Apart from Xiao An behaving differently from the past, the journey was extremely smooth, taking up two days.
Suddenly, a steep, magnificent mountain appeared on the horizon.
Li Qingshan passed by many renowned mountains and rivers along the way, but none of them could rival this mountain in bearing.
It was not particularly tall or large, but it had a solemn bearing to it in the way it stood on the land.
The mountain was covered with buddhist pagodas, and the halls formed an unbroken chain with eaves that curled up and protruded corners, giving off the sound of chanting.
“We’re here! This is the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga!”
Li Qingshan stowed the mental map of the Green province away and descended far away. Regardless of the sect, none of them liked cultivators flying over them. Li Qingshan was confident in his strength, but he was not confident enough to provoke this large buddhist sect.
At this very moment, the red sun rose up from the east, gilding the entire mountain with a layer of gold.
Li Qingshan’s eyes lit up, gazing at it from bottom to top. The silhouette of the mountain was like a giant buddha sitting cross-legged. The obscure chanting was like the gentle recitals of the great buddha, awakening the people of the world from their blinding obsessions.
Under the sunlight, the golden hall at the very top gave off rings of golden light like the halo behind the great buddha. It accentuated its dignified aura of holiness, enough for people to drop to their knees and prostrate themselves even if involuntarily.
He understood why this mountain was called Great Buddha mountain now.
Li Qingshan sucked in a deep breath and regained his composure. Looking at Xiao An, her gaze was fixed on the great buddha. The Samādhi Flames of White Bone blazed in the depths of her eyes.
“Are you ready?”
Li Qingshan rubbed Xiao An’s head, and she nodded.
The two of them purposefully slowed down, passing through the thick forest and arriving on the mountain path.
Perhaps this could not be regarded as a “mountain path” anymore. It was over three hundred meters wide, rising and falling, twisting and turning on the mountain like a dragon, extending towards the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. If this world had not been a world of cultivation, it would be extremely difficult to construct such a path even using the modern technology from his past life.
Even more shockingly, the great path was covered with travellers. The closer it was to the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, the denser they became. Just by gazing over, Li Qingshan had spotted over a hundred thousand people; clearly, there were more paths like this elsewhere on Great Buddha mountain.
Countless men and women, old and young, prostrated themselves with each step, making their way towards Great Buddha mountain. There was even a grey-haired old woman who did the same. Whenever she took a step, she would throw herself onto the ground in prostration such that Li Qingshan even began to worry about whether she could climb back up or not. Beside her was a child, probably her grandson. He still seemed rather muddle-headed, but he still copied the old woman, bringing his hands together and prostrating with each step.
They did not talk. It was silent and solemn, yet as harmonious as if they were siblings. The sunlight illuminated their faces, which were sincere and determined, glowing with peace and happiness. This was the glow of resolute belief.
Even non-believers would be influenced by this sight. Li Qingshan also brought his hands together and bowed towards Great Buddha mountain in the distance.
As a transmigrator, he did not believe in anything, but he did respect the beliefs of others. The life of mortals was filled with pain. Not everyone had the opportunity to become a cultivator or was allowed to attempt to break free from the shackles of fate. Holding onto belief like this was not a bad thing.
People would always need some consolation. Non-believers would always look down on the word “belief”, but they would buy and drink alcohol without restraint, wallowing in the internet, gorging themselves on indulgences like food, sex, or gambling. They were not necessarily more clever than people prostrating to the statue of a buddha.
Not to mention that buddhas actually existed here. They were powerful figures that possessed great wisdom and great strength. The Western Paradise Sukhāvatī and the Hell realm Naraka existed as well. Accumulating good karma and being reborn in paradise was all real.
Thinking up to there, Li Qingshan gained a clearer understanding of what the word “buddha” represented. They were existences with powers well beyond his imaginations. He glanced at Great Buddha mountain in the distance again and said to Xiao An with his soul sense, “If they don’t provoke us, there’s no need for us to actively work against them either.”
“You can just try out the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty and see how you go. There’s no need to be so serious. If believing in the Buddha is a form of blind obsession, then what doesn’t make believing in some White Bone Bodhisattva a blind obsession either? It’s just like the saying, if buddha doesn’t offend me, I won’t offend the buddha.”