Chapter 565 – The Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga
Li Qingshan reminded Xiao An as the two of them climbed up the mountain along the path. They obviously did not prostrate themselves with each step like the mortals, crossing through the crowd quickly and arriving below Great Buddha mountain in the blink of an eye, right in front of the gate of the monastery.
They were unable to advance any further upon reaching there. Two guardian gods stood to the sides of the gate with great vigour, each wielding a weapon. At first glance, he even mistook them to be two statues.
But suddenly, their eyes swiveled and landed on Li Qingshan. Li Qingshan’s breathing halted slightly. It really is the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga after all, just the two guardian gods who watch over the entrance of the monastery can make me feel threatened.
Looking back, there were thousands of buildings established at the foot of the mountain, specially for regular monks to provide guidance to their believers, ranging from residences, arrangements for food, and even the issuing of silver taels.
Unlike the temples of his past life, a sect like the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga did not require the donations of mortals, nor did it profit from the land it owned. It only required mortals to contribute their belief to them. Having accumulated over numerous millennia, just how terrifying of a force would this be?
“Those standing below the steps, why do you not bow?”
A monk in charge of reception asked loudly from a high wall that resembled the walls of a city. He was already different from those mortal monks. Instead, he was a Qi Practitioner, a true disciple of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. Several tens of thousand people were prostrating themselves in the square at the bottom of the mountain, so Li Qingshan and Xiao An’s standing figures stood out very much.
In particular, everyone who saw Xiao An along the way was left stunned. The young men even forgot to bow, ogling straight at her. Even when the monk for reception saw Xiao An, he could not help but be taken aback before lowering his head in a hurry and muttering “amitābha” a few times.
Li Qingshan said, “We aren’t believers. Instead, we’ve come to see the Annihilum Light Chan Master.”
“Senior uncle Annhilum Light is currently in secluded cultivation and is not receiving guests. It’s best if you return!”
Before the monk for reception could even finish speaking, a streak of golden light suddenly rose up from the majestic halls on Great Buddha mountain, landing at the entrance and turning into an old monk. It was the Annihilum Light Chan Master in the flesh, gazing at Xiao An gladly.
“One Will, you’ve finally come.”
“Senior uncle Annhilum Light.” The monk was taken aback, bowing in a hurry.
The Annihilum Light Chan Master was the head monk of the Bodhi courtyard. He had a rather dull character, and he liked peace and quiet. Even his direct disciples would very rarely see his expression change, yet he had actually revealed such an expression because two measly Foundation Establishment cultivators had come to visit. It truly was quite an occasion.
Xiao An brought her palms together in an orderly manner and bowed. “Master.”
“Come with me!” The Annihilum Light Chan Master waved his arm, and the huge gate behind him opened loudly. Sunlight poured through, landing on Li Qingshan’s face and making him squint his eyes.
“The gate’s opening!” “The gate’s opening!”
Calls rang out from below the mountain. The gate to the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga normally never opened. The disciples of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga all entered through a minor entrance below. They only ever opened the main gate to receive important guests.
The Annihilum Light Chan Master glanced at Xiao An before waving his hand.
The melodious sound of a bell rang out from the top of the mountain at first, and afterwards, the entire mountain rang with bells, drowning out the chanting and spreading across the entire Great Buddha mountain.
The monk for reception was stunned. He studied Li Qingshan and Xiao An closely. Let alone two Foundation Establishment cultivators, but even two Golden Core cultivators had no right to receive such treatment.
The girl seemed to be senior uncle Annhilium Light’s final disciple, but she was a disciple at most, which made her even less qualified.
Golden light shone brilliantly. The sounds of bells rose and fell together. It was grand and imposing.
Li Qingshan eased up slightly inside. As it seems, the Annihilum Light Chan Master still views Xiao An with great importance, so he probably won’t allow her to suffer any abuse. Actually, he was purely overthinking. With Xiao An’s current strength, how many people could abuse her across the nine provinces?
The Annihilum Light Chan Master walked at the front and Xiao An followed closely behind, so Li Qingshan followed along too. The Annihilum Light Chan Master glanced back at him, and Li Qingshan smiled at him, so he said nothing.
Xiao An followed the light and stepped into the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. Her seaweed-like hair and her pale clothes were dyed with a layer of golden light.
The entire Great Buddha mountain had been disturbed. The various head monks emerged from their courtyards and gazed at the entrance in the distance.
Among the various head monks, the Annihilum Light Chan Master had always approached matters discreetly, indifferent to most affairs, yet he had done something so conspicuously today, leaving many people astounded.
He represented the entire Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, presenting a new disciple with a courteous reception and respect. He was also expressing to the entire Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga just how much he valued her, so that no one, not even the abbot of the monastery, should underestimate her.
But did she truly deserve something like this?
The buddhist pagodas that stood in great numbers resembled a forest, blocking the sunlight. They glowed with a gentle, golden light, hiding wondrous power. This power was not brutal in any way or form. Instead, it was like the sunlight, the rain, and the dew, silently nourishing the surroundings. It was filled with warmth and benevolence, enough to fill people with admiration.
They stored the śarīras of past, revered monks. Śarīras were equivalent to the golden cores of regular cultivators. They could only be condensed after undergoing the second heavenly tribulation. Just the boundless forest of pagodas was enough to demonstrate how deep the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga’s foundations ran.
He was unable to sense it when he looked at it from afar, but as he stood among them, he could feel their solemn dignity. These pagodas were all over thirty meters tall. Some of them were even larger than Li Qingshan’s original daemon form.
Li Qingshan thought, These pagodas probably aren’t just for remembrance. Instead, they’ve become part of Great Buddha mountain, probably some form of defensive formation.
Xiao An did not look around as if she was not walking through a cluster of pagodas and under the gazes of thousands, but walking alone through a spacious forest.
The Annihilum Light Chan Master smiled, while the many observers in the monastery secretly applauded her. This “One Will’s” bearing really was something else.
On the other hand, Li Qingshan looked around like a tourist visiting a historic sight, but he was also unfazed by all the pagodas.
On the peak of Great Buddha mountain, within the grand hall.
Li Qingshan had never seen such a majestic hall before. It was like another mountain sitting on top of the mountain. He understood it to be the “buddha’s head” of Great Buddha mountain.
Gazing into the hall, the over three-hundred-meters-tall buddha sat in the centre while overlooking the people of the world. Bodhisattvas and arhats stood beside it, with guardians of dharma, the eight legions, dragons, elephants, and various other buddhist beings and creatures depicted on the walls.
A monk stood before the buddha with his palms together. He was bald and beardless, and he wore a great, red kasaya. He seemed to be around forty years old, but his eyes were as deep as the sea.
He differed from Li Qingshan’s benevolent, compassionate impression of monks. The middle-aged monk stood there silently, but he hid a dignified aspect of force. He stood no more than two meters tall, but before the three-hundred-meters-tall buddha, he did not seem small at all. Instead, he possessed a dauntless spirit like he stood beside the buddha.
He was the current abbot of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, the Dauntless monk, as well as one of the “Monk Kings” conferred by the Great Xia empire. Beside him were head monks of the various courtyards. They all differed in appearance, some old and some young, some male and some female, some benign in appearance and some sunken and cold in appearance, some with hair and some without hair.
However, the auras they gave off were all more powerful than the last. Li Qingshan had killed a few Golden Core cultivators in the past, but he would never dare to be careless if he faced any one of them, let alone the “Dauntless monk”. If it were not for his aspirational mindset, he basically would not have even been able to stare directly at him.
Within the realm of Foundation Establishment, Fu Qingjin from the Sword Collection palace could sweep through them all. Gu Yanying would be unfazed by regular Golden Core cultivators, but even she found the Soaring Dragon Elder who wielded the Soaring Dragon sword to be troublesome. As for the Dark Queen, she had even demonstrated the terrifying strength to crush other Golden Core cultivators right in front of Li Qingshan. Despite all being in the same realm of cultivation, their strength could be worlds apart.
None of the three great sects of the Green province possessed an undeserved reputation. The Golden Cicada Spirit King had become one of the Seventy-two Daemon Kings several thousand years ago, yet he still relied on luck and schemes to obtain the Chant of Deva-Nāga, afraid to openly rob or steal it.
If Xiao An had gone to the Bodhi courtyard with the Annihilum Light Chan Master, this obviously would not have happened. Normally, Xiao An would settle down first before visiting the various courtyards to pay respects to the head monks, and it would even depend on luck whether she could see the “Dauntless monk” or not.
However, since the Annihilum Light Chan Master had already opened the main gates and rung the bells, the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga would obviously make a response and test whether this “One Will” actually possessed the right to receive such treatment.
The grander the reception, the more pressure she faced. The Annihilum Light Chan Master told Xiao An to wait outside as he entered the grand hall alone, bowing towards the Dauntless monk before taking up one of the empty positions.
As her master, he had already given Xiao An the opportunity. Whether she could grasp it would be up to her. If she succeeded and proved herself, then she would receive endless glory. The entire monastery would support her cultivation. If she failed, then she would have made a laughing stock out of herself, while he would come off as unperceptive and incapable.
Xiao An nodded slightly towards Li Qingshan. Li Qingshan stuck out his thumb to encourage her.
She stepped over the high door sill with a bare foot, stepping into the grand hall. She raised her head to gaze at the buddha, lowered her head to look at the Dauntless monk, before lowering her head again to look at her reflection in the shiny floor. She walked over slowly and sat down on an empty cushion under the gazes of all the monks.
A monk said, “You see the buddha, yet you do not bow. How rude and unruly of you.”
Xiao An said, “I only see statues of stone and clay. Where be the buddha?”
“The light of the buddha illuminates all, bringing salvation to all living creatures. The buddha is omnipresent.”
“All I see is me, not all living creatures.”
Li Qingshan knew they had already begun their debate over the dharma. He did not really understand it, but he could tell how firmly Xiao An stood to her position. He secretly began to worry, Joining the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga peacefully should be the right course of action. Why must she oppose them firmly? This “Dauntless monk” clearly lives up to his name. You can tell with a single glance that he’s not an easy nut to crack. If you irritate him, it probably won’t do you any good.
The various head monks took turns in putting forth questions, barraging her like a storm. They launched vicious assaults and rebuked her loudly. Xiao An, on the other hand, was unfazed, replying one by one in an orderly manner.
Li Qingshan suddenly discovered that the Annihilum Light Chan Master simply stood there silently while the corner of his lips curled into a smile as if he was extremely satisfied. Then he looked around and realised that many disciples of the monastery stood quietly outside and listened along with focus, either learning something or being left at a loss.
As a result, he stopped worrying. So these monks buy into this kind of thing.
By late morning, convincing arguments were made one after another as they constantly put forward difficult questions. Xiao An answered them with composure, her voice pleasant like the jingling of pearls cascading into a jadeite plate.
The various head monks were all secretly convinced. With such wisdom and talent, she truly did deserve the most solemn of welcomes.
The Dauntless monk who had remained silent the entire time suddenly took a step forward. He erupted with golden light, turning into a guardian king that stood over three hundred meters tall, glaring at Xiao An. He wielded a pillar-like vajra in one hand, and the entire hall suddenly fell silent.
With a clang, the hall caved inwards, becoming covered in cracks. Clearly, he had truly unleashed the wrath of a guardian king.
He swung down with the vajra violently.