Book 25 Chapter 4 - Nine-Character Incantation
His body weary, his strength exhausted, Kou Zhong climbed up the beach. Unable to take it anymore, he collapsed on the sandy shore.
Only after swimming in the angry sea all through the night did he survive to this place. It did not matter how superior his breathing was, it could only help him at the beginning when he was trying to evade the billows' most frantic attack deep underwater, but not to support him endlessly for sichen after sichen; otherwise he would have to turn into a freak who did not need to breathe using his mouth and nose.
After swimming in the relatively calm seabed for more than ten li, he had reached his limit of internal breathing, which was also the limit of the true qi within his body. When, in panic, he swam out of the water, he just realized that his true power has approached the disadvantageous condition of a lantern which oil has been depleted, while the shore was still three, four li away.
It was one of the most painful moments in Kou Zhong's life. Although the storm has subsided, the high waves remained. Kou Zhong could only struggle to swim among the billows relying only on his barely-there remaining physical strength toward the shore, and had to suffer being tossed and rolled in the sea wave with his body no longer able to follow its master's wishes.
Were it not for his fortitude and his continuous determination, his corpse would have been sinking into the bottom of the ocean.
When he came ashore, his first thought was actually reminding himself not to forget to warn Xu Ziling not to be overconfident in his skill to breathe internally and dive and swim underwater in the ocean.
His whole body felt like it was bitten and devoured by poisonous ants; every single cun of his skin felt like cracking. This moment, if even an ordinary martial art master came to deal with him, he would be able to take Kou Zhong's life.
The black clouds have dispersed half a sichen ago. The autumn sun sprinkled its light from the clear, cloudless sky above onto his back, as well as onto his Moon in the Well, which he had almost abandoned in the sea.
He felt that the mask, the treasured book, and the other stuffs wrapped in the waterproof oilcloth inside his pocket were still there, but he was pretty sure that the seawater must have penetrated the oilcloth so that the paper stuff would be soaked and destroyed.
Too bad he had not read the 'love letter' sent by Li Xiuning and delivered to him via Shang Xiuxun. If he said that he did not have the slightest remorse, he would only deceive himself.
Although he remembered Old Ba's warning that when his true power was depleted, the one thing that he must avoid the most was to let the exhaustion conquered him; yet right now, he lacked the strength to even lift his finger, so he could forget about crawling up and training.
While he was almost asleep, suddenly he heard the clamor of gongs and drums, followed by battle cry from afar coming near.
Aghast, Kou Zhong raised his head to see, and under the brilliant sunshine, his dazzled eyes saw a group of people - carrying hatchets and iron hoes, wearing weird-looking clothes and ornaments, with torrential momentum, was coming with vengeance to kill him.
Smiling ruefully, Kou Zhong buried his face in the sand.
With precious, solemn appearance, Zhen Yan Dashi's face radiated with saintly light, as he spoke unhurriedly, "Buddhism's three secrets are body, mouth, and desire put into practice with equal importance together with the thought. Body is equal to the mouth, mouth is equal to the desire, and desire is equal to the body. Although in names they are three, in reality they are one."
With sudden understanding, Xu Ziling said, "Dashi is indeed a very able person of the Buddhist school; in just a few words you have already explained the deep meaning behind the five hundred revered Luohan images in the hall very clearly."
Reverend Zhen Yan laughed aloud three times. He happily said, "Laoxiu traveled all over the world, only today do I find a destined person like Shizhu, who immediately understand with just a little bit of explanation. Shizhu needs to know that when laoxiu said that in the past there were other people who understood it, although the other party seemed to hear it clearly and logically, the reality was that they did not really understand, let alone using it in religious practice. More often than not, they obtained the body but lost the mouth, or got the desire but abandoned the body."
Stunned, Xu Ziling asked, "How would Dashi know if I am just saying I understand with my mouth, yet in reality I am no different than those other people?"
Zhen Yan Dashi's eyes fell onto his hands; smiling, he said, "Just now when laoxiu spoke about the three secrets, Shizhu's ten fingers seemed to shake slightly; evidently the secret words entered the ears, the desire was somewhat affected. If you still do not understand the mysterious meaning of the true statement, perhaps you might shout a few words for laoxiu to listen to."
Embarrassed, Xu Ziling explained, "Since last night, my hands are a bit like they don't obey my commands anymore. Ha!"
Reverend Zhen Yan said, "Man's corporeal body is like a treasured raft passing through the river of life; within it hidden the secret of the heaven and the earth. My Nine-word Incantation Handprint precisely passes through the three secrets, passes through the human body and connects with the universe; reaching the border of oneness of heaven and humanity, understanding heart meeting the character, namely the body becomes a Buddha. It has nothing to do whatsoever with whether someone has left home or still at home. Whether the body is inside a kasaya [a patchwork outer vestment worn by Buddhist monk] or not, a human is a human; he cannot change into another object."
Slapping his thigh, Xu Ziling cried out in determination, "Dashi's remark has made Xiaozi obtaining a sudden flash of insight and all is clear [orig. murky darkness suddenly opens]. I wonder if whether my disposition is making it so, but toward the Gate of Emptiness' layer upon layer of religious dogma, clear compass and rigid way of life, Xiaozi does not have the slightest bit of interest. I always thought that if Buddha wanted to convince his people to start obtaining proof to get the result, that Buddha must be too overbearing!"
Bursting out laughing, Zhen Yan Dashi said, "Shizhu's way of thinking is unique; I should say that it was you who made me obtaining a sudden flash of insight and all is clear. The Jiu Zi Zhen Yan is precisely, hey! It's better to say, 'facing the troops for battle, all are arrayed at the front' [lin bing dou zhe jie zhen lie zai qian - 9 characters]. This way it will be comparably easier for Shizhu to memorize firmly."
"What?" Xu Ziling blurted out, "Unexpectedly only now did Dashi casually think out nine words as the Nine-character Incantation?"
It wasn't clear who had hit Kou Zhong in the head with a stick first; the strange thing was that although it was unbearably painful, the tianling acupoint on the top his head seemed to be recovering its life force. Breathing in a thread of external qi, which he did not know from where, it bored through his withered channels.
The back of a hoe hit the Moon in the Well's scabbard, but the attacker's palm was jolted and split, throwing him backward that he fell sitting down on the ground, carrying along with him three of his companions that they fell to the east and toppled to the west.
Everybody retreated in shock.
Struggling hard, Kou Zhong managed to prop half of his body up. Sweeping his gaze around, he found out that the crowd heavily surrounding him actually consisted of men and women, and that the weapons in their hands were actually farming tools. The clothes on their bodies were brightly colored, made of cloth, hemp, and the like, with sheepskin vest on the outside. The women wore barrel-like long skirt, but the length was not uniform; some were so short that it reached only to their knees, some were so long that it was dragged along on the ground. However, whether it was trousers or skirts, they all wore leggings, both to stay warm, and to defend against poisonous insects and loathsome mosquitos. The women's heads were wrapped in complicated headscarf in bright color, adorned with a variety of tassel-like hanging-down ornaments; the color dazzled the eyes.
Kou Zhong really did not understand why in this kind of nasty situation he still had free time to notice so many different inconsequential things, so he found this to be extremely amusing. "Anybody speaks Han language?" he shouted loudly.
This bunch of local peasant obviously was not evil; seeing their stick and hoe failed to hurt him, they became timid. You look at me, I look at you; finally a shy young girl stepped out from among the crowd, and spoke stiffly, "You are not a pirate?"
Kou Zhong was amused, thinking that even if he was a pirate, under this kind of situation, there was no way he would admit it. He hastily responded, "Not only I am not a pirate, I am the pirates' enemy. Look! It was because of fighting with the pirates that I look like this. Ha!"
The young girl returned to the group of tribal people; she jabbered a long string of words to the people crowding around her. Even Kou Zhong did not understand how she could take his simple couple of sentences and add oil and replenish vinegar into it and translate it into a long-winded story. Although the young girl could not be considered beautiful, she looked delicate and pretty like a sprite.
Her sheepskin gown was quite unique even more; it did not have even half a button, there were only a pair of straps coming out of her back, which intersected on her chest and continued around her body back to her back and was tied tightly from the bottom of the sheepskin. Naturally the tip of the strap was hanging down just like a tail; so lively and cute.
Kou Zhong was burying his face back into the sand when the girl's voice, brimming with hope, rang out in his ears, "Will you help us fight the pirates?"
Kou Zhong moaned, "As long as you are willing to let me have a good sleep, even if you want me to beat the Tianhuang Laozi [lit. old man the emperor of heaven], I'll do it."