Chapter 145: Truth
Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Zen Master Hongyan looked at Wu Ming and then Fangzheng who was crossing the river. A look of realization flashed in his eyes. When he looked at Wu Ming again, his eyes were filled with disappointment. Zen Master Hongyan stopped Wu Xin, who was trying to mediate, from saying anything. He led Wu Xin down the mountain. On the way down Zen Master Hongyan sighed, “This a result of cause and effect and recompense is required. It appears Wu Ming will have to leave Buddhism soon…”
Wu Xin could not help but say, “Master, Wu Ming isn’t a bad person.”
“If his mind is twisted, how is he to attain Buddhahood? This Penniless Monk has tried to redeem him all these years but all that was redeemed was his body not his mind. Sigh…” Zen Master Hongyan shook his head. The situation seemed to have added several years to his age, the wrinkles on his face deepened. Wu Xin frowned and sighed as he glanced at his master.
At the foot of the mountain, Elder Du finally snapped out of his daze. He suddenly turned his head and grabbed Hong Xiang by the collar, “Is this the monk that you claim to be a shallow cheat? Crossing a river on a reed! That is the divine power of Patriarch Bodhidharma! Are you telling me that such a monk is a fraud?! A scoundrel?! Huh?!”
Hong Xiang was still reeling, now that he was jolted to his senses, he panicked, “Uncle, it wasn’t me. It was Wu Ming. Wu Ming told me to say those…” Hong Xiang regretted it the moment he said it. He had confessed. He tried to quickly recover, “No, it was…”
Elder Du slapped Hong Xiang in the face hard enough to send him crashing into the ground. He clenched his jaws and glared down at Hong Xiang, “I finally realize what is happening. You colluded with that bastard Wu Ming to harm that monk, didn’t you? The both of you… both of you are scum! Especially you! You have disappointed me for the final time! I’m giving you one final chance. Tell the truth!”
Hong Xiang had feared Elder Du ever since he was young, due to his fear he finally spoke up and told the elder the truth.
When Elder Du heard the recount, he was so infuriated he almost choked he had to forcibly calm himself down. He looked at Hong Xiang and was at a loss, he was even considering giving him a beating. His lifelong good reputation had been destroyed because of him. Elder Du even had the urge to kill him there and then.
Fangzheng was oblivious to the stir he had caused. There was nothing he could do about it even if he did know. All he wanted to do was cross the river. He did not wish to start trouble with the Baiyun Monastery, forming meaningless karma with it. Most importantly, Zen Master One Finger once wished that the One Finger Monastery would one day be able to participate in such a large-scale monastery event, implying that the small temple would step past the boundaries of the unknown.
Noticing that he was reaching the bank, Fangzheng jumped and lightly landed on his feet. Before Fangzheng could do anything else an old man walked towards him. The moment they met the old man bowed deeply to show his respect.
Fangzheng almost jumped in fright as he pressed his palms together, “Amitabha. Patron, may This Penniless Priest ask what you are doing?”
“Venerable One, I am sorry. I was fooled by slanderous lies and got the ferries to blacklist you. Now that I have learned the truth, I realize I have sinned.” Elder Du remained bowed as his voice was thick with remorse. He had been an unyielding and stubborn man for all of his life. He was also an impartial judge in the surrounding villages. Any matter which the people did not wish to send through official channels would typically be settled by him.
Now Elder Du had been fooled by Wu Ming and Hong Xiang. One of them was his nephew who had not made any major mistakes in the past while the other was Wu Ming, a personal disciple of Zen Master Hongyan, someone who was most likely the future abbot of Hongyan Monastery. He did not know Wu Ming but he did know of Zen Master Hongyan’s reputation. In addition, Wu Ming was great at acting. Elder Du was convinced and believed that Fangzheng was a fraudulent monk that committed all sorts of sordid deeds. This resulted in him getting others to blacklist Fangzheng, preventing him from crossing the river.
Now everything had become clear to him—Fangzheng was the victim. Furthermore, he had even crossed the river on a reed which would alarm anyone, even more so for those in the know. If people questioned the reason for blacklisting Fangzheng, Elder Du could only see problems in his future, his mistake doomed him.
The matter had truly puzzled Fangzheng. Why was he blacklisted for no good reason? He never expected everything to be the result of the seemingly hot-tempered old man before him.
Although the damage had been done, the old man had come forward to bow and apologize sincerely. What else could Fangzheng say? Beat him? Scold him?
Fangzheng was unable to scold or beat an old man. Especially one who had admitted his guilt and apologised so sincerely.
Just as Fangzheng was feeling vexed, a group of people ran towards them, making quite a bit of noise.
Leading them was Brother Hei, one of the ferry bosses. He was followed by the other ferry workers and bosses. A group of devotees accompanied them, snapping pictures with their cell phones before they posted them on their WeChat Moments. They looked at Fangzheng with reverence in their eyes as if gazing upon Buddha himself.
Brother Hei shouted from afar, “Venerable Fangzheng, I was the one who refused to ferry you. Deal with me if there’s a problem! Don’t make things difficult for Elder Du!”
“I have also refused to ferry you. Speak to me if you have an issue!” shouted another person.
Following that, the ferry workers shouted their agreement, all of them standing up for Elder Du. They wore their hearts on their sleeves. Their hopes of protecting Elder Du were genuine.
When Elder Du heard them he shouted angrily, “Shut up! All of you! I was the one who made the decision. Who asked you to take the blame?!”
“Elder Du, you’re already aged. There’s no need to take the blame,” said Brother Hei.
“Bullshit, when has age had anything to do with making a mistake? Does being old make one immune to imprisonment when committing a crime? I’m telling you. A mistake is a mistake. Punishment is needed when a mistake is made! I have said it before and am repeating it now.” With that said, Elder Du turned to Fangzheng, “Venerable Fangzheng, I’m willing to accept my punishment!”
Fangzheng lost his temper when he saw the stubborn old man in front of him. Indeed, he had committed a wrong but who in this world was sinless? A fault confessed is half redressed. Being unrepentant was what required punishment. Since the old man was such a genuine person who was willing to admit to his mistakes… It made things difficult.
Fangzheng pressed his palms together, “Amitabha. Patron, since you have said so, This Penniless Monk will have to punish you.”
Once that was said everyone present flew into a frenzy!
“He’s really punishing him?”
“That’s too much. There are so many people. At least take into consideration of all these people here. He’s so old. It would be humiliating if he were to be punished.”
“Isn’t this master going overboard? Even if he did make a mistake, he has apologized.”
Brother Hei and company were unhappy. Just as they were about to speak Elder Du glared them into submission. Elder Du looked up, “Venerable Fangzheng! I admit my sin!”
Fangzheng chuckled and removed the cloth bag on him. He stuffed it into Elder Du’s hands and said, “Since you have admitted your mistake, help me carry this bag. All you need to do is carry it to the mountaintop. It’s quite heavy.”
Fangzheng’s cloth bag only held two rice dumplings. It didn’t even weigh a pound in total. Elder Du weighed it with his hands and was instantly taken aback. This was what he considered punishment?
Fangzheng said with a smile, “Let’s go.”
With that said, Fangzheng headed up the mountain. Elder Du fell into a momentary daze before he reverently bowed at Fangzheng and followed.
When Brother Hei saw this, he rushed forward. “Elder Du, should I carry it for you? Venerable Fangzheng already said that it’s heavy. With your age…”
“What about age? Do you think I’m so old that I can’t carry something that weighs a pound? Enough, stop causing a commotion. Fangzheng is truly a venerable monk.” With that said, Elder Du followed a step beside Fangzheng. He knew very well that his punishment was no punishment at all. Instead, he was helping him uphold his last shred of dignity! He had been an impartial judge. If he was not punished when he made a mistake, be it knowingly or unknowingly, how was he to handle the dispute of others in the future?