The Tixiang Mountain Range runs from north to south. The further south you go, the more gorgeous the autumn forest becomes.
The dark green and golden yellow intertwining with the blood-red maple leaves was even more vibrant and colorful, penetrating through the white frost and mist.
When the two reached the mountain’s summit, the red maples stretched as far as the eye could see. The wind rustled gently through, like the tides slapping against the shore, the sound echoing.
Luo Mingchuan smiled, “Past this mountain is the Xingshan Temple.”
Yin Biyue raised his eyes and gazed afar into the wild maple trees, vaguely discerning the shadow of the green tiles halfway up the mountain.
It was like a pearl, interstitched between the surging, burning sea of fire.
After the Great Dao-Demonic Cultivation War and the Heavenly Calamity, many powerful people had fallen, and many sects lost their inheritance in the war. Most of the current great sects had only gradually emerged during the ‘End of Dharma Era’ period after the Heavenly Calamity.
The Xingshan Temple was different; although there were no sages, the inheritance of their traditions had never been interrupted. In terms of Buddhist orthodoxy, it even triumphed over Jie Kong Temple, which had the sage, Master Wu Wang.
Yin Biyue hadn’t ever interacted with a buddhist cultivator before. His impression of them during the Flower Picking Festival stopped at their maintaining low profiles and their quietness with few words. The only thing that came to mind when many people think of the ‘Double Buddhist Temples’ was the word mercy.
Luo Mingchuan internally thought that with Xingshan Temple’s highly skilled healers, Shidi’s white hair disease could potentially take a turn for the better. He couldn’t help but relax.
The monastery was built against the mountains; the greenish-gray roofs stretched into the distance, and layers of almond-yellow walls continued for miles.
There were at least thousands of monks practicing in such a large monastery.
However, the Shanmen¹ wasn’t very magnificent. In comparison with other major sects, it even looked a bit shabby.
After experiencing an indeterminate number of years of wind and rain, the three characters, ‘Xing Shan Temple’, engraved on the top of the gate, remained only the outline; the initial strokes could not be seen from long ago.
However, only this kind of desolate stone door still retained the original appearance of the ‘All Saints Era’.
The three gates stood side by side, with a palatial double-eaved gate in the middle and smaller gates on each side. They symbolized the three gates of Nirvana and liberation: “emptiness,” “signlessness,” and “aimlessness,”² which were the typical monastery architectural style.
Everyone who comes here could see the history and glory of the monastery.
A young monk in bright yellow robes stood outside the Shanmen, his features calm.
He saw the two people arriving together side-by-side from the mountain road. They were clearly wearing Cang Ya robes, but their demeanors were completely different. One of them was as upstanding as warm jade, while the other had white hair and eyes like ice.
The young monk thought of a sutra he’d previously recited, “The body is born out of nothing, as if it were an illusion of images. The illusion of the mind and the heart is originally nothing, and all sins and blessings are empty and uninhabited.”
Whether upstanding or unreasonable, it was merely the appearance. How could it represent the essence of a person.
He spoke Buddha’s name and welcomed them, “Two benefactors, please follow this young monk into the temple.”
Yin Biyue and Luo Mingchuan were startled. They weren’t expecting someone to be waiting to greet them. But then it occurred to them that the temple was inhabited by a senior monk, and all the movements of this mountain were in the palm of that person’s hand, so perhaps their intentions had already been predicted.
Luo Mingchuan bowed, “Thank you.”
The young monk stepped aside from the bow, saying, “Amitabha”, and then led them through the Shanmen.
Yin Biyue seemed to feel something the moment he stepped through the Shanmen. He suddenly turned back, and saw engraved on the tall stone gates, the four characters ‘Endless Sea of Suffering.’ Perhaps it was an illusion, but he felt that these four characters were much clearer than the ‘Xing Shan Temple’ engraved on the front.
The young monk lowered his eyes and led them around the many buddhist halls, stopping from time to time along the way as grey-robed monks bowed to him.
It was only then that Yin Biyue and Luo Mingchuan realized that the monk’s status was not low, and he should most likely be a direct disciple of one of the temple’s senior monks.
The monastery was large, with some people sweeping and some people chanting; yet everywhere was peaceful and solemn, and no ruckus was heard.
During the time they were walking, their bodies were bathed in a light smoke of sandalwood fragrance.
But without knowing why, Yin Biyue could not relax at all.
It was as if beneath this peaceful appearance, there was a cold and cruel eye watching their every move in the dark.
Finally, they had stepped into the temple’s most magnificent golden-topped buddhist hall.
The hall was tall and wide, with bright yellow prayer flags hanging down unrestrained from the beams, overlapping layer after layer and immersed in the curling smoke. At a glance, it gave off the illusion of boundlessness and limitlessness.
The golden statue of the Buddha was so large that one could only see the head of the Buddha by looking up.
In comparison, the old monk standing in front of the Buddha, with his golden kasaya, appeared much shorter.
However, no one would feel that he was small or insignificant, because he was the abbot of Xingshan Temple.
One of the only two remaining from the generation with ‘Jing’ in their names in the temple, Master Jing Hai, was the same age as Master Wu Wang, the sage of Jie Kong Temple.
Luo Mingchuan and Yin Biyue were far from expecting that the person waiting here would be such a powerful person.
The two went forward to greet him and found that there were many monks standing in the buddhist hall. Although their powers were not revealed, their cultivation unseen, they were all wearing bright yellow kasaya.
The two made their greeting using the Daoist etiquette, and the monks returned their greeting with a buddhist one.
In this kind of a big scene, the first to speak was naturally Jing Hai. His tone was calm, the pace not too fast nor too slow, as if reciting a scripture, “The two benefactors have come a long way. The journey must have been exhausting. This poor monk³ already knows benefactor Yin’s intent; it’s not difficult to guess. Please let us step aside to talk.”
He directed the latter sentence only to Yin Biyue alone, and the implication could not have been more clearer.
Yin Biyue subconsciously looked at Luo Mingchuan. Before they even opened their mouths, this man had already known that they had come for the purpose of treating his illness. Indeed, his cultivation realm was profound.
Luo Mingchuan also did not expect that Master Jing Hai would so easily promise to personally help out. But as the compassion in Buddhism was well known, he didn’t think too much about it. He only wanted Shidi’s white hair disease to no longer be a problem, so he nodded to Yin Biyue.
Only when Yin Biyue saw him nod, did he follow Jing Hai toward the back of the hall.
Behind the grand buddhist hall was a secluded room, and outside the room was an upright pine tree.
Inside the room, incense was burning, and the light was dim and unclear. Even though it was daylight, Jing Hai still lit up the candle on the table.
The two of them sat in front of the table. Yin Biyue did not actually care about his own white hair disease. Naturally, his concern at this time was not how to cure the disease, but rather how to sketch out every path he had taken in his mental sea of knowledge.
He could already confirm that the entire Xingshan Temple had an unbelievably formidable array buried underneath. The ‘Endless Sea of Suffering’ at the Shanmen earlier was one of the array’s points.
It was highly likely that it was the rumored ‘Golden Light Array of Buddha’s Seal’ left from the ‘All Saints Era’ that could even obstruct saints.
It was just that he didn’t know how much of this array’s power was still left.
Jing Hai took out a somewhat old Torreya wood weiqi board, “Benefactor Yin, would you be willing to have a game with this poor monk?”
Naturally, playing weiqi had nothing to do with treating the illness, but after meeting the Academy Director, Yin Biyue had become accustomed to the mystifying behaviors and styles, like through clouds and mists, of these great figures. He replied, “My weiqi skills are clumsy, I’ll trouble Great Master to witness my incompetence.”
The head of the sermon did not care about his humble words, and instead he directly pushed the container of black stones over to him, asking him to make the first move as the player playing black.
Yin Biyue did not refuse, raising his hand to place the first stone on the ‘tianyuan’ point in the middle of the board.
This was a move rarely seen, either done by a master of the game or by an idiot who didn’t know how to plan.
Yin Biyue was neither. But ever since he had stepped into Xingshan Temple, he had felt abnormally oppressed.
It was as if a pent-up frustration had to be emitted from his chest with this one stone.
Regarding etiquette, playing against a senior with a weiqi piece on the tianyuan square was disrespectful to the senior.
The old monk slightly frowned, but he didn’t say anything.
He also put down a piece.
For a while, there was only the sound of falling weiqi pieces one after another in the quiet room.
The two each played over twenty turns, but the rhythm of the match was still peaceful.At that moment, Jing Hai spoke up,
“I heard that benefactor Yin came from Lan Yuan Academy. The academy integrates hundreds of schools of thoughts. I wonder if you have studied Buddhism?”
Yin Biyue replied, “What I have learned is shallow. I have never cultivated it.”
This was not a modest statement; even though there were many buddhist texts in the library, Yin Biyue had already learned the basics of the sword by then and was not very interested in Buddhism.
But he suddenly thought of Luo Mingchuan.
Luo-shixiong’s Jia Lan Pupil Arts was a buddhist technique.
The old monk placed another weiqi piece and told a story from the buddhist scriptures.
The story was simple; Yin Biyue had already heard it long before.
It was only the story about a boat traveling on the sea with five hundred people, one of whom was a bandit and wanted to kill everyone on the boat.
The monk in《Saṃyuktāgama》⁴ had six remarkable abilities, one of which was the “Wisdom of Life and Death”, which can foresee the good and bad deeds of all living beings and their karma. When he foresaw what the bandit would do, he killed the bandit first and then saved the people on the boat.
Jing Hai concluded, “He would rather break the precepts and bear the consequences of killing a living being in order to save everyone. It is precisely the great compassion of ‘entering hell first.’⁵“
Yin Biyue did not speak. At this point the weiqi game had changed, and his ‘changlong’⁶ had been pressed by his opponent to the point it had only three breaths remaining.
Jing Hai, however, no longer set down his pieces, rather his voice was stern, “Benefactor Yin, I know that you are a man of compassion. But do you know that a calamity will descend on the world, and chaos will fall!?”
Yin Biyue suddenly raised his eyes, only to see the old monk’s eyebrows furrowed in fury, his eyes glowing with intimidating light!
His heart sank, and his mind raced back to the scene just before he entered the hall. The bright yellow-robed monks’ discrete positions in the hall—
…There were twelve of them.
If these were exactly the four chiefs and eight attendants, this meant that all of the strongest members of the Xingshan Temple were out!
Yin Biyue was going to draw his sword in that instant, but he tried his best to restrain the urge.
Yin Biyue knew that since Jing Hai had led him here, he would definitely not let him out easily. And in front of a Greater Vessel cultivator, there was no way he would be able to force his way out of this room.
So he calmed down; he did not grasp his sword, nor did he move.
Sincerely, he said, “Please clear my confusion, Master.”
Jing Hai whispered, “This poor monk has been cultivating the ‘Discerning Eye Ability’ for over a thousand years. The one standing outside the halls at this moment, benefactor Luo, is the descending calamity. If the demon who died under Lin Yuan Sword is to be reborn, he will certainly awaken in his body.”
Yin Biyue subconsciously retorted, “Impossible!”
Jing Hai had never been talked back to by a younger person, but he still remained without anger. He further explained,
“Not only did this poor monk see it, but the Academy Director and Master Wu Wang had seen the same as what the poor monk saw.”
Yin Biyue was stupefied.
Jing Hai’s words were like a thunderbolt that struck straight to his head!
1) Shanmen (山门) means mountain gate. For more information, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanmen
2) This blog suggested “emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness” which we opted to use for stylistic reasons. Baidu and Wikipedia translate the gates to “emptiness liberation” (空門), “no-aspects liberation” (無相門), and “desireless liberation” (無愿門).
3) “Poor monk” is a humble way of addressing himself.
4) The Chinese translation called ‘The collation and Annotation of Samyukatagama’ (杂阿含经)
5) “入狱身先” – The 狱 is referring to 地狱 (“diyu”) meaning hell/underworld rather than prison.
6) “长龙” (changlong) is one strategy in 围棋 (weiqi) which loosely translates to a long chain. In weiqi, you want to surround your opponents’ pieces to win and a long chain might form. Basically, YBY was cornered here.Please download our sponsor's game to support us!