Chapter 197: Conferring Words!
Zhang Ye finished speaking.
There was silence immediately!
What was a Bodhi tree? The Bodhi Tree was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree. The tree grows to a height of 15-25m and it’s trunk has a diameter of about 30-50 cm. It has a large and wide-spreading crown, with a bark that is light grey in colour. The simple, long-stalked leaves are heart-shaped and long tipped. The flowers are tiny and are found inside the small fleshy figs, which ripen to greenish-yellow, then purple. There are three kinds of flowers: male, female and sterile… Of course, those were just filler words… This was an official description of the plant.
Cough Cough. Right, time to be serious.
By origin, there is no Bodhi tree? Although the Bodhi tree existed in the world, the Bodhi tree referred to by Buddhists was not a plant. It was a symbol and memory. The Bodhi also represented the great wisdom of Buddhism. What tree was there? What mirror was there? Just as Zhang Ye had described the debate between the 2 monks, the constant reflection of oneself in the mirror, was just a will, a thought, so how was there a mirror?
There was no Bodhi tree!
Nor was there a mirror!
Originally, there is not a single thing, so where does dust alight?
Everyone including the abbot and the monks all searched for an answer within themselves. They used the gatha from Zhang Ye to question themselves — Where does the dust alight? That’s right! Where does dust alight!
The abbot was convinced as he held his palms together, “Amitabha.”
Following that, the ten or so monks behind him also held their palms together, “Amitabha.”
The film crew’s jaw had dropped when they heard the gatha by Zhang Ye. They did not understand Buddhism nor had they learned anything about Zen. Just as they had heard the talk about Zen between the abbot and Zhang Ye earlier, they were only listening for the sake of listening. They knew that Zhang Ye was very good at it, but they did not understand its meanings. But this gatha was different. Not only the monks, even those who were just laymen on Buddhist teachings had heard and understood it clearly. At the beginning, they felt that the abbot’s gatha was already very good, but when Zhang Ye’s ‘By origin, there is no Bodhi tree’ was said, everyone was stunned to the heavens. In that moment, they saw the gulf between the abbot’s gatha and Zhang Ye’s gatha!
Everything does not stand up well with comparisons!
When the 2 gathas were compared, if we say that Teacher Zhang Ye was a reverend monk, then the abbot could be thought of as someone who had just entered the monastery or had even not yet become a monk!
“Teacher Zhang Ye, you are so cool!”
“What a good there is no Bodhi tree! What a nor is there a mirror!”
“That’s right! There’s nothing at all! How can there be dust? Teacher Zhang’s gatha is peerless! Instead, it was the bunch of monks who were enlightened!”
“That gatha was too awesome!”
“Why do I feel like I’m witnessing a scene for the ages? ‘Little Qingshan’s Zen Exchange’?”
“In a few centuries, when the future generations mention this gatha by Teacher Zhang, will we also be included in that story?”
“Definitely, ha, we have been touched by the greatness of this and it will be spoken of for a thousand years!”
“Did you record it?”
“I recorded too, Teacher Zhang was too awesome!”
“Debating about Zen with a monk and winning!”
What was face smacking?
This was face smacking!
What was pretending to be awesome?
This was pretending to be awesome!
Yao Jiancai finally smiled. He felt that Zhang Ye was more and more pleasing to the eye now. Old Yao thought that if he had this level of acting awesome like Zhang Ye, what would become of him? The women would be throwing themselves at him!
Quite a few people in the film crew knew of Teacher Zhang Ye’s literary skills. Even though a majority of the crew did not know Zhang Ye before this, they had now found out about his capabilities from the others who knew of him from before. But what just happened made them understand that they had still underestimated his literary upbringing. Initially, they had urged Zhang Ye to have a literary duel with the abbot because they felt that Zhang Ye would not lose since this was his rice bowl. But since the duel was about Zen and gatha, which belonged to a different school of literature — Gatha was a philosophical study compared to poetry — they had not expected him to win so overwhelmingly! The abbot and the monks were all stunned in silence! They had been dumbfounded by the lecture of Teacher Zhang Ye!
Especially the last bit about the Bodhi Tree!
Gatha was just a form of language used by monks. It wasn’t like a couplet where a 2nd verse would exist!
But who would have thought that Zhang Ye could treat it like a couplet and match the 2nd verse to the gatha! Every word was profound! It had refuted the abbot’s gatha fully! And it had refuted it so well that no one could say anything! This gatha could not even be commented on, it was that high of a level! Even people who could not understand could see it clearly!
The abbot looked deeply at Zhang Ye before regaining a peaceful look. He closed his eyes and muttered something before slowly opening his eyes again, “This old monk has been meditating for over 30 years. I’ve been dedicating myself to Buddha all these years and just a few days ago, I was enlightened and wrote that gatha. I thought that I had stepped closer to Buddha and that my spiritual practice had gone to another level.” As he said this, he smiled bitterly, “Never did I expect that by meeting you, I would realize that I have not even stepped into the doorway of Zen, what a pity, what a pity.”
A few young monks were still worried.
The abbot waved his hands and said to Zhang Ye, “This Almsgiver might be a secular man, but he has great wisdom. He has wisdom that is even greater than us monks. Today, I have been beaten convincingly. If you have the heart to become a practitioner of Buddhism in future, your Dharma will definitely be higher than mine by a few hundred times.”
Hearing this, Zhang Ye immediately waved his hands, “Please don’t say that, I’m leading a good life, I’m not so silly. I will continue to be my secular self, being secular is better.”
The abbot said with regrets, “Such a pity, a pity.”
The abbot had admitted defeat and the monks who had been beaten up earlier had looks of resignation.
Who was this person in front of them? He couldn’t be beaten in a fight! He couldn’t be out-talked with words! Does he even leave a route for retreat?
Of course, they could not out-talk Zhang Ye. What he had said was a gatha by Abbot Hui Neng from his previous world. It was the widely known “Platform Sutra”. Furthermore, during the verse exchange, Zhang Ye had used his mouth to speak. Alright, that’s nonsense, but something isn’t. That is because Zhang Ye had previously eaten many Fruits of Charm (Voice). This was something that increased his voice’s charm. It naturally made his words have a indescribable profoundness. Hence, everyone was shocked. There was reason to it.
Victory had been decided.
The film crew had won. They had finally vented their anger.
With this win, the victors were also more tolerant. Seeing the abbot admit defeat graciously, many people’s impression of him became better. They comforted him a little.
“Abbot, don’t compete with Teacher Zhang.”
“Right, Teacher Zhang Ye is a famous literary person in Beijing. Anything he writes becomes a classic. I believe you all don’t watch TV?”
In the past, they only heard rumors. But today, they had witnessed Zhang Ye’s composing prowess. Their emotions were still running high because of hearing the gatha!
In a moment.
The abbot said to the few young monks, “Go and prepare a few rooms in the backyard and settle down all the Almsgivers.”
The few young monks went to do as instructed without a second word. They were already convinced by Zhang Ye. With just that line of ‘there was no Bodhi tree’, he had won the respect of quite a few monks. Do not judge a book by its cover. Zhang Ye’s looks might be ordinary or even a little lousy. But to a Buddhist practitioner, the outlook did not matter. For Zhang Ye to be able to utter such an amazing gatha, it showed that he was much better than anyone of them in terms of enlightenment and wisdom. He should therefore be treated with the utmost respect. Ignoring any other thing, a knowledgeable person would be their teacher.
Director Jiang was surprised and asked, “Abbot, didn’t you say that you won’t be receiving any film crews here anymore?”
The abbot smiled. “After exchanging knowledge with Teacher Zhang Ye, I have gained a lot. In the past, I was too close minded. Hur Hur, originally there is not a single thing, so where does dust alight?”
Today had been a long day. Director Jiang also had quite a number of shots that had not been filmed yet. The sky was already dark, so they had to do it tomorrow. Should they go back now and come again tomorrow? Wasn’t this a headache? So he did not reject the offer and accept the goodwill of the monastery. He prepared the crew to stay for the night.
Zhang Ye had inadvertently planted the seeds of the willow plant. He had wanted to just vent his anger and then leave, but little did he expect that the monastery would change their attitude. They made him a guest and that made Zhang Ye a little embarrassed.
In the backyard.
There were over a dozen rooms. The place was quiet and there were many plants and flowers in the courtyard.
A young monk said, “Master, the rooms have been tidied up.”
“Well, Almsgivers. You may have your rest now.” The abbot said to Director Jiang and everyone else.
Director Jiang said, “Thank you. There were some misunderstandings earlier. Are those young monks injured badly?” Figuring that he only had only a few damaged pieces of equipment and 2 people with slight injuries, but the other party had 4 people who were injured rather badly, he realized that their side had not suffered as badly as the hosts. They lost physically and even lost in terms of the knowledge battle.
The abbot said in a calm voice, “I have checked on them, they are alright. Almsgiver Zhang did not injure them badly. Actually, there’s no misunderstanding. It was my disciples who misunderstood my gatha and that created all the trouble. Amitabha, please do not hold it against us. My disciples were too hotheaded. It was good that Almsgiver Zhang had taught them a lesson. To have been enlightened by him, it might even be a blessing for them.”
It was clearly them being beaten up.
But now, it had become a form of enlightenment?
The film crew all looked at Zhang Ye. They knew that Teacher Zhang’s bluff had exploded into something bigger. But this made them realize more clearly what Zhang Ye could do. In the whole of Beijing, no one would dare say he was better than Zhang Ye in terms of poetry and writings. This man was too talented!
Director Jiang said to everyone, “Go and have a rest. Sleep early tonight, we still have to continue filming tomorrow.”
Everyone was dismissed. They were all very tired and they went to their own rooms to sleep.
Zhang Ye wanted to leave but he was held back by the abbot, “Almsgiver Zhang, please stay.”
“Oh, is there anything?” Zhang Ye looked back and blinked.
“This old monk has an unreasonable request.” The abbot smiled blandly and pointed at the stone tablet at the front yard, “Can you confer a few words for us? I would like it to be your gatha from just now. This will guide our disciples in future.”
Zhang Ye coughed, “It’s not that suitable, is it?”
“What’s wrong with it?” The abbot did not think much of it, “Please grant my request.”
The young monks also looked at Zhang Ye.
Zhang Ye thought about it for a while and acceded. He took a pen and wrote it down.
On the night itself, the abbot instructed for Zhang Ye’s words to be inscribed onto the stone tablet. He did not remove his earlier gatha, he left it there. This showed how big of a heart he had!
The stone tablet was awe-inspiring, every word was cutting!
The body is a Bodhi tree, the mind is a mirror bright, never stop dusting and wiping, lest dust alight.
By origin, there is no Bodhi tree, nor is there a bright mirror. Originally, there is not a single thing, where does dust alight?
In Zhang Ye’s world, Shenxiu and Six Patriarch Master Huineng’s exchange in the “Platform Sutra” miraculously appeared in this world. However, the conversation between the two masters no longer existed in this world. The lead actors had changed to Zhang Ye and one of Qingshan monastery’s abbot!