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Chapter 472 An Old Monk in a Small Temple
People were all rushing for what they wanted whether they were bound westward for Chang’an, southward for Shanghai, or north to the Northern Capital. It was unknown what would happen to them in the end. Some people were going to Chang’an or Shanghai because of Qin Sheng. It was also because of Qin Sheng that some were heading for Shanghai or the Northern Capital. None of them were Qin Sheng’s friends.
Compared to the small disturbance Qin Sheng would make, the storm against Qin Changan and the Qin Family was still brewing. Everyone thought that the storm this time would be the same as the ones in the past, which would eventually subside. After that, there would come a rainbow after the rain. However, some people had become anxious.
Mount Wutai was one of the four famous mountains in Buddhism. Five peaks were towering high above the clouds. No trees grew on the top of the mountain, making it look like a platform made of earth. That was the reason why it was called Wutai. Mount Wutai was the only domestic Buddhist temple, combining the temples for the monks and the ones for the Lama. There were 47 temples in total, most of which were royal ones. Many emperors in different dynasties in history had gone there for worshipping. There were also many tales about Wutai Mountain. For example, the Shunzhi Emperor, who was disappointed about the mortal world, gave up his country and became a monk in the Wutai Mountain in the end.
Nanchan Temple was one of the oldest temples on Mount Wutai. The temple sat in the north and faced the south. The initial period of its construction was unknown. Rebuilt in the time when Dezong, the Emperor of Tang was in power, it had been destroyed later. Except for the Great Buddha Hall, which was a remnant from the Tang Dynasty, most of the rest had been built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. When Wuzong Emperor of Tang exterminated Buddhism when he was in power, the Nanchan Temple was the only one that managed to survive the disaster and remain intact on Mount Wutai luckily. Therefore, it became the most ancient wooden piece of architecture in existence.
Nanchan Temple was not big; it was of only a few buildings in size and had a structure that looked like a siheyuan. A few Buddha statues inside the temple had been built in the Tang Dynasty were the most well-known. Besides the statures in the Mogao Caves, they were the earliest Buddha statues in existence in the country. Unfortunately, they had been stolen once twenty years before, causing heavy losses to the temple.
Although the Nanchan Temple was located on Mount Wutai, it was not located inside the tourist area. Instead, it was located in a small village dozens of kilometers away from Mountain Wutai at a straight distance, isolating itself away from the hustle and bustle of Mount Wutai and keeping the secluded environment to itself. Therefore, there were not many tourists and worshippers other than a few monks.
There was an old monk in his 60s, who had gone to Nanchan Temple more than 20 years in the past. After that, he had never left Wutai Town. He had become a senior monk at the temple, who didn’t care about anything at all. He swept the floor, cleaned the Buddha statues and stone inscriptions every day, and so on. Sometimes, he would chat with a few tourists. Most of the time, he was meditating and chanting the scriptures.
This day, after finishing all the work at noon, the old monk was in a daze while sitting on the steps in front of the main hall alone. Other monks in the temple were used to this old monk’s behavior. Although there were a lot of weeds in the yard, the old monk didn’t let them clear the weeds up, saying that he would get rid of them when the weeds turned from green into a withered yellow color. Everyone did as he said.
There weren’t many worshippers. Most tourists were attracted because of its fame. However, the villagers nearby were more respectful to the monks, who often sent some gifts to them. Besides that, they also had some incense money available, with which they could live a good life. Of course, compared with the ones living in the temples inside the scenic area of Mount Wutai, they were quite poor. Even so, since they all had chosen to be monks in Nanchan Temple rather than the lively scenic area of Mount Wutai, they should have taken this into consideration.
20 years back, the old monk happened to have gone to the Xiantong Temple to discuss Taoism with an eminent monk in Xiantong Temple when the calamity took place. It wasn’t until he came back that he found out that something had gone wrong. He was young at the time; he had stayed in the temple for about six years. For the first time, he was somewhat angry. Later, all the thieves were brought to justice and many cultural relics were returned. Everyone said that the thieves had been punished for their vicious behaviors. Only the old monk knew the truth.
Although the scenery of Nanchan Temple was not as beautiful as that of Mount Wutai, for the old monk, the blue sky above his head was the most beautiful scenery. With those ancient wooden buildings accompanying him, he was quite satisfied. Moreover, he often went to the temples on Mount Wutai to visit the eminent monks and discuss Taoism with them. Sometimes, he would live there for a month or half a month. However beautiful the scenery, he would become fed up with it soon enough.
It was unknown why there was no worshipper that day. A few little monks were complaining again, saying that it seemed that the food this month would be worse. The most important thing was that Nanchan Temple did not charge entrance fees. Therefore, some little monks planned to go to the temple on Mount Wutai. It was clear that they would live a more comfortable life there.
Just after noon, a woman in a gray plain dress walked into the Nanchan Temple. The sun was somewhat glaring outside. So the woman wore sungla.s.ses. Looking well maintained, her specific appearance couldn’t be identified. However, based on her temperament, she surely came from a rich family. Her temperament would either come an upbringing with cash or cultivated with culture, given the condition that one could not be affected too much by the vulgar world. After that, the temperament would be gradually formed.
Seeing that there finally came a worshipper, who seemed to be rich, the little monks were inevitably somewhat excited. The rich worshipper might give them more money as long as she were in a good mood. After all, there were a lot of worshippers who were rich as well as generous. Of course, the old monk knew the thoughts of the little monks. He just ignored them.
Two little monks took the initiative to approach the woman and bowed slightly as they greeted, “Amitabha.”
The woman with extraordinary temperament just nodded with a smile and did not return the salute. Instead of entering the hall where the Buddha statue was surrounded by an iron fence, she went straight to the old monk sitting in the yard and bathing in the sun, which made the two monks feel somewhat disappointed.
After the woman got closer to the old monk, she took off her sungla.s.ses. It turned out she was a middle-aged woman in her 40s or 50s. However well-maintained she was, time still had charged a toll on her face. What’s more, however hard she tried, the kind of look in her eyes, which indicated that she had gone through a lot of ups and downs, couldn’t be concealed.
Before the woman spoke, the old monk, with gray beard and eyebrows, and whose face was wrinkled, opened his eyes and spoke first, “It’s been more than twenty years. We finally meet each other again.” Compared with the woman’s delicate and smooth skin, the old monk’s skin was dark and rough, which was similar to that of the old people in the nearby village. However, he was quite flexible and agile while moving. Moreover, he hadn’t been inflicted with any disease.
The look in the woman’s eyes was full of disdain. She sneered and said, “Then, should I say ‘long time no see’? Qin Changxing, I didn’t expect that you would hide in this shabby temple for more than 20 years. You are more merciless than I thought.”
As the old monk heard the name “Qin Changxing,” he became somewhat absent-minded. He hadn’t heard that name for a long time. Even when his brother had paid a visit the last time, he hadn’t called him so.
The old monk muttered to himself, “While one day pa.s.sed in the world, dozens of years have pa.s.sed on the mountain. Time is no more than that.” Realizing that this seemingly charming female benefactor turned out to be the old monk’s friend, the little monks retreated sensibly. After all, they had already known that a variety of inexplicable old friends would visit the old monk occasionally.
The way the middle-aged woman talked was full of hatred and sarcasm. It was unknown why she had held a grudge against the old monk to such an extent. She continued to say sarcastically, “Qin Changxing, it has been more than 20 years. Haven’t you had your fill of acting like a coward yet?”
The old monk, who wasn’t angered by the woman’s words, teased with a smile on his face, “If being a monk is cowardly, then the Mount Wutai should be full of cowards, which would be quite a funny notion.”
The middle-aged woman said with a harsh smile, “Others choose to become monks after having enough of the mortal world, while you chose to be a monk to hide from reality. You’re not as good as your brother.”
The old monk said disapprovingly, “How come I didn’t get enough of the mortal world?”
The middle-aged woman snorted and said, “As for whether you got enough of the mortal world or not, you know it better than anyone else. Don’t forget about what the old master said about you back then, which should be an evil spirit that you would never get rid of in your life. More than 20 years ago, Qin Changxing was a great man, who only come across some setbacks. Look at how Qin Chang’an dealt with the setbacks and compare it with how you behaved. Look at how the situation ended up 20 years later. All of your peers from back then are powerful officials in different provinces. Even Qin Changan has climbed to the top of the pyramid. Look at yourself. You degraded yourself to become an old monk in a shabby temple. You disgrace both the Qin Family and the Zhao Family. I wonder how I fell in love with you back then.”
The old man didn’t answer her question directly. Instead, he sighed and said with disappointment, “Anzhi, it has been more than twenty years. The things in the past have long gone. Haven’t you let them go yet? What’s more, it’s rare for us to see each other again. There’s no need to talk about these trivial things. Can’t we talk about the old days like old friends?”
The woman’s family name was Zhao and her first name was Anzhi. Anzhi in Chinese characters meant ‘taking the situation calmly’. Unfortunately, her character expressed the contrary.
The middle-aged woman named Zhao Anzhi shook her head and said with a bitter smile, “Let’s talk about the old days? Is there any old story between us? I’m just here to see if you were dead or alive. I didn’t expect that you would recognize me.”
The old monk said lightly, “How come I couldn’t recognize you? After all, we had were a couple for so many years. Even if a few decades have pa.s.sed, I can still recognize you. However, I am already an old man in my sixties and you seem to have just become a middle-aged woman.”
Yes. The woman named Zhao Anzhi was the old monk’s former wife. After what had happened back then, she had left for Canada and he had sneaked into the temple to become a monk. From then on, the couple had nothing to do with each other.
Zhao Anzhi felt somewhat relieved all of a sudden. Looking up at the cloudless sky, she sighed and said, “Forget it, it’s useless to argue with you over these things. So many years have pa.s.sed. If you are content to be a coward, feel free to do so. Anyway, next time we meet, I will be sending you to the grave. Of course, provided that you die earlier than me.”
The old monk said calmly, “Life and death are long gone. If the Old Master can die without fame, why can’t I?”
Zhao Anzhi laughed and said, “You don’t deserve to mention the Old Master, do you?”
“There are some things that you don’t know about,” the old monk shook his head and said, “Let’s not talk about these things. What are you up to this time?”
Zhao Anzhi said casually, “I haven’t been back for a few years. I just came back this time to see a person. At least, he is the future of your Qin Family.”
As the old monk heard her words, he felt nervous all of a sudden and asked, “Who?”
Zhao Anzhi burst into laughter suddenly and said, “Qin Changxing, Qin Changxing, it seems that your brother didn’t tell you, which shows that he also resents you in secret. If you want to know the details, you can go ahead and ask him yourself.”
“Forget it. I am totally fine if I’m kept in the dark.” Originally, the old monk was eager to know the details. However, feeling that the answer would be meaningless to him, he gave it up.
Zhao Anzhi smiled playfully, then she turned around and planned to walk out. The old monk hesitated for a moment and braced himself in the end as he shouted, “Anzhi, is Yaya okay?”
After Zhao Anzhi heard his question, she stopped subconsciously. After that, she turned around somewhat angrily and glared at the old monk as she shouted, “Qin Changxing.”
The old monk said somewhat absent-mindedly, “Anyway, I’m her father.”
Zhao Anzhi said hysterically, “She doesn’t have a father like you. You don’t deserve her. You don’t deserve to be a son. You don’t deserve to be a brother. You don’t deserve to be a husband. You don’t deserve to be a father. Your life is a failure. Just go on being a monk.”
A few little monks nearby were frightened by Zhao Anzhi, who had gotten angry all of a sudden. They didn’t expect that the seemingly kind female benefactor would be so irritable, nor did they know how the old monk had provoked her. Could it be that this woman was an old lover of the old monk? It was clear that this was the case.
After shouting these words, Zhao Anzhi’s almost vented off her grievances, which had been acc.u.mulating for more than 20 years. Then she turned around and left without hesitation, leaving the old monk bewildered in the yard.
As the sun set and the moon hung up in the sky, the old monk remained completely still, sitting in the yard from day to night…