When Chen Mo’s ostentatiously unconventional sermon was uttered, he suddenly made all of the monks in the main hall speechless. If it could be said before that there were still some people who harbored doubts as to Chen Mo’s entry at such a young age into the Bodhi Cliff that only great masters were allowed, then Chen Mo’s alternate angle on the poor girl’s lamp offering made these monks feel ashamed of their inferiority, giving them new insight.
Even a first-rate Zen Master like Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness also did not think this boy could have such an understanding of the poor girl’s lamp offering.
Chen Luan thought to herself that this boy simply was a firefly in the dark night – its shining nature could not be concealed. If it was not for the stupefied expressions of the monks in the surroundings, she definitely would have hugged Chen Mo tightly, to know just where did this brat get so many strange thoughts.
Following Chen Mo’s lecture on Zen, all of the monks showed attitudes of submission and deference.
Then, Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness guided Chen Mo into the side door from the main hall all the way to the back mountain.
The back mountain was tranquil. There was no sandalwood, no Zen chanting, only verdant and lush vegetation everywhere. The landscape was of green hills and running waters and roaming wildlife, as if this place was the Peach Blossom Spring.
“Further up ahead is the Bodhi Cliff. Old Monk can only bring you so far as to here. Your Highness, please proceed on your own. Your Highness only has ten days to stay at the Bodhi Cliff, please keep this in mind.” Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness said. Chen Luan could not follow Chen Mo now, so she waited outside the Bodhi Cliff.
Chen Mo put his palms together, then he piously walked into the Bodhi Cliff.
Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness meditated outside the Bodhi Cliff, and Chen Luan also sat down in meditation as well. She had learned the School Of Mind from Wuyi and felt that this pairing of intention and Divine Intent was very good, slowly cultivating to pass the time.
“Princess Highness, has your little brother ever learned Zen in the past?” Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness spoke of the doubts in his heart. Chen Mo’s current display of Zen was enough to stir him. In all his live, this was the first time Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness had ever seen a man with such an arbitrary Zen method.
If he had cultivated Zen before, this would have been fine. This would at least be the great fortune of Zen, but it turned out that this person had never touched Zen before.
Chen Luan herself was puzzled: “Zen emphasizes understanding. Perhaps his experiences as a child made Little Brother understand many things and become indifferent to more.” As his elder sister, she had to give her little brother slack. “Great Master, although Little Brother is not of Zen, presumably no one in this Great Chong Dynasty’s Zen can compare to him?”
“Indeed.” Buddhist Master Compassionate EMptiness said.
“Little Brother is so talented, and he has entered the Bodhi Cliff. Does Little Brother have the qualifications to enter the Zen Master Hall? This Princess feels that Chang’an Mansion will be headed by Zen in the future and will not disgrace the Wanshou Temple.” What Chen Luan meant was that she wanted to give Chen Mo the status of a Great Zen Master in the Wanshou Temple. The Wanshou Temple’s influence was enormous. If she roped them in to Chang’an Mansion’s side, there was no doubt they would be enormous help. In the future, when they faced against the imperial family, they would not need to fear the Wanshou Temple lending the imperials their instead.
“He is indeed splendid, however, His Highness’ court examination is imminent, for which he must not be anxious. It would be better to discuss this first. Old Monk is very fond of His Highness. It would also be the fortune of This Temple for His Highness to be able to be known as a Great Zen Master.” Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness smiled.
Chen Luan knew he was still somewhat apprehensive, however, she already received his guarantee. There was no need to worry anymore. Chen Luan then turned to look at the passage to the Bodhi Cliff, her smile brimming with happiness.
Following the verdant passage, Chen Mo very quickly spotted a cliff, and beneath the cliff was a cavern.
Chen Mo was not in a rush, his pace neither fast nor slow, as if he was strolling in his backyard and admiring the scenery.
Entering the cave, the chamber itself was not very large, about several zhang wide. In the center was a Bodhi Tree, which Chen Mo sat under. This Bodhi Tree was not particularly special. Its branches and leaves were practically withered away, a dying state. Even so, Chen Mo could still sense a kind of extremely ancient aura from this Bodhi Tree, as if this Bodhi had existed since ancient times. It was this haggard appearance that made people feel deep veneration for the tree.
It seemed the rumors that it was from a primordial Star Field were not unfounded.
Chen Mo sat under the Bodhi Tree, breathing deeply and exercising his intent. Very quickly, he entered the most natural and tranquil state in the world. Then, he lifted his head to look, and he saw a stone wall opposite the Bodhi Tree. Left behind on the wall were several mantras. Reportedly, only people who deciphered the mantras were able to comprehend the mystery of the Bodhi Cliff. Of course, this mantra could only be seen by very bright cultivators.
In Chen Mo’s Zen mind, this was naturally unable to hinder him.
He stared at it for about half an hour. A sentence slowly appeared on the wall.
The body is bodhi.
Chen Mo’s intent suddenly moved. He promptly settled his mind. This mantra would not possibly be…
Chen Mo continued to sit quietly. Having directly received Wang Yangming’s teachings of the School Of Mind, his mind was fully under his own control, as receptive as a valley. The second line of the mantra appeared.
“The heart is like the stand of a bright mirror!”
Chen Mo concentrated his attention, remaining unfazed as he continued to meditate; in his ear was the buzzing of insects, the ants on the ground crawled onto his body, but Chen Mo already did not feel them. His mind was like a boulder, not receiving any disturbances. Several hours later, the last two lines appeared, “Hour after hour we wipe them clean, and do not permit dust to settle on them.”
The body is bodhi, and the heart is like the stand of a bright mirror, hour after hour we wipe them clean, and do not permit dust to settle on them.1
Seeing the entire mantra, Chen Mo was halfway between tears and laughter.
As he expected.
This mantra was from the debate between Shenxiu and Huineng during the inheritance of the Sixth Patriarch’s cassock and alms bowl. Because it was too famous, Chen Mo had a very deep impression of it. He was immediately able to recall the sequence of events in this story.
If he was to fully grasp this mantra.
Chen Mo’s mind moved, already with a plan.
Back then, when Shenxiu wrote down this unparalleled mantra “the body is bodhi,” he wanted to inherit the title as the Sixth Patriarch. Indeed, he wrote finely. Because he emphasized “hour after hour we wipe them clean,” later people used it to advocate, “do not permit dust to settle on them,” creating Zen’s “Gradual Enlightenment Sect.”
But later, Huineng targeted Shenxiu’s “Animitta Mantra” and wrote the famous “the Bodhi is fundamentally without a tree” and defeated Shenxiu, receiving the title of Sixth Patriarch.
Since Shenxiu’s Animitta Mantra lay before his eyes, to fully grasp it, he naturally could not comprehend it from this level of mantra. That would only result in a fall to a lower level, unable to walk out from the predecessor’s shadow. Thus, this comprehension could only be Huineng’s higher level.
Chen Mo also remembered Huineng’s treatise that the Bodhi was fundamentally without a tree, but how to comprehend it left Chen Mo hesitant.
Reciting it naturally did not work. Recitation alone was not sufficient for the Zen school. It required a bright mind that could see nature, a comprehension from personal experience.
Chen Mo had a thought. He closed his eyes and no longer stared at the Animitta Mantra on the stone wall. He retracted all of his thoughts and stilled his mind, forgetting the protection of this Bodhi tree. What he sat under was bodhi yet not bodhi. Bodhi was a path, so how what tree was there? If there was a tree, then the bodhi would have become a physical thing, and there would be some attachment. Bodhi inherently did not have anything. Say someone said they were enlightened to something, what then was that enlightenment like? Was it green? Yellow? Red? White? From the phrasing, it seemed to be formless.
Getting past this idea, all of a sudden, Chen Mo and the bodhi immediately became one. The Bodhi was Chen Mo, and Chen Mo was bodhi.
This was the meaning of bodhi was without a tree!
Let the mind be unattached, clinging to nothing; the heart may be like a bright mirror stand, but it truthfully and fundamentally did not have a stand. If it did, again, it would have a form of attachment. Then, Chen Mo’s mind was completely empty, insubstantial.
The bright mirror does not have a stand!
Following Chen Mo’s completion of uniting with the bodhi, the Bodhi Cliff from ancient times had already faded away. Chen Mo once again activated the Nose Locking Art, shutting all the breath inside his body. Bugs and leaves disappeared one by one. Not one bit of dust or particle in the air touched his body at all.
When not a thing existed in the first place, where could dust have settled.2
This mantra appeared.
In a flash, Chen Mo’s mind could suddenly see the bodhi once again go through spring. The withered branches and leaves once again burst with life, lush with densely packed leaves, growing layer after layer from the tree’s limbs.
These bodhi leaves emitted a glow as green as jadeite. Each and every leaf that fell onto Chen Mo’s body was absorbed into his flesh, meridians, and breath. Chen Mo sensed a boundlessly ancient voice.
It seemed to come from the deepest depths, from a distant Star Field.
This voice said thus.
“All things world exist for my use, though they do not belong to me. A mind without quarters and worries is both unattached and untainted! All living things have the wisdom and virtue of the Thus Come One, yet because of their idle thoughts and attachments, they fail to realize it! Today, thou who art capable of comprehending the mystery of the bodhi, I, the Sixth Patriarch, shall impart this Bodhi Soul Technique to you!!”
The meridians on Chen Mo’s skin became flashing verdant green lights, greedily absorbing this bodhi’s aura. Chen Mo’s face was calm, like a sculpture. Finally, these green lights were completely assimilated.
All things contrived are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows, like dewdrops, like lightning, and they should be regarded as such!
It was not known how much time passed. It seemed like a long, drawn-out thousand years had passed, yet it also perhaps could have been as instantaneous as a snap. After Chen Mo sensed the power in his body was successfully completed, he finally opened his eyes.
The Bodhi Cliff was deathly silent.
The Bodhi Tree was still as withered as death, no sign of life to be seen whatsoever. The bugs on the ground climbed up his leg, and through the crack in the distant stone wall, a black centipede crawled out and hunted a rat. Somehow, that black centipede’s hunting movements were very clear in Chen Mo’s eyes, each one becoming a technique of martial learning in his mind. Somehow, he imagined a set of “Centipede Nine Hunts” technique.
Chen Mo sighed, activating his intent, astonished to discover that this Bodhi Soul Technique was perfectly compatible with the School Of Mind, already at peak level.
Divine Intent was indestructible, his intent untainted. The essence of all things was thus observed!
With just a thought, Chen Mo immediately understood how abnormal the Bodhi Soul Technique was.
Chen Mo turned his head back and was stunned, noticing that a new branch had grown on that withered Bodhi tree. Several lush bodhi leaves emitted a green glow, sparkling like crystal.3
“Hm, this is?” Chen Mo carefully grasped it. As he thought, it was astonishingly a natural Astral Treasure.
Yes, after he solved the mystery of the body is bodhi, the remaining energy in the Bodhi Tree was transmitted to him, and this bodhi leaf should be the source of the Bodhi Cliff’s power.
Chen Mo felt that he was very lucky, and it was because he was well aware that “the bodhi is fundamentally without a tree” that he was able to so easily pass. For other people to think of such a profound mystery, perhaps only someone on the level of Huineng the Sixth Patriarch could actually manage.
Chen Mo bowed deeply, his heart incomparably sincere, before he finally retreated from the cave.
Outside the cave.
Chen Luan and Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness opened their eyes from meditation.
“Little Brother, you’re finally out.” Chen Luan stood up and jogged over, looking Chen Mo up and down. “How is it, Little Brother, did you have any comprehension?”
“How long was I gone?” Chen Mo asked.
“Ten days exactly!”
Chen Mo was taken aback, “So long? Then the court examination is about to begin.”
“The court examination begins the day after tomorrow.” Chen Luan thought this was funny. Why did it seem like this little brother had only just woken up from sleep. He was not sleeping at the Bodhi Cliff, right. En, given his personality, this honestly was a possibility.
Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness carefully scrutinized Chen Mo all this time. Chen Mo had received the Bodhi Soul Technique, his heart like a mirror. Even with his top-notch Zen Master level, he was unable to see any difference. However, based on his insight accumulated over more than seventy years, Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness still sensed that Chen Mo had obtained something from the Bodhi Cliff, but he did not reveal anything, saying instead: “Your Highness, please follow Old Monk for a bath and change of clothes.”
“Thank you for your troubles, Great Master.”
“Your Highness, Old Monk wonders what insight you gained at the Bodhi Cliff?” Compassionate Emptiness asked.
“Yes, I dreamt someone delivering a sermon to me, but I do not remember it too clearly. After I awoke, the mantra on the cliff had vanished. So I left.” Chen Mo thought. This abnormal incident was better not revealed to other people, so as to avoid arousing envy.
“Should Your Highness be willing, you may come meditate at the Bodhi Cliff at any time.” Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness’s promise surprised Chen Luan enormously. Meditate at the Bodhi Cliff as any time? Even Emperor Tang did not receive such generous treatment.
“Many thanks for the Great Master’s kindness. Zen comprehension requires opportunity and cannot be forced. Should Your Servant have any comprehension, I will definitely come pay a visit.” Chen Mo was sincere. He was indeed brimming with curiosity about this Bodhi Cliff.
Buddhist Master Compassionate Emptiness smiled. He said nothing more, and the three of them then left the Bodhi Cliff together.