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Home > The Monk That Wanted To Renounce Asceticism

507 Bell and Drum

 Just as Red Boy was about to say something, a huge hand struck him in the head. Red Boy looked up as Fangzheng shook his head silently, indicating him to remain silent and watch.

Red Boy wished to talk back, but his eyes widened the next moment. He looked at Monkey in shock, because Monkey's body was effusing Buddhistic light! Although it only happened in a flash, it was still an astounding sight!

"Master..." Red Boy looked at Fangzheng.

Fangzheng shook his head and brought him to the backyard before saying, "Do you understand?"

"Not at all. It's clearly a fiendish drum. Even if one doesn't touch it, just entering the drum tower will cause one to be contaminated by fiendish auras. All sorts of negative emotions will be magnified, horrors and greed turning worse... How can something like that help people absorb Buddhistic forces? How strange!" Red Boy exclaimed.

"I do have some guesses, but they can only be verified through experimentation." With that said, Fangzheng took a deep breath as he stood there valiantly and gallantly with awe-inspiring righteousness! Only to return to his quarters to sleep...

Upon seeing this, Red Boy immediately felt as though a flock of crows were squawking by his head. Indeed... This was very much his master's character!

After having dinner in the evening, Fangzheng got up when he saw that the time was right. "Jingzhen, go strike the bell."

Monkey immediately got up as he pressed his palms together. "Yes, Master."

"As the saying goes, one strike of the bell every day as a monk. Haha, Senior Brother Jingzhen, you still have a long way to go," said Red Boy with a rapturous laugh.

"One strike of the bell every day as a monk? Junior Brother, why does that statement of yours sound so odd? Are you being mean?" Squirrel asked out of curiosity.

"Of course, I'm being derogatory. It means to merely go through the motions, or to take a passive attitude towards words, making one nothing to speak off."

Fangzheng struck out immediately. "Don't speak nonsense when you're ignorant. How can you trust the explanations of laymen? You think that this is a derogatory term? This was originally used as a compliment. Ancient people did not have watches or clocks. Even sundials were rare. Ordinary people had no concept of time. Big cities would specially strike bells to tell the time, but who was to report the time in small cities and farming villages? Well, they could get an accurate sense of time from the bell gongs from the monasteries. Monasteries would strike once in the morning and once at night. The striking of the bells and drums was not done haphazardly. There's a lot of nuances, and although various places differ in ways, there is still an iron-clad rule even today. The final strike has to be hit at the moment when day switches to night.

"That way, the requirements on the monks who strike the bells and drums are very high. Those without a sense of responsibility had no right to do the job. The saying of 'one strike of the bell every day as a monk' is a way of announcing to the world that one should be like a monk, doing things with diligence, responsibility, and an unwavering attitude."

"Uh... The Internet doesn't say that," said Red Boy subconsciously.

"It does, it's just that you only read the entertainment section. It's full of convoluted stuff, with more dross than essence. It would be a miracle if you could learn something good from it." Fangzheng stared at Red Boy after saying that. Although Fangzheng had talked about not letting Red Boy use his cell phone many times, the cell phone was also the fastest way for Red Boy, an alien, to make contact with this world and understand how it worked. It was impossible for Fangzheng to really ban him from using it. At most, he could restrict the brat from browsing pornographic or violent sites. And it was actually easy to do so, as his cell phone had been augmented before!

"I still feel that all I have seen on the Internet has been quite interesting," Red Boy said stubbornly.

Fangzheng delivered one of his signature blows to Red Boy immediately, causing Red Boy to miserably say, "You beat when you fail at reasoning... Master, you are becoming more and more violent. Back when I first met you, you resembled an accomplished monk, but why do you seem to be regressing as you cultivate to become Buddha?"

Fangzheng smiled. "What do you think Buddhist cultivation is? Is everyone supposed to cultivate into an old Zen Master? I do not know if my path is right, but I believe that Buddhist cultivation is not only about having a poker face while appearing stately, or having a benevolent face. Buddhist cultivation is about the heart. It is about the cultivation of oneself. If one's actions and body are right, what's left will be natural happiness."

Red Boy did not debate Fangzheng when he heard that. Instead, he knitted his brows together. His impression of Buddha was that he was an antique fellow, an inflexible jerk... But what Fangzheng said seemed to indicate that Red Boy had a mistaken view on the matter. Indeed, Maitreya Buddha traveled the world with a laughing face, while Ji Gong acted freely while eating meat and drinking alcohol... Putting all of this together, Buddhism did not seem to be a fixed template.

Red Boy recalled Fangzheng's teachings from before, that the reason why Buddhism had thrived was because all rivers run into the sea. As long as his heart was in the right place, no one cared what the path taken was.

"Does this mean that when I return to being the Child of Wealth, I do not need to worry about being trapped in a cage daily, having to chant the scriptures and meditating miserably?" Red Boy felt a glimmer of hope light up in his heart.

At that moment, Monkey suddenly asked, "Master, you said that striking the bell and drum has its requirements. But why didn't you tell me? I thought all I needed to do was to strike it 108 times."

Lone Wolf said, "Master, why must we strike it 108 times? Why can't 109 times work?"

Fangzheng smiled. "There are quite a few other reasons behind that. I've mentioned before that bells stem from Buddhism. Some people believe that the origins of striking 108 times come from the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches-72 Earthly Wraiths and 36 Heavenly Constellations. Together, they add to 108.

"There are others who say that it corresponds to the twelve months, the twenty-four solar terms, and seventy-two seasons. With 5 days per season, they add up to 108, symbolizing a complete year cycle for all eternity.

"The third saying is that 108 is related to 9. Since Ancient times, China has believed that 9 is extremely high and extremely propitious. And the product of 9 and 12 is 108. It's pushing the meaning of 9 to an extreme."

"As for us Buddhists, however, we believe that Man has 108 frustrations. Striking the bell 108 times can alleviate one's misery and frustrations. Therefore the chanting of scriptures or the recital of hexes is done 108 times. Buddha Beads also have 108 beads. There are even 108 Bodhisattvas. These are there to eliminate the frustrations of people to achieve auspiciousness and wellness.

"As for how that actually came about, it's a mystery. However since we are Buddhists, we can only believe the latter. We will strike the bell every day to relieve the frustrations of people. That also gains us merit.

"There are many rules to striking bells. Different regions strike in different ways. According to what I know, Mt. Song's Shaolin Temple's order is, 36 antedating strikes, 36 mid-strikes, and 36 post-strikes, also for a total of 108.

"As for the South, the Seclusion Monastery's rule is to have 8 antedating strikes, 8 post-strikes, and 18 gradual strikes in between, and finally 2 all-encompassing strikes. This is repeated thrice for a total of 108 times. As for how other places do it, I'm not sure. Regardless of the changes, everyone ultimately sticks to 108.

"Striking the bell is as such, and so is the hitting of drums. It also needs to be done 108 times. When drumming, what's particularly famous is 18 rapid strikes, 18 slow strikes, and 18 strikes at a normal speed. Anyway, there're many rules. However, in our monastery, I do not plan on enacting too many rules. We just need to strike 108 times. After all, no matter how many rules there are, everything depends on one's sincerity. Strike the bell with a sincere heart and sense the feelings you obtain when doing so. Fuse your benevolence into the bell gongs to aid in the removal of the frustration of people. That is the right path. Of course, it's not that rules are bad. On the contrary, they are very good! As bell striking is boring, few people can persist. Those who manage to persist are all people with sincere hearts, whether they use a set order or not. Furthermore, having rules makes others feel that the monastery is orthodox, particular, and cultured. To put it plainly, being classy prevents others from belittling you."It's a proverb that is slightly derogatory and humorous which means 'to go through the motions.'