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Home > The Monk That Wanted To Renounce Asceticism

946 Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

 Fangzheng felt his scalp tingle just from thinking about it. He called out to Lone Wolf and wasn't in a hurry to head down. Instead, he followed the bamboo path up and continued for more than two hundred meters before coming to its end.

Fangzheng took a look at the last bamboo, and the carvings on it looked rather new. It was probably the part that was most recently produced.

Back when Fangzheng taught Lame Ma and Squirrel carving, Lone Wolf often listened to the classes by the side. Although he wasn't considered an expert, through the exposure, he could still tell that there was someone skillful involved here. He shook his head and mumbled. "Is that person so bored that they have time for this? Wouldn't getting some rocks be a lot simpler? Even using some wood would be fine. Right, Master?"

However, Fangzheng shook his head and didn't say a word. He headed down with Lone Wolf.

Lone Wolf thought that Fangzheng was tacitly agreeing with him. He swung his big furry tail and followed.

Fangzheng continued studying the bamboo as they walked down the bamboo steps. As the saying goes-while the connoisseur recognizes the craftsmanship, the layman simply enjoys the show-the more Fangzheng studied the bamboo, the more shocked he became. The look in his eyes kept changing.

Anyone else might think that this had been done by someone who was either bored or seriously crazy for them to do something this extreme. However, Fangzheng could tell much more from the carvings.

Back when he looked up from the middle, he didn't manage to figure out much. But this time, with him walking from one end to the other, he realized many things.

Fangzheng stopped at the crossing and patted Lone Wolf on the head. "Jingfa, did you manage to see something?"

Lone Wolf was taken aback. See what? He looked up into the sky and looked at his surroundings. "The mountain is pretty nice."

Fangzheng rolled his eyes at him. "Look at the bamboo at your feet. What can you tell?"

Lone Wolf rolled his eyes, wishing to say that he saw a madman. However, he could tell that Fangzheng wasn't waiting for such a response. However, the problem was that he had been watching the flowers, the birds, and the bamboo forest along the path. He hadn't even looked at the bamboo on the ground! But Lone Wolf was still somewhat clever in the end. His eyes darted around, and he immediately said, "The carving of the bamboo seems to have been done less skillfully closer to the bottom than the top. Was the person practicing carving? Oh, that's quite a huge improvement."

Fangzheng smacked him in the face and scolded him in amusement. "Just admit it if you can't tell a thing. Why play a wolf in sheep's clothing?"

Lone Wolf was instantly unhappy. He looked up as his tail stood up. He said in all seriousness, "Master, I have something I need to correct you on!"

"Speak." Fangzheng was also curious as to what Lone Wolf had to say.

Lone Wolf said extremely seriously, "I'm a real wolf. Look at this tail of mine, look at this face of mine! There's no need to play!"

Fangzheng nearly had an aneurysm hearing what the darn dog said. He smacked him and looked down at the bamboo. "If you wish to have any improvement in your cultivation, you should stop thinking about having fun all day. Learn to observe. Look at the bamboo on the ground. From bottom to top, it's not that the carving and burnishing skills improved. In fact, as long as you wish to put in the effort, it's possible for any person to achieve this much. However, the true essence of the matter doesn't concern the skill but the person who carved the bamboo themselves. They weren't only honing their skills, but they were honing themselves! This is a form of cultivation. A different type of cultivation. By studying the bamboo grain, that person is gaining an understanding of nature so as to cultivate their mind!"

Upon saying this, Fangzheng looked at Lone Wolf who was staring at his back. He was even signaling Fangzheng with his eyes, leaving Fangzheng perplexed. What was this guy doing?

Fangzheng subconsciously looked back and saw a person had appeared behind them far away at some point in time! The person wore a lofty headdress, an ocean-green Daoist robe, and a pair of cloth shoes.

Upon looking at the face, Fangzheng was taken aback. It was a woman who looked a little like a fairy! She was a female Daoist!

Fangzheng knew that Daoist clothing resembled monk clothing. There were a lot of particularities, though, be it in color or type. The different robes weren't things that could be randomly worn. If one did wear whatever they felt like, they were likely a fake Daoist.

In the early days, the Daoist sects were extremely relaxed on the attires their priests wore. But in the Liu Song dynasty, Daoist attire became stricter. The differences in attires became even more apparent. According to the fifth volume of the "Codes and Precepts for Worshipping the Dao in Accordance with the Scriptures of the Three Caverns" from the Northern and Southern dynasties, there were clearly different kinds of clothing for different kinds of Daoists. The book stated: "Clothes are a representation of one's bearing. That is what gives an impression before one's teachings. One has to be dressed in accordance with one's level of insight."

It was from that moment that it was possible to make a guess about Daoists based on what they wore.

The woman wore a nine-fold scarf, which looked like a roof with nine grooves. Daoists believe the number nine to be the number of extreme yang-the final goal of all cultivation. Hence, a nine-fold scarf also represented the direction the wearer pursued.

It was apparent that the woman was a person who yearned to achieve the great Dao, and an unimportant Daoist priest.

At the same time, the three flaps on her headdress indicated she wasn't the typical Daoist, but someone who adhered to a certain level of abstinence. Hence, she wasn't to be belittled.

The ocean-green Daoist robe she wore was something Daoists usually wore when doing chores. That also meant that she was rather free now.

Finally, the cloth shoes she wore matched with white long socks in which the ends of her trousers were tucked. This was to prevent her clothes from landing all over the hall when she stepped into it.

Of course, this wasn't something Fangzheng had always known. It was only thanks to the interest he gained in Daoism after his conversations with Perfected Letian that he had looked something up.

These matters flashed through Fangzheng's mind in an instant. Fangzheng knew that although the woman appeared weak and beautiful, she was a true cultivator that deserved respect.

Fangzheng pressed his palms together. "Amitabha. This Penniless Monk is One Finger Monastery's Fangzheng. Greetings, Perfected One."

The woman smiled and returned the greeting with her hands pressed together. "Greetings Venerable Fangzheng. This Penniless Priest is Wanderer Tranquil. From what you said, you seem to have some understanding towards carving?"

A true Daoist priest was quite a wonder. Although Daoist priests and monks were similar-with them being self-sufficient most of the time-Daoist priests were ultimately more removed from the world than monks. They secluded themselves deep in the mountains, away from the people. As such, Daoist priests were mostly equipped with pretty good medical skills, defensive skills, as well as house building and survival skills.

However, monks were different. Monks bordered on the boundary of being in and removed from the mortal world. There were accomplished monks of a monastery who might seclude themselves, ignoring the outside world, or ascetic monks. There were also monks that involved themselves with the world. These monks were unable to sever their ties with the mortal world, and apart from not eating meat and drinking alcohol in the monastery, they were no different from an ordinary person once they were out the monastery doors. For example, secular monks.

And the purpose of the existence of these people was firstly to provide food and clothing for the monastery, and secondly, it was to let monks understand people better. By interacting with the mortal world, they could gain new wisdom.

With other people providing for them, monks naturally paled in comparison to Daoist priests when it came to certain traits. There were few monks who learned random skills. Hence, Wanderer Tranquil was rather intrigued by Fangzheng.