Book 1: Chapter 29: Three Spiritual Souls and Seven Physical Souls
One day later, Gu Hai’s group came upon a sorry sight of some wild beasts munching on some corpses and the signs of a huge battle.
“Division Master, we might have reached one of the natives’ dwellings,” Gao Xianzhi said with an excited expression.
Gu Hai nodded.
“Ah! I know this place!” Xiaorou suddenly cried out.
“That mountain. I know that mountain. After we go over that mountain, we can see the herb garden that I tended, Carefree Valley!”
“Let’s go!” Gu Hai’s group quickly headed in that direction.
Soon, the four reached the peak of the mountain. Then, they looked behind the mountain.
However, all they saw was a vast, charred valley. It seemed that a great fire had swept through the place recently. There were some buildings further down the valley, but they seemed to be on the verge of collapse. The herb garden that Xiaorou spoke about lay in ashes.
“This is the place. It’s all burned?!” Xiaodie exclaimed.
“The others must have already robbed everything from this place. There should be nothing left,” Chen Tianshan said, finding it a pity.
“Division Master, something is not quite right. Where are the corpses? Xiaorou said that more than one thousand people lived here, yet there is not even one corpse?” Gao Xianzhi said, feeling surprised.
“Indeed!” Gu Hai looked around with narrowed eyes.
“That’s right. Benefactor, there is still one more place here. The good stuff there cannot be taken away,” Xiaorou suddenly said, her expression changing.
“There is a spring there that only the valley master can use. It can be used only once a year. I heard that when one bathes in the spring water, one’s cultivation will increase,” Xiaorou said.
“A spirit spring? There is a spirit spring here?” Chen Tianshan immediately opened his eyes wide.
“What is a spirit spring?” Gu Hai asked, feeling curious.
“It is a naturally formed Spirit Gathering Ritual Array that gathers boundless Spiritual Energy into the spring water. Furthermore, the Spiritual Energy does not leak away. However, when someone bathes in it, all the Spiritual Energy is pushed into the body to aid one in cultivating. Furthermore, the Spiritual Energy of the spirit spring is the gentlest possible Spiritual Energy. Hence, it has no side effects,” Chen Tianshan said excitedly.
“Where is the spirit spring?” Gu Hai looked at Xiaorou.
“It is in the cave behind that palace. It is very hidden. I’ll bring Benefactor over!” Xiaorou felt extremely happy at being able to help her benefactor.
The group quickly entered the valley.
Crumbled ruins filled the charred valley. The largest palace in this place was in a similar state, with half of it collapsed.
“Division Master, look!” Gao Xianzhi suddenly said, his expression changing.
Several hundred corpses lay at the broken palace, all of them charred. Some corpses were completely torn apart, but someone had gathered all of them there.
“All of the corpses are gathered here?” Chen Tianshan revealed a shocked expression.
Gu Hai narrowed his eyes warily. Then, he quickly turned his head to check the surroundings.
“Division Master, there is no one in the valley. We already looked through the place while we were on the mountain,” Gao Xianzhi said, frowning.
“Then who collected all these corpses?” Chen Tianshan said, feeling puzzled.
Gu Hai frowned. After taking a deep breath, he said, “Let’s go to the spirit spring first.”
“Alright!” Everyone nodded, their feelings complicated.
The group went around the broken palace and immediately saw a hidden cave. Piles of charred wood lay before the cave entrance as if someone had blocked the cave entrance with wood to prevent the outsiders from discovering it before the fire burned the place down. However, the charred wood had been moved away. Furthermore, there were footprints on the ground.
“This is the place!” Xiaorou said.
However, Gu Hai and Gao Xianzhi narrowed their eyes. They raised their guard and stopped.
“Shall we continue inside?” Chen Tianshan asked.
“Someone has entered. Rather, there’s someone in there,” Gao Xianzhi said.
“There’s someone?” Chen Tianshan’s expression changed, and he became more cautious.
While the entire group was on guard, a voice suddenly came from inside the cave.
The voice rang out loudly. However, it had a peaceful feeling in everyone’s ears. It seemed like this Buddhist chant instantly calmed their heart.
However, Gu Hai’s expression changed as he became even more cautious.
An old monk wearing a kya walked out of the cave slowly. This old man showed a smile filled with benevolence. Walking slowly, he carried a corpse in each hand. Those corpses seemed to have been dead for some time, the bodies riddled with wounds. Based on their expressions, these people should have died of asphyxiation.
“So, it is Division Master Gu. Pardon my lack of politeness!” the old monk said with a faint smile.
“Venerable knows me?” Gu Hai said, his expression changing.
The old monk looked at Xiaorou, whom Gu Hai carried. Then, he said with a faint smile, “Heaven cares for every living thing. Division Master Gu suppresses evil and encourages the good, doing all that for a little snake with no relation to you. How can this humble monk not remember you?”
Gao Xianzhi and Chen Tianshan exchanged looks. Back when they first entered this independent world, they saw a large group of cultivators surrounding Xiaorou. Was this old monk among them?
“Might I ask for Venerable’s dharmic name?” Gu Hai said with a solemn expression.
“This humble monk is Lian Sheng!” the old monk replied with a smile.
[TL Note: In Buddhism, when one becomes a monk, they abandon everything of their old life. Their name is one of the things they abandon. In place of that name, the monk is given a dharmic name, which they will use for the rest of their life. Lian Sheng means pity on the living.]
“Greetings, Venerable Lian Sheng. Might I ask if Venerable Lian Sheng gathered all the corpses here?” Gu Hai asked, feeling curious.
“That’s right. Everyone, please wait for a moment. Let me bring over these last two corpses and bury them,” Venerable Lian Sheng said with a smile.
“Alright!” Gu Hai nodded.
Lian Sheng slowly walked to the palace and placed the two corpses there.
“Division Master?” Chen Tianshan looked at the cave somewhat anxiously.
However, Gu Hai shook his head, indicating for Chen Tianshan to be patient.
Then, the group saw the old monk take out a Buddhist monk staff and heavily strike the ground.
When the Buddhist monk staff struck the ground, golden light spread out from it, covering the surrounding land.
The ground crumbled towards the center. Then, the palace where the monk placed all the corpses slowly sank into the ground. Then, the surrounding dirt moved towards the center and buried the entire palace, forming a huge grave.
“That’s impossible! Who is this person? What…what treasure is this?” Chen Tianshan exclaimed.
“What’s wrong?” Gu Hai asked as he looked at Chen Tianshan.
“Division Master, this independent world restricts our cultivation to the Innate Realm. However, he could use that Buddhist monk staff as an Innate Realm cultivator to…! Even the Clear River Sect Master cannot do this!” Chen Tianshan said with an unsightly expression.
“You mean that this person is even more incredible than the Clear River Sect Master, or perhaps, his treasure is even more incredible than the Clear River Sect Master?” Gao Xianzhi asked.
Chen Tianshan nodded with a complicated expression.
“Dust returns to dust, and earth returns to earth. Everyone, rest in peace. Amitābha!” Venerable Lian Sheng put down the Buddhist monk staff and pressed his palms together.
A cool breeze suddenly blew through the surroundings.
“Venerable Lian Sheng, what are you doing?” Gu Hai asked out of curiosity.
Venerable Lian Sheng turned his head to look at Gu Hai. He had a good impression of Gu Hai, so he did not mind the question. He said, “I am erecting a grave for them, so they have something to inhabit.”
“Venerable, I heard that after people die here, they will reincarnate. Many of the natives do not care about their own lives. Why does Venerable care so much?” Gu Hai asked.
“They do not care because they do not understand. By the time they understand, it is too late,” Venerable Lian Sheng replied while shaking his head.
“Could Venerable explain?” Gu Hai asked, feeling curious.
“You cannot see it, but I can. Eight hundred thirty-one souls are standing here, bowing to me in gratitude. Every portion of gratitude for me is a portion of beneficence for me.” Venerable Lian Sheng smiled.
“Eight hundred thirty-one souls? Here?” Gu Hai marveled as he looked at the huge grave.
“Every grave has a soul standing on it. They are incredibly lonely. They look at the people passing by, waiting for people to make offerings to them. They feel their own existence only when someone makes offerings to them. Can you understand the loneliness of no one being able to see you?” Venerable Lian Sheng explained.
“Doesn’t one reincarnate after death? Every grave has a soul standing on it? What does that mean?” Gu Hai asked, his curiosity piqued.
Venerable Lian Sheng looked at Gu Hai, remaining silent for a while. “Never mind, Division Master Gu has a compassionate heart. I can explain it to Division Master Gu. Have you heard that everyone has three spiritual souls and seven physical souls?”
“Yes, I have frequently heard that.”
“The three spiritual souls refer to the heavenly soul, the earthly soul, and the mortal soul. After death, the three spiritual souls separate. The heavenly soul goes to heaven. That is what people mean when they say that the dead are in heaven. The earthly soul enters the earth, that is, the nether world. After entering the nether world, they will eventually reincarnate. As for the mortal soul, it remains by the corpse, guarding the corpse, taking in the surrounding energy, and blessing their descendants. If the corpse is buried where rich Spiritual Energy gathers, their descendants will enjoy good fortune, receiving extraordinary luck. If a corpse is buried in an inauspicious place with foul energy, their descendants will be unlucky,” Venerable Lian Sheng explained.
“Venerable, the three spiritual souls and seven physical souls do not reincarnate together?” Gu Hai asked, feeling surprised.
All along, Gu Hai thought that the three spiritual souls and seven physical souls reincarnated together.
“The moment of death is when the spiritual souls and physical souls separate. Does Division Master Gu not know that?” Venerable Lian Sheng replied with a smile.
“I see. After one dies, one’s souls separate?”
“That’s right. The three spiritual souls are of the Yin nature, and the seven physical souls are of the Yang nature. The seven physical souls are your physique. When the body is destroyed, the physical souls scatter. The three spiritual souls are the heavenly soul, the earthly soul, and the mortal soul. The earthly soul can reincarnate. The mortal soul is bestowed by one’s parents, obtained through the bloodline, and will connect to their descendants’ earthly souls. The heavenly soul is bestowed by heaven. After one dies, the heavenly soul needs to return to heaven. Hence, it is called the heavenly soul,” Venerable Lian Sheng explained.
“That means the reincarnated people only have the same earthly soul as their previous life. The remaining two spiritual souls and seven physical souls are different. So, when they reincarnate, they are not their original self?” Gu Hai’s expression changed.
Venerable Lian Sheng nodded.
“Ah! I finally understand why the first elder does not permit anyone to commit suicide to recultivate. It turns out that the memories of their past lives are just the earthly soul’s memories. After one dies, that’s it. Everyone is unique!” Xiaorou revealed an expression of shock.
However, Gu Hai’s expression suddenly changed. He then asked, “Venerable, if a person died, is it possible to revive her?”
“In theory, it is possible. However, it is too difficult to revive a dead person. We can reconstruct the seven physical souls. However, it is too difficult for the three spiritual souls.” Venerable Lian Sheng shook his head.
“Oh? Can you explain?”
“The mortal soul is easy; it is always by the grave. As for the earthly soul, it might have already reincarnated. What about the heavenly soul? The heavenly soul returned to heaven. Are you going to fight heaven for a soul? Back then, Old Mister Guan Qi wanted to fight heaven for the heavenly soul of his loved one. What a pity. You have seen it for yourself. Even Old Mister Guan Qi fell,” Venerable Lian Sheng explained.
Gu Hai remained silent for a while, appearing uncertain. He wanted to say something several times, but he refrained.
“Venerable, will the mortal soul always be by their corpse?” Gao Xianzhi asked.
Venerable Lian Sheng looked at the grave at the side. After taking a deep breath, he said, “The mortal soul is the most fragile. Many things can cause them to scatter. If their corpses were left in the wild and wild beasts ate them, the mortal souls would have no physical body to linger around, so they would quickly scatter. After being buried, they can inhabit the grave and last for a long time. However, all sorts of accidents are possible. They might extinguish like a candle flame at any time. There are so many possibilities; it is impossible for me to explain them all.”
“The mortal soul can scatter?” Gu Hai’s expression changed.
“It depends on one’s fate. Everything is possible. Heaven cares for everything. However, sometimes, heaven cannot decide everything,” Venerable Lian Sheng said while shaking his head.
“Many thanks to Venerable for clarifying my doubts.” Gu Hai bowed gravely while taking a deep breath.