Long Live The Emperor!

Chapter 31

Destroying Your Zen With One Sentence

Xia Ji turned to look at his little sister. The Imperial Princess was reading aloud in a soft voice from a book in her hand.

“A man may achieve success by keeping a tight lip, exposed words lead to failure. One who is unable to relinquish their ego and open their mouths, revealing what should be kept undisclosed, would place themselves in danger. When subtle signs have shown that something has happened because of the man’s doing, he might not be aware of what he had caused by his exposed words, but he is surely aware of what he has done, and thus he is placed in danger…”

Xia Ji recognized the lines. It was the opening of ‘The Path to Power’. It was written from the viewpoint of an official who was describing the dangers of working at the side of the emperor. The contents were mindfully detailed and contained complex strategies. To utilize power, one must first understand the challenges that come with it.

It was now impossible to find out the author of this book, but it should have been written by a well-known writer from Ancient Times and passed down to this generation. It was also the sole remaining copy of the book that could only be found in the palace. After all, research and studies on the art of stratagem were not for commoners. Unfortunately, such a book was only able to give Xia Ji a blue skill bead. It could have been because of the book’s limitations on focusing solely on the art of stratagem that made it fall short.

Xia Xiaosu focused on her reading, giving it her full concentration and filtering out all distracting thoughts. It was clear that there was a slight shift in her state of mind and Xia Ji gave a sigh of relief, consoled by her efforts. He did not disturb the Ninth Imperial Princess and went about his business as he approached a bookcase that was further away. He pulled out the first book in front of him and started reading it aloud.

The Imperial Capital was left in a mess amidst the snowstorm. It was going through turbulent times and there was a huge storm brewing ahead. The enemy within was hidden and invisible, creating trouble from the dark using underhanded tactics and they did not reveal themselves no matter the circumstances.

However, the Imperial Prince and Princess continued their morning reading in the archive chamber despite the turmoil beyond the doors, their voices calm as they read their books aloud.

Xia Ji was about to reach out for his third book after he was done with his first two when the sound of footsteps was suddenly heard from outside the door. He pushed the book, which was already halfway out, back to its place and turned to walk toward the door. He opened the door quietly. Xia Xiaosu was especially focused on the book she was reading. She was so engrossed that Xia Ji’s movement did not distract her at all.

Outside the room, the guard knelt on one knee in the snow when he saw the Imperial Prince appear at the door. He said loudly, “Reporting…”

He had only just opened his mouth when Xia Ji immediately raised his hand, gesturing for the guard to stop. He pointed toward the courtyard.

The guard understood what he meant and stood up with his head bow as he walked toward the courtyard. Xia Ji followed behind him. Xia Ji did not want to interrupt Xiaosu studying, much like the times since two years ago when the Ninth Imperial Princess often stood outside the door holding his box of food, waiting for him to finish reading before pretending to walk in as if she had just arrived.

The snow was falling in the courtyard. The guard knelt once more at the archway as he reported, “Reporting to Your Highness, Leiyin Temple has sent a monk to request for Sorrowful Divine Monk’s prayer beads, monk’s staff and sarira.”

Xia Ji hesitated a moment before asking, “Where are the prayer beads, monk’s staff, and sarira?”

The guard replied, “Eunuch Mei has collected them and placed them in the Imperial Armory.”

Xia Ji said, “Retrieve them and bring the monk from Leiyin Temple to see me.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

A moment later.

Sorrowful’s prayer beads, monk’s staff, and sarira were placed grandly on a splendid-looking long plate, which now sat under the roof of the archive chamber.

A smiling monk dressed in a kasaya followed behind the guard as they walked over from afar.

The guard stood at the door as the smiling monk thanked him and entered the doorway. He saw the young prince sitting cross-legged in the room, holding a cup of tea in his left hand as he sipped it. The smiling monk said, “I am Wen Kong, here to see the Seventh Imperial Prince.”

Xia Ji asked, “Why are you here, monk?”

Wen Kong replied, “I’m here for the prayer beads, monk’s staff, and sarira.”

Xia Ji asked, “Do monks have an insistence on matters too?”

Wen Kong answered, “Monks need to live in this world as well, naturally, there will be an insistence for certain matters. These three objects originally belonged to Leiyin Temple and I hope Your Highness would be willing to return them to us.”

Xia Ji said bluntly, “None of you were around when Guifang attacked the city, so why did you choose to appear when chaos descended upon the Imperial Capital?”

Wen Kong said, “My senior has always been a recluse with no fixed abode. He has not returned to the temple for a long time. What he has done has nothing to do with Leiyin Temple.”

Xia Ji said, “Monks do not spread falsehood. Are you still able to maintain your meditative mind while spouting such words?”

Wen Kong replied calmly, “I did not spread any falsehood, therefore my meditative mind is still intact.”

Xia Ji said, “Have you seen your own heart, monk?”

Wen Kong shook his head.

Xia Ji asked, “If you haven’t seen it, how do you know your meditative mind is intact?”

Wen Kong replied with a question, “Has Your Highness seen it?”

Xia Ji said, “I have. Not only have I seen it, but I can even draw it for you, monk.”

Wen Kong was taken aback, but he quickly smiled and shook his head. His Highness might have studied the scriptures whole-heartedly for more than two years and he had overcome his sea of misery with his meditative mind, but matters of the heart were illusory and unfathomable. How was he able to draw it?

The meditative mind is an extremely mysterious thing. One might plunge into deep thought yet never be able to achieve it, yet would attain enlightenment by suddenly looking back at things. Hard work and progress would land you nowhere, yet a simple step forward may grant you a meditative mind.

How would one draw such an occurrence?

When Xia Ji noticed the monk’s disregard, he said, “If I’m not able to draw your heart, I will return these three objects to you exactly the way they were.”

Wen Kong had a smile on his face as he said, “Blessed be.”

Xia Ji said, “If I do manage to draw it, what would you do?”

Wen Kong said, “What would Your Highness have me do?”

Xia Ji said, “How many ancient books are hidden within Leiyin Temple?”

Wen Kong said, “Our ancient books have been left with us since Ancient Times. Most have been lost. Your Highness has read the ‘Present Shakyamuni Sutra’ and the ‘Past Dipankara Sutra’. The only book left is ‘The Secret of Tathagata’.

Xia Ji said, “Let’s exchange this book with the prayer beads, monk’s staff, and sarira. I’ll return it to you after reading it in three days.”

Wen Kong secretly breathed a sigh of relief. He had thought His Highness would have wanted to find out more about Sorrowful and what had led to the situation caused by him. It was something that Wen Kong was not too clear about but the implications were major.

He thought about the importance of the three objects, which included a Buddhist instrument. They must be returned. So, he said, “The condition required for reading an ancient book is to overcome the Pearl in the Sea. Since Your Highness has already overcome it, I swear upon my meditative mind to negotiate with the abbot on your behalf for the book.”

Xia Ji finally nodded and waved him over, “Come over here, monk. I will help draw your heart.”

The smiling monk walked toward the Shang Dynasty’s Seventh Imperial Prince with some curiosity.

Xia Ji poured himself a cup of tea.

It was already cold.

However, his left hand held onto the cup gently and the high temperature generated by the inner vitality of the Nine Suns almost immediately boiled the tea as steam appeared from it. There was a vague sound of boiling water coming from it.

The next moment, Xia Ji lifted his left hand and splashed the boiling hot tea into Wen Kong’s face.

Wen Kong was not prepared for this. All he felt was a burning sensation between his eyes and pain in his eyes. The smile on his face vanished as he raged, “What are you doing?!!!”

Xia Ji did not reply. He dipped his right hand into some tea and silently immersed it with some spirituality of Dhyana and meditative mind. He moved his hand casually about on the table and soon drew the face of the furious monk.

The Seventh Imperial Prince of the Shang Dynasty stood up quietly and left with his hand behind his back.

A voice could be heard from afar, “This is your heart. Do you think your meditative mind is still intact?”

Wen Kong looked at the face on the table. It was furious and savage, the sight leaving him stunned and tongue-tied…

The next moment saw him suddenly going red in the face and ears as he knelt in the snow. His meditative mind was compromised as he recalled the accusing words of the Shang Dynasty’s Seventh Imperial Prince, “Monks do not spread falsehood. Are you still able to maintain your meditative mind while spouting such words”. He looked again at the bestial face on the table. Wen Kong’s mind and soul were swayed and he was suddenly no longer able to get a hold of himself. He fell forward and spat out a mouthful of blood.

His meditative mind was shattered.

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