The spiritual mark was not some evil tactic, nor was it a tactic used to control others and make them utterly devoted to one. It was just a tactic that was "filled with influential energy".
First, one would need to accept the spirituality within the spiritual mark.
Next, under its influence, one would receive extra aid, which would later help complete half the work needed to cultivate certain types of skills that would require combining. It could even help with the rapid advancement of the skill through enlightenment.
That was why, instead of saying that Xia Ji had taken control of Jian Kong and the other monks, it would be more accurate to say that he had helped them reveal their true self, even becoming the central pillar of their true self. If they encounter demons in their hearts or any other situations, all they would need to do was think of him and pray to him. They would be able to suppress the uncertainty within them and stabilize their state of mind by doing this.
In return, he would also receive their faith and loyalty.
This was a choice made by both sides.
It was as simple as that.
Let's say one were to describe a body as a lonely boat, the spirituality as the water current and wind, and cultivation as the sails.
Then, most people's spirituality would be stable and stagnant. No matter how big the sails were or how excellent they were made, those people would never reach anywhere far because the water current and the wind were not strong.
Only those who possessed a world of powerful spirituality would truly be able to put up their sails and drive the boat deeper into the roaring waves and wild winds, entering a more adventurous place filled with risks and dangerous opportunities.
This was the philosophy behind the notion of the heavens conferring great responsibility to a person, but he must first strengthen his mind, and work so hard to the bones that he starves his body in the process.
The spiritual mark was a form of enlightenment given to common people by powerful deities from the spiritual world.
However, for one to leave such a mark, it would require a certain level of prowess to be able to do so.
Take Xia Ji for instance. He had acquired the Ninth Level skill bead of the Trailokya Dhyana, which could only 'merge' low-level skill beads.
During the duration of his visit to Leiyin Temple, the Trailokya Dhyana had been strengthened once more while he was gifted with spirituality. It was only then he was qualified to leave a 'spiritual mark'.
After that, there was also the subjective condition of the 'original spiritual mark of the Buddha's statue vanishing'.
It was only then was he able to leave a mark that belonged to him.
This was a non-written inheritance that would be passed down via teachings…
Worshipped the totem and received blessings from one's ancestors…
To put it simply, this was a sect that had been pioneered via the truthful use of spirituality. This was far superior to starting a clan via martial arts.
Clans were started via martial arts.
Sects were started via spirituality.
However, Xia Ji was not prepared to reveal this sect openly to the world, and he had not thought about what to name this sect.
Leiyin Temple was a sect that was just the tip of the iceberg, and it was also the start of something experimental.
As such, just one Buddha statue would not be enough.
When dusk fell and he woke up, he asked for writing brushes, ink, paper, and inkstones. He went into a meditation room behind the first set of doors as he wrote furiously.
The scriptures left behind were still the same, the martial arts were still the same, but as he wrote, his writing was instilled with his vast spirituality. From here onwards, anyone who reads his scriptures would be affected by him. Anyone cultivating or training in martial arts would be influenced and change would come to them.
These scriptures and martial arts will be as one with the statue that had "received his spiritual mark of the evil Tathagata", and would become the core pillar of the newly-born Leiyin Temple.
The snow began to stop and the sky was red from the sunset.
There were still more than five hundred monks remaining and all of them were cleaning up the ruins. They dug graves and buried corpses, and after that, they chanted the scriptures together to help the dead transgress and move on.
When the sound of the wooden fish and chanting stopped, the sound of the billowing wind could be heard blowing through the mountain's bizarre rocks and strange pines. Hundreds of miles around Mount Meru whistled and whimpered, the deep and grave buzzing sound did not rest, as if the vast earth had tens of millions of dead souls leaving at the same time.
The night came and the white moon hung high as the wind billowed high above.
The monks entered through the first set of doors and into the monk's accommodation within the meditation temple as they began to rest. However, their Buddha was still writing scriptures under the moonlight, which made them feel ashamed of themselves.
Jian Kong stood outside the door for a long time and only asked aloud respectfully when Xia Ji stopped writing for a while. "With respect, my Buddha, please advise on what the new temple shall be named?"
Xia Ji knew that when he left, Jian Kong would be the abbot of this new temple. So he said, "Are you ever stubborn with words?"
Jian Kong had researched Zen for close to thirty years, which was why he immediately knew that the new Buddha was testing him intending to give him pointers. So he quickly answered, "I have never been stubborn about words."
Xia Ji said, "Were you stubborn before and as such, never been stubborn about it, or were you never stubborn before, which is why you have never been stubborn about it?"
Jian Kong, "…"
Xia Ji continued, "Think through it and give me the answer."
Jian Kong did not leave and knelt under the moonlight.
He had a proper-looking face and his body was thin. The grey monk's robe moved about as it rippled in the wind. It stuck close to his physique, which was withered like an old bamboo. His palms were placed together as if he was listening to teachings with his eyes closed and head lowered. As there were no longer any obstructions in his heart and mind, his long-suffering accumulation of burden was finally unblocked. He experienced exploding breakthroughs which made his inner vitality and blood turned even more serene and majestic. It was like the waves of a big river hitting against a cliff. Even when they were separated by skin, the full-bodied power could vaguely be felt.
Xia Ji continued writing his scriptures.
Once he started, he wrote throughout the night.
When he was tired, he would hold his head against his hand and rest for a while.
The next morning arrived. The roads were covered with snow, and the chilly wind rustled. The huge sun rose from the East, shining through the darkness of heaven and earth.
It was lucky that Leiyin Temple had closed off the mountain roads. Otherwise, devotees visiting would have spread the shocking news of Leiyin Temple being exterminated and revealed another violent act by the Shang Dynasty's Imperial Prince to the world.
The monks had woken up early and divided themselves into three groups. One group was in charge of their daily vegetarian meals while another headed out to take care of the ruins and go through the remaining scriptures which were two doors away. The rest were headed to the Warehouse of Hidden Objects at the sixth peak. They needed to rebuild the temple.
However, they still did not know what the temple would be named.
That was why Jian Kong was still kneeling.
Xia Ji was almost done. When he saw that Jian Kong was still not enlightened, he asked him another question, "How many of the scriptures you had studied in the past were passed down from Buddha, and how many were from demons?"
Before Jian Kong could answer, Xia Ji asked him a second question, "How many of the scriptures I have taught were passed down by Buddha, and how many were by demons?"
Jian Kong wanted to say something, but he could only open his mouth like a mute who was unable to say a word. He was unable to grasp this Zen-ness.
Xia Ji sighed softly. This monk's talents were a little limited. He did not bother to reveal the answer. All he said was, "This temple will continue to be called Leiyin Temple."
Jian Kong said, "I am too slow. I will remember Buddha's words."
"You should change a Buddhist name too. What would you like to be called?"
"I have joined the temple since I was eighteen and am now forty-six. I have enslaved my demonic intention for twenty-eight years until yesterday when I have truly understood that the demon was not what I have enslaved, but Buddha. I no longer wish to be enslaved for the remainder of my years and wished to be called – Zi Zai [TN: Zi Zai also means to be carefree]."
The monks replated Tathagata's statue with gold and rebuilt the archive chamber. They rearranged the books within and many had been picked by Xia Ji to be delivered into the Imperial Palace.
Xia Ji stood at the peak of the mountain.
The fifth peak of Mount Meru was the Grand Hall of the Meditation Temple.
The sixth peak was the Warehouse of Hidden Objects.
Legend has it that the seventh peak was originally a spiritual garden meant for alchemy, but now, it was a wasteland and the original cauldron was broken and rusty.
The eighth peak remained a mystery. Even Zi Zai did not know what the peak was meant for. All he knew was that it was a normal barren mountain.
The ninth peak was a legendary mountain. The latest legend told of how a deity stopped by to play a game of Go. A game of bad Go would enchant anyone obsessed with it to turn old and grey with hair in an instant, and life will come to an end for this individual.
The Imperial Prince from the Shang Dynasty stopped writing scriptures and arrived at the sixth peak first.
The Warehouse of Hidden Objects did not have any valuable treasures within.
Besides supplies and ordinary Buddhist instruments, the only things left were two strings of full Tathagata prayer beads. There was a broken oil lamp in a corner that was covered in dust. It was rumored that this particular lamp was a Buddhist instrument from the Dipankara sect of Ancient Times. Once it was lit, it could light up heaven and earth, swallow all darkness, enlighten all disorientation, and calm all divine spirits.
However, when Xia Ji tried lighting it, he found that the power within the lamp had long vanished. When he placed it down, the broken lamp was finally done with its lifetime. The minute it touched the surface, it clanged and completely disintegrated.