Hua Chenglu shook her head. “I haven’t.”
“‘Wisdom Imbuement’ is a special technique created by buddhism. It can directly imbue someone else’s mind with your comprehension of the buddhist dharma. No matter how sinful that person has been, they will cast aside evil, embrace good, and be converted to buddhism once they undergo the imbuement. Or, no matter how thick in the head they are, they will be completely awakened and advance valiantly on the path of cultivation! To turn the wicked into the good, to turn the ignorant into the wise, is known as wisdom imbuement.”
“To think there’s actually such a wonderful technique in the world! In other words, all I have to do is undergo the wisdom imbuement, and I’ll be able to break through with ease! May I ask what I need to do?”
Hua Chenglu’s eyes shone brightly. She did not have bad talent, but her ability to comprehend was a little lacking. After all, not everyone was a genius.
“You don’t have to do anything at all.”
“But didn’t you say I had to pay a small price?”
“Chenglu, I’d advise you to not go forward with this wisdom imbuement!”
Li Qingshan listened to the Great Banyan Tree King’s explanation and felt that something was amiss. No matter how he thought of it, wasn’t this so-called “brainwashing”? And it was actual brainwashing.
“Why?” Hua Chenglu looked at Li Qingshan with a frown. She was confused.
“If you completely accept someone else’s ideas, are you still you? Is there still a point no matter how powerful and clever you become?”
“That’s right, this is the so-called price I speak of. The reason why this strange technique is not widespread is because it’s been deemed forbidden by buddhism. The monk who created this technique also died of madness!”
“Madness!” Hua Chenglu was startled and frightened.
The Great Banyan Tree King told them a story from the past patiently. Several thousand years ago, there was a virtuous, eminent monk in the Lightning province in the west, known as the Jade Wisdom Chan Master. He often felt pity over how people could not comprehend his exquisite buddhist dharma. He read about broadly and contemplated for an entire decade before finally coming up with this special technique.
He first tried it on the most ignorant and stubborn disciple in the monastery. Sure enough, the disciple lived up to his expectations. In a single night, he understood all the buddhist classics in the monastery thoroughly and could even recite them backwards. Even the smartest disciple in the monastery paled in comparison to him. His cultivation advanced drastically too.
As a result, all of the disciples in the monastery scrambled over excitedly, asking the Jade Wisdom Chan Master to use the technique on them, so the Jade Wisdom Chan Master imbued all the disciples in the monastery with wisdom despite the toll it took on him. As a result, every single disciple became sagacious and kindhearted, and the Jade Wisdom Chan Master also believed he had grasped the ultimate way to bring salvation to all, leaving him glad and proud.
A good friend happened to visit, so the Jade Wisdom Chan Master demonstrated his achievements. Never did he expect his friend to sigh upon seeing the situation in the monastery. “You’ve mistaken, monk! If you use this technique, is there still any difference between buddhism and the demonic?” After he said that, he left the monastery.
The Jade Wisdom Chan Master thought his friend was envious of him, so he was rather unhappy, but he did not take him too seriously either. This continued until the assembly of dharma that they held each month. Almost a hundred disciples sat together in the large hall, but they all spoke like they had been cast from the same mould. Even their expressions and tones were basically the same.
An assembly of dharma was originally supposed to involve a staunch and intense debate, but it had become peaceful all of a sudden, without the slightest dispute. It was like a lifeless pond of stagnant water. Even the young acolytes, only eight or nine years old, behaved like they were old men. The Jade Wisdom Chan Master seemed to see a hundred Jade Wisdom Chan Masters muttering to himself. He gradually became horrified, but it was already too late for regret.
The Wisdom Imbuement technique was different from other techniques. Once it was used, it was very difficult to reverse. As a result, on one stormy night, the Jade Wisdom Chan Master shouted madly, “I’ll kill you all! I’ll kill you all!” He committed suicide.
Such a horrifying story made Hua Chenglu pale. She did not want to become a “Jade Wisdom Chan Master”. Sure enough, there was no free lunch in the world. Shortcuts did not come so easily.
The Great Banyan Tree King smiled. “Lassie, you don’t have to be so afraid. There is no good and bad. It only becomes a problem when you go too far. There is no good and bad with cultivation methods either. As long as I limit myself, you won’t become someone else.”
“When I carry out the imbuement, I will do my best to only pass onto you my comprehension of the Method of Springtime Bloom so that your ability to comprehend is strengthened. And, I’ll limit it to Foundation Establishment to minimize the influence on your character, but paying a small price will still be unavoidable. These are the pros and cons, so consider it yourself!”
With the Great Banyan Tree King’s ten millenniums of wisdom and comprehension, it would not be merely Foundation Establishment if he imbued Hua Chenglu all of a sudden. She would even have her foundation to condense a Golden Core, but Hua Chenglu would be completely swallowed up as a person too. However, if he limited himself, it would reduce both the benefits and the detriments. Although there would still be an influence, it could not twist and erase Hua Chenglu’s thoughts completely.
To Li Qingshan, he could not accept even the slightest twist in his thoughts. Even though he admired the Great Banyan Tree King’s way of survival very much, he had still rebuked rudely with “passivity leads to vulnerability” when he was taught the lesson of “aggression leads to easy failure”. No matter how great yours is, it’s still yours. I have my own persistence!
Hua Chenglu hesitated. She lowered her head and thought for a while before raising her head again. “I'll do it!”
“Chenglu.” Li Qingshan pressed down on her shoulder with a frown.
“Big brother Li, if you don’t complete the three tasks, you won’t be able to receive senior’s gift! You can just treat this as me paying you back for saving my life!” Hua Chenglu let out a toothy grin, at ease and beautiful.
“You can forget about that! I haven’t reached the point where I value a gift more than you just yet!” Li Qingshan said flatly. Making a young girl sacrifice herself for him was something his dignity could not allow. He wanted to say that, but he knew she would stick to her decision even more firmly if he did, so he smiled again. “Compared to some gift, I still think letting me spend some intimate time with you is a little more enticing, Chenglu.”
Hua Chenglu shot a glance at him and raised her chin. “Don’t even think about it!” She burst out laughing. “I’m kidding! I’m nowhere near that great. Big brother Li, you’re a genius. You don’t know the difficulty that we mortals face when we cultivate. Apart from you, probably no one can go completely without being tempted by changing a little in exchange for the multitude of benefits, like saving a decade or even two decades’ worth of time, an immeasurable amount of pills, an increase in cultivation, and so on.”
Li Qingshan said sternly, “This is not a laughing matter. You have to consider it carefully.”
Hua Chenglu shook her head gently. “I don’t need to consider it anymore. If I still don’t make any progress with my cultivation, I’ll probably have to obey my father and be married off to the descendant of another aristocratic clan in a few years’ time.”
Li Qingshan said, “You have your elder brother, and you also have your big brother Li. Probably no one can force you into anything. You can slowly choose someone you like.”
Hua Chenglu pressed her hands against her chest. “It’s not against my will. This is my responsibility. My father and brother doted on me while I was growing up, basically granting me whatever I want. This is a form of awareness that I’ve possessed long ago! Not to mention, whether you like someone or not is not reliable either. Even if you like them today, you might not like them in the future. Being arranged for marriage is still more practical.”
Li Qingshan seemed to see the serious, little Hua Chenglu from all those years ago again. He rubbed her head. “You’re so young, yet you’re already so pragmatic. You don’t even have a hint of your elder brother’s passion!”
Hua Chenglu grabbed his large hand and removed it forcefully. “You’re groping around again. Hmph, I’m not stupid like my elder brother. As long as I establish a foundation successfully, I won’t have to worry about the marriage anymore. I’ll stay unmarried for my entire life and copy Gu Yanying. I’ll make you damned men die from envy.”
A Foundation Establishment cultivator in their early twenties, whether they were male or female, would all be geniuses their clans treasured. They had quite a lot of autonomy over matters big and small. Unless she was completely willing, she would not become a tool for marriage. Different cultivations were directly connected to the identities and statuses of cultivators, or even the fate of their lives.
Li Qingshan smiled. “That works too, just in case you make me jealous. Though, if you change your mind one day, don’t forget about your big brother Li. It’s just like what they say, gotta keep the good stuff between us!”
Hua Chenglu called out, “Don’t- even- think- about- it!” She changed the topic. “Though, if there are any more interesting adventures like this, you have to call me along. I won’t drag you down anymore.”
Li Qingshan shook his head in an exaggerated manner. “By then, I’ll already be a Golden Core cultivator. I’ll probably still be forced with one hand.”
“Then I’ll have to trouble you with freeing up a hand to carry me.” Hua Chenglu blushed slightly. Her eyes were filled with anticipation. I want to see even more sights. I want to be respected by you and everyone else. I don’t want it to be that one day, when I see Zijian again, I can no longer be her friend!
There was nothing more Li Qingshan could say. “Since this is your choice, all I can do is support you!”
Hua Chenglu raised her head and said, “Senior tree king, I’ve already decided. May I ask how I undergo the Wisdom Imbuement?”
“Come on in!”
Another hole suddenly appeared in the wooden hall, leading straight to the centre of the banyan tree. Li Qingshan had been circling around the centre the entire time as he hunted down the burrowing mites. Although the insects had managed to riddle the bark with holes, the pith was even sturdier, so they could not eat it.
Hua Chenglu took in a deep breath and glanced at Li Qingshan. Right when she was about to enter the hole, Li Qingshan arrived beside her and said, “Fellow, you planned all of this, didn’t you?”
The Great Banyan Tree King said, “This is fate. The heavens delivered you before me.”
Li Qingshan glanced at the tree hole. “Then can I come in and take a look?” Although he trusted the Great Banyan Tree King’s moral character, he had to be cautious no matter what. If he turned him down, perhaps he would make Hua Chenglu reconsider.
“The hole is far too small. Let me in first…” Hua Chenglu was rather troubled. The hole was even smaller than the tree holes they travelled through earlier. Before she had even finished speaking, Li Qingshan pulled her firmly into his arms with a smile. “Don’t worry, we can just squeeze together a little!” Afterwards, he leapt into the tree hole with her.
“You’re almost squeezing me to death!”
A while later, Hua Chenglu pushed Li Qingshan away viciously. Her entire body ached. With his great strength, he seemed like he was trying to knead her into his body.
“Don’t act so spoiled. You almost squeezed me to death too.”
Li Qingshan casually responded and gazed at this strange opening. It was shaped like an upside-down bowl, around the size of a living room. This was the very centre of the great banyan tree. The spiritual qi in here was so thick that it almost seemed to materialise. He felt refreshed from simply taking a breath.
“Lassie, come to the centre and relax your mind and body.” The Great Banyan Tree King’s voice became even grander.
Hua Chenglu stood in the centre. Verdant aerial roots grew from the surroundings, coiling around her limbs softly and pressing against her major acupoints with precision. Another dozen or so pressed against the acupoints on her head. Her legs were lifted from the ground, hovering in the air.
The base of all the aerial roots lit up with dark green light at the same time, moving along the roots and reaching Hua Chenglu’s acupoints. She shuddered all over as extremely pure wood spiritual qi was channeled into her body. At the same time, vast and complex information entered her mind.