Chapter 1531 - The Formless Realm
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Legend of the Great Sage Chapter 1531 - The Formless Realm

Propelled by the explosion, Li Qingshan passed through the long, narrow valley in the mountains. Suddenly, his field of vision opened up, except all he saw was the colour white.

It was not snowy-white or pale-white, nor greyish-white or pure-white. It was purely the literal meaning of the word, white.

Devoid of all colours, neither heavy nor light; spreading the shade evenly, such that it seemed neither bright nor dark.

Looking back, he no longer saw the Cakravadaparvata mountains, nor did he see the king of Yanluo. It was as if he had entered a different world, a completely different world from the seventeen layers of hell before this.

The white sky and the white ground lead to no clear distinction between either. Apart from that, there was nothing else.

Whether it were the mountains of blades and the oil pots or the glaciers of ice and seas of fire, they were all gone. This basically did not seem like hell.

Li Qingshan could not help but sigh. “How fucking white!”

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The thought just echoed through his heart. The moment he uttered it, it was gradually diluted and swallowed by the endless “white”, such that there was no sound at all.

“What a strange place!”

Li Qingshan then sensed his own body and discovered another strange matter.

When the Disintegration of the Devaputra-māra completely lost control, during the final great explosion, he had managed to leave adjudicator Lu’s body prematurely, but the power of the explosion was far too great. His Origin Soul should have sustained very severe damage, and he had indeed felt the pain too.

However, after entering this white space, all of his wounds vanished as if the endless white had diluted everything. He felt nothing at all.

Bang! He threw a vicious punch at his right cheek, but he was still unable to feel any pain.

Just like the voice from his mouth, the power behind the punch vanished the moment it was unleashed.

His cultivation was unaffected, and he could use his powers freely, but he was completely incapable of harming himself. He was not bold enough to experiment with his life, but probably even the Disintegration of the Devaputra-māra was useless.

In other words, he could not even commit suicide here.

“Is this the case?”

Li Qingshan stroked his chin in thought. He grew accustomed to it very quickly. The Hell realm had been extremely strange in the first place, and the closer he got to the depths, the more the laws manifested, which made everything even more bizarre.

However, just because the laws were manifesting did not mean it was any easier to understand. It was clearly much easier to understand why an apple fell to the ground when it was ripe than all of gravity.

It was exactly because the appearance of reality had been stripped away that it instead became even more profound and unfathomable, absurd and beyond words.

With his current cultivation, it was still not enough to completely understand the secrets involved.

“Where’s ‘fifth brother’ supposed to be in this white place?”

He brought his hand up over his eyes and looked around before turning into a streak of light and rushing into the white sky. However, as he gazed out from up high, all he saw was the same, unchanging white.

He was like an insignificant black dot on a huge blank canvas.

According to his estimates, from his altitude with sufficient light and the lack of any obstacles, coupled with how the background was all “white”, he could see one thousand five hundred kilometres away at the very least. With his speed, he could basically search through a region of a million kilometres across in just a few days.

However, he suddenly thought of the Bridge of Helplessness that seemed short but was long. Was his judgment really reliable?

Because he had nothing to refer to, he was not even certain how far he could see, whether it was a hundred kilometres or a hundred metres. Perhaps his vision had also been diluted and swallowed by the white, where it was completely impossible to reach that far. He would run around blindly like a headless fly, only to believe that he had covered a very large range.

He could use techniques freely, but they would dissipate as soon as they left his hand, so he could not use them as a measure of distance.

But did it actually dissipate? Or was it because he was unable to see nor hear anything beyond this range?

And he discovered very soon that regardless of what he used, not a sliver of his powers was depleted, even when he had not absorbed any spiritual qi. This world had no spiritual qi to absorb either.

He did not encounter any enemies, nor did he face any rejection from the world, but he could sense a strange atmosphere he had never encountered before in this world of endless white.

It even made him, someone who had already embarked on the path of the māra, tremble slightly.

He remained in the air for a while and gradually lost sense of where the ground was. Everything around him was white and absolutely identical.

As someone who was constantly on the move, he actually felt empty inside. He had lost his sense of direction, unable to gain his bearings.

But fortunately, there was still the distinction between land and ground here. He ceased his movement technique and fell back towards the grounds.

He purposefully allowed himself to fall directly onto the ground, but he was completely unscathed, just like before. He did not even feel the impact.

The white ground felt neither soft nor hard. It could not be described with words at all.

It was extremely flat as well, without the slightest kink. He lay on the ground and felt around carefully. There was not even a protrusion or pit the size of a grain of sand, yet it did not feel smooth at all either.

Everything he was accustomed to, all the sensations he was used to, had been taken away, leaving behind absolute blankness.

He even began to miss the frigid cold of the glaciers and the scorching heat of the sea of fire, as well as the burning fury and ravishing joy within him.

He tried making some markings on the white ground as points of reference, but his great moves that could split open entire mountains actually failed to leave behind the slightest trace on the ground.

There was nothing he could do about anything. Even putting his life on the line was not possible.

“What exactly is this damned place?”

……

At the same time, in Kṣitigarbha’s monastery, the Darkness palace.

As the saying went, “Invisible to the eye, silent to the ear, that is known as the darkness. The darkness is similar to the Dao, but not the Dao.”

Detailed on the plaques to the left and right. “Enduring and moving like the earth, thinking quietly and deeply like hiding secrets.”

King Pingdeng bowed and asked, “Bodhisattva, why did you not stop that person?”

He did not believe “adjudicator Lu” had actually suffered from cultivation deviation and coincidentally broken into the eighteenth layer of hell.

He glanced at the large, white hound that resembled a lion beneath him. The Hell realm was boundless, but with this divine beast Diting around, it was impossible for him to have not sensed that person.

TL: The Diting is the mythical creature that serves as the mount of the bodhisattva of deceased souls and the underworld, Kṣitigarbha. You can read more about it here.

In the past, when that Intelligent Stone Monkey wreaked havoc in the underworld, he had still been stopped by Kṣitigarbha. How was he incapable of stopping a mere Ghost Immortal?

Kṣitigarbha opened his eyes slowly. He formed a slight smile on his face that bore a green tinge. His expression was mystifying. “No birth nor death, no defilement nor purity, no increase nor decrease.”

King Pingdeng was taken aback before immediately understanding. “He’s a mere Ghost Immortal, yet he’s still bold enough to enter the Formless realm? He’s basically sending himself to his doom. I’ve been overthinking.”

If a regular monk were here, they would definitely be dumbfounded.

Buddhism called the trichiliocosm the Form realm, which included the Desire realm. At the very top was the Formless realm. This was called the Trailokya or the three realms.

The Form realm and the Desire realm were not names of geographical regions.

As the name suggested, the Desire realm was where all the desires gathered, which were possessed by various life forms with humans in particular.

The Form realm was where all tangible objects with appearances gathered, while the Formless realm was obviously a higher realm that surpassed everything else.

As a result, most monks believed that the Formless realm did not actually exist and was just a description of a cultivation realm. Even if they entered the western paradise, Sukhāvatī, they had to undertake tireless cultivation for the opportunity to reach that realm.

However, no one ever thought that not only did the Formless realm exist, but it was even the true name of the eighteenth layer of hell.

A great burden was lifted from king Pingdeng’s shoulders. He bade farewell with satisfaction.

The wicked fiends that entered the Formless realm would experience true endless hell, Avīci. Even if they thought they flew across an entire world, they would only be running around on the same spot. Even if he remained in there for a hundred million years, he could forget about meeting with that Six-eared Macaque.

With his life and death out of his own hands, there was endless space and endless time, thus it was the endless hell, Avīci.

As for the deaths of the four judges, he was completely unfazed. There were plenty of Corpse Liberated Immortals throughout the six realms of saṃsāra. Becoming a judge meant an endless lifespan, so who didn’t want a job like that? The Ghost Immortals in the Hungry Ghost realm were common like stray dogs too. In short, they just had to recruit new judges.

The only thing that could threaten True Immortals like them were “crises of death from the world”.

After king Pingdeng had left, Diting raised his head and asked, “Bodhisattva, will ‘that person’ be trapped in the Formless realm forever?”

Kṣitigarbha only said three words, “Comprehend emptiness.”

Diting shivered as if he had recalled a very horrible memory. “Sigh, everything about you is great, apart from the fact that you like to keep others guessing! Of course, I know. As long as he achieves the Four Dhyāna and Eight Samāpatti and sees the truth that emptiness is no other than form, then he can move through the Formless realm unhindered. However, he’s just a Ghost Immortal. He hasn’t even come close to Forging his Soul back into the Void yet! How is he supposed to comprehend emptiness?”

By the Four Dhyāna and Eight Samāpatti, that was also known as the Dhyāna and Samāpatti or meditation. It was the most important method of cultivation for buddhism.

The four was a subset of the eight, corresponding to the Form realm and the Formless realm. The Form realm was Dhyāna and the Formless realm was Arūpa-jhānas. They were also known as the four Rūpa-dhyāna and the four Ārūpyasamāpatti.

The four Rūpa-dhyāna were about comprehending form, while the four Ārūpyasamāpatti were about comprehending emptiness.

As mentioned by the Heart Sutra, “Form itself is emptiness, and emptiness itself is form. Form is no other than emptiness, and emptiness is no other than form.” It described four different realms of comprehension, as well as four stages to progress through, before reaching the highest realm.

On the great ice mountain, Li Qingshan comprehended that “reality arose from the heart”, seeing through the various forms and appearances of reality and reaching the realm of “form is no other than emptiness”, so he was no longer tormented by the various tortures. He achieved great liberty. That was “comprehending form”.

For many eminent monks of great wisdom and willpower, as long as they continued with their cultivation, they could all reach this realm.

However, even if they underwent the seventh heavenly tribulation and achieved the fruit of Arhat, they would not necessarily be able to take it one step further and comprehend “emptiness is no other than form”.

That was how difficult it was to comprehend emptiness.

Kṣitigarbha smiled silently.

……

“My name is Li Qingshan. I’ve already noticed that I’m actually a character from a comic…”

On the endless white land, Li Qingshan hugged his knees and muttered to himself like a broken robot.

Suddenly, he became furious. “But where’s the background? And the speech bubbles!?” This damned place is even worse than a comic!”

His anger came quickly and left quickly. His fury vanished the moment it was set alight. Who knew where it had gone.

He had once tried flying around randomly in search of that “fifth brother”, but even he himself was aware that there was no difference from remaining exactly where he was. The notion of distance only bore meaning when there was something else to refer to.

This process lasted for around three years. He did not take a single break in between. It was not like he could feel exhaustion. He just became more and more weary.

Time possessed no meaning either. Perhaps only an instant had passed since entering the mountains till now.

He missed the harsh tortures of hell very much. Over a short time frame, those tortures were unbearable, but once time was stretched indefinitely, it would become the most terrifying torment.

He even began to doubt himself. “Can I leave this place?”

Novel Notes

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