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Chapter 213 - A Myriad of Monolith Comprehension Methods (Part Three)
Comprehending the monoliths was not deciphering some sort of riddle, because those complex lines and patterns were not a question, but a message. Comprehending the monoliths was understanding the messages on the Heavenly Tome Monoliths. Since the Heavenly Tome Monoliths were not questions, then there were naturally no standard solutions.
It was just like the stars shining upon the many rivers. When the same stars shone upon different rivers, they each would have their own kind of beauty—the inscriptions of the Heavenly Tome Monolith’s did not change, but how they were understood was up to each viewer. According to the viewer’s scholarly attainments, level of cultivation, and life experiences, identical monolith inscriptions would inevitably be interpreted differently. In that case, what sort of interpretation was correct? It was as mentioned before, there were no standard solutions. The Heavenly Tome Monoliths did not speak, and only used the simplest, yet most mysterious method of judgment.
For however many years the Heavenly Tome Monoliths had rested on the continent, humanity had attempted to understand them. They had already developed countless methods, even schools of thought, for comprehending the monoliths. Even now, there were dozens of schools of thought that were still used or mentioned. There were three most respected methods amongst these that could be considered mainstream.
The school of thought which had the most authority was the Orthodoxy’s Li Palace method. Their method of comprehending the monoliths emphasized clinging to shape, and that the patterns represented the paths through which true essence traveled. The school of the southern sects, namely the Holy Maiden Peak, was to subtly extract the meaning. They believed that the method of understanding the Monolith Inscriptions should not be so inflexible, and believed that they could comprehend the inscriptions through the use of their spiritual sense. The third school’s method seemed to balance the special points of both the North and the South on the surface, but in reality, it just as stubbornly believed that the monolith inscriptions were clearly all the results of sword intent, sword forms, and sword moves. This school was known as the technique school.
The method of comprehending the Heavenly Tome Monoliths was an extremely important matter. The disagreements on methods probably played no small role in the splintering of the Orthodoxy into the North and the South. Right up until present times, the Holy Maiden Peak’s southern cultivators still held a grudge over the authority that the Li Palace had over the Heavenly Tome Monoliths. Since each of the methods emphasized different things, different cultivators would naturally comprehend different things from the monoliths. The most miraculous thing was that, regardless of whether it was Li Palace’s method or the Holy Maiden Peak’s method, they both worked in some sense. When cultivators entered the Mausoleum of Books, they would inevitably gain things. The cultivators who succeeded would then firmly believe that the method they had used was the correct one. The other schools of thought simply used tricks; it was believed that even if they succeeded in comprehending the monoliths, they would ultimately be moving farther and farther away from the Great Dao.
As a person of Zhou, Tang Thirty-Six inevitably felt that the Li Palace’s method was correct. Guan Feibai was a disciple of the Mount Li Sword Sect, so of course he felt the mind method of comprehending the monoliths was the only correct path. When he heard the tone of Tang Thirty-Six’s voice, he could no longer refrain from speaking out. Through the door separating them, he mocked Tang Thirty-Six. Tang Thirty-Six had the sort of temperament where even if someone did not provoke him, he would still insult their close ones. Obviously, in this situation where he was provoked in such a manner, his expression abruptly changed, and he could not hold back anymore. A stream of expletives flew from his lips, and after a few moments, the grass hut became filled with arguments and ceaseless battle.
Some time later, Tang Thirty-Six and Guan Feibai finally got tired, and tranquility was restored. Then, with the door as a divider, the inner room and outer room split into two similar scenes. In the outside room, Guan Feibai, Liang Banhu, and Qi Jian looked at their senior Gou Hanshi. In the inner room, Tang Thirty-Six and Zhexiu stared at Chen Changsheng in silence.
From the Ivy League Gathering to the Grand Examination, the Orthodox Academy and the Mount Li Sword Sect had been at odds with each other. Regardless of whether it was Chen Changsheng’s and Xu Yourong’s engagement, or their successive series of battles, the grudges between the two of them were too many to count. Although Zhexiu had come later, he had fought in the Grand Examination with the intent of opening the way for Chen Changsheng, and had defeated Qi Jian and Guan Feibai with a fierce hand. In the eyes of the Mount Li Sword Sect, he was just as deserving of their hate. However, under the control of Gou Hanshi and Chen Changsheng, this hostile mood did not get out of control. Last night, the two sides had slept under the same roof, but this did not mean the end of their resentments. Now that the debate, or quarrel, between Tang Thirty-Six and Guan Feibai had escalated up to this point, it was difficult to continue. Naturally, someone had to come in and decide the winner.
Naturally, their hopes rested on the two that had studied the Daoist Canons, Gou Hanshi and Chen Changsheng..
A gust of night wind came in, causing the wooden door to slowly creak open. The four disciples of the Li Shan Sword Sect and the three from the Orthodox Academy stared at each other in deathly silence.
Gou Hanshi suddenly asked Chen Changsheng, “Which method do you think is the most feasible?”
He did not ask which one was right, because there was no right or wrong for this sort of thing.
Chen Changsheng thought it over, not immediately answering.
The Daoist Canons elaborated on many methods for comprehending the monoliths. As for the three main school, their accounts were even more exhaustive. Since Chen Changsheng had studied the Daoist Canons, he naturally knew these methods by heart. But for some reason, when he had viewed the Reflecting Monolith today, he had purposely not used any of the three methods. Instead, he had walked upon a new, stranger, and inevitably more difficult path.
“I believe…that none of these three methods are necessarily correct.”
He gave an answer that no one had expected. In addition, he had used the word “correct”, indicating that he believed the question to have a right and wrong.
Upon hearing these words, everyone in the grass hut was shocked, including Tang Thirty-Six.
Gou Hanshi frowned. “Don’t tell me you believe the Heavenly Book is indecipherable?”
The Continent had many methods for comprehending the monoliths, but there were also many people, including priests in the Orthodoxy, that believed that the Heavenly Book could not be comprehended. All the attempts to understand the Monolith Inscriptions were absurd and ridiculous. Even if someone possessing incredible wisdom came, they would only be able to understand the message that the Monolith Inscriptions wanted to give them. They would be incapable of seeing the Heavenly Dao’s true meaning.
“No, I only think that the schools of thought today have all deviated from the Heavenly Tome Monolith’s original meaning.”
Chen Changsheng plainly explained, “Regardless of whether it is adhering to the shape, extracting meaning, or imitating techniques, the goals of all these methods of comprehension is to cultivate the Dao. But in reality, the earliest humans that viewed the Heavenly Tome Monoliths, or more precisely, the first person that ever understood the Heavenly Tome Monoliths, certainly did not know how to cultivate…so I believe all three methods are incorrect.”
The grass hut became very quiet because everyone realized that Chen Changsheng’s argument was very reasonable. But Gou Hanshi shook his head. “Those who cannot cultivate would naturally be unable to comprehend the methods of cultivations, but we can cultivate…it’s just like a child that doesn’t know how to read; hey would never be able to understand the beauty in songs and poems, but we can. According to your logic, wouldn’t we have to completely rid ourselves of our knowledge and turn into ignorant children before we can understand the original meaning of the Heavenly Tome Monoliths?”
Not convinced, Tang Thirty-Six asked, “The child in the bosom is pure and innocent, thus it can be close to the Great Dao. The Daoist Scriptures have always said this…what if that’s true?”
“Discarding the sacred and casting away knowledge doesn’t mean that we would really become idiots.” Qi Jian softly replied.
Gou Hanshi raised his hand, indicating that now was not the time to discuss this question. Turning to Chen Changsheng, he asked, “In that case, what sort of method did you use to comprehend the monolith today?”
Chen Changsheng concealed nothing, relaying the observations he had made of the monolith before dawn, as well as the changes in the scenery that he had observed in the courtyard. “If the Monolith Inscriptions are unchanging in meaning, why is it that the messages that everyone comprehends are completely different? That’s why I believe that the meaning of the Monolith Inscriptions is within these changes.”
Gou Hanshi remembered something and asked, “Seven hundred years ago, the Prince of Ruyang Chen Zi entered the Mausoleum of Books to view the monoliths and wrote an essay on this matter. He seems to have had a similar view on it as you..”
“Yes.” Chen Changsheng continued, “The Prince of Ruyang used one year to grasp the meaning of seventeen monoliths. Amongst the imperial family, he would rank in the top ten.”
“I still believe that this method is not feasible.”
Chen Changsheng seriously asked, “Why?”
“Because the monoliths of the front mausoleum are already extremely complicated. A cool breeze, the starry sky, the scorching sun, the night snow; the changes in light are even harder to keep track of. It’s simply impossible to make a thorough examination. The sampling of one person’s observations is simply too small. Even if you disregarded all this, you would still need to select a target in order to determine any changes with time. How would you choose this?”
After a moment’s thought, Chen Changsheng replied, “Intuition.”
Gou Hanshi said nothing more.
The grass hut grew quiet once again.
The Heavenly Book was indecipherable, yet it could also be comprehended at any time. On the surface, it seemed like all the methods described by these youths were all reasonable.
Different cultivators had different methods of comprehending the monoliths, stating this sort of thing was meaningless.
After some hesitation, Qi Jian asked, “How did you think of this method?...It’s too far off the beaten path.”
Chen Changsheng chuckled. “The world has a myriad of monolith comprehension methods. I only have one question: are they easy to be used?”
“It makes sense. It’s just like the dried meat you cooked; regardless of whether it was cooked with sugar or onions and garlic, you only need to ask one question: does it taste good?”
Gou Hanshi smiled, but then he restrained himself. He sternly warned Chen Changsheng, “But I advise you not to tell anyone about this.”
Chen Changsheng was stunned by these words, but then realized what they meant.
If he was still that young daoist from Xining village that had just arrived at the capital, who would care about what method he used to comprehend the monoliths? No one would have paid him any attention. However, by this point his status had gone through a great transformation. In a variety of ways, he had been chosen by the Li Palace. To the eyes of the world, his many actions were possibly a reflection of the Orthodoxy’s will.
Zhexiu, who had remained silent this entire time, suddenly opened his mouth. He expressionlessly told the four from the Mount Li Sword Sect, “Now we have to see what you all think.”
Gou Hanshi laughed, but said nothing. Although his nature was mild, he still had his own pride.
They all stopped discussing it and began to wash their faces and prepare for bed.
As Chen Changsheng was putting away his notebook, he suddenly thought of something. Walking to the outer room, he handed his notebook over to Gou Hanshi. “Can you take a look at this? I drew it by relying on my senses.”
Gou Hanshi felt a bit uneasy. The debate before had been one thing, to give one’s notes on the Monolith Inscriptions to another was yet another thing. He thought it over, then took out a small booklet from his chest and handed it to Chen Changsheng. “Before I entered the Mausoleum of Books, I made some preparations. This booklet contains some of my notes.”
Chen Changsheng laughed, Gou Hanshi also laughed. The two exchanged glances, then suddenly went quiet. The smiles on their faces slowly disappeared, only to be replaced with expressions of shock.
The youths that had finished washing their faces saw this sort of scene upon returning to the room.
“It should be somewhere in the room.” Gou Hanshi said.
Chen Changsheng replied, “It’s not in the blankets. When I was folding them during the day, I didn’t see any sort of notes. I didn’t even see a sheet of paper.”
Puzzled, Tang Thirty-Six rubbed his wet hair. “What are you guys talking about?”
“Xun Mei’s notebook.” Chen Changsheng and Gou Hanshi chorused in unison.
Immediately afterwards, they simultaneously turned around to rummage through the things in the room.