“There is no fixed Dharma called Supreme Enlightenment, and there is also no fixed Dharma the Tathagata can expound. Why? The Dharma the Tathagata expounds cannot be clung to and cannot be expressed; it is neither Dharma nor Not-Dharma...” For a moment, the food company’s second-floor corridor sounded as though an accomplished monk was giving a lecture. It was serene and solemn as a melodious voice echoed, but one would discover that the content wasn’t so if they listened carefully.
“The patient describes her mobility and mental state to be normal. Everything that’s normal is very normal. Her medical history states that she has seen her son every day for the past seven days. The frequency is at least once. Her son...” Shang Jianyao read out the contents of the medical record as if he were reciting Buddhist scriptures.
Furthermore, in order to match the Diamond Sutra scene he had chosen, he forcefully cut off the sentence and added the vocabulary in a special tone to accentuate the patient’s situation.
As the saying goes: Love whatever job you take up. Zen Master Redemption was a staunch believer of this mantra.
As for whether it would appear incongruous because of this, he didn’t mind. He just needed to express the meaning and act realistically.
Jiang Baimian and Long Yuehong didn’t think highly of his fantastical attempt. This was because this was Iron Mountain City’s Second Food Company in the psychological trauma of an Awakened, not the Buddhist Holy Land in reality.
Everything here was a result of the room owner’s experiences. Anything beyond this range was made up by his subconscious; it wasn’t the same as the real situation.
Therefore, unless the room owner had encountered a strange incident back then and had a certain level of self-awareness regarding this, the medical record from another Buddhist Holy Land—Long River City’s United Steel Plant—shouldn’t induce any special changes.
As he read, the cyborg monk Zen Master Redemption became increasingly solemn.
He felt the gaze in the dark becoming increasingly obvious and increasing in number. The gazes came from the room beside him, the ceiling above, the darkness in the stairwell, and the mottled spots on the walls.
Shang Jianyao was delighted instead of being shocked. To him, changes meant that his idea was on the path to success.
Of course, this could go both ways. This might bring about latent clues and benefit Shang Jianyao. On the other hand, there was a certain probability that the anomaly here would go from not having any ill intentions to a murderous attempt of killing the chanter. Shang Jianyao might thus end up trapped in this psychological trauma and become a vegetable or die in reality.
According to the plan, Jiang Baimian would shake him awake once she discovered the sudden change in his expression to see if they could grab back a portion of his consciousness.
Zen Master Redemption maintained his compassionate and calm state as he recited the contents of the medical record.
At this moment, figures walked out of the room where the professional woman—Liu Lu—was. Their eyes were turbid and bloodshot—Heartless.
These Heartless didn’t attack Shang Jianyao. Instead, they walked to his side and sat cross-legged around him like mountain ghosts undergoing enlightenment.
“Namo Annutara-Samyak-Subhuti...” Amidst Zen Master Redemption’s Buddhist proclamation, the professional woman named Liu Lu—who was wearing a white shirt and a blue suit—came to the corridor.
She looked at the cyborg monk and stood there in a daze.
Almost at the same time, Shang Jianyao noticed that the woman’s eyes were different from before. Her eyes were abnormally turbid, and the dense blood vessels made her look ferocious.
She has become a Heartless! Just as this thought flashed through Shang Jianyao’s mind, he heard a boom.
Iron Mountain City’s Second Food Company building collapsed! Chunks of reinforced concrete peeled off, falling into the incomparably dark abyss with numerous surrounding buildings.
This building wasn’t the only one that collapsed; the world was no exception!
As the psychological trauma collapsed, Shang Jianyao vaguely saw green light fly out from different parts of the food company’s building and burrow into the Six Senses Beads in his hand.
After the anomaly ended, he realized that he was standing at the entrance of Room 522. In front of him was a dark sea. On it cruised a cruise ship covered in barnacles, and behind it was a door that led to the corridor.
At the bonfire in the real world.
Jiang Baimian and Long Yuehong stood beside the grayish-green jeep and stared at Shang Jianyao inside. Suddenly, they smelled a fresh scent.
It was as if autumn and winter had finally passed, and spring had arrived. The grass was growing, and the orioles were flying.
The two of them subconsciously looked around and realized that green shoots were sprouting from the trees that were nearly barren, instantly taking shape.
On the ground beside him, weeds drilled out of the dry soil and condensed droplets of dew.
This... Long Yuehong blinked and saw that things had returned to their previous state.
This was the periphery of Old Mountain in late autumn.
Jiang Baimian cast her gaze at Shang Jianyao in the car and saw that he had opened his eyes at some point in time.
Clap! Clap! Clap!
Shang Jianyao clapped.
Although this action was baffling, it calmed Jiang Baimian and Long Yuehong down significantly.
“Why are you suddenly clapping?” Jiang Baimian heaved a sigh of relief.
Shang Jianyao replied truthfully, “Cheering for myself!”
Before Long Yuehong could react, Jiang Baimian’s heart palpitated. “It worked?”
“Yes.” Shang Jianyao nodded. As he crawled out of the jeep, he said, “Those patrons admire the Buddhist Dharma and have already converted to Subhuti...”
“Speak human.” Jiang Baimian interrupted Shang Jianyao’s description.
Shang Jianyao didn’t embellish the story any further. He recited his attempt of reading the medical record as if he were teaching the Buddhist Dharma, resulting in the Heartless sitting cross-legged around him to listen.
He recounted everything without missing any details. This included the professional woman showing her Heartless side and the collapse of the world formed by the psychological trauma.
“She actually became a Heartless?” Long Yuehong was greatly shocked. Could it be that the contents of the medical record really belong to the Buddhist Dharma? Could the ‘ghost’ that possessed the professional woman, Liu Lu, end up exorcised because of this? This also resulted in Liu Lu contracting the Heartless disease?
Jiang Baimian pondered for a moment and replied, “Maybe it didn’t become that but that it was originally so.”
Shang Jianyao immediately echoed, “That’s right. It’s very likely that Liu Lu contracted the Heartless disease when the Old World was destroyed. But after her body was occupied by that person with Destiny Connection, she showed a normal side.”
This is indeed more reasonable and logical... Long Yuehong was convinced.
Jiang Baimian had a doubt. “If Destiny Connection can target Heartless and allow one to occupy their bodies for prolonged periods, it’s impossible for the person possessing Liu Lu to die as Liu Lu’s body deteriorates. There’s definitely no lack of Heartless in such a city ruin.”
“Maybe he really didn’t die.” Shang Jianyao stroked his chin.
Long Yuehong joined in the discussion. “Then, why did the food company return to normal many years later?”
Shang Jianyao laughed. “First, it might just be what the room owner thinks is normal. Second, after he discovered that he can possess other Heartless, he used them as springboards to leave the Iron Mountain City ruins and go somewhere.”
“It’s all possible.” Jiang Baimian asked thoughtfully, “If it’s the latter, where could that somewhere be?”
Shang Jianyao had already thought about it. “New World. A place with the New World’s door in reality.”
This was also a place Du Heng said he was searching for.
Jiang Baimian fell silent for a moment before realizing that there was no way to discuss this track of speculation because there were no substantial clues.
She then considered another question. “The recital of that medical record was actually effective... There are indeed some things lurking in that psychological trauma, and the two Holy Lands of Buddhism are sufficiently related.”
Without waiting for Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong’s response, she came up with a guess. “Could it be that Fan Wensi’s son—who became a vegetable and was sent to a place in the north for experimental treatment—is the one missing from the food company’s employee introduction board?”
Long Yuehong was inexplicably terrified and thought for a moment. “The timing doesn’t match. Fan Wensi’s son had an accident a few years before the Old World was destroyed and became a vegetable. How can the food company still keep his photo and introduction for so long without hiring new employees? He doesn’t seem like a particularly important person.”
He meant that even if Fan Wensi’s son had worked at the food company, the missing photo and introduction on the employee introduction board definitely weren’t his. New employee photos and introductions definitely would’ve occupied the corresponding spot after several years.
“That makes sense.” Jiang Baimian agreed with Long Yuehong’s analysis.
Shang Jianyao didn’t retort and only mentioned, “I now feel that Fan Wensi’s daily sighting of her son who’s far in the north without being able to approach or confirm it is a little like the hidden gaze from the food company.”
“There might be a key connection hidden here.” Jiang Baimian nodded slightly.
At this moment, the Shang Jianyaos sent another person out. He gave up on the discussion and bragged. “My Six Senses Beads have changed. It’s stronger!”
At night, in a room somewhere.
An elder with grizzled hair suddenly woke up. Then, he walked to the window and looked out at the surging sea.
He had a dream—an experience from his youth. This dream was so clear that he suspected that someone had entered his Mind Room and touched the psychological trauma.
But for the experienced him, the dream this time was different from a dream of someone exploring the depths of his mind world.
It was too clear and consistent, making the elder feel like his memories had been awakened and flipped through.
As he recalled, his body suddenly froze. He realized that one of his memories of that experience wasn’t clear enough and was something he didn’t care much about. Now, it was like an Old World movie replaying in his mind again.
After returning to Iron Mountain City’s Second Food Company for the fourth time and finally defeating the psychological trauma, the elder vaguely heard something when he left. But when he looked back, everything was normal. The anomaly that needed to be dealt with had long vanished.
At this moment, the elder finally recalled and figured out what the ‘something’ was. When he left Iron Mountain City’s Second Food Company, a sigh came from the depths of the building—a faint sigh.