Book 30 Chapter 7 – One Finger Zen
‘Knock! Knock! Knock!’
Kou Zhong, who was sitting in the chair, sleeping soundly, was awakened by the knock on the door. He originally just wanted to sit down for a while, while waiting for the young madame’s summon to ‘treat’ their Sha Laoyezi’s illness. Who would have thought that these days, day and night, he was hastening on with his journey without a break, that he was so weary and was unable to stay awake. As soon as he fell asleep, the sky turned hazy, the earth turned dark, as if he was drunk with wine.
Standing up still in daze, he found out that the bright morning sun had unexpectedly turned into the glow of the setting sun. Greatly astonished, he wondered why the Sha Family did not even invite him for lunch?
Stretching his limbs, he casually unwrapped the oilcloth that he used to conceal the Moon in the Well, and then hung it on his back first before opening the door. Immediately his eyes brightened.
Outside the door, other than Sha Fu, there was a pretty, slim young woman wearing magnificent clothes, who was sizing him up and down with her big, round eyes, as if she wanted to see through him. Her gaze was straightforward and bold.
Sha Fu introduced her, “This is our Wu Xiaojie [Fifth Miss]. We have been here twice, but seeing Mo Ye was sound asleep, we did not dare to disturb you.”
Kou Zhong saluted and said, “Mo this … hey! I am paying my respect to Wu Xiaojie!”
A look of disdain flitted across her face, but quickly disappeared. Evidently this Fifth Miss did not have too good of an impression of Kou Zhong’s ugly appearance. She let out a forced smile first before perfunctorily returning the greeting and spoke indifferently, “Has Mo Xiansheng recovered enough spirit?”
Kou Zhong only wished that the ship would sail straight to Guanzhong. Besides, even he himself was less than impressed toward his current appearance; naturally he did not bother to argue with her. Stretching his limbs again, he smiled and said, “No problem! Do you want me to treat Laoyezi’s illness now?”
Showing an awkward expression, Sha Fu spoke haltingly, “This …”
Fifth Miss Sha cut him off, “Mo Xiansheng, please return to your room first, Zhijing wants to consult Mister on some medical problem.”
Kou Zhong was disappointed, but he understood. It must be because the Third Master Sha went to Old Madame Sha to ask for direction that Old Madame Sha sent the Fifth Miss Sha Zhijing to test him, to see whether he had enough qualifications to treat the Old Master’s illness.
This kind of influential family was certainly complicated, but he also groaned inwardly; what did he know that he would be able to answer her medical-related questions? As soon as he spoke one or two wrong things, he would immediately reveal the cloven foot. But since his debut, what kind of situation he had not seen?
Laughing aloud, he took a step out of the door. Sha Fu and Sha Zhijing were greatly surprised; naturally they stepped back to get out of his way.
Kou Zhong continued striding toward the cabin door. Sha Fu ran after him and pulled his sleeve, asking anxiously, “Mo Ye, where are you going?”
Kou Zhong replied, “Naturally to jump out of the boat to return ashore. Since you don’t believe my medical skill, why would I want to stay?”
Sha Fu hastily said, “Mo Ye misunderstood! Wu Xiaojie did not mean it like that; it’s just because Wu Xiaojie has studied medical skill that she wanted to discuss Laoye’s illness with Mo Ye first!”
How could Kou Zhong really want to leave the boat? He just wanted to use retreat to advance, to avoid making a fool of himself.
“Oh,” he mumbled. Then he turned around to face the Fifth Miss Sha Zhijing, whose pretty face has turned pale from anger, and said, “So that’s how it is! My temperament is just like this; I eat soft food, but refuse hard food [idiom: amenable to coaxing but not coercion].”
Under Sha Fu signaling her with his eyes, Sha Zhijing halted her delicate steps. Fuming in anger, she said, “Come then!”
Kou Zhong and Sha Fu followed behind her graceful, enchanting back as they walked toward the main cabin. Crossing over the doorstep, entering the destination and seeing the situation, Kou Zhong jumped in fright.
While admittedly the spacious cabin was beautiful and was arranged in excellent taste, from the decoration to each table and each chair, which none was not extremely exquisite – the cabin itself was full with more than a dozen men and women, with every single eye was fixed on Kou Zhong, this Divine Doctor’s nephew.
Old Master Sha was about fifty years old, his appearance majestic, only he had a sickly look on his face. He was sitting, half-reclining on the couch at the end of the cabin; by his side was, naturally Old Madame Sha. She also looked graceful and luxurious, with grand, auspicious and peaceful appearance, which matched Old Master Sha very well.
The other men and women sat to the left and right. The one sitting by the Third Madame Cheng Bisu ought to be the Third Young Master. He looked cultured, handsome and charming, brimming with educated, scholarly impression, provoking other people’s good impression.
The First Young Master and the Second Young Master were also very easy to recognize. The former was around thirty years old; he looked astute and experienced, like someone who would not easily trust others. The latter was pompous looking, arrogant and conceited, typical look of the younger generation of rich, influential family.
The other people ought to be the wives, concubines, maids and servants of the family. Chen Laiman and five others family warriors were sitting on the seats near the entrance.
Most people in the cabin certainly never thought that Kou Zhong would look this ugly and vulgar; all showed contempt.
Kou Zhong’s eyes swept around. While those meeting his gaze were dazzled, Old Madame Sha said, “Has Mo Xiansheng had enough rest?”
As her amiable voice entered his ears, from the bottom of his heart Kou Zhong felt very comfortable. Saluting, he said, “Thank you very much for Lao Furen’s [old madame] concern. Biren has always been a boorish man who don’t understand etiquette, Lao Furen please do not take offense.”
Standing next to him, Sha Zhijing let out a cold snort; apparently she agreed with his admission that he was a boorish man. Without saying anything she sat down on the side.
It was clear that Sha Fu’s position within the Sha Family was quite high. He was showing utmost consideration toward Kou Zhong. Patting Kou Zhong’s shoulder, he pointed to the empty chair next to Old Master Sha’s couch – on the other side of Old Madame Sha – and said, “Mo Ye, please sit down!”
Under most people’s distrust gaze, Kou Zhong hardened his scalp to sit down next to Old Master Sha, who was just closing his eyes weakly. “Would you mind letting Biren check Laoyezi’s [old master] pulse first?” he asked.
With encouraging tone, the Third Madame Cheng Bisu said, “We’ll have to trouble Mo Xiansheng.”
The First and Second Young Masters did not show much of an expression, but the women by their sides, none did not show disdain and envy; it seemed that all of them were wishing that the man Cheng Bisu invited would make a fool of himself and fail to treat the Old Master’s serious illness.
Under the crowd’s staring eyes, Kou Zhong clumsily stretched out his thumb and pressed it on the vein of Old Master Sha’s wrist resting on the chair handle.
First Young Master said in astonishment, “All doctors examining the pulse would use three fingers separately pressed on cun, guan, and chi, three vital points; why is it that not only Mo Xiansheng only use one finger, the finger you are using is a thumb? What’s the difference?”
He might not be good at anything else, but in inventing crazy nonsense, Kou Zhong was a first-class master. Clearing his throat, he said, “The big street has no door, emptiness absolutely has a road. Xiaoren’s skill, One Finger Zen, was created by Jiashu, no one else knows about it.”
The first two sentences were borrowed from the Chanzong Sizu’s Daoxin Dashi; while ‘One Finger Zen’ was Jiaxiang’s Buddhist school’s consummate skill. Everybody of the Sha Family in the hall felt that it was a strange, mysterious, difficult-to-understand, unfathomable, and profound – principle; nobody dared to question anymore.
Old Madame Sha said, “Jiu’er, you must not disturb Mo Xiansheng.”
Kou Zhong was beginning to understand why for such a simple thing like calling on a doctor to treat the sick the Third Young Madame Cheng Bisu wanted her husband to ask for the Old Madame’s to preside over it, because it was something that was not easy for the daughter-in-law of an influential family to do.
The true qi that he sent into the Old Master Sha’s meridians already made one round; he discovered that although the Old Master’s Twelve Regular Channels were clogged up and did not flow unimpeded, the real problem was located at the Ren and Du, two meridians.
While he was hesitant on whether he should transmit his qi to remove the blockage, the Second Young Master, with a hint of ridicule on the corner of his mouth, said with a cold laugh, “Physicians examining an illness, they usually pay particular attention to visual observation and asking questions, yet Mo Xiansheng seems like only repeatedly feeling the pulse. I wonder how Jiafu’s [(polite) my father] illness is, perhaps I could trouble Mister to explain one or two.”
Naturally Kou Zhong did not have any qualifications to talk about patient’s condition; but he had already judged that if he recklessly opened Old Master Sha’s Ren and Du, two meridians, perhaps due to his qi deficiency, he might even give up his ghost, and that would be thoroughly terrible. Gritting his teeth, he sent his true qi straight into the taiyang [sun] fei [lung] passage, and then into zhongjiao [central burning], lower dachang [large intestine] passage, and back to weikou [appetite], along and up to feige [lung diaphragm], toward the yexia [underarm], flowing through the shaoyang [minor yang (sun)] xinzhu [heart primary] passage, and continued on along the arm, finally exited via the thumb.
Everywhere it went, the true qi from the Secret to Long Life crashed through the blocked meridians like a hot knife through butter, so that all meridians were wide open and linked up with each other.
While everybody thought that he was unable to respond, the Old Master cried out, “Ah!” and opened his eyes. The originally dispirited eyes recovered not a few of vigor.
Greatly delighted, the Old Madame said, “Laoye, how are you feeling?”
The Old Master Sha responded hoarsely, “Mo Xiansheng’s medical expertise is truly divine. The pit of my stomach no longer felt tight and painful! My hands and feet also seem to recover a little bit of strength.”
Inwardly, Kou Zhong was greatly confident, knowing that his ‘Secret to Long Life’ qigong indeed had the ‘medicine arrives the illness is gone’ capability. Laughing aloud, he said, “Laoye, don’t worry. I have a hundred percent confidence that I can cure your illness. Does Laoyezi has any appetite? Please eat a little bit and have a good sleep. After that I will use the One Finger Zen again to treat Laoye.”
Nobody in the hall expected that his medical expertise was this magical; everybody was dumbstruck, they could not believe the fact before their eyes.
Six cargo ships slowly docked.
This fleet of Xing Chang Long’s cargo ships was under Tian Santang’s personal supervision. Apart from the helpers, there were a total of fifty-three warriors on board, including Xu Ziling, the newly-recruited martial art master.
Due to the full load of salt, the hull was deep in the water. On top of that, they were traveling to the west, where the river was flowing more and more rapidly, so that they had to sail along the river course that was full of rocks and sandbars. Even for veterans who knew the waterway very well, sailing against the current like this was quite dangerous; therefore, they could only sail during the day, and had to cast anchor near the shore at night.
But this was also a good time for the enemy to strike; therefore, the entire crew was not allowed to leave the ships. The warriors were split into two groups to take turn in night-guard duty.
Xu Ziling was recommended by Hong Nong Bang, plus Tian Santang thought highly of him; therefore, the three warriors who had seen his swordsmanship, Chen Liang, Wu Dengshan, and Liu Shiwen were particularly fawning on him, trying to be friends with him. But this also incurred suspicion, jealousy, and repulsion from another group, a small circle of warriors who were originally the leaders of the bodyguards, with Liang Juzhong at the center.
Naturally Xu Ziling would not take them to heart; seeing that they did not dare to be excessive and only threw a bit of mocking and ridicule his way, he simply regarded them as the wind past his ears. Naturally he would not bow down to try to win their friendship either.
During dinner, the warriors automatically eat with those of their own clique. Xu Ziling’s table had the least number of people. Other than Chen Liang, Wu Dengshan, and Liu Shiwen, there were several warriors who were friends with the three, plus some who were relatively neutral. The atmosphere was quite lively.
Taking advantage of Tian Santang going ashore to take care of some business, Liang Juzhong’s clique decided to stir up some trouble. A warrior who was sitting by Liang Juzhong’s side stood up and came over, “Mo Xiong!” he called, “I heard Tian Ye said that your sword technique is extremely formidable; I wonder if you could let our brothers to gain first-hand knowledge of it?”
In the entire cabin immediately the crow and peacock made no sound. Everybody knew that Liang Juzhong’s side was deliberately provocative so that Xu Ziling, this ‘Mo Wei’ would give them a good show.
Among the three warriors who were friendly toward Xu Ziling, Chen Liang was the oldest, plus he had the highest seniority; he was not afraid of Liang Juzhong’s clique at all. “We are all brothers, harmony is to be prized,” he spoke in displeasure, “If we fight and someone is hurt, when Tian Ye return, he won’t be happy. Hu Hai, go back and eat! Perhaps something is going to happen tonight.”
While Hu Hai’s countenance sank, another warrior from Liang Juzhong’s table laughed grimly and said, “Chen Laoxiu [old rotten], why are you so serious? When Tian Ye is not present, Liang Ye is in charge of the overall situation. He wants to see clearly every brother’s depth, so that when something happens, he would know how to split us up to deal with it. We all just want to be clear; what fight are you talking about?”
Liang Juzhong’s table and the table next to it had twenty men altogether; they booed and jeered together.
Receiving a boost of morale, Hu Hai said, “Well said! It is because we think highly of Mo Xiong that we want to grasp Mo Xiong’s foundation! How about Mo Xiong and I, Hu Hai, play for a couple of strokes to let Liang Ye see it. Are you not going to give Liang Ye a little bit of face?”
Liang Juzhong let out a cold snort. Immediately the atmosphere tensed up.
Xu Ziling drew his sword. Without saying anything he stabbed Hu Hai. The crowd was flabbergasted. They saw Hu Hai’s expression was like he was falling into a nightmare and was struggling endlessly, yet was completely unable to break away.
Clearly he had enough time to evade, yet he simply acted like a fool craning his neck waiting to be chopped, letting Xu Ziling’s sword to pierce his throat, without being able to make any move or react.
Cold sweats seeped down from Hu Hai’s forehead; just now when the other party stabbed the sword, it contained a huge sucking power. It looked slow, but was actually very fast, so that even if he wanted to dodge, he was simply unable to do so.
The hall was so quiet that a falling needle would have been heard.
None of the men on Liang Juzhong’s side did not have his countenance changed, simply because they knew Hu Hai’s martial art skill very well, which was barely below Liang Juzhong’s.
The sword returned to its sheath; as fast as lightning, as accurate as a spirit snake seeking its way back to its hole.
Acting as if what just happened was a trivial thing, Xu Ziling spoke indifferently, “My sword is to be used to deal with outside enemy, not to deal with our own side. Since we are all brothers, the smartest thing everybody can do is to be one mind in resisting outside threat. The more Xing Chang Long prospers, the more everybody will enjoy better days.”
Frightened by his peerless sword, Hu Hai was dumbstruck and unable to reply.
A burst of applause came from the main door. They saw Tian Santang, accompanied by a dignified-build, tall and straight – young master, coming into the cabin; both had a smile on their faces as they praised Xu Ziling’s demonstration of his divine skill.
The crowd of warriors stood up together to salute; they greeted in loud voice, “Qi Shaoye [seventh young master] is here!”
As Xu Ziling also stood up following everybody else, Chen Liang whispered in his ear, “This is our Da Laoban’s [big boss] seventh son, Bu Ting. He is the last disciple [lit. disciple as one is closing the door] of Guanzhong Jian Pai [sword sect] Zhangmen Ren [sect leader/headmaster] Qiu Wensheng. He suddenly graces us with his presence, something must have happened.”
The One Finger Zen demonstrated its marvelous efficacy, immediately Kou Zhong’s position differed greatly. Not only he was invited to join the meals, Old Madame Sha even formally invited him to come with them to Guanzhong, so that along the way he could continue treating Old Master Sha’s illness.
But Kou Zhong knew his own limitation; making an excuse that he must research the best way to treat the illness behind closed door, he tactfully declined the banquet on the Sha Family’s ship. He returned to his room to enjoy, at his leisure, the sumptuous dinner delivered by Old Madame’s personal maid, Bao’er, while also turning his mind over on how to treat the Old Master’s illness.
Forget about the elderly with weak body and much sickness, even ordinary strong men, if their meridians were casually opened by using true qi, due to the recipient did not know how to control it, it could easily lead to fire deviation.
Just now he did not put the Old Master’s life in danger, simply because the meridians he opened were all unrelated to life and death. But if he really wanted to cure his illness, it would be a lot more complicated. Particularly, it involved Ren and Du, two major meridians; therefore, he must not act recklessly even more.
While thinking about it, suddenly he heard footsteps along the corridor outside his door. Two pretty maids were talking about him in low voice. One of the maids said, “This Divine Doctor Mo has a real ability; no need to use needles, no need to use medicine, just using his finger pressing on Laoye’s wrist, he already see a lot of improvement. It is really hard to believe.”
The other maid said, “I wonder if we could see him too? Since I got on the boat, I have had dizzy spell and headaches; my four limbs feel lacking in strength.”
The footsteps were going away.
Kou Zhong slapped his thigh, his spirit was greatly aroused. He pondered, ‘If I have several of his mother’s acupuncture needles [lit. gold needles], I can stimulate different acupoints at the same time, while regulating the input of the Secret to Long Life’s true qi; perhaps I can really restraint and harmonize, or even cure Laoyezi’s I-don’t-know-what-illness-of-illnesses that is’. Thinking to this point, he felt as if he had indeed become half of a Divine Doctor.
Being able to help people was always a joy. The problem was that he did not even have half a needle in his possession. He could not, as the magnificent Divine Doctor Mo, ask someone else to procure a set of moxibustion needle for him. Besides, he promised to treat the Old Master’s illness in the morning. If there was no other improvement and efficacy, his rising prestige as the Divine Doctor would take a big hit.
Moreover, the true qi piercing through the acupoints he injected just now could only be effective for a moment, very quickly the Old Master would return to his former condition.
All these problems were giving him headache, making him nearly wanted to find another Divine Doctor to take charge.
Right this moment the pretty maid Bao’er returned to clean up the bowls and chopsticks for him; hardening his scalp, Kou Zhong said, “Bao’er Jie, is it possible to ask Wu Xiaojie to come and have a little bit of talk?”
Bao’er’s face showed a difficult expression; she replied, “In this matter, we have to ask Lao Furen [old madame] for approval.”
Kou Zhong said, “It’s only because Wu Xiaojie is proficient in medical skill, which naturally she has special understanding of Laoyezi’s illness – that I wanted to consult her for a thing or two; nothing more than that.”
Bao’er finally agreed; nodding her head, she said, “In that case, let Xiaobi [little maid] talk to Wu Xiaojie and see what she says.”
A moment later, Bao’er returned to invite Kou Zhong into the cabin hall. The Sha Family’s young masters and their wives and concubines have returned to their rooms to rest, as the Fifth Miss, accompanied by her personal maid Xiao Lan, with cold and indifferent expression, received Kou Zhong.
“What is it that Mo Xiansheng wanted to consult?” she asked.
After asking a few random questions, Kou Zhong said, “Laoyezi’s illness is serious, I am afraid just One Finger Zen would not be able to cure him completely, we must supplement it with acupuncture needles technique to make it work. Ay! But I lost that set of needles on the journey! I wonder …”
A bit impatient, Sha Zhijing cut him off, “What kind of needles Mo Xiansheng is accustomed to using?”
Kou Zhong nearly grabbed his head; without any choice he asked in return, “Which needles Wu Xiaojie has?”
Sha Zhijing crossly replied, “There are chan zhen, yuan zhen, kun zhen, feng zhen, suo zhen, yuan li zhen, hao zhen, chang zhen, da zhen, a total of nine different kinds of needles.” [Translator’s note: in all cases, zhen means needle; since I don’t have any clue of what they are, I am afraid if I tried to translate them, I would only make a fool of myself. According to http://www.acupuncturemoxibustion.com/acupuncture/nine-classical-needles/, they are: filiform needle, shear needle, round-pointed needle, spoon needle, lance needle, round-sharp needle, stiletto needle, long needle and big needle.]
Kou Zhong’s head swelled up; with a hollow laugh he said, “It would be better to lend Biren all those needles, so that I could use them for different situations.”
Her eyebrows deeply knitted, Sha Zhijing said, “Nine different needles have their own proper use; the length, the size, each one is for a specific purpose. If they are not used properly, how could they cure an illness?”
How could Kou Zhong dare to have a debate with her in medical knowledge? Revealing an enigmatic smile to conceal his embarrassment, he said, “Jiashu knew that Biren is dull-witted, hence he talked less about the method, but more about the application. Wu Xiaojie, if you think needles can cure Laoyezi’s illness, would it bother Miss to lend me the needles for my use?”
The Fifth Miss was not interested to continue talking to him. Standing up, she said, “According to Mo Xiansheng’s diagnosis, what illness does Jiafu actually suffer?”
Kou Zhong has always tried with a thousand ways, a hundred plans to avoid this dreaded question. At this moment he could no longer avoid it; remembering the condition of Old Master Sha’s meridians, where the yin was growing but the yang was exhausted, hardening his scalp, he said, “In Laoyezi’s inner organs, the yin is flourishing, while the yang is empty. Could it be that it was caused by prolonged anxiety?”
The last sentence was purely a speculation, because he noticed that the entire Sha Family was moving away from Luoyang, there must be a mishap that was kept hidden from outsiders.
The Fifth Miss muttered to herself irresolutely for half a day. As if agreeing with his diagnosis, she slightly nodded her head and said, “When Mo Xiansheng is treating Jiafu’s illness tomorrow, you will have the moxibustion needles ready for Mister to use.”
Finished speaking she left without saying anything else.
Kou Zhong breathed a sigh of relief. Whether he was a Divine Doctor or a charlatan, it would be clear tomorrow morning!