Striving for Science Chapters List

Chapter 29: Fate With Buddha

Under the company of the stars, Shen Changan peacefully slept through the night. When he woke up in the morning, the autumn fog enveloped the window. Shen Changan rolled around in bed. The cold outside his warm blanket cocoon made him not want to get up at all.

After freshening up and changing into clean clothes, Shen Changan tossed his dirty clothes into the washing machine and set the washing time. He walked to the door, then turned back and took out the spare key from the drawer.

The fog was too thick in the morning, so he didn't dare to drive too fast. As he arrived at the office building, he bumped into Xu Ze who had also just gotten off his car. Shen Changan had heard from Chen Panpan that Xu Ze's family was well-off locally, and his parents had bought him a car right after graduation.

Seeing Shen Changan getting out of the car, Xu Ze first looked surprised, then smiled and said, "Congratulations on buying a car."

"It's not mine," Shen Changan closed the car door. "My friend's family has a lot of cars. Seeing how inconvenient it was for me to commute, he lent me one to drive."

"Looks like your friend has a good relationship with you." Xu Ze looked over the brand new car thinking that this brand of car is quite expensive, even the more affordable models cost around 300,000 yuan: "It's said that cars and partners can't be shared. He's even willing to share his car with you, good buddies like that are hard to find in this world. Don't miss out on him."

Shen Changan thought Dao Nian had even shared the house key with him, then that meant he considered him family.

The two chatted and laughed as they went upstairs. Upon entering the office, they could already hear Ding Yang and Chen Panpan arguing. Long used to their mode of interactions - unhappy without bickering mode, Shen Changan and Xu Ze didn't even bother to dissuade them and went straight to their own seats.

Xu Ze split his breakfast in half to share with Shen Changan, while Shen Changan also gave him a bottle of milk. By the time the two of them finished their breakfast, Ding Yang and Chen Panpan had also finished arguing.

Director Du walked in with his big belly and thick wig, smiling as he lavished praise on everyone. He emphasized that because their department's Shen Changan had subdued a very vicious criminal last night, their higher-ups had specially allocated a special bonus for them, so they would all receive a little extra salary this month.

"And there's this," Director Du took out a certificate of honor from his coat pocket and handed it to Shen Changan. "Our department is poor, so we don't have any good rewards for you. I bought this with my own money, don't look down on it."

Shen Changan: "..."

After Director Du returned to his office, Chen Panpan touched the certificate of honor and whispered, "Let me tell you, Director Du is super stingy. He definitely bought this certificate from a two-yuan store. Be gentle when you hold it, I'm afraid you'll accidentally take it apart."

"Having something is better than just verbal praise," Ding Yang leaned over to Shen Changan. "Changan, tell us about the incident of you bravely fighting the criminal last night. With you in our department, no one will mock us as the retirement department when we attend public meetings in the future."

"About the incident?" Shen Changan felt that his actions last night had little to do with 'bravely fighting the criminal', so he said, "It was just a matter of a kick, a punch and then pinning him to the ground. There's nothing much to talk about."

Ding Yang was reminded of Shen Changan's past incident of beating up street thugs and instantly went silent.

How could he forget Changan's terrifying combat skills?

Shen Changan noticed Auntie Juan hadn't come to work again. It wasn't until more than an hour past the start of the afternoon shift that she rushed in looking a little haggard with a grave expression, seeming to have a lot on her mind.

Could it be that there's still something unresolved with her sister's family?

After getting off work at dusk, Shen Changan visited several stores before picking out a simple and elegant keychain. He hung his house key on it and excitedly prepared to drive to Dao Nian's house. However, he suddenly came to his senses and realized that he had only been back to his own home for a day. If he immediately went back to Dao Nian's house to freeload again, wouldn't that be inappropriate?

He looked down at the keys in hand and dejectedly turned the car around to head back home.

After finishing dinner, it was already dark outside. With nothing else to do, he decided to take a walk in the nearby square. The houses around this area were quite old and the public facilities were a little dated too. On one side of the somewhat small square, there were some elderly men and women dancing, and around them were vendors selling their goods, creating a lively atmosphere that made the whole square seem crowded.

Just as Shen Changan was about to bury his head in a lamb skewer, a kind-looking monk in a cyan robe approached him. "May the Buddha bless you."

Shen Changan hid the fragrant lamb skewer behind his back and wiped his mouth clean. "What can I do for you, the Venerable Monk?" [Venerable Monk - one who has mastered the sutras]

"This poor monk is Yan Yin. Today this poor monk has the fortune to meet the benefactor, and wishes to ask the benefactor some questions. Please bestow your teachings." Yan Yin clasped his palms together and bowed. "This poor monk apologizes for the impudence and seeks your forgiveness."

Shen Changan was puzzled. "I have never been exposed to anything related to Buddhism, so please forgive my ignorance, Venerable Monk."

Yan Yin didn't seem offended by his response; instead, he smiled gently. "No, what this poor monk wishes to ask the benefactor is unrelated to Buddha, but related to all living beings of this world."

Shen Changan: "..."

He wondered if he had encountered a swindler. Unfortunately, this person looked kind-hearted, but his words seemed a bit off.

"Please be at ease, benefactor. This poor monk is absolutely not a scammer." Yan Yin took out his monastic certificate. "This ID card issued by the Buddhist Association is absolutely real."

"You are an Eminent Monk (Gao Seng) who has attained enlightenment. If there are questions you don't know the answer to, I'm afraid I won't be able to understand them either." Shen Changan squeezed the lamb kebab in his hand and didn't reach out for the ID card, but he pretended to examine it closely, acting as if he knew what it meant.

After all, he didn't know what a real Buddhist ID card looked like, so even if the other person showed him a fake one, he wouldn't be able to tell. "Go ahead and ask your questions. If I can't answer, I hope you will forgive me."

"Even if you cannot answer today, with the benefactor's connection to the Buddha, we will find the answers in the future," Yan Yin gave Shen Changan a tolerant smile, as if even if Shen Changan pointed at the night sky and said, 'The sunlight tonight is too bright', he would still smile and say benefactor truly had wisdom roots to perceive the sun's essence through the moon's facade.

Being stared at by such accepting, compassionate eyes, Shen Changan couldn't help but take a step back.

"May I ask how the benefactor sees the people of this world?" Yan Yin bowed with folded hands.

"How do I view the people of this world?" Shen Changan had never thought about this question, because he himself was one of the people in this world. He didn't even understand himself clearly, how could he be qualified to judge others?

"Venerable Monk, this question..." Shen Changan laughed, "Why would anyone need to be viewed by others? Each person must face their own life, illness, aging and death. They don't have time to look at others or care about how others view their own lives. Venerable Monk, I can't answer your question."

Not expecting this reply from Shen Changan, Yan Yin suddenly understood that in Shen Changan's heart, he was one with the masses, so he wouldn't stand above the masses to evaluate or scrutinize them.

Yan Yin couldn't help but wonder if they, as practitioners of the outside world, who claimed to be free from human desires and passions actually subconsciously look down on the masses with a condescending gaze?

"Benefactor's insight pierces the clouds to reveal the moon, this poor monk is humbled by it. With the benefactor's great merits and affinity with my Buddha, why not..."

"Why not what?" Grandpa Zhang, who had just finished practicing Tai Chi Sword in the square, suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He aggressively stood in front of Shen Changan. "Youngsters just lack life experience, they'll entertain any random person. Aren't you afraid this so-called monk is a fake?"

"I..." Before Shen Changan could speak, Grandpa Zhang cut him off: "Go eat your skewer over there, leave this to me." Jerking his chin in disdain towards the corner, he got Shen Changan to scram far away, as if ready to pull out his Tai Chi sword and engage in a life-and-death battle with the monk at any moment.

After Shen Changan went to squat in the corner, Grandpa Zhang expressionlessly held his Tai Chi sword as he looked at Yan Yin: "Venerable Monk Yan Yin, you've rushed all the way here in such a hurry just to try to poach people?"

"What does Taoist Master Zhang mean by those words?" Yan Yin clasped his palms together. His benevolent smile was filled with Buddha's love for the people of the world. "As an ordinary person, Master Shen naturally has the freedom to understand Buddhist teachings…"

"The country has long established regulations prohibiting religious preaching in public places." Grandpa Zhang took out his phone. "Believe it or not, I'll report you right now."

Yan Yin: "..."

We are all cultivators, isn't this behavior of calling the police at the slightest disagreement a bit improper?

Watching Grandpa Zhang and the monk talking from a distance, Shen Changan guessed they might know each other, so he was in no hurry to go over. He finished all the grilled lamb skewers, then leisurely sauntered over after wiping his mouth clean: "Grandpa Zhang, are you friends with this monk?"

"Don't you know that I'm an old man with no feelings? Who is friends with this monk." Grandpa Zhang turned to look at Shen Changan, "Let's go, we're going back."

"Amitabha, Fellow Master Zhang, it's fate that brings us together from a thousand miles away. This poor monk apologizes for disturbing you tonight," Yan Yin followed behind the two with a smile.

Grandpa Zhang ignored him and turned to educate Shen Changan. "Let me tell you, those temples and monasteries have many rules and precepts. Most importantly, you'll also develop a terribly dreadful long-term side effect, which is seeing a decent young person will make you feel the person has a destined connection with Buddha, making your skin thicker and thicker."

"Grandpa Zhang, so in your eyes I'm a decent young man?" Shen Changan sighed emotionally. He thought Grandpa Zhang didn't like him.

Grandpa Zhang: "..."

Can this stupid kid actually grasp the point?

"Has the benefactor heard of the Golden Cicada molting and reincarnating ten times to finally attain enlightenment and becoming a Buddha?" Yan Yin seized the opportunity to ask.

"What Golden Cicada reincarnates ten times, isn't that just Tang Sanzang's story in Journey to the West?" Grandpa Zhang sneered. "If it weren't for Sun Wukong, he would have long been eaten by demons long ago without even a bone left."

The more he heard them talk, the more Shen Changan felt something was off. Why did the monk suddenly mention the Golden Cicada reincarnating ten times? Could it be that the monk had somehow sensed that he had some sort of ten lifetimes meritorious body? If he knew, then Grandpa Zhang must also be aware of it, right?

He didn't know just how amazing this so-called ten lifetimes of meritorious body was, but seeing how the monk clearly wanted to recruit him to Buddhism, it did prove to some degree that this meritorious body had some usefulness.

Shen Changan couldn't figure out the monk's intentions. In comparison, he believed more in Grandpa Zhang, who had a bad temper and loved to throw his weight around. At least other than the failed attempt at making him see ghosts and liking to give him dubious lingzhi and ginseng, this grumpy old man hadn't done anything else.

If they didn't speak up, Shen Changan pretended not to hear anything, intending to take this opportunity to probe their true thoughts.

No matter what Yan Yin said, Grandpa Zhang could retort it back with an expressionless face. Finally he simply shut his mouth, maintaining his mysterious and enigmatic high priestly demeanor.

"Elders, please be at ease. The sparrow clan has been following this human all along." In a corner of the plaza, a short statured man was using his phone to secretly film Shen Changan and the other two walking ahead. He quietly said to the person on the other end of the call, "He's accompanied by one monk and one taoist, both are high-ranking human cultivators. The elders guessed right, this person getting close to the lord is very likely a beauty trap arranged by human cultivators."

"After so many years, humans are still so shameless." The bird clan elders on the video slammed the table in anger. "You've done very well, keep following him and find a way to get evidence. As long as we give this evidence to the lord, not only can our clan make amends and gain merit, we can also make the lord disgusted with the human race."

"Yes, elder." Hearing the elder's praise made the short man very excited. Clutching his phone, he rushed forward, but after only a few steps, he was stopped by a middle-aged lady wearing a red armband.

"Who are you filming with your phone?" The auntie with the red armband saw the man had a cunning and monkey-like deceitful appearance. She eyed him suspiciously and said, "Young man, let me tell you, you can't secretly film others in public spaces. Back in our time, this kind of behavior would get you convicted as a hoodlum."

"Let go of me! Who said I was taking pictures of women?" Seeing that Shen Changan was about to leave his line of sight, the short skinny man became anxious. He impatiently pushed away the lady who was blocking him, "Nosy old hag."

With this shove, a big scene unfolded. The woman fell to the ground and screamed, "Assault! There's a pervert here who's been sneakily filming and bullying an elderly person!"

Before the short skinny man could react, he was surrounded by the crowd. Countless people raised their phones and crazily snapped pictures of him. As a bird demon, he had too little experience and didn't understand the life philosophy that you shouldn't lay hands on human elders.

"It's really shameful, people nowadays have no morals, doing such shameless things like secretly filming with a phone, and even pushing an elderly person."

"I know, right? She advised him not to do that but he cursed her for meddling in others business. This scoundrel is really despicable."

"Not filming women? It's not right to film men either. This is an invasion of privacy. Don't you understand the concept of gender equality?"

The short thin man watched helplessly as Shen Changan disappeared around the street corner, while he was engulfed by the righteous crowd.

"Grandpa Zhang, have you noticed..." Shen Changan looked up at the trees on both sides of the road. "There are a lot of birds on the roadside tonight?"

"Hmm?" Grandpa Zhang looked up. Indeed there were several sparrows hopping around the treetops. "Could it be that it's going to rain?"

Shen Changan looked thoughtfully at the trees across the street. There were some small birds on them too. "Maybe." Right after saying that, he suddenly took a step to the left, and a splatter of bird droppings fell right next to his right foot.

He looked up again, and the necklace hanging around his neck accidentally slipped out. The sparrows on the treetops fluttered their wings and flew away as if they were greatly frightened.

Yan Yin noticed the necklace around Shen Changan's neck. Subconsciously, he felt that there seemed to be something mysterious about the necklace. But when he looked closely, he found nothing special about it. Perhaps it was because Shen Changan had the merits of ten lifetimes, which made him have this illusion?

Although Grandpa Zhang endlessly complained about Venerable Monk Yan Yin, he still let him into the house. Shen Changan didn't interfere with their "bonding time" and slipped back home to sleep.

The next day, while on his way to work, he heard Chen Panpan recounting that last night a man was caught secretly taking pictures of other men in the square. After being discovered by the vigilant local auntie in the square, he even dared to assault her. The incident was captured on video by nearby enthusiastic onlookers and spread widely online, attracting a lot of attention.

"These kinds of people, whether they like men or women, should first learn to respect others," Chen Panpan said. "Secretly taking pictures is so disgusting."

"Maybe he wasn't taking photos of his love, but of his rival," Ding Yang tossed the data sheet to Chen Panpan. "Anyway the guy is caught. You better think about how to complete the spreadsheet."

The "righteous passerby" who watched the excitement and even uploaded the video, the old lady who couldn't be provoked, and the creepy man who secretly photographed others—when these three parties came together, it was like a breeding ground for trouble.

Seeing the two of them about to start bickering again, Shen Changan buried his head in front of the computer screen, resolutely staying out of their war.

He thought the day would just pass like this, but at noon when he walked downstairs after work, an exceptionally good-looking young man and woman suddenly came over to size him up, and then arrogantly lifted their chins.

"It's just so-so."

"Mediocre and vulgar."

"What's your problem?" Chen Panpan just had an intense quarrel with Ding Yang and her fighting spirit was high. Seeing someone picking on Shen Changan, she didn't even think before rolling up her sleeves and said, "Didn't your parents teach you what's called politeness and cultivation?"

"You butt out. You have no right to speak here." The young woman sneered at Chen Panpan, then turned to Shen Changan. "How long do you think you can be complacent? Huh?"

"Heh." The young man also chuckled derisively. "Just you wait, there will come a day when you'll cry."

"You two..." Completely confused by their inexplicable behavior, Shen Changan pointed at his head, "Do you need to take some medication for this?"

"How dare you insult us?!" The young man's eyebrows shot up in indignation, as if his dignity was challenged. "You dare to ridicule us?"

"Sorry, I have this bad habit of blunt honesty," Shen Changan smiled gently and innocently. "Next time I see both of you, I will try my best to correct it."

"Ignorant and foolish mort..."

"Are you descendants of the Kong family?" Liu Mao stepped down from the car with large strides, his mouth slightly upturned, but his eyes devoid of any humor. "Did you hear about Sir providing sponsorship to the civilian department and intend to follow him and contribute your efforts to their work?"

"Liu, Mr. Liu?" The two arrogant individuals, in that instant seeing Liu Mao, swiftly lowered their noble heads. "Y-yes, we came to respond to Sir's call and serv…. contribute our efforts to... Mr. Shen's work."

They spat out the words "Mr. Shen" through gritted teeth carrying a hint of bitterness.

"I thought they were some big shots." Seeing how fast they cowered, Chen Panpan sneered. "Just so-so after all."

These were the exact words they used to mock Shen Changan earlier. When Chen Panpan threw them back, they looked as if they had been greatly insulted, their faces flushed red with uncontrollable anger.

But even though they were furious to this extent, they dared not retort, as if they were the poor bullied ones while Shen Changan and Chen Panpan were the overbearing bullies taking advantage of their power.

Liu Mao didn't have time to look at their aggrieved appearance. He just smiled and asked Shen Changan, "Mr. Shen, today Sir has received some fresh fish sent by others. Thinking that you might like it, he had them prepared by Chef Zhao in the kitchen. If you're free, please come with me for lunch."

"Sure." Shen Changan didn't bother with polite refusals and was about to leave with Liu Mao when he remembered something left in the car. "Mr. Liu, give me a second to grab something from the car."

"Alright." Liu Mao smiled warmly. "No rush, I'll wait for you here." Seeing Shen Changan head towards the car, he turned to the pair from the Kong family. "Sir doesn't like people breaking their promises. If you have the intention to sponsor Mr. Shen's work, you must be responsible and diligent. Mr. Shen and I have always trusted in the capabilities of the Kong family. I'm sure you won't disappoint us, right?"

"Yes." The young woman's face turned pale. "We will definitely not disappoint... Sir."

As Shen Changan returned, he said to Chen Panpan, "Panpan, let's go together. We'll give you a ride on our way."

"No need to trouble yourselves. My house is just a few minutes away from here." Chen Panpan waved her hand with a smile. "You and Mr. Liu should go back for your lunch."

Knowing that Chen Panpan did live close by, Shen Changan didn't insist and left with Liu Mao in the car.

Watching their car disappear into the distance, Chen Panpan straightened her chest, turned her head, and looked at the trouble-making man and woman. "Brainless cannon fodder like you won't last half an episode in TV dramas before the protagonist would have already beaten you black and blue."

"I've never seen anyone dumber than you in all my life. Knowing that you can't afford to offend Shen Changan's friend, you still came here to provoke him. Didn't you even consider that Shen Changan might tattle on you two?" Chen Panpan despised the intelligence of these two individuals.

The two were stunned. They really hadn't considered this. How could a lowly human dare to gossip in front of their Lord? Won't that be madness?

Chen Panpan's heels were high, making crisp sounds as she walked around the two. "Stay away from Changan in the future. I'm afraid that your stupidity will not only scare him, but also tarnish the spiritual and cultural image of our Wuming City."


"What about me?" Chen Panpan swatted away the young woman's hand pointing at her. "With your bean-sized eye and sharp mouth, you have the nerve to say that Shen Changan's face looks mediocre and vulgar? Didn't your teachers in elementary school teach you how to use idioms correctly? Mediocre and vulgar is a description for the likes of you, or rather, something like 'sharp-mouthed and monkey-faced' suits you better. Our Changan is as elegant as a jade tree, with a face like a crown jade. Do you think you wild pheasants have the right to come and add drama?"

"Hey, don't talk back." Chen Panpan snorted lightly. "After all, you can't let Mr. Liu down, can you?"

With just a few words, she rendered the two speechless and left gracefully. Although her verbal attacks weren't as good as Aunt Juan in her youth, it was more than enough to deal with these two dimwits.

"Ah! These lowly humans!" The young man's features twisted in anger. "To actually dare to humiliate us like this."

She actually called them wild pheasants when they were clearly noble peacocks!

"I heard that this morning the Lord had the Aquatic clan deliver the freshest fish today." The young woman seemed to have realized something and suddenly turned deathly pale, looking on the verge of collapse.

It was widely known amongst the tribes that the Lord cared little for food. Yet this morning he had suddenly ordered the Aquatic clan to deliver fish. Everyone assumed this was a sign that the Lord would soon favor the Aquatic clan again. Who could have imagined that it was all because of a human nuisance?

Thinking about how their provocation had failed, not only had they been discovered by the Lord's mount, but they had also been mocked by two humans, the young woman's mentality began to crumble.

"Two idiots."

Faintly, a voice of schadenfreude could be heard in the air.


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