Chapter 41: Establishing the Sea of Bitterness
For two months elder Wu Qing Feng did his utmost to instruct Pang Bo and Ye Fan guiding them to step onto the path of immortals. Pang Bo’s cultivation was very smooth, he had already felt the wheel of life within his body and was able to circulate the qi essence within it. His next step was to establish his sea of bitterness to prepare for the release of the spring of divine energy.
Ye Fan was still unable to feel this wheel of life and there were still no fluctuations within the area, only absolute silence. After cultivating each day, he was filled with vitality and his entire body was comfortable and relaxed, brimming with energy. These past few days his strength had steadily been getting stronger and stronger and his speed had also increased by a large margin, his body seemed to be filled with endless amounts of strength, energy and vigor.
Time flew by and two months had passed in the blink of an eye. Elder Wu Qing Feng had to leave and could no longer individually instruct them.
“The path of immortals is wrought with danger and only with a firm will to pursue unremittingly would there be success.” Having said this the elder floated away.
Ye Fan and Pang Bo bowed deeply towards elder Wu Qing Feng’s back, this was not a cursory show of respect but rather one that originated from the heart.
Before the small mountain there were several thatched cottages interspersed with bamboo forests, it was tranquil, quiet and natural. Ye Fan and Pang Bo had slowly gotten used to the daily meals of plain tea and simple food.
The next day they were going to Ling Xu cliff to cultivate and Ye Fan was initially hesitant, he had not joined the Ling Xu sanctuary and felt that it was not right to go together with Pang Bo there to learn. Elder Wu Qing Feng had given him a jade tablet and with it even if one was not a Ling Xu disciple they could go there to learn.
While the moon hangs in the sky, the splendor of the bright moon spills down, the moonlight was soft like the ripples in the water. The woods in the nearby hills were hazy like as if it had put on a thin layer of gauze.
Ye Fan and Pang Bo were both gazing at the stars, they did not talk for a long time and were looking for the star within their hearts. The sky was filled with many bright stars but everything was so unfamiliar, they could no longer see that familiar piece of sky.
Reaching the other side of the stars, the past was simply just too far away and there was no way to search for it.
“I am wondering in the palace of the heaven, this night is which year……”*
“People have their own sorrow, joy, parting, and reunion. The moon has its dimness, brightness, waning, and waxing……. May we all be blessed with longevity. Although a thousand miles apart, we can still share the beautiful moon together.”*
[T/N: Both lines are from the same poem by the Chinese essayist Su Shi]
The two people laid on the grass gazing at the stars, their hands held plain tea but the tea never made it to their mouths as nearly all of it fell onto their faces.
“We can never go back again……”
Thereafter the two fell into contemplation for a long time and laid there silently, looking at the stars completely silent.
It was a long time later before this silence was finally broken.
“We have to live on well……”
Ye Fan and Pang Bo were both optimistic people and the brief period of melancholy was a good bye to the past and they would be steadfast as they met the future.
They moved on from this speedily as their conversation topic switched to questions on cultivation. Although they had only cultivated for two months, this was a ‘new life’ to the two and something they had never experienced before. The path of immortals was shrouded in mist and their future paths were uncertain. Since they had already stepped onto this path, they would have to unswervingly walk on.
Ling Xu sanctuary was one of the six immortal sanctuaries within Yan state, although it could not be compared to those accomplished large sects, it still had nearly one thousand cultivators and its young disciples numbered nearly one hundred people.
The morning sun had risen and the golden glow bathed the mountain cliff, glorious and dazzling.
Ling Xu cliff was a precipice, it was formed by over ten short stone cliffs that did not link to each other. There was a certain distance between each short cliff and they were only seventy to eighty metres in height.
It was dawn and there were many young disciples gathered here. Due to the differences in their cultivation levels, their choices were naturally different as they moved before the different stone cliffs to listen to the mystical arts that most benefited their current cultivation.
Ye Fan and Pang Bo were also timely in their arrival and upon reaching they rushed for their only option, the stone cliff that was furthest away. There were many people gathered here, males and females amounting to forty to fifty of them. The youngest among them seemed to be only seven to eight years of age, face young and tender radiating childishness, while the oldest few seemed to be in their thirties with their faces already showing signs of ageing.
There was a flash of light as a mystical rainbow descended upon the stone cliff. The glow rescinded and an elder with a spotlessly white beard and hair sat atop it and calmly swept his gaze past the crowd, only pausing slightly on Pang Bo and Ye Fan’s bodies before beginning to instruct.
At the same time, the other cliffs also had mystical rainbows descend and they were all elders of Ling Xu sanctuary. There was a distance between each cliff and there would be no disturbance from the other cliffs.
Looking at the morning glow and listening to cultivation techniques, there were several people who felt a feeling of novelty, most of them had recently become disciples of Ling Xu sanctuary.
The elder atop the cliff was steady and his voice was calm without any emotion. He instructed very concisely and every important problem faced by cultivators at the start of the path of immortals was answered.
An hour later, the instructing ended and the elder atop the cliff was emotionless as he looked down and said: “If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Otherwise, today’s session will be concluded.”
A few youths hurriedly rushed forward as they fervently questioned in succession. The elder on the cliff answered each question patiently and seeing that there were no other questions rode on a mystical rainbow towards the sky.
The first time coming here to listen to the mystical arts was dull and boring without any novelty, this was what Ye Fan and Pang Bo felt to the point that it even felt like a waste of time. In the past two months, under elder Wu Qing Feng’s guidance their foundations were solid and the several crucial problems had long been pointed out.
“The introductory section within the Dao Scripture will allow us to cultivate for up to two years, these little mystical arts are boring and the venerated elder has explained it to us long ago.”
“Don’t bite off more than you can chew*, the venerated elder has warned repeatedly that a we must have a solid foundation and since he was placed such emphasis on this and asked us to come here to cultivate, he must have his reasons.”
[T/N* idiom: Chasing a target that is unrealistic and too far away]
In the following half a month, although the two felt it was awfully boring they persevered to stay each day and gradually found that there were some benefits for doing so. The elder atop the cliff would occasionally speak of his own cultivation process and the insights and understandings that he gained, this was extremely important! For a student at the beginning stages the experiences during cultivation were like a bright light guiding their way, they could compare it to their own circumstances and even gain insights, speeding up their cultivation process.
This morning, the elder atop the cliff suddenly opened his palms as over ten rays of light shot forth and landed within the hands of Ye Fan, Pang Bo and the group. There was a jade bottle within the hands of each person, very bright and clean and after opening it there was a fragrance that assailed the senses.
“This is a medicinal fluid that can aid you in establishing your sea of bitterness.” The elder’s words were very concise and not a word was wasted.
The sea of bitterness and wheel of life coexisted together and if one wanted to release the qi essence hidden within the wheel of life they had to continually establish their sea of bitterness.
The medicinal liquid within the jade bottle was very valuable and only every three months would it be given out, each year everyone would only obtain four bottles.
Pang Bo’s sea of bitterness was slowly changing and in the three months it grew from the size of the pit of a date to that of a fingernail. The surroundings were filled with bits of the essence of life and he seemed to be more nimble.
Although Ye Fan had also drank a bottle of the medicinal fluid, there were simply no changes. The sea of bitterness was incredibly silent and had not been established, even a region the size of a sesame seed had not been formed and there was simply no essence of life circulating.
Nevertheless, Ye Fan’s strength and speed continued to improve during this period and the energy within his body was surging, his blood essence was especially vigorous, surging like a river dragon.
“I think I’ll continue slowly cultivating like this. Although at present I cannot establish my sea of bitterness nor interact with my wheel of life, my body has been strengthening continually and this can’t possibly be a bad thing.”
“That’s right, I feel that the current you is simply many times greater than me. Everyday I cultivate the sea of bitterness but I don’t see any improvements to my strength or speed, neither can I execute any mystical arts. I really don’t see any use to cultivating.” Pang Bo grumbled.
On the second day he could bear it no longer and before the elder atop the cliff he consulted: “Do we really have to continue cultivating like this? When can we also ride on mystical rainbows to travel?”
The elder indifferently looked at him and said: “Food should be eaten mouthful by mouthful, the road should be trodden step by step. Before you can walk, you are actually thinking of running, this will only end up in a fall.”
Although the elder had reprimanded he still spoke of the benefits when one cultivated to the later stages in order to ignite the hopes of the group below.
“When the sea of bitterness is sufficiently big, one can begin the next step of cultivation. That would be to open a path that leads directly to the wheel of life at the bottom of the sea of bitterness, opening the ‘mouth of the spring’ and releasing the spring of divine energy from the wheel of life. At that time you would be considered to have attained some form of success and will finally be able to execute some mystical arts. This is what all of you are looking forward to, mystical magical abilities.”