Volume 1, Chapter 2 – Self-Taught the Heavenly Dao in the Eclipse Canon
“300 taels of silver, 250kg of grains, 10kg of fresh meat, 150kg of salted meat and various vegetables, 3 sets of the best quality full-sleeved Daoist robe, hat and belt, 3 sets of shoes and socks respectively, a red copper stove…” 
Zhang Yan read the list of goods in his hand. Aside from these things, there were also some daily necessities which were not listed on the list of goods he had received. He was secretly amazed by Min Lou’s deep wealth. Even if he wantonly ate these grains, it would still be enough for him to eat for an entire year. As of now, he could say to have solved the most urgent livelihood needs he had.
As for general common sense, the payment for interpreting Dao manuals nowadays, shouldn’t amount to this much. Even if you were to consult with some Daoist master, he would not be paid as extravagantly as Min Lou had paid Zhang Yan.
However, taking Min Lou’s efforts into account, he painstakingly prepared this to befriend him. Zhang Yan did not hesitate to directly accept and receive it since he had quite a good impression towards him.
Zhang Yan thought for a while, then he wrote something on a piece of paper. He called the temple’s errand boy and gave him instructions to buy other daily necessities from down the mountain.
With everything having been appropriately settled, Zhang Yan closed the door and sat in meditation. Although ‘Oneness Purifying Breath Manual’ was only a basic cultivation method, cultivating the Dao was like sailing a boat against the current. If you were unable to move forward, you either forged a path forcefully or you would be left behind. Through his life experiences, he fully realized that one’s foundation was extremely important, so there was no time to relax for him.
A night passed by without any disturbances…
At the beginning of the second day, around 7 to 9 AM, Zhang Yan went back to the Thousand Rock Pavilion like yesterday. Today, it seemed that there was someone waiting for him.
This person was in his early 30s, but he already had a few white hairs on both sides of his temples. He had a slender body with a slightly pale and haggard complexion as his hand was holding a wooden bookcase. When he saw Zhang Yan’s bamboo streamer, he quickly came over and politely greeted, “Is this Junior Brother Zhang Yan?”
Zhang Yan stopped walking as he returned the courtesy and modestly replied in an amiable manner, “Yes, it is.”
“Myself is Zhao Yuan from the Ethics Academic Temple. I heard that Junior Brother Zhang Yan has profound knowledge on the Eclipse Canon, and this one sought you out to seek enlightenment from you.”
Zhao Yuan quickly opened the wooden bookcase and pulled out a very thin manual carefully, as if he was afraid of breaking the manual. He held it with both hands and respectfully spoke to Zhang Yan, “If Junior Brother can remove the shackle of doubts in my heart, I will not forget Junior Brother’s kindness.”
Zhang Yan could see that Zhao Yuan obviously treated the manual as his most precious treasure, as it was placed inside an exquisitely built wooden bookcase. He gently smiled as he leaned on his bamboo streamer and took out a handkerchief from his sleeve. He wiped his hands and carefully received this Dao manual.
Seeing Zhang Yan’s manner, Zhao Yuan’s impression of Zhang Yan was instantly raised to a whole different level.
As Zhang Yan received the manual, he discovered that this manual was only the first volume. When he turned the pages and read the last page, it actually continued to the next volume. It was very obvious that the owner was probably reluctant in letting him read the entire manual. However, this was also reasonable as it was the usual customs. He only smiled and gave the manual back to Zhao Yuan.
Zhao Yuan’s complexion changed as he anxiously spoke: “Junior Brother Zhang Yan, is there something wrong? Or…” His voice turned somewhat awkward as traces of doubt could be seen from his eyes. Was Min Lou actually exaggerating this Zhang Yan’s ability in explaining Dao manuals, as in fact, he wasn’t able to interpret anything at all?
Zhang Yan calmly shook his head, as he smiled and replied, “Senior Brother, it’s not like that, the manual has been completely imprinted in my heart.”
This manual only had several hundreds of words. As his memorizing ability was now significantly improved, coupled with his thorough research on the Eclipse Canon for several years; he was able to completely remember the manual’s content in one glance. Moreover, if he wanted to build his reputation in this line of work, he had to at least show off and act appropriately as a highly skilled person.
“Oh?” Although Zhao Yuan was really surprised, he couldn’t hide the doubtful expression on his face.
Zhang Yan walked casually toward the pavilion’s sideway and took out his ink pen, ink, and papers from his bamboo basket, and he put them on the stone table. He calmly sat and held the pen to start writing.
He read a moment ago that the title was ‘Traversing Through the Eternal River Manual’. This Dao manual was actually only a travel journal written by a certain supreme Daoist, of which it didn’t give him any difficulties at all. It took only a short time for him to finish reading and comprehending this incomplete Dao manual, as he quickly wrote the interpretation.
The ink marks on the papers were not even dried yet when Zhao Yuan impatiently grabbed the several pages of papers in his hand. He immediately read the interpretation with full expectation. His complexion changed greatly the instant he read it. The more he read, the more his complexion turned solemn. After he read over several pages, he took a deep breath and said, “Originally, I didn’t believe it, I didn’t expect that it really could be interpreted this way… I really spent so much time in vain… this book actually has such a wonderful cultivation law. There really is no one amongst my fellow disciples who could comprehend this. I was indeed too ignorant and dim-sighted.”
Zhang Yan, however, was surprised as he said, “Senior Brother, why did you say such things?”
Zhao Yuan’s complexion revealed a bitter and astringent expression as he slowly replied, “Younger Brother, you should also be aware that I and the others outer disciples faced great difficulties in our cultivation path. It’s just that those disciples who came from wealthy families and enrolled to study here, tend to bully disciples with ordinary backgrounds and often did unethical things to obtain some Dao manuals. Junior Brother Zhang, honestly, two days ago when Senior Brother Bian told me to find a half kg of Moon River Sand, so that I can get the rest of the sect’s Dao manuals, how could I… Alas!”
Zhang Yan suddenly understood. Whether it was the Profound Virtue Temple or Ethics Academic Temple, or Great Tranquility Temple, all three temples only had a few dozen inner disciples. They solely focused on their cultivation, and as for daily chores, they were all given to their servants. However, although they were only servants, nobody could look down on them as they were also usually listed as a novice disciples. After their inner disciple masters studied the Dao Manuals, they usually recorded it onto some manuscripts. These servants secretly copied the manuscripts and then cultivated it themselves, then sold it to other disciples or traded it to the rich and powerful families for a large amount of wealth.
However, these copied manuscripts were also divided into various grades and ranks. If the buyer was not truly wealthy and powerful, they would not give any face to ordinary buyers and might even send a worthless manuscript.
The Dao Manuals that circulated between the Three Great Schools mostly originated from these manuscripts.
Zhao Yuan originally came from a merchant family, which could also be considered as a rich family. However, compared to those that were of the nobility and the aristocrats, he was far too poor compared to them.
The manual that had been interpreted by Zhang Yan indeed originated from these “grand servants” . These servants originally had a lot of power, because they had connections with the inner disciples. Trivial ordinary disciples often became their object of trickery and bullying, since ordinary disciples wouldn’t dare to provoke those untouchable true disciples.
It seemed that Zhao Yuan also experienced this. He heard that some inner disciples were seeking to find Five Elements Divine Sand and were willing to trade it with several genuine Dao Manuals. He then contacted Senior Brother Bian, a cruel-hearted inner disciple’s servant, for it. Not only did he exchange 0.5kg of Moon River Sand for it, he also sent a vast amount of wealth in order to obtain the precious manuscripts.
Zhao Yuan originally thought that this Dao Manual contained an immortal cultivation method, so he didn’t hurry back to study it. But he then found that the Dao Manual unexpectedly only contained traveling journal records; which was even more worthless than the basic breathing technique. He was greatly disappointed, as regret shrouded his heart. For fear that he mistakenly misunderstood the manual, he spent a vast amount of his wealth on travelling to consult this matter with several others disciples, one after another. Still, the conclusion didn’t change. When he was in deep despair, he heard from Min Lou that Zhang Yan’s attainment on the Eclipse Canon was very profound. He who heard this, was like a critically ill patient, eager to find a miraculous doctor, as he hurriedly took his incomplete manual to ask for enlightenment from Zhang Yan.
“I have been studying in this temple for almost six years, and if this time was also another failure, that meant I’m not destined to enter the world of the Dao. I had planned to go back home and continue my family’s business.”
Zhao Yuan was now 38 years old, and it would be difficult for him to attain more advancement in his cultivation. The knot in his heart made him disheartened, and he thought of abandoning this path of life. The more he read the incomplete manual, the more regret dwelled in his heart; which even gave him the urge to rip the manual apart.
Listening to his bitter words, Zhang Yan’s eyes flashed as he suddenly grabbed Zhao Yuan’s sleeve and said, “Senior Brother, please wait.”
Zhao Yuan was stunned.
Zhang Yan straightly looked at Zhao Yuan’s eyes as he whispered, “If Senior Brother really trusts me, could you please let me read the final volume?”
Zhao Yuan seemed hesitated as he heard this, and slowly replied, “Junior Brother, what’s the meaning of this?”
Zhang Yan sincerely spoke, “Excuse me for speaking frankly, the Eclipse Canon has stated that everything is a unified whole as it shines upon the back and front, if it’s separated then we would barely comprehend the meaning. I realized that this manual really has profound contents, perhaps…”
“Oh?” Zhao Yuan’s eye turned wide and looked at Zhang Yan. He also understood the meaning behind Zhang Yan’s words as his body unconsciously trembled, “It’s difficult…”
Zhang Yan only smiled and said, “Humans can only do their best and leave all else to fate.”
Zhao Yuan gritted his teeth as he stood up and stomped his feet. He then said, “Good, I’ll let Junior Brother read it.” He originally had already given up hope. However, Zhang Yan’s words gave him a strand of hope again. He did have doubts and felt uncertain, but can he really give up that easily?
Looking at the anxious Zhao Yuan, Zhang Yan calmly stood as he recited the manual, “In ancient times, there was a region known as Yongjun (Eternal Region), also known as Chuande (River of Virtue). The terrain was high and grand like a Gao Long (Great Dragon). Eight rivers converged together as it concealed each other like a Wo Hu (Crouching Tiger) waiting for its prey. Looking to the South Eastern Island, as if it were a Qian Long (Hidden Dragon) facing the beach, and if you wanted to enter the North Sea…” These several sentences increasingly piqued his intuition that there really were profound meanings behind it. He also thought that the manuals were just records of a travel journal. Zhao Yuan said that he was perhaps not destined to walk on this path. However, he suddenly remembered that the sect’s ancestor had always been fiddling with deceitful mystery. Of which, really made his suspicion get more intense, that it was only to hide the true meanings. Maybe there really was profound law that hadn’t been discovered in these mysterious words.
Less than an hour later, Zhao Yuan breathed heavily as he took out another manual without saying anything, and put it in Zhang Yan’s hand.
Zhang Yan nodded and quickly sat down to read the manual at a moderate pace. Zhao Yuan anxiously observed his actions but couldn’t find anything, since Zhang Yan’s expression was very calm.
The entire final volume of the manual had been finished as Zhang Yan secretly mused, “It’s really like I thought.”
This time he could affirm that the dragon and tiger represented the integration of Yin and Yang. As for the eight rivers, they referred to the eight meridians. As the running water was the path of meridians!
The Eclipse codes used in this manual’s composition was unexpectedly shallow, even slow-witted people could at least understand it a little. But why was this profound cultivation method written like a traveling journal record? Only by studying it attentively would one would understand it. People’s heart was always in constant change as past mistakes could be redeemed. This immortal master’s intention was really far-reaching and profound.
However, now he was thinking about another problem.
Should he tell this to Zhao Yuan?
Normally, even if he used pretext to tell him that this manual really was only a travel journal record, Zhao Yuan would also have no means to even suspect him. It would not even attract any unwanted attention.
But he quickly changed his mind as this book was only a basic Dao Cultivation Law. Although it was rare, it could not be compared to the boundless ways of Dao cultivations. Moreover doing such a thing would bring no advantages, as it was not a good thing to hinder people. He would not cross that line.
Zhang Yan slowly lifted his head and hands as he smiled, “Congratulations Senior Brother Zhao, your ‘Traversing Through the Eternal River Manual’ is actually the ‘Eternal Meridian Circulation Law’”
Zhao Yuan eyes slowly widened as his whole body trembled and said, “Seriously?”
Zhang Yan only sighed, “If Senior Brother put the two manuals together and analyzed it, perhaps others could’ve helped you comprehend it a long time ago…”
Zhao Yuan quickly shook his head, “No, that wouldn’t have happened, Senior Brother is really an honorable person, other people might not necessarily tell me the true meanings. Senior brother, you have my deepest respect! Please allow me to do study under you.”
He bent his waist and kowtowed to Zhang Yan.
Zhang Yan hurriedly stopped him as he said, “This supreme ancestor only used water metaphors about how to cultivate the Qi and concealed the profound truth in subtle words. The entire manual contains a cultivation law, however, it’s like scraping off fish scales to see a smooth shape before the eyes . It is really rare. And now Senior Brother, do you mind if I try to practice this cultivation law?”
Zhao Yuan was absolutely amazed. Zhang Yan had obviously memorized his manual entirely, if he secretly practiced it, then it would be impossible to prevent him. However, Zhang Yan still asked his permission to do so. It was obvious that it was his way to show his respect to him. This affected his impression toward Zhang Yan greatly as he hastily replied, “You’re too kind Senior Brother, your words really made me ashamed. Since I can’t repay your great kindness, you may practice it without even telling me.”
Zhao Yuan quickly traced all over his body and found that the bag of pearls he had prepared before was not there. He then took a wrapped piece of paper out from his bosom and passed the item to Zhang Yan with both his hands, “I was really in a hurry today, and didn’t bring any treasures. This is one of the Five Elements Divine Sands, the Jade Sand. It’s worth a little silver. Please accept this first, and I will visit you later.”
Zhang Yan didn’t reject it as he calmly and confidently reminded him, “Senior Brother, your mood right now is quite disturbed, today you should not meditate.” Since he had acted as a good person then he must do it all the way.
Zhao Yuan nodded and apologized hastily. He looked at Zhang Yan as if he was hesitating to leave. He stepped forward and he whispered, “Senior Brother, your interpretation and knowledge on the Eclipse Canon is no doubt very profound, but if people found out, you may attract jealousy and hatred…”
When Zhang Yan heard this, his complexion turned solemn, “Senior Brother, doesn’t need to worry, I have the means.”
Zhao Yuan nodded. He was also a sensible person, so he cupped his hands across his chest and finally said, “If you ever need any assistance, just summon me. If it’s still within this Zhao’s ability, I will not back down even a step.” After he said that, he then kowtowed and turned around and left.
Zhang Yan looked at his figure from behind and pondered. It seemed that Zhao Yuan sincerely regarded him as a good friend. If not, he wouldn’t say such a thing.
Interpreting and explaining the Dao Manuals may perhaps look like it was ordinary, but in fact snatched the food from the jaws of a tiger. Those true disciple’s servants originally sold the Dao Manuals first, then sold the explanation in secretly copied manuscripts, of which they could then double the profit. If Zhang Yan’s ability were to spread out, then it could be said that their source of money was being cut off. At first, Zhang Yan’s activity wouldn’t affect them much; however, if this continued for a long time, then it would inevitably cause them to become unhappy and discontent. And the consequences were difficult to predict.
Zhao Yuan’s worry actually originated from this.
It could be said that Zhang Yan now had a sufficient amount of money, and he didn’t need to make a living out of interpreting the Dao Manuals again.
However, his plan was in no way that simple!
He was a Daoist cultivator. He naturally realized that strength was the only rule, while wealth was secondary. His true purpose was to attract the attention of the Profound Virtue Temple’s higher ups.
Zhang Yan had experienced many things in his previous world’s great calamity, as he mingled among ordinary people for 7 years. He even once entered the core level of the survivor battalion and was well aware that the differences between the upper strata and the lower strata led at two aspects: one was power and access to resources. The other was gathering and controlling information.
Although this was a different world, the principle was actually the same.
The Blue Ocean Sect was a big Daoist Sect. However, the Profound Virtue Temple only had 300 outer disciples. In addition, to the more than 1000 servants, the inner disciples were only numbered to the dozen.
There were probably only three people who really obtained and mastered all the ancient Dao Manuals and cultivation methods among the dozen.
Profound Virtue Temple’s outer disciples were usually practicing on Moon Peak, which was the sixth peak of Cangwu Mountain. If someone was not familiar with the location, it would be hard for him to arrive there. The Temple’s Gurus actually only gave a monthly sermon and didn’t have any permanent apprenticeships nor did they provide regular teaching. You could directly forget the idea of obtaining any of the sect’s cultivation methods because of this custom.
Zhang Yan was not from an extremely wealthy, powerful, or prominent family. He, perhaps, couldn’t walk like those people; however, he had other means to tread on the same path.
That was to become famous!
When he had a big reputation, even if he couldn’t obtain the recognition from Profound Virtue Temple’s masters, he would have the opportunity to befriend the inner disciples. And once he entered their circles, he could then obtain superior cultivation laws.
His ability to understand and interpret the Eclipse Canon of Dao Manuals was exactly his stepping stone to success.
How could he stop before those people have paid their attention to him?
As for certain dangers he might possibly face, he just faintly smiled. He had no habit of taking risks in his past, but these several days…
He squinted toward the direction of the main peak of Cangwu Mountain. This was exactly his golden opportunity!
 Liang = tael, bases on silver currency; jin/catty: 0.5 kg, will use tael and kg later.
 豪奴: háo nú literally means grand slave: servants from a powerful family
 Zhao Yuan changed his calling to Zhang Yan as he then called Zhang Yan his senior brother out of deep respect. In Daoist customs, your age doesn’t matter, what matters is your virtue, morals, knowledge, kindness and all the goodness within human…
 The phrase basically means that we could only savor a wonderful taste after we strive hard for it.