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(The state of completely forgetting oneself (1)

"Zen was foolish to accept Leo's challenge! If I were him, I wouldn't have accepted Leo's challenge, and I would've kept quiet!"    

"Well, he's probably arrogant enough to think he's invincible. You know he just ranked first place in the entrance exam and became an outer disciple. People like him usually end up paying with their blood!"   

 "That's not what I heard. I heard Zen deliberately approached Leo and challenged him. What a hostile man!"    

The fight was the newest and hottest gossip that spread like wildfire through the Drizzle Peak! Zen and Leo were going to fight each other!     

Sitting on his bed, Zen, indifferent to the gossip, was meditating to continue practicing the Spiritual Thorn.   

His engagement with Leo was days away. Since he accepted the challenge, Zen knew that if he backed out, he would be labeled a coward.    

 'If I can master the skill of turning my soul into a thorn, according to the Spiritual Thorn, I will have a better chance of prevailing in the battle ring, ' determined Zen silently.    

 'Turning a soul into a thorn... ' he murmured to himself.    

 'So then how do I turn my soul into a sharp thorn?'    

The soul was a formless disembodiment of a person's perception of himself.    

 Therefore, people usually unknowingly recreated their soul as their physical form during meditation.     

So, Zen's soul appeared as Zen looked in reality.   

In this way, unless Zen forgot himself, his soul would remain as he was, and couldn't change into something else, not even a thorn.     

'Only through fully forgetting myself will my soul be transformed into another form, ' he reasoned inwardly.     

As he reasoned the puzzle out in his mind, the startling thought slammed into him.     

"I see! So, the key to mastering this skill is to disregard how I see myself!" he cried excitedly.    

 'But, how do I achieve that state? To completely abandon how I see myself? How is that even possible?'    

Zen's brows were furrowed as he weighed the concept thoroughly.     

Then, he shut his eyes, attempting to forget himself.   

More than an hour passed and he sensed nothing but waves of weariness.     
Zen was frustrated and growing depressed. He was glad to have two top-grade refinement methods, but unfortunately, he didn't seem to have the wit to learn either of them, which was a severe blow to his ego.   

  Feeling glum, Zen left his room and trudged up the steep trail in the Drizzle Peak.    

 It was well before five o'clock in the morning, and the sun hadn't risen. There was a complete, utter stillness.    

 About sixty-five feet down the trail, he came to a sheer cliff that stretched out to form a natural platform for people to enjoy the scenery.   

  Using the natural features, the expert craftsmen of the Cloud Sect built an elaborate pavilion into the platform.    

 There was no one in the pavilion at the moment.   

Zen strode into the pavilion, gazing out at the view stretching in front of him as far as the eye could see. A sea of unbroken clouds surrounded the rolling peaks in the distance.     

The peak closest was the Jeweled Peak which ranked in twenty-first place, while the Azure Peak which was fifth place, was farther away...     

These mountains had stood in the universe for thousands or even millions of years. Regardless of how outstandingly gifted the disciples were, for these peaks a disciple's existence was a passing show.     

Standing among the majestic peaks, Zen felt as insignificant as a grain of sand in the ocean.     

Suddenly, Zen felt his heartstrings being tugged as he looked out at the magnificence of the spectacular mountain range.   

Sitting there, Zen closed his eyes and slowly imagined himself shrinking even smaller. First to dust since it was smaller than sand, and then even smaller...    

 Slowly, Zen felt himself becoming small enough to be ignored, into nothing...    

 With an internal crash, a huge golden door swung open in Zen's mind.   

  At this point, Zen found his way to the sphere of nothingness. When people felt gone completely, they were within reach of forgetting themselves!   

When Zen opened his eyes, the scene he had been looking at was no longer in view. When he imagined himself as a tree, it was as if he were one, and when he perceived himself as a blade of grass, he was able to become the grass. In short, he sensed that he could turn into anything in the world.   

  In that fleeting moment, Zen decided to test a theory about his purpose in mastering the skill of turning his soul into a thorn, as described in the refinement method, 'the Spiritual Thorn.' With a brief thought, a sharp, translucent-gray thorn thrust out from the middle of his browline.   

Finally! He did it!     

He was successful in transforming his soul into a thorn. Because the sharp translucent thorn was manifested by Zen's soul, it was invisible to all but Zen. 

Therefore, there was no way for others to guard against it absolutely.     

For a short time, Zen practiced the Spiritual Thorn moves. The range of his attack using the thorn was only about three feet, which fell short of what he'd read, 'People within three thousand feet are unable to defend themselves against it, ' in the refinement method. Zen had crossed a bridge of sorts by attaining the state of forgetting himself, and now his way would be much easier.     

Zen couldn't help smiling proudly. The match coming up in three days had been concerning him, but now he was looking forward to it.   

The next three days flew by.     

At Drizzle Peak, competing in the battle ring was always a significant affair.    

 The audience was able to watch the actual battle along with the energy that was seldom experienced during ordinary refinement practices in the ring.

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