The Monk That Wanted To Renounce Asceticism


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In the rural northeastern mountainous regions stands a tiny Buddhist temple, named One Finger Temple. It isn’t a large one but it is extremely miraculous.

The temple has rice that emanates an aromatic fragrance.

The temple has sweet and refreshing water that rivals ambrosia.

The temple has Buddhas that grant wishes to the sincere.

The temple isn’t large but it has everything. The temple isn’t large but it has flourishing incense offerings that far exceed all temples. The temple isn’t large but it attracts both citizens and foreigners that line up overnight…

The temple has a bald but handsome monk. Every day, he would bawl, “I want to renounce asceticism! I want to marry a chick that’s not too pretty, have a cute baby, and lead a stable life!”

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19 Reviews sorted by

kkgoh rated it
November 14, 2019
Status: c350
A remarkable modern day, slice-of-life novel on aspects of Buddhist philosophy, everyday life and heartwarming stories. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy seinen, slice-of-life novels.

Inappropriate expectations are the biggest reason for the 1-star ratings and poor reviews. And probably a mistaken understanding that this is a religious novel (it's not). Readers were likely expecting "Cultivation Chat Group" and other modern day xianxia cultivation type novels, and didn't read the novel description:
This book is a casual novel that introduces various Chinese traditional customs, as well as Buddhist ones. It strives to be a positive book, allowing people to reflect on how they should live their lives and treat others.

FangZheng, a mundane young orphan (around 20) inherits a desolate Buddhist temple from the abbot who passed away (who is also... more>> his guardian). He is subsequently attached to a System that wants him to develop the temple and propagate Buddhist philosophy while helping mankind.

And so our hero goes on a journey to become a Buddhist master of the universe... NOT.
That's precisely where most readers got it wrong. FangZheng only wish is to live a normal life. So his journey is both a spiritual self-discovery of Buddhist philosophy and of the interactions with the people around him. The supernatural powers he gains along the way are only a plot device to progress the story.

Firstly, full disclosure that I'm a former lay Buddhist and have studied various aspects of different religions and philosophy. I do not believe in Karma or the supernatural, and I don't claim (or want) to be a theologian, but I do have a decent understanding of the various philosophies discussed and expounded in the novel.

Note that this is not a novel that presents one-sided doctrines or one-true-answers to readers, but invites a lot of introspection.

-- A truly normal protagonist
FangZheng grew up as an orphan with the abbot in a poor rural part of China. And no, the abbot is not some magical Grandpa. The MC is not particularly devout, and wishes only to lead a normal life while maintaining the temple. Which is a perfect fit for this novel. He does NOT aspire to be esoteric, occasionally hits stumbling blocks, and is humble about his lack of knowledge (i.e. no pointless face-slapping). He finds joy in the simplest of things -- such as playing with highly intelligent animals, or enjoying the beautiful scenery around the temple.

That said, when greatness is inevitably forced onto him through the System, he eventually steps up to the plate when he has to. Not because of some higher virtue or messiah attitude, but just out of basic human decency.

We see the MC providing more of a listening ear, a psychiatrist/psychologist role, rather than giving advice. MC isn't a useless pacifist or passive-aggressive. That's a good understanding of modern Buddhist philosophy.


Fangzheng thought about it. "A dream is not a dream, and everything changes unpredictably. Patron, if you think it's real, then it's real. If you think it's false, then it is false. Most importantly, what you figured out is more important than the realness of your dream."

Fang Yunjing lay in bed and read the message. Her eyes looked a little confused, "A dream is not a dream, and everything changes unpredictably... Was what I figured out real? " There was a strange look on Fang Yunjing's face.

She asked: "Venerable Fangzheng, does Buddha exist in this world? Why do I find you so godly? Can humans learn divine powers?"

Fangzheng thought for a moment before answering: "Patron, what sort of Buddha is the Buddha you mentioned? This Penniless Monk believes that everyone in the world has Buddha nature. Everyone and anyone can become Buddha. As long as one's heart inclines to doing good, they are Buddha. Buddha nature is impermanent but omnipresent. As for divine powers, airplanes can fly in the sky and submarines can enter the deep depths of the sea. In the eyes of the ancients, those are divine powers as well. This Penniless Monk only knows a little more than you."


-- A journey of self-discovery in a modern era
This is where the novel really shines.
In a modern era of hard science and instant gratification, it's hard for people to reconcile with old traditions and religion. The MC and the System offers no easy answers, except to present them in an objective case-by-case basis through the MC's interactions with various people.

Buddhist philosophy is often based on introspection and invites discussion. There are not always hard truths, and how people choose to live their lives is up to them.

A mercenary that accidentally took a life during a robbery, is repentant and comes to terms with his misdeeds through his interactions with the MC. He is eventually sentenced to death.

An unrepentant hacker holds hospital data systems hostage for ransom, where several patient lives are at stake. The hacker had a troubled childhood that led to mental illness. In an inadvertent clash with the MC, the hacker is killed during a police standoff. MC acknowledges the hacker's life, and states openly that he feels no guilt or regret on the result.


-- Admirable cast of real world characters
Too many to list....
MC's One-Finger Abbot Dad, who raised him despite his disabilities.
The hardcore mercenary that robbed to provide for his terminally ill daughter.
The cynical wastrel villager that was highly suspicious of the MC and every other do-gooder.
The poverty stricken remote villagers who wanted dignity, not just a charitable handout.
The beautiful university student who experienced a life-changing event and had to come to terms with loss and death.

-- Open recognition of the plight/failures of modern religion
The novel doesn't shy away from acknowledging all the modern criticisms of religion. There are critiques of form over substance - where religious people/institutions overemphasize image and ceremony over the truth. The novel often invokes a spiritual, pragmatic and rational discussion (maybe due to China doctrine) of traditions and religion. Some examples include:

The purposes of traditional practices such as tomb-sweeping, observances, celebrations, ceremonies are clearly explained, with the emphasis on pragmatism and not religiosity.

The pursuit of material wealth/fame and the many benefits (healthy competition, efficiency, etc) and negatives (excessive greed, vices, possible loss of happiness). <<less
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1life4death rated it
October 10, 2018
Status: c24
First off I want to say, don't get turn around by the amount of red you see for the novel.

The novel itself, is very entertaining. The plot is interesting and honestly, it hook me as soon as I start reading. This is just base on my own preference, but I don't see many Chinese novels with this type of vibe or slice of life mood. The closest thing that I can really compare this novel to is I'm Really a Superstar, which is quite refreshing. It gives me the same... more>> vibe as that novel does. But instead of stardom and trying to be a celebrity, it focus on Buddhism.

I would mention though, that this novel may not be for everyone. Due to how new it is, we don't know how its going to develop so it may rub people the wrong way later on. Primarily with how they plan to take the religious aspect of this novel. And even then, some might find it boring or other reasons. But overall, I do recommend you trying it and see how you feel about it. With how current the novel is, if you don't enjoy it... can very easily drop it without much commitment. <<less
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pjrc8899 rated it
October 17, 2018
Status: c86
Fun and somewhat original cultivation slice of life.

The characters are well rounded, which is surprising given that they come and go like impromptu visits. The MC has a little complexity (not much yet). He can be likeable and seem to be evolving to some degree.

The descriptions are a little above the average that webnovels have accustomed us. Unfortunately, this gives no bragging rights given the webnovels standard. [Edit chap 86: nope, they are on the average standard : (] And the author show the tendency to waste most if... more>> not the whole of some chapters to enlighten the reader about the details and history of Buddhism. He tries to not make it boring, but it nonetheless feels as expository writing, especially given the length of the paragraphs. Fortunately it is not done often.

In term of the plot, the system decides everything. So it is better to think of this story as a 'slice of life' and not expect too much of it at this time. On the other hand, I must say that the restrictions, imposed by the system on the MC, create some balance and interest/potential to the story.

As for the low rating, it is not too unexpected, since this is from qidian and some people rate automatically without even reading a line...
However I do believe that some of them are genuine. This novel is on a niche of its own. One example would be because of differences in opinions on religion which could be a deserving reason for a low rating. In particular as a consequence of certain behaviors and words by specifics characters in early chapters.
Also one must not forget that not every body likes a MC that do not kill every thing that stumble in its path.

All in all and at this time, I personally like this story very much. Principally because of its humor and also its rhythm and vibe (as mentioned by @1life4death in its review). For this reason I will give it a 5. Let's hope that it continues in the same way.

Edit chap 86:

Good things cannot last for long... I have to drop the rating by one star, from 5 to 4.

I just passed trough an arc with a goal that seemed big for the future of the MC. But for the readers, who were just waiting for a simple slapstick, it felt more like endless filler where most of the humor was too forced. Right when the arc ended, the goods 'vibes' began again.

The author really failed that part. Here is to hoping that he learned from his mistakes for the followup chapters... <<less
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Zyst rated it
November 19, 2018
Status: c142
The novel's concept is really interesting, I really tried hard to like this novel but the author's writing is not particularly good, and the story pace is slow as hell, I do mean random crappy interactions taking 15 chapters or so.

At that point I honestly didn't feel like the world was being fleshed out by the interactions, I was just annoyed. Recently I found myself speed reading the chapters to try to get to where the stuff would actually happen, and I realized if I'm desperately trying to skip ahead... more>> to get a grain of plot progression maybe I shouldn't be reading this at all. So I won't anymore.

Again, it's a shame, the setting is interesting, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. <<less
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SeanBrown rated it
October 8, 2018
Status: c20
So far so good. Although devoid of action (according to the translator), the many Buddhist verses fill you with a strange sense of serenity. The MC's two-faced dialogues including his street punk-like inner self and his serene outward self which would show no surprise even if the earth shattered or the sky collapsed the very next moment are quite fun to read. Definitely recommend you guys to try this out!
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iLikeOpMCS rated it
October 12, 2018
Status: c31
How are there so many bad reviews? This is so good, entertaining as hell. (I'm kind of lazy to bother discussing the good points, but give it a read, it's a refreshing read compared to the countless xianxia novels out there.) Don't be put off by the reviews.
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taimoor2 rated it
October 5, 2020
Status: c645
While the novel is interesting, has a unique cultivation and unique abilities as well as unique storyline, it is repetitive. However, even that will not be bad! The real problem is that it is a pure, unabashed Chinese propaganda. Like, literally, the monk is continuously saying things like: "People's liberation army has arms of steel", "The government immediately provided help", "All Chinese soldiers have huge merit", "Chinese people are the most loving, honest, good people", etc. It's tiring after a while. If it was once every 100 or so chapter,... more>> it will be acceptable since a person can be patriotic and the group of authors are patriotic. But this is really going overboard. It's just too much. Every other chapter after Chapter 300 is like that.

Buddhism and Chinese government have a strange relationship. This novel is clearly trying to reconcile that two (from government's perspective) and encouraging people to consider practicality rather than percepts of religion. However, it is just too biased. <<less
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Seregosa rated it
May 8, 2019
Status: c245
I honestly found this novel to be a bit interesting in the start. It wasn't anything anything special, it was slow, the MC was so-so and the system wasn't that good, but it had some decent humor here and there and the setting was fresh. It's also nice to see a modern day chinese novel that doesn't glorify china too much and doesn't sh*t on every other country. I really liked some parts of it (like the animals, the supernatural aspect with some somewhat cool powers, some slightly interesting information,... more>> guarantee of no romance etc), while I found some to be quite disagreeable.

The biggest issue here is actually that as chapters went on, I gradually realized that this novel was truly starting to feel more and more bland... The things that are happening just aren't interesting, not even a little. There were some great moments along the way, like the forced pregnancies (you'll get why it was awesome if you read it), the first few times he talked to animals etc, but nowadays it's just dull. Even the things that are supposed to be funny just doesn't even make me smile, much less laugh. There are a lot of moments when the gags are forced despite being impossible or parts where it doesn't fit in at all and thus isn't funny. There's a lot of forced drama and unnecessary parts, especially spending entire chapters on copy-pasted wikipedia information or 10-15+ chapters on minor events that doesn't matter because the peanut gallery is going crazy and nothing is happening. Typical issue when what's most important is word count.

From the title and an earlier description, I kind of expected that this would be a novel about a perverse or twisted monk that wanted to renounce asceticism to live life. That turns out to be false. This should be renamed to "the slightly reluctant monk's daily life", because that's pretty much exactly what it is. It turned out to be hardly relevant as it's just a slice of life novel with some slight comedic undertones and a lot of overdone drama and "life lessons" that doesn't make sense, although I do think it's good if chinese people reads this because it might make them think about how to treat others.

It's just so damn boring. Nothing is happening. He just spends every single chapter (almost) on his mountain or at most going down to the village which is never described much anyway, he just meets someone and then he's back to his little temple/monastery. His everyday life is just chanting scriptures, cleaning the temple/monastery, playing with his phone a little (usually a chat program which he doesn't really participate in, he tends to send a message and close it) and greeting people that might come to pray. Nothing else, unless it's in an arc where he leaves or something is actually happening, which is usually drama resulting in the author's own "life lessons" that he feels everyone should follow.

Honestly, it couldn't possibly be much more boring than this. I'm sure not many people would love to read about info dumps of half-assed buddhism, about the author's beliefs and "life lessons, about how the guy just sits down in the temple and cleans it or searches for vegetables to eat. I don't even know what people see in this. which explains the low score, because people truly see nothing in this. It's, excuse my wording, garbage. Top tier tr*sh. It was just funny a few times before screwing up. The most slow and uninteresting story I've read in quite a while.

We kind of expected him to be a bit more adamant about renouncing ascetism, but he truly doesn't really care. His life goals are just like the story, ridiculously uninteresting. He wants, from the very start, a quiet and peaceful life with an average (at best) wife and some kids, nothing else. He just happily goes about reaching enlightenment as a buddhist because of the initial reason that he can renounce it once he becomes a buddha, but at that time I kind of think it's pretty much impossible to do so or he wouldn't want to... He has no desires except for eating, but all he eats is some rice with water and sometimes some wild vegetables. He also steals a squirrel's nuts for shits and giggles, although he does feed said squirrel with more expensive stuff so I guess it's not really a big deal. It's incredibly fascinating how the author managed to turn the animals into boring good-for-nothing moochers, the cool wolf turned into a domesticated puppy, the squirrel became a fat ball with no interest except for eating, the monkey tries to copy the MC and it's not funny.

The crux of the matter is that nothing at all is happening and it has no redeeming qualities. The MC is unlikable, the rest of the cast is uninteresting, the system is weird and forced, the stuff about buddhist power doesn't really matter, the characters and drama couldn't be more insipid, the life lessons are obvious things or disagreeable bullshit, the filler and word count fluff is staggering.

It's repetitive, it's bland and it's not funny, resulting in me dropping it after seeing that it was going nowhere even after giving it many chapters to redeem itself, thinking that it might just be a bad arc or two, but it turns out that this is just how the author wants it to be, easy to write and about nothing. At least I had a few laughs during the earlier chapters but clearly there won't be more in the future, and if there are... Well, it's not worth spending hour upon hour trudging through a subpar novel with nothing even remotely exciting or fascinating going on. I wanted to rate this 1/5 but realized that a 2/5 is probably more fair because I did enjoy a few laughs and made it through a notable amount of chapters before being annoyed and bored to the point of dropping it. Maybe I should've gone for 1/5 anyway because people are abusing the rating system and votes a 5/5 despite clearly disliking or hating parts of the novel as long as they like it a little bit. This would've had a lower score without early raters and these score abusers. Sigh. <<less
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jabatin rated it
October 15, 2018
Status: --
I don't understand why there are so many of the lowest reviews given that the novel is quite new, but in my opinion this novel is quite refreshing to read.

Admittedly the introduction of a system was pretty sudden and not even something of what I was expecting for this novel, but it keeps it lightheartedness with its slice of life feeling with the occasional minor non-violent xiaxia facesmack. Since there isn't too many chapters out I can't really say whether or not there will be much of a plot at... more>> the moment but if I had to compare it to other novels, I'd say its pretty similar to Gourmet of Another World (except cooking/restaurant = buddhism/donations). <<less
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benjithegreat rated it
July 26, 2023
Status: Completed
A slice-of-life of life novel about a monk that wanted to renounce asceticism but he can't until he reaches Buddha.


-the core concept of a monk that really mixed with the slice-of-life concept.

... more>> -Buddhist verses

-Focus on Chinese people

-Novel that teaches Chinese culture and its history.

-The bright side and their casual conversation

-A reasonable take of the foreigner/other country. For example, that Korean guy said that the Chinese killed their culture and their downfall cause they always hide their trump card even to their personal disciple to death. At least they did not just make it China's good, outsider bad.

-His disciple


-Too many 'evil' characters. I remember reading the first 100 chapters and it is torture.

-Too much young master type of guy

-very long-winded and roundabout way of the story and conversation

-Famous but not famous

-The MC most of the time let thing happen that he can easily stop. For example; by saying stop he can stop them but he did not that's why they continue and it will continue till some guy tries to defend the MC then the big reveal. You know the son-in-law type of situation

-Plot progression.

-His disciple

-His life goals. I want him to have another goal because he really does not care what happens.

-Acting high profile while being low profile

-Force comedy

Overall I will give this a solid 3.5/5. I would love to recommend Pet King which is the upgraded version of this. <<less
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zeshan105 rated it
July 1, 2022
Status: c952
The writer beats around the bush with the same statement for like 10 chapter. Everybody makes random comments, but who are those random somebodys or netizens no one knows. And how to they even contribute to the story I could not figure it out.

The MC was like-able for the first 1 or 2 hundred chapters. After that he becomes this mean petty as*hole that wants to face slap for the smallest thing.

The concept of making men pregnant with brick, harvester, knives etc is absurd even for comedy.

And around chapter 850... more>> the MC starts dabbling in racism as well.

And according to the author this is supposedly a "casual novel that introduces various Chinese traditional customs, as well as Buddhist ones. It strives to be a positive book, allowing people to reflect on how they should live their lives and treat others"

Makes you think if the author invented a new kind Buddhism that allows you to be petty, allows you to face slap and allows you to be racist. <<less
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Solracmar rated it
September 29, 2020
Status: --
This novel is like the ratings of novels in the site in more than a sense. It is good for people that want to read it and bad for who doesn't. There are good parts and bad ones.

Basically the whole novel is a reflection on life, buddhism and philosophy

The MC doesn't force anyone to agree with him, neither does the system or the author. What you get from this novel is your own personal reflection.

The plot is good I don't know how truthful it is in relation with buddhism scriptures,... more>> but the novel itself can be considered a scripture in the sense that it makes you reflect so it totally worth a reading. <<less
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infurno8 rated it
August 23, 2020
Status: c1351
It started off pretty interesting but as someone else has already said, there are just many parts where nothing really happens that I just skip through. It's not that bad, but it gets extremely repetitive.
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Master Fish
Master Fish rated it
February 15, 2021
Status: Completed
Honestly, this was a great novel for me. I started reading when I was bored, and I just read in massive chunks. I read about 100-200 chaps every day, and while it took a lot of my time, I really enjoyed the philosophies of the novel. I guess you could say it opened my eyes, even though it didn't really, as I have a bad memory. I only remembered everything that happened after reading these reviews. This isn't some cultivation novel, but a slice-of-life psychological novel in a way. It... more>> deals with perspectives and that the way people see the world is all different. Anyways, I think this is a good read for people who just want something to do in their spare time. If you want an action novel, there is little to none. The ending kinda ticked me off. The ending seemed wholly unfinished, but maybe that's just me. <<less
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Ventia rated it
May 15, 2019
Status: c467
I really like this novel so far. Though there's not a lot of action in it, it brings a lot of warmth to my heart when I read about the acts of kindness people do. The MC may not be the best character in the world but he's a lot better than other characters that think they can do whatever they like just because they have cheats and systems helping them out even though he's obsessed with money, but for a good reason considering he's a penniless monk and all.... more>> I hope to read more and give a second opinion about the story later when more chapters come out. <<less
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Little Big House
Little Big House rated it
December 4, 2018
Status: --
No idea why people ranked it as 1. It's a refreshing novel.

It is really enjoyable, no bloody conflict but still some cunning people and some misunderstandings.

The translation is good enough and the story is interesting. It's a bit like Library of Heaven's Path.
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Missjayrayg rated it
October 16, 2023
Status: Completed
(Rating of 3.9/4 out of 5)

It was slow but delightful read. Loved the whole story with its cute and funny side character to its more serious and solemn side. This story isn't for everyone one but it holds a special place in my heart. It's a bit silly at times and made me roll my eyes at a few parts. Loved it nether-less. The story had some great moments however not all of it was great. It had a lot of filler and useless chapters but still an... more>> enjoyable read. <<less
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cloud28884 rated it
December 14, 2020
Status: Completed
It's an enjoyable novel to read. A quite diferrent kind of novel w/ system because the MC is a monk w/ Buddha Seeking System :). Started of as a poor monk in a dilapidated temple in a village mountain and develop until become Buddha


Pro :

  • Many slice of life advice and zen like principle - many good story w/ good moral value
  • Warm hearted novel - I especially like warm vibe novel
  • Good story and plot development (until 1300th chapter)

Con :

  • The MC is not too smart, although he has good principle and quite cunning, but he's very dependent on the system
  • The chapter 1300 above is quite dull and quite dissapointing
  • The ending is suck, because it does not make any sense, but it seems the author just want to have a laugh and ending it (its too bad because I like the 1st 1000th chapter so much, it's very good... but near the end it spoilt down hill)
  • As expected, because MC is a monk, there's lack of romance (although its described that so many woman loves the MC)
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thisworldofmine1 rated it
April 3, 2019
Status: c369
It's an OP MC as always, but here's a twist: He's a monk! He can't have a harem! Woohoo! Eh, it's more like it's funny seeing the MC in despair. He has insanely good luck and it leads to having people revering him. I haven't gotten to the end yet, but I wonder if he'll become Budah or abandon it to have a wife and some children...
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