Han Lingyun woke up the next day with a severe headache. Thankfully, it was all gone after a round of cultivation. What a night that was!
By now the sun had nearly reached the zenith. And with the huge quantity of food, he had eaten yesterday, he didn't feel any hunger.
Han Lingyun just passed by the dining hall and grabbed a bite. Today he decided he could go to class. Ever since the chaos had died down, the classes had regained in popularity. They also focused less on loyalty to the sect and moved on to other more tangible subjects. There was still the usual song and war cry at the end of class though.
Han Lingyun surmised that some disciples only came in class for that moment.
Today, teacher Xian was back to the stage. Ever since the first month, teacher Xian had stepped back to leave the classes for more specialized teachers in different fields: survival classes, defense and fleeing classes, classes for different weapons, questions and answers classes on cultivation and martial arts, morality classes… There have also been some more zealous teachers during the dark period.
Even though teacher Xian often talked about some broad subjects, Han Lingyun enjoyed attending his classes because under every class, he taught an important cultivation principle. Sometimes he introduced his idea formally, other times he would recount anecdotes that depicted some pattern in the cultivation world.
Today teacher Xian started with a question.
"Why is there a separation between mortals and cultivators?
I mean if cultivators wanted to live with mortals, nobody could prevent them from doing so. They themselves are imposing this constraint on themselves. Then why do cultivators cut ties with mortals?
Raise hands, any ideas?
Yes, you to the right."
A disciple stood up. "Maybe to not accidentally harm mortals?"
"It's not a bad guess but that would only be a secondary reason. Remember cultivators are selfish. Other ideas?"
"Is it to cultivate better?"
"That's not wrong but too vague. Can anyone develop?"
"To not be tainted by the trivialities of the mortal world!"
"Because they shouldn't mix up with weak people."
"The mortal human is a perverted being with all sorts of bad tendencies, like greed."
"To not muddle their dao hearts."
Teacher Xian who had remained unresponsive suddenly clapped after this last answer. "Who said this? Ah it's you disciple Leng, here is 20 Ps for your answer.
Indeed, that's number One reason. It is a lot harder for cultivators to keep a firm dao heart when surrounded by mortals. Cultivators and mortals don't live on the same time scale. Mortals are active every day and use all their free time for enjoyments. Once you reach qi condensation, you will be able to cultivate for days on end. Powerful cultivators could stay in seclusion for decades. Could you imagine? You leave seclusion and everything has changed around you? The roads are different, new people surround you, those that you knew have aged or died.
It's much easier to live with people that function on similar rhythms, because even cultivators at that level are not immune to loneliness and solitude, and those would gnaw at your dao heart until you don't see the point of cultivating.
On a second note, a cultivator among mortals is like a crane among chickens. He won't fit. More importantly, he might develop a sense of superiority and of absolute power over everyone. There would be nothing left, no motivation, to make him strive to pursue on the harsh martial path and he won't progress anymore.
I think it's important to start raising this topic now because recently some disciples have used missions outside the sect to go back to see their families. Now there is nothing wrong with that, I actually encourage these actions.
But you need to keep in mind that you and your mortal families are now on two different paths. If you cultivate well, at some point your parents will have passed away, your brother and sisters, their children, your children if they are mortals and their own children too, all would have passed away.
Now two possibilities are before you. Some find this process unbearable and cut ties with their mortal childhoods. Those cultivators often follow a path of distancing oneself from one's emotions.
The other path is to see this loss as a trial, some even embrace the pain, the solitude of losing your family and use these experiences to their advantage.
Both paths are valid and depend on the individual, the goal is to avoid losing one's martial heart or worse, getting a heart demon. A heart demon is like a virus of the spirit. Once you get one, it will spread to your spirit and alter your mind, encroaching over time. If not resolved or cured, a heart demon can lead a cultivator to madness or qi deviation.
On the second level, mortality is a baptism. It is common for powerful cultivators to descend to the mortal world to experience the mortal life as a tempering exercise.
Now in the Sun Empire, the Sun Alliance has decided to enforce the rule that mortals and cultivators should remain separate. This also follows a very practical reason: conflicts between cultivators near mortal cities could have devastating consequences, and the mortal world is the one providing us with children with spiritual roots.
In addition, the second practical reason is that it this makes it easier to single out demonic cultivators that use human sacrifices to cultivate, but that's not an important issue around here. However, it's also best if mortals have a very distant impression of cultivators. Those that don't have spirit roots can sometimes attempt insane acts to try to cultivate and harm their own people.
Coming back to you lot. You should have heard the phrase around 'to cut one's mortal ties.' If you understood what I explained, this doesn't mean ignoring one's family or something, but you need to be conscious of the distance separating you and them from now on.
In general, the ideal cultivator should not pursue mortal pleasures like wealth, and women. Or men if you are a girl, hehe. Most cultivators that tread that path of desires lose their dao heart and fall victim to those desires.
The sect doesn't advocate for the privation of all desires either. At this stage of our cultivation journey, we are still humans and a total privation is more prone to leading to heart demons. Everything is a question of balance.
That is why it is important that you take a moment to think about your true nature and your philosophy. A cultivator shouldn't lie to himself but should cultivate his heart as much as his powers, or he will one day, sooner than later, be stuck at a bottleneck.
Don't try to convince yourself that your mind is a lush forest when you are an arid land. However, even an arid land can start planting some resilient plants, and make small steps to cultivate your mind well.
Cultivators evolve with time, and your young years is when your characters and mindset evolve the most. Don't just rely on others to shape your mindset, cultivate your own.
That's it for today."
Han Lingyun had gained a lot of food for thought on that day. He looked back at himself. His mindset was mainly focused on rationality but he was far from being devoid of emotions. Sometimes he even wished his emotions didn't influence him that much. He didn't want to become a perfectly rational being though, or he wouldn't be different from a computer. What about his parents? He couldn't fathom abandoning them. He also wanted to pass more time with his loving parents. It was strange thinking about this when he was still so young but he understood well the fatality of the mortal blood, he even personally experienced it once already.
Perhaps when they grew older, he would take a pause in his cultivation and stay with them. Han Lingyun also thought about his reincarnation. The idea that his parents' soul might not disappear was a great comfort to him. However, he couldn't hope to find them again in their next life. They would be different people already. Even himself, with his old memories still intact, wasn't the same as James from his previous life. Then, he would only love them as best as he can for this life and bury them when the time came. They will remain one of his anchors to the ground when facing the terrifying immensity of the universe.
He needed goals. Those would serve as lighthouses on his cultivation path.
Goal 1: (Short term) reach qi condensation before the end of the 1st year.
Goal 2: (Medium term) become an array master and research the laws guiding qi and runes.
Goal 3: (Long term) reach immortality and explore the universe freely.
These goals should serve as guiding lines for his actions, and he decided to continue having goals like this to achieve. As long as he didn't lose sight of them, his dao heart would be intact and he would be able to find an equilibrium between emotions and rationality. Emotions are desirable as long as they don't affect the three goals.
Before moving on, Han Lingyun thought back to his goals and added another one:
Goal 0: Survive.
Surviving should take priority all the time, especially to emotions. That would be one of his bottom lines.
Han Lingyun's first new resolution concerned the Bone Eating Flower. After experiencing the excruciating pain of the Clear Liquid, he had decided to eat the Bone eating flower before reaching the Bone strengthening stage (4th level) in order to lower the pain. However, that would make his 4th level longer to complete and go to a contrary direction than his Goal 1. So, Han Lingyun firmed himself to take the bone eating flower after the 4th stage to save time. He would be buying more Hibernating Oil to try to compensate.
With his new framework in mind, Han Lingyun dived back to cultivation with a renewed enthusiasm. His two friends weren't back but it didn't bother him as much now.