THE HEEDFUL ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF NIBBANA
Appamadarato bhikkhu pamade bhaya dassi va
Abhabbo parihanaya nibbanass'eva santike.
The Bhikkhu who delights in heedfulness, and looks with fear on heedlessness, is not liable to fall.
He is in the presence of Nibbana.
Nigamavasi Tissa was born and brought up in a small town near Savatthi. After becoming a bhikkhu, he lived a very simple life. For almsfood he went to the village where his relatives were staying and accepted whatever was offered to him. He avoided big celebrations and ceremonies. Even when Anatha Pindika and King Pasenadi of Kosala made offerings on a grand scale, he did not go.
Some bhikkhus then started talking about him. They accused him of keeping close to his relatives and not caring to go even when people like Anatha Pindika and King Pasenadi were making offerings on a grand scale and so on. When the Buddha was told about this, he sent for this monk to give him the opportunity to explain that while it was true he frequently went to his village, it was only to get almsfood, and when he had received enough food, he did not go any further, never caring whether the food was delicious or not. Whereupon, the Buddha applauded him for his conduct in the presence of the other bhikkhus. He also told them that to live contentedly with only a few wants is in conformity with the teaching of the Buddha and the Noble Ones and that all bhikkhus should, indeed, be like Tissa. In this connection, he further related the story of the king of the parrots.
Once upon a time, the king of the parrots lived in a grove of fig trees on the banks of the Ganges River, with a large number of his followers. When the fruits were eaten, all the parrots left the grove, except the parrot king who was well contented with whatever was left in the trees where he dwelt, be it shoot or leaf or bark. Sakka, knowing this and wanting to test the virtue of the parrot king withered up the trees by his supernormal power. Then, assuming the form of geese, Sakka and his queen came to where the parrot king was and asked him why he did not leave the old withered tree that had stopped bearing fruit plentifully. The parrot king replied, 'Because of a feeling of gratitude towards the tree I did not leave and so long as I can get just enough food to sustain myself I shall not forsake it.'
Much impressed by this reply, Sakka revealed himself. He took water from a river and poured it over the withered fig tree and it was revived.
Because of the spiritual height which he has attained he is not liable to fall.