Miss Buddha
visit, upon what he had seen, then upon what
he now had to do, and how he would do it.
    Seeing him thus, the other Devas withdrew,
not a little awed. For they were, all of them, parched for the
water of sensation, and could not fully grasp the strength of Natha
who did not seem to care about such things, or about enjoying all
those things he had earned by so many good deeds over so many
lives.
    Leaving him, they returned to their fields,
their seas, their skies and there danced the day and the night
before they returned to see Nathadeva off, properly this time. But
when they arrived at where they had left him, he was nowhere to be
found.
    They called out his name, and then again,
many times. They looked for him some more, but without fruit. Then
they collectively shrugged their shoulders, it couldn’t be helped,
Natha had return to Earth before they arrived to see him off. Oh,
well. We wish him well.
    :
    During his perfect stillness Natha merged
with and donned the familiar garment of the Buddha, and once so
draped he envisioned as well as he could the task that lay before
him, below him—the crusted earth, the tortured planet rushing,
clearly in his view, toward self-destruction.
    Toward Tusita dawn, not quite a terrestrial
year (but a few heart beats in Tusita) before he was to return as
Ruth Marten, Gotama’s thoughts turned to Ananda.

:: 8 :: (Tusita Heaven)
     
    My thoughts turn to Ananda. I remember him
fondly.
    What set him apart—aside from his dedication
both to me and to his own emancipation—was his prodigious memory.
He remembered everything I said, every discourse I held; and should
he miss one, for any reason—which usually meant that I had sent him
on some errand or other, he had made me promise to repeat it
privately to him on his return so that he may hear and so remember
it for posterity.
    He was the Holder and Guardian of my
teachings, the Dhamma.
    In fact, the Earth has Ananda to thank that
the Pali Canon exists today. But for him, my teachings would have
been lost or hopelessly altered and perverted by now.
    But he was more than that. He was also my
closest friend and companion over many, many lifetimes, both in the
human and animal realms, as well as in the Deva heavens. We were
seldom, if ever, apart; and if we were, it was only for an
occasional lifetime. Then we would find each other again, and set
out for adventure anew.
    Through all this time as Bodhisatta, my
destiny was always clear: to enlighten the world as to Truth, as to
Dhamma—and so was Ananda’s. He had long ago chosen to do what he
could to help me, and so, by his own choosing, he shouldered that
destiny as well.
    Thus he became Gotama Buddha’s personal
attendant for over twenty-five years in those far away Indian days,
and he mourned my physical passing—and return to Tusita—more deeply
than any other.
    Feeling perhaps that his destiny had now
been fulfilled, Ananda did not follow me to the Tusita heaven upon
his own Parinibbana, but took a different path. The grieving Ananda
by my deathbed was the last I saw of him.
     
    And now that I am soon to return to Earth, I
wonder where he is, my always friend and companion. For I could use
his help again.

:: 9 :: (Ancient India)
     
    Buddhist Legend has it that Ananda also, like
Gotama Buddha, descended to Earth from Tusita Heaven. This is not
so.
    Ananda—as karmic reward for much accumulated
merit in service of the Bodhisatta—had, before again joining the
Buddha—spent his last two lives in the Nimmanarati Heaven, where
he, like so many other devas on this plane, had enjoyed his arts
(for at heart he was a musician) and delighted in his
creations.
    The Legend—being legend, after all—is not
clear on precisely how Gotama Buddha got word to Ananda from Tusita
that it was now time to return, that the darkness of the world had
reached such depth that they could not tarry longer, but word was
given and word was received.
    The truth is that Ananda was not so pleased
to hear

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