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 Among Shakyamuni Buddha's disciple was a brilliant priest called Ananda.  He was the Buddha's favorite pupil and far ahead of his fellow disciples in Buddhist learning.  He absorbed whatever teachings Shakyamuni had given them.  He was a virtual tape recorder.  It is said that without Ananda's great memory, we would have no present record of Shakyamuni's sayings and writings that are now Buddhist scriptures.
 There is a tale about Ananda that goes as follows; although he was a learned priest, he was incapable of attaining spiritual enlightenment during Shakyamuni Buddha's lifetime and was often unsparingly tormented by Gaki.  Gaki means "hungry devils," which are believed to inhabit the hellish inferno of starvation.
 Why was he bound by such distress? The Gaki would say to him, "Ananda, you are within three days of your death!  What do you think will await you after death?  It is the very same inferno of starvation as that we live in.  Although you are not aware of it, you are destined for this place and all of its types of torture.  As long as you are not kind enough to share your food and learning with us, you will not be able to escape from this consequence."
 How did the Gaki manage to scare a priest of such great learning in this way?  The reason was that Ananda was self-centered, only understanding abstractly the Buddhist knowledge he had acquired and continued to undertake ascetic practices in which self-preoccupation was dominant.
 He was merely a "learned devil" and not yet ready to share his 'food,' or the Buddha's teaching with other people.  In due course, however, wise by birth, and Ananda became aware of the undesirable way he behaved towards others.  Therefore, as may be expected, he became a venerable priest by undertaking further ascetic practices.