Because of this, he was nicknamed “Birdsnest” by local villagers. Many of these residents passed beneath the monk while hunting or while gathering wood in the forest, so they grew used to him. Some began to stop and share their troubles with Birdsnest. They liked the things he had to say, and soon Birdsnest become known for his kind words and helpful insights.
After some years, the monk’s wise reputation spread throughout the province. Visitors from distant towns and cities hiked to the remote forest for advice. He became something of a Buddhist tourist attraction. One day the governor of the area, a spiritual seeker, traveled two days to visit Birdsnest where he found the monk sitting calmly up in the tree.
Looking up, the Governor shouted, “Birdsnest! I am the governor of this Provence, and I have come a great distance to speak with you! I have a most important question!” The governor waited for a reply but heard only the pleasant sounds of leaves stirring in the breeze. The governor continued, “This is my question, tell me, Birdsnest, what is it that all the wise ones have taught? Can you tell me the most important thing the Buddha ever said?” There was a long pause – just the soft rustle of leaves again. Finally, the monk called down from the tree: “This is your answer, Governor: Don’t do bad things. Always do good things. That’s what the Buddha’s taught.”
But the governor thought this answer far too simple to have walked two days for! Irritated and annoyed, he stammered, “Don’t do bad things; always do good things! I knew that when I was three years old, monk!” Looking down at the governor, Birdsnest replied with a wry smile, “Yes the 3-year old knows it, but the adult still finds it difficult to do!”