The Bodhisatta was once a lion. One day the lions of his pride were playing and having fun, roaring loudly as lions do. A jackal that lived nearby wanted to join in, and it let out a howl. The lions were all embarrassed and stopped playing. The Bodhisatta’s cub asked his father why the other lions fell silent, and he answered that jackals are vile creatures and all lions loathe them.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
The jackal was an earlier birth of a dimwitted disciple of the Buddha who was completely unaware how stupid he was. He had made it known to other disciples that someday he wanted to recite scripture at assembly, and he was invited to do it. That evening he took his seat in the jeweled pavilion in front of the others, and just as he was about to begin speaking, he grew nervous and ashamed. He got the first verse out, but could not remember the second, so he left and went to be alone in his quarters.
Later, when the Buddha heard some of his disciples discussing the incident, he told them this story so they knew that this empty disciple had also betrayed himself by speaking in the past.
The Bodhisatta’s cub was an earlier birth of the Buddha’s son.