The Bodhisatta was once a merchant who led many oxcarts to trade with distant lands. During one trip through a vast forest, the Bodhisatta warned his men that demons often put food laced with poison along the road, so they should not eat anything they find without consulting him first. People who ate the poison would die and then the demons would eat their corpses. Some of his men came upon honeycombs placed on top of leaves, and the demon who put them there walked along the road pretending to look for honey in the trees. The men assumed the honey was an offering to the spirits from this honey hunter, so some decided to ignore the Bodhisatta’s warning and they ate it right away. Most of them died, though those who had only eaten a little bit took medicine from the Bodhisatta to induce vomiting and survived. The Bodhisatta used this as a lesson that avoiding desires protects people from suffering.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
One of the Buddha’s disciples considered quitting the sangha after falling for the charms of a woman. The Buddha told him this story as an example of how following desires can lead to ruin.
The Buddha did not identify any earlier births other than his own.