The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. The king found out that one of his most useful servants had slept with a woman of his harem who he liked very much. He was uncertain what to do about this, so he asked the Bodhisatta for advice. Not wanting to speak directly, the king told him, “A jackal had used a happy lake even though it knew a lion carefully watched over it.” But the Bodhisatta understood the meaning behind the question and advised that, “All creatures drink from a mighty river and yet it remains a mighty river. If she is dear, be patient.” The king accepted the advice and forgave both of them, along with a warning to never sin like that again. Ashamed, they both ceased.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
When the king learned that one of his servants had slept with a woman of his harem, he asked the Buddha what to do about it. The Buddha asked whether the king found the servant useful and whether he loved the woman, and the king answered yes on both accounts. The Buddha replied that you should not harm useful servants or beloved women and then told this story to illustrate the point. The king, who was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples, took the advice and forgave both of them.