The Bodhisatta was once a householder. While walking in a park he saw the gardener up in a tree collecting large leaves to use as bowls. As he dropped them to the ground a monkey was destroying them. The Bodhisatta assumed the monkey foolishly thought he was being helpful and told him to stop. The monkey replied that he wasn’t trying to be helpful, destroying things was simply the nature of monkeys. The Bodhisatta, noting that the monkey was in the odd position of acting both proper and improper at the same time, told him to go away.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
The monkey was an earlier birth of a gardener’s young son. While being served a meal in a park, some of the Buddha’s disciples saw the gardener up in a tree collecting large leaves to use as bowls and his son destroying them as they fell to the ground. When they told the Buddha what they had seen, he told them this story so they knew that the boy had destroyed bowl leaves in the past too.