The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. One day someone washed a regular horse in the bathing spot of the king’s warhorse. Later in the day the mighty beast was so offended that it would not get in the water, but nobody could understand why. The king sent the Bodhisatta down to solve the problem. He began by examining the horse and saw that nothing physically ailed it. Pondering the problem further he guessed that another horse had bathed in its spot and the thoroughbred warhorse was acting spoiled and vain. The horse’s caretaker told the Bodhisatta that his assumption was correct, another horse had bathed there earlier. So, to please the haughty warhorse, the Bodhisatta told the groom to wash it elsewhere because change can be beneficial.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
The king’s warhorse was an earlier birth of one of the Buddha’s disciples, an ex-goldsmith, who after four months of effort was unable to grasp the meditation on impurity; and Sariputta, one of the Buddha’s top disciples, was unable to assist him. The struggling disciple had also been a goldsmith in his previous five hundred lives and spending so much time around pure gold had caused a mental blockage on the subject of impurity. The Buddha was able to divine this as the cause of his impasse, so he made a pond appear and told the struggling disciple to stare at the magnificent lotus flower in the middle of it. The Buddha made the flower decay under the disciple’s gaze and this allowed him to have a breakthrough in understanding and become an arahant.
When the Buddha heard some disciples discussing this, he told them this story so they knew that this was not the first time he had been able to understand the struggling disciple’s state of mind.
The king was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples.