The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. One time he left his Himalayan home and visited the city to buy salt and seasoning, and he slept in the royal park. The next day he met a rich man who was very impressed by him and agreed to provide food and anything else the Bodhisatta needed for as long as he stayed in the city. The two soon became close friends. The rich man assumed an ascetic’s life was unhappy and tried to persuade the Bodhisatta to give it up by reminding him that a regular life in a house has many luxuries and one can eat all the good food and drink he wants. And he offered to give the Bodhisatta half of his wealth if he renounced the ascetic’s life and came to live with him. The Bodhisatta replied that the rich man’s ignorance had made him greedy. It was actually the lay life that was bad because people can never have peace and they must lie and cheat to get ahead of others.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
The rich man was an earlier birth of a friend of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples. One day he invited Ananda to come visit him as his home. He served Ananda excellent food and tried to convince him to defrock and come live with him, offering to give Ananda half of his wealth. But Ananda refused, explaining that desire breeds suffering.
When Ananda returned to the monastery and told the Buddha what had happened, the Buddha told him this story so he knew that his friend had tried to do the same thing to he himself in a previous life.