The Bodhisatta was once a wealthy merchant. He owned a herd of cows, and when crops were growing, his herdsman took them to a forest pasture to protect the fields. A lion lived near the pasture, and the cows were so afraid of it that they produced very little milk. One day the herdsman’s delivery of ghee to the Bodhisatta was very small, and he explained the problem. The Bodhisatta asked if the lion had grown attached to anything and the herdsman said it was very fond of a particular doe. The Bodhisatta told him to catch the doe and rub her with sugar and poison; then, when it dried, let her loose. As predicted, when the lion saw his friend he licked her and died. When the herdsman brought the lion’s hide, claws, teeth, and fat to the Bodhisatta, he explained that people should not trust or have affection for others because it leads to ruin.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
The Buddha told this story to teach his disciples the importance of being cautious when using food, clothing, and other gifts, no matter whether given by family or strangers. Blind trust can lead to problems in one’s present life and maybe rebirth as an ogre or ghost in the next.
The Buddha did not identify any earlier births other than his own.