This is a beautiful story about Buddha from Dhammapada. There is a great amount of wealth in a household worth eighty billion. Now his mother and father thought to themselves, “We have a vast store of wealth in our house, and there is no necessity that our son should do anything else than enjoying himself according to his own good pleasure.” Accordingly, they had him instructed in singing and in the playing of musical instruments, and that was all the instruction he received. Likewise in that same city, in a household worth eighty billion of treasure, a daughter also was born. The same thought occurred to her mother and father also, and they had her instructed only in dancing and singing. When the two reached the proper age, they were married with the customary ceremonies. In the course of time both the mothers and fathers died, and then there were twice eight billion of treasure in the same house.
It was the custom of the treasurer’s son to go thrice a day to wait upon the king. One day a company of knaves who lived in that city thought to themselves, “If this Treasurer’s son would only get drunk, it would be a fine thing for us. Let us show him how to get drunk.” Accordingly, they procured strong drink, put roast meat, salt, and sugar in the skirts of the clothing, and taking roots and bulbs, seated themselves in a convenient place, watching the path by which he would approach from the royal palace. When they saw him approaching, they began to drink strong drink, placed particles of salt and sugar in their mouths, and took the roots and bulbs in the teeth and chewed them. And they said, “Live for a hundred years, Master, Treasurer’s son! With your help may we be enabled to eat and drink to our heart’s content!” Hearing the words, the youth asked the little page who followed him,
“What are these men drinking?” “A certain drink, Master.”
“Does it taste good?” “Master, in this world of the living there is no kind of drink that can be compared with this.” “In that case,” said the youth, I must have some too.” So he caused the page to bring him first a little and then a little more, and all this he drank.Now before long, those knaves discovered that he had taken up the habit of drinking. Then they flocked around him.
As time went on, the crowd that surrounded him increased in numbers. He would spend a hundred or two hundred pieces of money at a time on strong drink. It became a habit with him after a time, wherever he happened to be, to pile up a heap of coins and call out as he drank, “Take this coin and fetch me flowers! Take this coin and fetch me perfumes! This man is clever at dicing, and this man at dancing, and this man at singing, and this man at the playing of musical instruments! Give this man a thousand and this man two thousand!” Thus did he spend his money.
In no long time, he squandered all the eighty billion of treasure that formerly belonged to him. Then those knaves said to him, “Master, your wealth is all spent.” “Has my wife no money?” “Yes, master, she has.” “Well, then, fetch that too.”
And he spent his wife’s money in precisely the same way. As time went on, he sold his fields and his parks and his gardens and his carriages. He even disposed of the vessels he used at meals, of his coverlets and his cloaks and couches. All that belonged to him, he sold, and the proceeds he spent in riotous living. In old age, he sold his house, the property of his family. And those to whom he sold his house took possession of it and straightaway put him out. Thereupon, taking his wife with him, he found lodging near the house-wall of other people’s houses. With a broken pot in his hand, he would go about begging alms. Finally, he began to eat the leftovers of other people’s food.One day he stood at the door of a rest-house, receiving left-overs of food presented to him by novices and probationers.
The Buddha saw him and smiled. Thereupon Venerable Ananda asked him why he smiled. The Buddha explained the reason for his smile by saying, “Ananda, just look here at great wealth, the treasurer’s son! In this very city, he has squandered twice eighty billion of treasure. Now, accompanied by his wife, he is begging for alms. For if, in the prime of life, this man had not squandered his wealth, but had applied himself to business, he would have become the principal treasurer in this very city; and if he had retreated from the world and become a monk, he would have attained arahatship, and his wife would have been established in the fruit of the third path. If in middle life he had not squandered his wealth but had applied himself to business, he would have become the second treasurer; and if he had retreated from the world and became a monk, he would have attained the fruit of the third path, and his wife would have been established in the fruit of the second path. If in the latter years of his life he had not squandered his wealth but had applied himself to business, he would have become the third treasurer; and if he had retreated from the world and become a monk, he would have attained the fruit of the second path, and his wife would have been established in the fruit of conversion. But now he has fallen away from the wealth of a layman and he has likewise fallen away from the estate of a religious person. He has become like a heron in a dried-up pond.