Once upon a time twenty nine upper middle-class friends
and their wives entered a thicket where the Buddha
happened to be and began to play. Another friend had
no wife, so a prostitute was brought for him. While
they were “disporting themselves” she took his
things and ran away. The remainder joined in a
search for her. Roaming in that thicket they found
the Buddha seated at the root of a tree. They asked,
“Lord, has the Blessed One seen a certain woman
(ekam itthim)?” “What have you,
young men, to do with the woman?”, he exclaimed.
They explained. “Now what do you, young men,
think?”, he asked, “Which is better for you, to
search for a woman or to search for yourselves?”
“That, Lord, would be preferable – to search for
ourselves.” So he preached and gave them ordination.
The story is contrived as a setting for the
rhetorical question (like Mark 12:13–17).