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).
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