Once there lived a Courtesan of incomparable beauty. She was glad to have the monks come by her home for alms, and offered them excellent food. Then one day, one of the monks who had gone to her home for almsfood happened to mention how beautiful she was.
This stirred desire in the heart of one of the young monks listening. The next morning, the young monk joined the group that was going to pass by the courtesan’s house on their almsround.
The courtesan happened to be ill that day. But she bid her servants carry her outside so that she could personally offer the monks something to eat. The young monk, on seeing how beautiful she was even when she was sick, developed an even stronger desire for her.
That night, however, her illness worsened and by morning she was already dead. When the Buddha received the news of her death, he advised that she not be buried for a few days, after which time he told his bhikkhus that he was going to take them to see the courtesan.
When the young bhikkhu heard where they were going, his lust for the courtesan was rekindled. What he did not realize, however, was that the courtesan was already dead. By the time the Buddha and his retinue of monks got to the cemetary, the once beautiful and desirable body of the courtesan had already been transformed into an ugly sight.
Her body was now bloated, and foul matter exuded from every which orifice. The Buddha then announced to all who had gathered there that the courtesan would be auctioned off. Anyone who was willing to pay a thousand pieces of gold could spend the night with her in bed.
Of course, nobody was willing to pay that amount, nor were they willing to pay any other price, no matter how small. In the end no one would take her even for free. The Buddha then said to his bhikkhus, “You see, when she was alive, few would hesitate to give up all they had just to be able to spend one night in her embrace. But, now, none will take her even for free. What is beauty, then, when the body is subject to deterioration and decay?”
After listening to the Buddha’s words, the lustful young monk got to realize the true nature of life and strove to free himself from the hold of sensual desire.
Look at this beautiful body, amass of sores, supported by bones, sickly, a subject of many lustful thoughts. Indeed, the body is neither permanent nor enduring.
Source: Dhammapada Stories