The following is a story from the life of Buddha. It is important to remember that this isn’t dogma. It has most likely been elaborated on over the years, so if it feel like a legend, that is why.
The story of Devadatta, the Buddha’s worst enemy
Devadatta was a devoted follower of the Buddha for decades. Unable to obtain enlightenment (arhathood), he focused on developing psychic powers (siddhi). The Buddha warned against developing special powers as they tend to distract one from one’s spiritual development and feed one’s ego.
As the Buddha had warned, Devadatta became obsessed with the fame he was receiving for the powers he developed. He also became jealous of the attention given to the Buddha.
One day, Devadatta asked the Buddha in front of the sangha (spiritual community) to let him lead the Sangha. The Buddha knowing that that Devadatta was not up to the task, refused. This sent Devadatta into a rage. He decided to get revenge.
First he hires an assassin. Then two assassins were hired to kill the first. Then another four to kill the last two and these four would be killed by eight. It’s starting to sound like a parable now, isn’t it? When the first assassin approached the Buddha, he lost heart and took refuge vows (how one becomes a Buddhist). The other 14 followed suit.
Then Devadatta decides to kill the Buddha himself. He hurls a large rock at the Buddha. It hit another rock, shattered and a fragment hit the Buddha in the foot, injuring the Buddha. When the Buddha saw that Devadatta had thrown the rock, he told him, “Foolish man, you have done many unwholesome deeds for harming the Buddha.” 
Next Devadatta borrows an ill-tempered elephant named Nalagiri. Nalagiri was known for killing humans. He gets the elephant drunk and sends him charging toward the Buddha. When the Buddha saw the elephant charging toward him, he radiated loving-kindness toward the animal. It stopped in its tracks and let the Buddha pet him.
Having failed three times at assassinating the Buddha and still wanting control over the sangha, he tried to create dissension within the ranks. He requested that the Buddha add five more rules for the monks. Knowing that the Buddha would not accept these conditions, he used Buddha’s refusal to draw monks away from the Buddha’s sangha and into his own. When two of the Buddha’s disciples explained to Devadatta’s sangha how these rules were inconsistent with the Buddha’s teachings, they left Devadatta and returned to the Buddha.
Then Devadatta became ill. Knowing that he was dying, he became remorseful of his actions. Wanting to take refuge vows again and reenter the sangha, he dies as he approached the gates of Jetavana monastery where the Buddha was staying.
It is said that he was able to take refuge before he died. It is believed that after he suffers for his bad karma, the merit he attained during his first decades with the Buddha will ensure that he will be reborn as a Silent Buddha (one who is enlightened, but doesn’t teach) one day.
BTW, although I am a Buddhist, I don’t like all of the people who have achieved a level of attainment I have met, read about or heard speak. Enlightened people still have a personality and they may rub you the wrong way.
Attempting to balance a materialist, atheist and secular worldview of my thoughts with the openness of a Buddhist heart; retired electrical engineer; certified NLP Practitioner; intensive psychotherapy work; composer and guitar player.
View all posts by Stephen L. Martin