The Four Sights
The Four Sights
The Prince’s Request
All this while, the prince had been living in his palaces, still unaware of the realities of life outside the gates. One day, however, he heard of a beautiful park and begged his father’s permission to go out of the palace to visit it. The king allowed him to do so but made extensive preparations to decorate the route along which the prince would travel. The way from the royal palace to the park was made fragrant with incense and strewn with flowers. Crowds of people were stationed along the route to welcome him. All the beggars, the very old and the sick were kept away. The prince was only presented with pleasant sights.
The First Sight: Old Age
For this rare and important outing, Prince Siddhartha had a faithful charioteer, Chandaka, to accompany him. As he was riding through the city, he saw before him, in the middle of the road, a grey-haired man with wrinkled skin, who was dressed in rags and was almost blind. He looked very weak as his legs could hardly support his body. Prince Siddhartha was stunned for he had never seen a very old man before. At once, he asked Chandaka for an explanation. “What has happened to this man? Why can’t he walk upright? Why is his hair grey? Why isn’t it black like ours? Why has he no teeth? Tell me, Chandaka,” said the prince.
“He is a man — an old man! Once he was young and strong, with black hair and strong white teeth. Now he is old. One day, we will be like him too!” answered Chandaka.
“Is there no way to stop old age?” asked the prince.
“No, everyone, even the beautiful, the strong and the courageous, will become old one day,” came Chandaka’s reply.
“So old age destroys memory, beauty and courage, and yet with such a sight before their eyes, people are not disturbed!” the prince exclaimed. Deeply moved by such a sight of suffering, he ordered that they return to the palace immediately for he was full of sorrow after discovering the nature of old age.
Prince Siddhartha saw the four sights — an old man, a sick man, a corpse and an ascetic. They caused him to reflect on the problems of suffering. He knew that he would have to leave his life of luxury in the palace in order to find the solution.
Title: Buddhism for Beginners
By: Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
Chapter 5 | Page 23 to 27