A Story about the Buddha
Here is a story about the Buddha.
A long, long time ago in Nepal, a baby boy was born a prince in a royal palace. His name was Siddhartha. At the time of his birth, a prophet told the king that his son would grow up to become either a great king or a wise teacher. He would become a teacher if he saw these four signs: an old man, a sick person, a dead body, and a monk.
The king wanted his son to become a great king like him. Therefore, he didn’t allow Siddhartha to leave the palace, so that he would not have the chance to see the four signs.
For many years, young Siddhartha stayed in the palace, always with good food to eat, fine clothes to wear, and servants to wait on him. You might say the prince had everything!
Soon, Siddhartha grew into a young man. But he became restless with the palace life. One day, he decided to go for a ride outside the palace with Channa, his servant.
On the way, Siddhartha came across a man bent over with age. He had never seen an old man before.
“Who is that, Channa?” he asked his servant.
“He is an old man”, replied Channa. “We will all grow old one day, prince!”
Siddhartha was troubled as they made their way back to the palace.
A few days passed, and Siddhartha went out again. This time, he encountered a man looking weak and crying out loud.
He asked Channa, “Why is that man wailing?”
“That man is sick and is crying in pain”. Once again, Siddhartha was troubled as they went back to the palace.
The next time he was out, Siddhartha saw a group of people carrying a dead body. Channa explained, “One day, we will all die”.
Siddhartha began to realise that his father had kept him inside the palace to protect him from the troubles of the world. He grew sad thinking of all the pain and suffering that people faced.
The fourth time Siddhartha was outside the palace, he saw something different. This time, he saw a man with a shaven head, dressed in a simple robe, and carrying a bowl in his hand. The man had a calm and peaceful look on his face.
“Who’s that man?”, he asked Channa.
“Oh, that’s a monk. He left everything behind from his former life in order to meditate and find happiness”, Channa replied.
Siddhartha thought about all he had seen. He, too, wanted to be able to find happiness in a world filled with pain and suffering. So he secretly left the palace one night to live like the monk, leaving his comfortable life behind.
Years passed, and one day, while meditating under a bodhi tree, Siddhartha opened his eyes and finally understood what it means to be free from suffering. In that moment, he became a buddha (which means “enlightened one”). And he spent the rest of his life as a wise teacher, guiding others in what he had learned.