Four Sights: Death
returning to the palace after seeing the sick man, Siddhartha
was very dissatisfied and depressed and was often seen
in deep thought. The king, seeing him so changed, became
very sad. Soon enough, the prince asked again for the king's
permission to leave the palace to learn more of life in the
city. The king agreed, as he knew there was nothing
to gain by trying to stop his son.
time, again wearing the clothes of noblemen, Siddhartha
and Channa went out from the palace and walked in many
parts of Kapilavatthu. After they had journeyed a good
part of the day, the prince saw a crowd of people coming
along the street crying, while four men at the back were
carrying a plank on which a very thin man lay flat and
still. The carried man was like a stone, never saying
a word. The crowd soon stopped and the plank bearers rested
the person down on a pile of wood and set the wood on
fire. The man did not move as the flames were burning
the plank, and then his body, from all sides.
is this, Channa?" asked Siddhartha. "Why does
that man lie there so still, allowing these people to burn
him up? It's as if he does not know anything."
is dead," replied Channa.
"Dead! Channa, does everyone die?"
my dear prince, all living things must die some day. No
one can stop death from coming," replied Channa.
prince was so shocked he did not say anything more. He
thought that it was terrible that such a thing called
death should come to everybody, even kings and queens.
Was there no way to stop it? He went home in silence.
He went straight to his own room in the palace and sat
deep in thought for the rest of the day. Very sadly he
pondered, "Everyone in the world must die some day;
no one has found out how to stop it. There must be a way
to stop it. I must find it out and help the whole world."