Story of The Buddha – Part 03
21. Siddhartha leaves home
One night, when everyone in the palace was asleep, Siddhartha asked Channa
to prepare his horse, Kanthaka. In the meantime he went into the room where
Yasodhara and their newborn boy Rahula slept. He was filled with loving-kindness
towards them and promised himself that he would come back to see them. But first
he had to understand why all creatures suffer, and find out how they could escape
22. Last look Kapilavatthu
In the silence of the night, Prince Siddhartha mounted Kanthaka. Accompanied
by Channa, he leaves the palace and the city of Kapilavatthu. They stopped at a river
some distance from the city and the prince took off his expensive dress and put on
the robes of a monk. Then he told Channa to take the horse back to the palace. At
first, both Channa and Kanthaka refused to go back, but Siddhartha insisted that he
had to go on alone. With tears rolling down his face, Kanthaka watched as the prince
walked out of sight.
23. Living as a Monk
So, at the age of 29, Siddhartha began the homeless life of a monk. From
Kapilavatthu, he walked south to the city of Rajagaha, the capital of the Magadha
country. The king of this country was named Bimbisara. The morning after Siddhartha
arrived, he went to the city and obtained his meal for the day by begging.
24. Compassion for a injuries lamp
After his meal, Siddhartha decided to go to the mountains where many hermits
and sages lived. On the way there, he came across a flock of sheep. Shepherds were
driving the herd to Rajagaha to be sacrificed in a fire ceremony. One little lamb
was injured. Out of compassion Siddhartha picked up the lamb and followed the
shepherds back to the city.
25. Stopping an animal sacrifice
In the city, the fire was burning on the altar, and King Bimbisara and a group of
priests were chanting hymns. They all worshipped fire. When the leader of the fire-
worshippers lifted his sword to kill the first sheep, Siddhartha quickly stopped him.
He asked the king not to let the worshippers destroy the lives of the poor animals.
Then Siddhartha turned to the worshippers and told them: “Life is extremely
precious. All living creatures want to live, just like people.”
26. Whoever sows suffering reaps the same fruits
He continued: “If people expect mercy, they should show mercy. By the law of
cause and effect (karma), those who kill others will, in turn, be killed. If we expect
happiness in the future, we must not harm any creatures. Whoever sows suffering
will reap the same fruits.” This speech completely changed the king’s mind, and
the minds of the fire-worshippers. He stopped the killing ceremony and invited
Siddhartha to stay and teach his people. But Siddhartha declined, as he had not yet
found the truth he was seeking.
27. Siddhartha with Alara Alama
After Siddhartha left Rajagaha, he went to see a sage (wise person) named Alara
Kalama. He stayed with the sage and studied diligently. Soon, he knew as much as
his teacher. But although he had learned how to make his mind very calm, he still
did not know the way to freedom from all suffering. So he thanked Alara Kalama
and left to find another teacher.
28. In Search of the Truth
Siddhartha then studied with a sage named Uddaka Ramaputta. He learned how
to make his mind very still and empty of all thoughts and emotions. But he still did
not understand the mystery of life and death, and did not find the complete freedom
from suffering that he sought. Again, Siddhartha thanked his teacher and left. But,
this time, he decided to find the ultimate truth by his own wisdom and effort.
29. Trying the ascetic practice
In those days, there were many wandering monks who belonged to various
cults. They had left their families to become ascetics. They believed that by starving
themselves or tormenting their bodies (asceticism) they would be reborn in heaven.
Their belief was that the more they suffered in this life, the more pleasure they would
receive in the future. So some ate extremely little food, some stood on one foot for a
long time, and others slept on boards covered with sharp nails.
30. Siddhartha, the ascetic
Siddhartha also tried to become an ascetic. He thought that if he practiced hard
enough, he would become enlightened. So he found a place at Uruvela near a river
and a village, where he could wash and obtain his daily food. There were five other
men living there, and they became his companions. Like Siddhartha, they also
practiced asceticism. Their names were Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama