Fading Pleasures

Everyone tried his or her best to amuse the Prince. The dancing girls flirted with him, hoping to win at least a smile from his handsome but saddened face. Yet Siddhartha did not even seem to notice them. He could not get the visions of old age, sickness and death out of his mind.

One of the ministers, seeing that the Prince was not enjoying any of the splendid arrangements that had been made for him, came over to the Prince. In the joking manner of a friend he said, "Siddhartha, it is not right that you ignore these lovely dancers and refuse to join the festivities. Come on! You are young and healthy; you should be enjoying yourself. What is the matter? Aren't these women pretty enough for you?"

But the Prince answered him in a voice as strong and low as thunder. "You have misunderstood me. I do not dislike the lovely people and things I see here. But when I think of how quickly their beauty will disappear, how everything changes so fast, I can not find much pleasure in them anymore.

"If there were no old age, sickness and death, then I too, could find great pleasure in such lovely objects. But in the middle of such unhappiness, knowing what awaits us all in the future, how can I be satisfied with pleasures that will fade so quickly? "You, my friend, must have a stronger heart than mine if you can be amused so easily. But for me, everything I see is on fire with suffering. Until I find a way out of this suffering, such worldly amusements do not interest me at all." And so, unable to brighten the Prince's mood, everyone returned sadly to the palace. When the ministers told the King that his son could not be entertained or distracted by anything, he felt so much grief that he could not sleep, "O, my beloved son," he thought to himself, "what else can I do to keep you here in my kingdom with me? What other pleasures can I provide so that you will stay? And with such worried thoughts, fearful that he would soon lose his only son, the King spent the night in despair.