A Vision of Peace

The Prince sank deeper and deeper into gloom. He seemed to lose interest in everything. He hardly ate anything anymore, and as a result began to look pale and unhealthy. The King and everyone else were very upset that these unhappy changes had come over their beloved Siddhartha.

One day he appeared before the King. "Father," he began, "lately my mind has been very troubled. I feel restless and would like your permission to leave the palace once again. Perhaps a change of scenery will do me good." The King was quick to agree to his son's request, for he would do anything to please him and make him happy again. But, as before, he asked some of his most trusted ministers to stay close to the Prince and keep an eye on him. This time Siddhartha saddled Kantaka himself and rode out of the palace grounds in search of some beautiful countryside. Finally he came to the edge of some farmland and dismounted. The ministers followed close behind. They tried to gain his attention with stories, news and gossip of the court. But the Prince had no interest in such idle talk, and soon the ministers left him alone and walked away, still chattering to themselves.

Siddhartha looked out over the farmland. A man and his oxen were plowing the field, the birds were singing and the sun was shinning brightly. "It is so beautiful here," he thought. "The plowed rows in the field look like ripples on a lake." He sat down, and his mind relaxed for the first time in a long while. But as he looked closer at the scene before him, he began to notice things he had not seen before. Where the plow had come by and cut rows into the soil, he saw the bodies of hundreds of small insects that had been killed by its blade. He saw hundreds more running back and forth in conclusion now that their homes had been destroyed

He also noticed that the birds were not just gayly singing. They were constantly searching for food, swooping down to snatch up the frightening insects. and the smaller birds darted about in fear, scared of the hawks and other large birds who circled hungrily above them.

He noticed that the oxen labored heavily while trying to drag the heavy plow through the ground. The lashes of the farmer's whip cut painful blisters into their sweating sides. And the farmer, too, worked hard. Like the beasts, his rough and sun-burnt body glistened with sweat.

"Such a circle of misery," thought the Prince. "This farmer, his animals, the birds and the insects work all day to be happy ,comfortable, and having enough to eat. But, in fact, they are constantly killing and hurting each other. How pitiful of the world seem to me." The Prince's heart was filled with compassion for all these suffering creatures. He hated to see them so unhappy. He found a shady place to sit under a rose apple tree and began to meditate deeply on what he had seen. As he looked deeper and deeper into the nature of the suffering he saw, his mind became more and more concentrated and calm. He experienced a quietness unlike anything he had known before.

With his mind now at rest he began to think, " every living thing is searching for happiness. Yet most are so blinded by their ignorance and desires that they find nothing but misery. Fear, disappointment, hunger, old age, sickness, and death are rewarding for their trouble! " "Now that I have seen this, I have no more interest in the small and changeable pleasures of this world. I must find something that will bring me lasting peace and happiness. But how can I content to be free from others suffering? I must find out a way to help all other living as well. Because they have been so kind to me , and they are so suffering. And then I will share this experience with them."

When Prince Siddhartha had finished this compassionate meditation . He opened his eyes and saw a man who was standing in front of him with a dress like a poor beggar. His eyes were bright and calm. "Please tell me," the Prince asked, "who are you?"

The man answered, " I am someone who has become frightened by the sufferings of the world. I have grown tired of the so-called pleasures to be found in the company of others, so now I wander alone. I have given up my home and now live and sleep in caves, in the forest or wherever I find myself. My only interest in finding the highest and most happiness." When he had spoken these words, the man disappeared. " At last I have found the true meaning for my life," he thought , "I begin searching for the true of the happiness and stop these sufferings." With this thinking, he went back to the palace.