A Father's Fear

Upon his arrival home the Prince immediately went to the King's room. Pressing his hands together, as was the custom when making an important request, he announced, "I wish to become a homeless wanderer and search for the end of all suffering. Grant me your permission, Father, to leave the palace." From the time his son was a baby, the King had feared that someday he would have to hear this dreaded request. But still his son's words came as a great shock to him. In a voice chocked with tears he replied, "Dearest son, forget this idea of leaving. You are still much too young to follow the lonely life of a holy man. Wait until you are older. Meanwhile stay here in Kapilavastu and rule my kingdom."

"O father, I shall stay here only if you can promise me four things. Tell me that I shall never grow old, never become ill, never die, and never be unhappy. If you can not promise me these things, then I must leave immediately."

The King was shocked by these strange words and began to get angry. "Forget these foolish ideas, Siddhartha," he said loudly. But the Prince remained firm. "Father, If you can not save me from the sufferings of old age, sickness, death and unhappiness, then you must let me go and try to save myself. It is not right to keep me a prisoner here."

But the King would hear no more. "Do not let the Prince leave! Set a guard around the palace grounds!" he shouted to his ministers and then stormed out of the room angrily.