The Journey Begins

As Siddhartha stood alone in the forest, ready to begin his great adventure, he thought, "From today onwards I am no longer a prince. Therefore, it is not right that I continue to look and dress like one. " He took his knife and cut off his long, flowing hair, a sign of royalty. Then he met a poor hunter and said to him, "Sir, I have no more need of these silk clothes. If I am to live in the forest I should wear something rough like yours. Let us switch." The hunter was surprised and delighted to receive such expensive clothing in exchange for his own and quickly agreed to Siddhartha's suggestion.

Now that he was properly dressed as a poor seeker of the truth, Siddhartha began to look for a teacher who could show him the way to end all sufferings. He wandered through the forests and spoke to all the many holy men he found there. Everywhere he went he was welcomed with respect. Even though he now wore ragged clothes and ate only the poor food he could beg, he was still a very handsome and striking looking man. When the people in the forest saw him coming they said to each other, "Here comes a very special person. His face is so strong and determined! If such a man is looking for the truth, he is sure to find it."

Siddhartha studied with several teachers, but was not satisfied with what he learned from them. "What they teach is helpful," he thought, "but it does not lead to perfect happiness." Finally he heard that some very wise men lived in the kingdom of Magadha where King Bimbisara ruled. So he decided to travel far to the south and east to find them.

One day, as he was walking through Rajagriha, the capital city of Magadha, he passed near the palace gates. One of the King Bimbisara's ministers saw him and immediately ran to the King. "Sir," He said excitedly, "I have just seen a most unusual man in the city. He is dressed in rags and begs his food from door to door , but I am sure he must be a great person. His face is so strong and he walks with such dignity. It almost seems that a special light shines from him!" The King was very interested and asked that Siddhartha be brought before him. They talked together for a while and the King was very impressed by his intelligence, modesty and king manner. Then the King said, " I have never met a man I felt I could trust more than you. Please settle here in Rajagriha and help me rule my kingdom." But Siddhartha replied politely, "O King, I have already had the chance to rule a kingdom, but I had to refuse. I am not interested in wealth or power, only in the path of truth. I thank you for you offer, but I have come to your kingdom only to find teachers who can help me with my search." Then the King bowed to the man in rags and said, " I wish you have a lot of luck on your journey. If you do find what you are looking for, please return here and teach it to me. But even if you fail, you are already welcome to return to my palace." Siddhartha thanked him and continued on his way.