'Alas! Do all living creatures kill each other?'

--| buddha in the palace |-----

"at the age of seven the prince began his lessons in the civil and
military arts, but his thoughts more naturally tended to other things.
one spring day he went out of the castle with his father. together they
were watching a farmer at his plowing when he noticed a bird descending
to the ground and carried off a small worm which had been turned up by the
farmer's plough. he sat down in the shade of a tree and thought about it,
whispering to himself:

'Alas! Do all living creatures kill each other?'

"the prince, who had lost his mother so soon after his birth, was deeply
affected by the tragedy of these little creatures.

"this spiritual wound deepened day by day as he grew up; like a little
scar on a young tree, the suffering of human life became more and more
deeply engrained in his mind.

"for ten years, in different pavilions of spring, autumn and the rainy
season, the prince was immersed in rounds of music, dancing and pleasure,
but always his thoughts returned to the problem of suffering as he
pensively tried to understand the true meaning of human life.

"luxuries of the palace, this healthy body, this rejoicing youth! what do
they mean to me?" he thought. "some day we may be sick, we shall become
aged; from death there is no escape. pride of youth, pride of health,
pride of existence -- all thoughtful people should cast them aside.

"a man struggling for existence will naturally look for something of
value. there are two ways of looking -- a right way and a wrong way. if he
looks in the wrong way he recognizes that sickness, old age, and death are
unavoidable, but he seeks the opposite.

"if he looks in the right way he recognizes the true nature of sickness,
old age and death, and he searches for meaning in that which transcends
human sufferings. in my life of pleasures I seem to be looking in the
wrong way."

thus the spiritual struggle went on in the mind of the prince.

(*The Teaching of Buddha*, p.6, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, Tokyo, 1966)


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