Under the Tree

Long ago, a dying, holy man named Kasappa said he would be reborn as a great teacher. After his death, one of his servants found him reincarnated as a baby prince far away. He told the King that his son could rule wisely someday, or he could forget all his wealth and power and become a great teacher for many to follow. The King was very worried that his son would want to leave the kingdom with no heir to the throne. He decided that walls should barricade the prince inside the castle, so he would not see the pain and suffering of others and choose to leave, and he ordered that no one should tell his son of the prophecy.

As Prince Siddhartha grew up, he had everything he wanted. Yet his father would not let him go outside the tall walls that circled the perimeter of the castle. Finally, after Siddhartha asked him many times, the King said he was allowed to go outside the walls but told the villagers to clean up the streets and hide the old and sick people so his son would not have the temptation of leaving. However, the prince saw a few people who were old and sick and they influenced him to leave the castle and try to end suffering.

After he left, Siddhartha, dressed in rags, joined up with a group of holy men who called themselves ascetics. They practiced in denying their hunger, thirst, rest, and comfort in hopes that that would lead them to spiritual truth. When six years had passed, Siddhartha thought there must be another way to find truth, so he left the ascetics and sat beneath a tree for days thinking about good and evil, about life and death. Finally, he felt his mind open and at last he understood the truth about life. Because of his experience, he was later called the Buddha, meaning “The Enlightened One” and fulfilled the prophecy by becoming a great leader.

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