The Four Sights
At the birth of Prince Siddhartha, his father, the Great King Suddhodhana summoned eight brahmins to the palace to read the signs of probability for the new-born prince.
Seven were unsure, claiming he would be either a Buddha or a Great King. The eight was sure he would renounce the world, and become a Buddha.
Suddodhana was determined that his son should be a king, and decided to surround him in a life of beauty and every luxury, and in so doing, conceal the realities of life from him.
Years later, at the age of 29, Siddhartha left his father’s palace for the first time, with his charioteer Channa.
On this journey, the first sight he saw was an old man. Channa told him that aging happens to all men.
The second sight he saw was a sick man suffering from disease. Again, Channa told him that all men are subject to sickness and pain.
The third sight was a corpse. After learning of death, Siddhartha was despondent.
However, the fourth sight was that of an ascetic, who had devoted himself to understanding the cause of human suffering. Siddhartha resolved to follow the ascetic’s example.