Everyone at the palace tried to entertain the prince, with dancing and stories and music and beautiful women. But nothing brought a smile to his face. He could not get past the haunting images of sickness and old age and death.
One of his ministers tried talking with him. "Siddhartha," he said. "It is not right to watch all this dancing and revelry around you, and not join in. What troubles you?"
"It is not that I do not like the beautiful people and gardens and wonderful things I see here. But I no longer find pleasure in them, for I cannot erase from my mind the things I have seen. Then I think of how quickly beauty can disappear, how soon good health can flee, how quickly old age and death approach. In the midst of such unhappiness, how can I revel in pleasures that fade so quickly?"
The minister protested, but Siddhartha continued.
"Until I can find a way out of all this suffering, worldly pleasures do not interest me."
The minister returned to the palace and reported to the king, telling him of young Siddhartha's questions and thoughts.
And his father was filled with grief. How could he keep his son in the kingdom with him? What in the vast world would make the young prince happy?
If you missed the earlier chapters, they can be found here:
Birthday of the Buddha
The Buddha Story Continued
The Young Prince
The Marriage Contest
The Pleasure Palaces
A Song Of Beauty
An Unexpected Sight
The Second Journey
Buddha charms here and here.
A wonderfully detailed story of the Buddha here.