The Shining Sun - Prince Siddhartha's Life

Update: 07/05/2022
The Imperial City of Kapilavatthu was getting farther and farther away, the sound of lonely horses' hooves was lost in the lonely night. Prince Siddhartha, one person, one horse, no property, no servants, went away quietly in the dark, he carried only a baggage of enthusiasm to seek enlightenment in order to save life.

The Shining Sun - Prince Siddhartha's Life


According to the arrangement, under the testimony of the master of martial arts, King Suddhōdana would grant the regent to the prince at dawn the next day to enjoy his old age. The prophets have predicted that when the crown prince officially steps on to the throne, the conditions will be met, the new king will become the king of the world, not only the king of the small country of Kapilavastu. But that does not mean anything right now to a person who has carried the strong will to live for all species, find a way to liberation, and help people get out of hell.

Siddhartha was born as a prince, he lived in a regal situation from childhood. At a young age, he has never experienced the meaning of the word "suffering". Until one day, while walking through the four gates of the city, Siddhartha witnessed the aged, diseases, death and a sight of a monk. Siddhartha realized "Neither myself nor my loved ones can escape the sufferings of the old, sickness, death, loss, and separation". By worrying, shocking and stunning the ruination and destruction of time, the prince was like a person standing on a very high mountain then he was pushed into an abyss, suffering extreme pain. Coming back to the palace, Siddhartha spent all his time contemplating the world, the pain of all species and the decline of human life. He wanted to find a way to end all suffering, a method to help people get out of the deadlocks of life. Then, the image of the monk in the walk at the fourth gate was like the light at the end of the tunnel, opening a new horizon, a ray of hope flashing for a person who was looking for the way to enlightenment.

Prince Siddhartha saw his father to talk about the wish of becoming a monk. The king frowned slightly because what he had been worrying about happened finally. Since the prince was born, King Suddhōdana has always sought ways to tie the prince’s feet with a glorious and rich life. Three castles were built in different architectural styles, suitable for each season of the year in India's weather, and the prince moved there to live depending on the time. The concubines, pretty girls, musicians, chefs, servants... were carefully selected to serve the crown prince. But those things seemed to gradually become meaningless.

The king thought that it was time for the last resort. A family home, a progeny, happiness with a beautiful wife and children, would be invisible but extremely strong strings that could keep the talented prince in place at the palace. The king's father decided to choose a beautiful born princess to marry for the prince. The gentle, kind, and virtuous princess Yaśodharā was caught in the eyes of the prince after the beauty selection and became the chief of the house. However, King Suddhōdana did not expect that all his calculations could not tie the feet of the great man, when the love that Prince Siddhartha had for life was too great, he was determined to leave on the day of his first child - Rahula - was born . As  the prince understood better than anyone, if he did not break at once, Siddhartha's ideal would have faded away with time.

Leaving everything behind, from a beautiful wife and good child to the throne of power, Siddhartha chose to live a hermit life: without family, money, servants, he held a bowl to beg every day... just because he was carrying an ambition "for the happiness of all beings, for the welfare of all beings, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, for the sake of happiness, for the peace of Heaven and mankind". The prince promised himself that he would not return if he did not succeed.

The hard days were gradually getting used to, the initial monastic life was really difficult for a man who had lived the life of a famous family. As his will was so strong, Prince Siddhartha has never faltered before the hardships of the practice. In the beginning days, he studied with famous hermits of that time, he absorbed their ideas and methods to practice. In just a short time, the prince understood all those thoughts and made remarkable achievements in spiritual life. At this time, his spiritual level was at the same level as his famous teachers. What he needed to learn, he learned. But the real liberation, the ideal of eliminating all suffering thoroughly and completely, what he had been aiming for days and nights on the path of finding the enlightenment way, Prince Siddhartha had not achieved yet. After that, Prince Siddhartha decided to follow the path of asceticism, experimenting with the traditional method that the present Hermits always worshiped as the ultimate.

The prince went deep to the forest to practice. In places where were no people, if there was just an animal walking on the ground, a peacock dropping a tree branch, or a gust of wind shaking the falling leaves could also cause people's hairs stand on end, that arisen fear and terror could drive madness to those who did not have enough courage and strong will. At first, he only ate one meal a day, a cup of porridge a week, then once in two weeks. After that, the amount of food gradually decreased to a minimum, he ate the grains of rice or sesame that were scattered on his body by the wind, or he ate the grass and roots of trees in the forest to live. When Siddhartha ate too little, Siddhartha's limbs shrunk like grass or withered vines, Siddhartha's feet were like camel's toenails, exposed spine, emaciated ribs looked like the rafters of a ruined stilt house, two glittering pupils were deep in the eye-holes, like a deep well, the wrinkled and parched scalp were like a white pumpkin, his belly skin clung to the spine. Because of eating too little, when Prince Siddhartha stood up and used hands to massage his limbs, the hairs fell from his body. Siddhartha collected discarded burial cloths to cover his body, or he wore coarse linen, clothes made of tree bark. He used wooden planks as a bed, lay on the bare earth, lived and slept in the open air. Practicing holding breath made the Crown Prince's mind dizzy and painful, it was like an athlete using a belt to wrap his head, or he felt like there was fire burning every part of his body.

After six years of asceticism, one day the Prince realized that he had gone the wrong way, understanding that this ascetic method could not lead to enlightenment. If the body is weak, the mind cannot be wise. The Prince gave up the method that maltreated the body, nor did he follow the path of enjoying and taking care of himself. Following the Middle Way, he practiced meditation on the basis of the Noble Eightfold Path, based on personal experience to find out the nature of man and the universe.

After receiving Sujata's meal, Prince Siddhartha sat under the Bodhi tree and uttered a great prayer: "Even if the flesh and blood in my body dry up, or this body is only skin and bones, if I do not become a Fully Enlightened Buddha, I will never leave this place". Then, the battle between the crown prince and the internal evil forces such as greed, anger, jealousy, selfishness, boredom, pride, conceit, stupidity, laziness... began. Overcoming all obstacles, completely eliminating the defilements in the mind, Prince Siddhartha achieved his goal finally, he became Shakyamuni Buddha, the leader of Buddhism, one of the largest religions in the world.

From the time of his great attainment of the path until the time he went to Nirvana, during the remaining forty-five years of his life, he traveled all over the world to guide mankind to live with great wisdom and love. When facing people who hated, slandered, denigrated, and cursed him, Gotama still smiled and accepted, he used wisdom and love to teach people to live kindly, give up themselves for the others in order to get peace. He used to be a prince, after that he became a great teacher of dozens of kings, his followers came from all the class. However, Gotama Buddha still lived a simple and noble life, he sometimes slept on the edge of forests and caves, he held a bowl to transform in each village every day. His life and lifestyle is a shining sun, eternally illuminating the world.   

Tâm Biện

Translated into English by Nguyen Thi Tham

Related News

The Inter-relations of the Four Sublime States
Sublime Equanimity
Sincerely grateful to Master on the occasion of Vietnamese Teachers' Day of November 20th!
Knocking on hearts