Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Nepal in about 563 B.C.E. He was the son of a king. When Siddhartha was born, his father was told that the boy had two possible futures. He would be either a great king or a great spiritual leader.

Siddhartha’s father wanted him to be a king. He gave Siddhartha every luxury and kept him from any sadness. Then a series of carriage rides changed Siddhartha’s life. On the first ride, he saw an old person for the first time. He had not known that old age existed. On the next ride, he saw a sick person. He became aware of sickness and disease. Next he saw a corpse, and became aware of death. Finally he saw a holy man who had given up the world for the sake of spiritual things. Siddhartha decided that he too would give up the life he knew in order to seek spiritual fulfillment.

Why do you think that seeing old age, sickness, and death prompted Siddhartha to leave his life as a prince?

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