Everyone tried his or her best to amuse the Prince. The dancing girls flirtedwith him, hoping to win at least a smile from his handsome but saddenedface. Yet Siddhartha did not even seem to notice them. He could not getthe visions of old age, sickness and death out of his mind.
One of the ministers, seeing that the Prince was not enjoying any of thesplendid arrangements that had been made for him, came over to the Prince.In the joking manner of a friend he said, "Siddhartha, it is not rightthat you ignore these lovely dancers and refuse to join the festivities.Come on! You are young and healthy; you should be enjoying yourself. Whatis the matter? Aren't these women pretty enough for you?"
But the Prince answered him in a voice as strong and low as thunder. "Youhave misunderstood me. I do not dislike the lovely people and things Isee here. But when I think of how quickly their beauty will disappear,how everything changes so fast, I cannot find much pleasure in them anymore.
"If there were no old age, sickness and death, then I, too, could findgreat pleasure in such lovely objects. But in the middle of such unhappiness,knowing what awaits us all in the future, how can I be satisfied with pleasuresthat will fade so quickly?
"You, my friend, must have a stronger heart than mine if you can be amusedso easily. But for me, everything I see is on fire with suffering. UntilI find a way out of this suffering, such wordly amusements do not interestme at all."
And so, unable to brighten the Prince's mood, everyone returned sadly tothe palace. When the ministers told the King that his son could not beentertained or distracted by anything, he felt so much grief that he couldnot sleep, "O, my beloved son," he thought to himself, "what else can Ido to keep you here in my kingdom with me? What other pleasures can I provideso that you will stay?" And with such worried thoughts, fearful that hewould soon lose his only son, the King spent the night in despair.