(5) THE PRACTICES OF SIDDHARTA GAUTAMA

Prince Siddharta turned to Kyotinyo and said: "Can't you yet feel the cold wind of impermanence? Nothing lasts forever. Eventually, things get old and deteriorate. The music of pleasure is filled with echoes of impermanence. The song of a beautiful woman only deceives us in our lust. In this world there is only pain and suffering. It consists of only intense fire, floating clouds, illusions, and bubbles. Although one loves his youthfulness soon it is destroyed by age, disease and death."

Kyotinyo was powerless when faced with Prince Siddharta's strong resolution. He couldn't do anything but return to the castle and inform the king of the prince's resolve. With bowed head, the king was forced to accept that his son would not return. However, he never stopped worrying. Hence, he asked Kyotinyo to go and stay with Prince Siddharta and take care of him. King Jobon and Princess Yashodara sent him clothes and food, but Siddharta refused them. He spent his days in poverty doing practices too difficult to imagine. He cut his meals to the minimum, going several days without food. Siddharta tried to overcome his spiritual and emotional weaknesses by causing his body pain, controlling his breath, and sitting in a position called the "diamond seat." Prince Siddharta trained his mind to have patience and endurance by doing the practices of the "five fires." However, no matter how hard he concentrated doing these practices, he couldn't attain enlightenment. Finally, when he was terribly weak, and hardly able to stand even with a tree for support, Siddharta decided to give up these practices.

Thinking that no wisdom would come to him, he abandoned his practices and went to the Nirezen River to clean up. He was so exhausted that he was unable to climb the riverbank. He came across a young girl with milk and asked her for some. Although she didn't recognize him, at first glance she knew that he was a very noble person. So, she didn't hesitate. Siddharta garnered enough strength to climb the bank, and headed toward Butsudagaya to sit under the Bodaiju tree in the "diamond seat" position. Kyotinyo and his group witnessed the whole episode and concluded that Siddharta had finally given up his practices. There was a strict rule that ascetics were never to talk to women; to the accomplishment of practices they were considered more dangerous than snakes. Kyotinyo couldn't believe that Siddharta had gotten milk from a young girl. They decided to do practices by themselves and abandon Siddharta to his fate.

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