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Four meetings

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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four meetings
[四門遊観・四門出遊] (Jpn shimon-yukan or shimon-shutsuyu )

    Also, four encounters. A story that appears in various sutras concerning Shakyamuni's motivation for renouncing the secular world and pursuing a religious life. According to tradition, Prince Siddhartha, the young Shakyamuni, was mostly confined to the palace of his father, who shielded him from the sight of any worldly suffering that might arouse in him a desire for a religious life. One day, however, emerging from the eastern gate of the palace on what was intended to be a pleasure outing, the prince encountered a man withered with age. Exiting from the southern gate on another occasion, he saw a sick person. A third time, going out from the western gate, he saw a corpse. Through these encounters, the prince awakened to the four sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, and death. Finally, going out through the northern gate, he encountered a religious ascetic whose air of serene dignity awoke in him the resolve to embark on a religious life and attain enlightenment.

Source

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