The Four Passing Sights are a set of events that are said to have occurred in the life of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, before he renounced his privileged life and began his spiritual quest for enlightenment. These events had a significant impact on the origins of Buddhism, and are considered a fundamental part of Buddhist mythology and teaching. The four sights are:
- An Old Man: Siddhartha saw an old man, feeble and wrinkled, walking with the help of a stick. This sight made him realize the inevitability of aging and the impermanence of all things.
- A Sick Man: Siddhartha saw a man who was gravely ill, suffering from disease and in pain. This sight made him realize the nature of suffering and the importance of finding a way to overcome it.
- A Dead Body: Siddhartha saw a dead body being carried to the cremation ground. This sight made him realize the inevitability of death and the impermanence of life.
- An Ascetic: Siddhartha saw a wandering ascetic, who had renounced all worldly possessions and pleasures in search of spiritual liberation. This sight made him realize that the path to enlightenment required a renunciation of worldly attachments and a disciplined pursuit of spiritual practice.
The Four Passing Sights were significant to the origins of Buddhism because they prompted Siddhartha Gautama to renounce his privileged life as a prince and embark on a spiritual quest for enlightenment. They awakened him to the reality of suffering and impermanence, and inspired him to seek a way to overcome it. This led him to develop the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, the core teachings of Buddhism, which offer a way to end suffering and achieve spiritual liberation. The Four Passing Sights thus played a crucial role in the formation of Buddhist doctrine and the emergence of the Buddha as a spiritual leader and teacher.