Chapter Twenty Seven – Waking up Once upon a time, about two and a half thousand years ago, a prince was born in the north of India. His name was Siddhartha Gautama, and he led a happy and indulgent childhood, protected from the harsh realities of life. One day he walked out of his comfortable palace into the streets and saw a sick man, an old man, a beggar and a corpse. Shocked by all the suffering he saw, and the contrast with his own life, he vowed to search for the meaning of existence. When he was 29 he left behind his wealth, his wife and his young son, and set off to become a wandering ascetic, depriving himself of every comfort and outdoing all the other ascetics of his time with harsh self-imposed discipline. After six years, when almost starving to death, he accepted some milk gruel, regained his health and concluded that neither indulgence nor deprivation was the way to truth: a middle way was needed. He sat down under a pipal tree and vowed not to get up again until he understood.