four sufferings ［四苦］ ( shi-ku): The four universal sufferings: birth, aging, sickness, and death. Various sutras describe Shakyamuni’s quest for enlightenment as motivated by a desire to find a solution to these four sufferings. Shakyamuni awakened to these sufferings through four encounters known as the “four meetings” that took place around the grounds of his father’s palace when he was a young prince. This awakening is what motivated him to renounce secular life and pursue the religious path in order to attain enlightenment. Later four more sufferings came to be added to these four sufferings, yielding the concept of “eight sufferings.” The four additions are the sufferings of having to part with loved ones, of having to meet those one hates, of being unable to obtain one’s desires, and suffering arising from the five components of life. The “four sufferings” and the “eight sufferings” often indicate all human suffering. See also eight sufferings; four meetings.