The First Teaching

It was a long way to Benares and Budhha walked slowly through village and farm. Everyone was immediately attracted to him. He was tall and handsome and moved with dignity and grace. Just seeing him brought calmness and joy to the people. He spoke kind and gentle words of comfort to everyone he met. Whether they were rich or poor, simple or intelligent, of noble birth or low, Buddha treated them all equally, with great love and respect.

Finally, he reached the Deer Park. From a distance the five men saw him approach. Quickly they s whispered to one another, "Here comes that good-for-nothing Siddhartha. Let us have nothing to do with such a quitter ! Ignore him if he comes near." But as Buddha approached the men immediately felt that there was something very special about him. Forgetting their plan to ignore him, they automatically stood up as he drew near. With great respect they prepared a seat for him, took his robe, brought him some water and said, "Welcome Siddhartha, to the Deer Park. We are honored that you have joined us here." Buddha answered, " I thank you for your kind welcome, O monks. But you should know that I am no longer simply Siddhartha, and it is no longer right for you to call me by that name." "By what name should we call you then ?" they asked. "The whole world is asleep in ignorance," he answered. "When someone discovers the truth, he or she is asleep no longer. Now I am awake, having discovered the truth. All such Awakened Ones are called Buddha."

Then the five men, with great respect, said, "O Buddha, please teach us what you have learned so that we too may awaken." And so, in answer to their request, Buddha delivered his first teaching. It is called "
Turning the Wheel of the Dharma"
and "Dharma" is the truth he discovered. "O monks, " he began, "you must know that there are four Noble Truths. The first is the Noble Truth of suffering. Life is filled with the miseries of old age, sickness, death and unhappiness. People chase after pleasure but find only pain. Even when they find something pleasant they soon grow tired of it. Nowhere is there any real satisfaction or peace.

The second is the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering. When our mind is filled with greed and desire, sufferings of all types follow. For example, if a rich man is attached to his wealth, his miserliness will bring him nothing but pain.

The third is the Noble Truth of the End of Suffering. When we remove all craving and desire from our mind, suffering will come to an end. We shall experience a peace and happiness that is beyond words.

Finally, the fourth truth is the Noble Truth of the Path. This path leads to the end of all suffering. If we avoid harming all other living beings, if we sharpen and focus our mind, and if we gain wisdom, each of us can reach perfect happiness, the end of all misery."

When they heard these words the five men felt as happy as if they had found a great treasure of gold. " Oh, Buddha," they said, "you have indeed found the truth. Please teach us the path to perfect wisdom and happiness and we shall be your followers." It is said that many unseen spirits also heard these first teachings and flew to the ends of the earth crying, "The Buddha has begun to teach. Let us the world rejoice !"