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For seven weeks the Awakened One spent a quiet time near the vicinity of the Bodhi Tree, paying gratitude for having sheltered Him. Two merchants, on seeing the Noble Being, became His first lay disciples. Soon after His Enlightenment, the Buddha wondered if ordinary human beings would understand His message of Enlightenment. After considering there were some highly developed beings and others who were teachable, He decided to share this greatest gift to humanity. Out of Great Compassion and Great Wisdom, the Blessed One decided to teach. His first two spiritual masters had passed away. He remembered the five monks who had departed, heading for Varanasi, a large cosmopolitan city in northern India famed as an art, philosophical and intellectual center. Making the 100-mile journey on foot, He found them in the Deer Park preserve outside the city. On seeing Him approach, thinking He had abandoned His austerities, the monks decided not to show Him any special sign of respect. As He drew near, His majestic, authoritative bearing caused them to spontaneously receive Him with honor due a spiritual teacher. The Buddha proclaimed that Deathlessness had been realized by Him. He knew how the endless round of rebirth, and its attendant suffering, could be abandoned once and for all time. Initially, they were skeptical and asked many questions. Their doubts quelled, the Buddha instructed them throughout the night and all eventually gained sainthood (arhatship). These five enlightened monk-saints constituted the beginning of the ordained Buddhist community known as the Sangha.
The first discourse of the Buddha given to these monks is considered as "The Setting of the Wheel of Truth in Motion." The Buddha opened the teaching-session by exhorting beings to avoid the extremes of both self-indulgence and self-torture. Neither way leads to balance, to spiritual insight and perfection. The path of the Middle Way, of self-correction, when cultivated correctly and completely, will surely lead to the end of life's pain and frustration, to complete Enlightenment. This was His instruction to His five companions. As time went on, after gathering sixty enlightened arhat-monks, The Compassionate One knew there were enough disciples to begin a pioneer movement for the sake of people in distant lands. In no way whatsoever are the disciples of the Buddha missionaries or proselytizers keen on seeking converts (in the Western sense). Messengers of the Dhamma simply declare a self-evident Truth about the nature of life which one is free to accept, or not.
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         The Buddha addressed the monks:
"Go forth, monks, and teach the Truth which leads to the end of dissatisfaction and to Perfect Peace and Freedom. Teach the Truth which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle and glorious in the end. Go forth for the good of all beings. There are some whose eyes are not obscured by dust. Teach them. They will understand."

The Buddha gave permission to the monks to ordain those who wished to enter the Community (Sangha) thereby gaining the benefit of spiritual friendship and support of like-minded friends in Dhamma. Irrespective of caste, all qualified applicants could enter the Community. The average layperson can practice spiritual development in daily life. Monks and nuns, who have optimum conditions for spiritual development, can devote considerably more time and energy for training in the discipline and for meditation. He dispatched the band of disciples who wandered forth, not two going in the same direction. Journeying throughout northern and eastern India, He and His disciples only halted their travels for about four months during the rainy season when they would go on meditation retreat, discuss the Dhamma teachings, and instruct younger members of the Sangha and laity.

Contents | Birth | 4 Sights | Renunciation | Austeristies | Middle Way | Enlightenment | Teaching | Home | 2 Disciples | Women | Last Disciple | Death