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The First Teaching

It was a long way to Varanasi and Buddha 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 whispered to one another, "Here comes that good-for-nothing Siddhartha. Led 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 robes, brought him some water and said, "Welcome Siddhartha, to the Deer Park. We are honoured 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; it is no longer correct 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. He began to tell the five monks that they must know that there are four Noble Truths:

1. Noble Truth of Suffering

Chasing after the delights of the world, expecting them to bring lasting pleasure, always leads to disappointment. These things are all subject to the miseries of birth, old age, sickness and death. Even when you do find something pleasant how soon do you grow tired of it? None of these 'things' offer any real satisfaction or peace.

2 Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering

Not being able to be content with what we have or who we are, our mind is filled with a greed or desire and suffering of all types automatically follows. This attitude of selfishness and greediness is the cause of our dissatisfaction, robbing us of our peace of mind.

3. Noble Truth of the End of Suffering

Seeing the suffering that comes from these attitudes we are liberated from our heart and all our suffering and dissatisfaction will come to an end. We shall experience a happiness that is far greater then our ordinary pleasures and a peace that is beyond words.

4. Noble Truth of the Middle Path or the Nobel Eightfold 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. The way to end suffering is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path namely:

Right Understanding
Right Thought
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
Right Effort
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration

The five monks who had highly developed minds understood his teaching and became his first disciples; the Sangha (Community of Monks) was thus formed.

Early life | Four signs | Bodhi tree | Enlightenment | Noble Truths | Life & Death | Asoka | Books | Buildings | Festivals | Practices | Rites | Glossary