20. The First Teaching
It was a long way to Benares and Buddha walked slowly through village andfarm. Everyone was immediately attracted to him. He was tall and handsomeand moved with dignity and grace. Just seeing him brought calmness andjoy to the people. He spoke kind and gentle words of comfort to everyonehe met. Whether they were rich or poor, simple or intelligent, of noblebirth 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 himapproach. Quickly they whispered to one another, "Here comes that good-for-nothingSiddhartha. Let us have nothing to do with such a quitter! Ignore him ifhe come near."
But as Buddha approached the men immediately felt that there was somethingvery special about him. Forgetting their plan to ignore him, they automaticallystood 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, tothe Deer Park. We are honoured that you have joined us here."
Buddha answered, "I thank you for your kind welcome, O monks. But you shouldknow that I am no longer simply Siddhartha, and it is no longer right foryou to call me by
"By what name should we call you then?" they asked.
"The whole world is asleep in ignorance," he answered. "When someone discoversthe truth, he or she is asleep no longer. Now I am awake, having discoveredthe truth. All such Awakened Ones are called `Buddha'."
Then the five men, with great respect, said, "O Buddha, please teach uswhat you have learned so that we too may awaken."
Andso, in answer to their request, Buddha delivered his first teaching. Itis called "Turning the Wheel of the Dharma" and "Dharma" is the truth hediscovered. "O monks," he began, "you must know that there are four NobleTruths. The first is the Noble Truth of Suffering. Life is filled withthe miseries of old age, sickness, death and unhappiness. People chaseafter pleasure but find only pain. Even when they do find something pleasantthey 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 mindis 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 himnothing but pain.
"The third is the Noble Truth of the End of Suffering.When we remove allcraving and desire from our mind, suffering will come to an end. We shallexperience a peace and happiness that is beyond words."Finally, the fourth truth is the Noble Truth of the Path. This path leadsto 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 canreach perfect happiness, the end of all misery."