The Buddha’s First Mentor (Part One)

Life of the Buddha

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(Part One)20. The Buddha’s First Teaching The Buddha’s very first teaching was called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which implies the Turning of the Wheel of Truth. It was provided on the full-moon day of July, called Asalha.

This discourse was provided to the 5 ascetics who were his previous companions, at the Deer Park in Isipatana (now called Sarnath), near Benares, India. Many devas and brahmas (angels and gods) existed to listen to the discourse.

The Buddha started the discourse by recommending the five ascetics to quit 2 extremes. These were extravagance in sensuous pleasures and the tormenting of the body (self-indulgence and self-mortification).

He encouraged versus excessive sensual pleasure because these satisfaction were base, worldly, not worthy and unhelpful in spiritual advancement. On the other hand, tormenting the body was painful, not worthy and likewise unhelpful in spiritual development. He advised them to follow the Middle Way, which is practical in seeing things plainly, as they are, and in obtaining understanding, higher wisdom, peace, and knowledge or nirvana.

The Buddha then taught the five ascetics the Four Noble Realities. They are: the truth of suffering; its cause; its end; and the method to its end. Everything in this world has lots of suffering, and the reason for suffering is craving. The end of suffering is nirvana. The way to the end of suffering is through the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Buddha stated that he was enlightened just after he comprehended these Four Noble Realities.

The Noble Eightfold Course has 8 parts or aspects:

1. Right comprehending means to know and comprehend the Four Noble Realities.

2. Right attitude means to have 3 type of thoughts or mindsets:

(i) Thoughts of renunciation or a mindset of “letting go”.
(ii) Thoughts of goodwill to others, which are opposed to ill will.
(iii) Ideas of harmlessness, as opposed to cruelty.

3. Right speech deals with refraining from falsehood, such as telling lies or not informing the fact; tale-bearing or stating bad aspects of other individuals; severe words and frivolous talk such as gossiping.

4. Right action handle refraining from eliminating, taking and sexual misbehavior.

5. Right income deals with the five sort of trade which must be prevented in order to lead an honorable life. They are: trading in arms (weapons), living beings (breeding animals for massacre), intoxicating drinks and toxin.

6. Right effort has 4 parts using meditation:

(i) To attempt to stop unwholesome thoughts that have actually arisen
(ii) To avoid unwholesome thoughts from emerging.
(iii) To attempt to develop good ideas
(iv) To try to keep good ideas that have actually emerged

7. Right mindfulness is likewise fourfold. It is mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of feelings/sensations, mindfulness of thoughts going through the mind and mindfulness of Dharma.

8. Right concentration is one-pointedness of mind as established in meditation.

These 8 factors can be grouped into 3 smaller groups, as follows:

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