THE FIRST SERMON

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The Truth that the Buddha realized is universal. In Buddhist terminology it is known as Dharma, or Dhamma in Pali. The realization of the Dharna was the result of a long and arduous spiritual quest. The Buddha attained enlightenment through his own efforts, without any help from a teacher. His knowledge was full and complete, ultimaate and perfect, in all respects.

After enlightenment. The Buddha continued to remain for seven weeks in the vicinity of the Bodhi tree, reflecting on the Truth he had discovered. It became clear to him that what he had realized could not be easily understood by ordinary people, shrouded in ignorance (avijja) and overcome by hate and lust.

The Buddha therefore hesitated for a moment if it would not be futile to teach the Dharma to the world. His boundless compassion, however, gave him a second thought and he saw that people were of different levels of intellect and perfection. Those who had “less dust in their eyes”, i.c., not too ignorant or spiritually blind, would be able to “see” the Dharma and benefit from it. He therefore decided to begin his noble mission to lead the world out of ignorance and suffering.

The Buddha then stared for Benares (Varanasi) in search of the five ascetics. There, at the Deer Park near the city, on the fullmoon of the month Asalha (June-July) he delivered to them the first sermon which came to be known as Dhammacakkappavaattana Sutta or “Setting into Motion the Wheel of Dharma.” The name of the sermon symbolizes the beginning of a spiritual movement that would permanently affect the religious history of the world.

The five ascetics who listened to the first sermon were Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaaddiya, Mahanaama, and Aassaji. Of these, Kondanna was the first to realize the Buddha’s first disciple.

The Wheel of Dharma, set into motion for the benefit and well- deing of mankind, connot be stopped, and the following conturies centuries witnessed its advance into many lands and nations. Buddhism has since been qualified as one of the major world religions and is still a spiritual power to reckon with.

 

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