Buddha's first discourse

Ven. Dickwelle Mahinda


Everybody knows that Vesak Day is the most significant day for Buddhists where the they live in the West or in the East. The birth, the enlightenment, and the passing away of the Buddha all occurred on this day. In memory of these significant events, the Buddhists celebrate Vesak. On this Vesak full moon day, intelligent Buddhists pay their respects to the supreme Buddha by observing the eight or ten precepts. Others pay their respects to The Enlightened One by celebrating festivals. But the praiseworthy way to honour the Master is by example and by precept.

Now let us consider what did the Buddha realize on Vesak ?.On Vesak day the Supreme Buddha realized the Four Noble Truths which are mentioned in the first discourse. This discourse, known as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta sets forth the basic eternal truths of life comprehended by the Buddha during his illumination under the Bodhi tree, and explains them in so clear and direct a manner as to lead the hearer to a similar understanding.

In the Sutta, the Buddha explains that there are two extremes which should be avoided. What are they? They are the extreme of self-indulgence and the extreme of self-mortification. The men who devote themselves to these two extremes, ignoble and profitless, go astray and fail to perceive the true Dhamma. Abandoning these two extremes, the Buddha continues, He, the Tathàgata, has discovered the Middle Path (Majjhima Patipada) which promotes sight and wisdom, and which tends to peace, to higher wisdom, enlightenment, and Nibbana.

What is this Middle Path discovered and expounded by the Enlightened One more than two thousand five hundred yeas ago. It is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely Right Understanding, Right Thoughts, Right speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right concentration. The Path is commonly divided into three factors- such as Sila, Samadhi, Panna (morality, concentration, and wisdom).

By developing these three factors we can eradicate the cause of suffering and thereby the suffering itself which follows as its consequence. The cause of suffering the Buddha teaches, as craving (tanha), manifesting itself as the defilements (kilesa) of the mind . We cannot eradicate craving all at once. But we can eliminate it by degrees. First we should practice morality, then with morality as our foundation, develop concentration, (samatha) insight meditation (vipassana).When the mind is filled with defilements, virtue, concentration and wisdom disappear. When the mind is filled with virtue, concentration and wisdom, then the defilements disappear. The defilements can be removed momentarily by efficacy of morality(Sila).They can be removed temporarily by the efficacy of concentration(Samadhi)and craving, the cause of suffering, can be eradicated forever by the efficacy of wisdom (panna). The end is unshakeable deliverance of the mind which is the goal of the Buddhist path, and man who has eradicated all defilements and achieved the goal is called as Arahat.

According to the discourse, the Buddhist should do four things. What are they? There are to perceive the Truth of Suffering to eradicate the Truth of its cause, to realize the Truth of its cessation, which is Nibbana, and practice the Truth of the path that is leading to the cessation of suffering, which is the Noble Eightfold Path.

Within the scope the Four Noble Truths, The Buddha describes to us Kamma and vipaka or Kamma and rebirth, otherwise called Hetu and Phala. The cause of suffering refers to Kamma or Hetu, the Truth of suffering to Vipaka, rebirth or Phala. when we practice the Noble Eightfold Path the cause of suffering will automatically disappear. When a man completely eradicates his craving, forever he attains Kilesa parinibbana. Nibbana has two aspects the complete destruction of craving and other defilements in the course of life is called Kilesa Parinibbna the subsequent dissolution of the physical and mental aggregates (Kandhas) on the passing away of the Arahat and ending of rebirth is the second aspect of Nibbana. With this the final goal of the Buddha's teaching is completed and nothing remains to be done.