Dharma in daily life
After attaining enlightenment, Buddha was inspired to share his learning with the five monks who were his fellow seekers prior to his awakening.
The Buddha left Bodh Gaya to visit these monks at the Isipatana Deer Park in Sarnath near Varanasi. The Buddha had hoped that they would be able to grasp his learning quickly. This is when he delivered his First Sermon to this audience of five monks. A short synopsis of this golden teaching follows.
“This Dhamma is based on direct experience and not intellect-based thinking. It is the path of the middle way that avoids both extremes of bodily indulgence in sensual pleasures as well as painful austerities that deprive the physical body of its basic necessary nourishment and comfort needs. The Noble Eightfold Path through Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration helps one attain understanding, liberation and peace.”
“This is the right path because it does not deny suffering, but confronts it based on the Four Noble Truths. The First Noble Truth accepts the existence of suffering in this world like in the form of birth, old age, sickness and death. Similarly, sadness, hate, anger, desire, attachment, anxiety, fears, worry, jealousy can all be considered forms of suffering. The Second Noble Truth states that the cause of this suffering is rooted in ignorance as we are unaware of the supreme truth. The Third Noble Truth is that end of this suffering is possible through proper understanding of experience-based knowledge of truth.
And the Fourth Noble Truth is about the Eightfold Path, following which leads to the end of suffering.”
This first sermon of the Buddha is called the Dhammacakkappavattana or, more famously, Turning the Wheel of Dharma, as metaphorically it represents the setting of a new understanding of Dharma or teaching to attain enlightenment as a way to escape worldly sufferings.
The sermon at Sarnath was delivered on the full moon night in the month of Ashadh (June 15 to July 15) as per the lunar calendar, which is celebrated as a major Buddhist festival in countries like Bhutan. Interestingly, the same day is also of significance for Hindus and is popularly celebrated as Guru-Poornima (July 15), a day for disciples to show special respects to their spiritual masters. Sadly, in the past we have been divided in our beliefs among the various sects and practices followed by people of different faiths in our country. But I believe that we have far more in common to celebrate. And I think we should focus on the benefits from these learning opportunities.
On this auspicious day, I would like to share a favourite analogy to illustrate the point. The word Guru originates from two root alphabets “Gu” (referring to darkness) and “Ru” (symbolic of light) which imply the dispeller of ignorance. The Buddha’s name in its literal translation means “the awakened one”. No matter who we follow, all our spiritual teachers encourage us to walk the path of inner awakening which can happen only if we apply their teachings as practical training in our daily lives.
— The author has published a book of Zen poetry titled, A Moment for the Mind, which expounds on the practice of Mindfulness Meditation. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org