For several weeks the newly enlightened Buddha remained
in the vicinity of the bodhi tree, contemplating the truths
he had discovered.
Then he faced the challenge of one more decision — whether
to go out and try to teach or whether remain silent
and stay the forest. When he first reflected on this question,
he decided not to teach, to pass his days quietly in the
forest, and to enter into nirvana silently by himself.
The Dhamma, he thought, is just too deep and people are
too attached. If he tried to teach no one would be interested,
no one would try to understand. But then his mind inclined
in the other direction.
And in the same way,
he saw, there are some people whose eyes are covered
with only a little bit of dust, who need only to hear the
Dhamma to open enlightenment and gain deliverance. And
when he saw this he makes the decision to go forth to
For his first hearers he chose the five ascetics who
previously used to wait upon him but had left him. Seeing
his bearing is so majestic, his faculties
so pure, his expression so serene, they listened to his
In his first discourse the Buddha explained to them the
middle way. He said he has achieved the supreme goal, he
has discovered the middle way, the noble eight-fold path
which avoids the extremes of indulgence and luxury on one
hand and the extreme of self-mortification on the other
hand. He went on the proclaim the Four Noble Truths
and to tell how his discovery of the four noble truth issued
in his enlightenment.
The Buddha himself then commenced his long career of wandering
which was to lead him from town to town, from village to
village in northern India. And so the Buddha taught for
As he approached his 80th
year, the buddha knew that he had accomplished his mission.
His doctrine had become widespread and fruitful, he
had established the sangha, the order of monks and nuns.
There were large numbers of people, monks and nuns, laymen
and lay women, who had opened enlightenment could
see to the transmission of the Dhamma. And so he set out
on his last journey accompanied by Ananda, his personal
attendant, and by the order of monks. He traveled to the
town of ß and there he lay down between two trees.
In his final discourse he exhorted them: