7. The four noble truth and the eightfold path
Buddha gave his first sermon in a deer park at Sarnath, a city close to Varanasi. The attendants were the same five companions who strived for enlightenment with him before. They became his first disciples.
Buddha’s first teaching marks the setting in motion of the wheel of Dharma. Buddhism was born with this event.
In his discourse Buddha explained his major findings. In summary:
A person who seeks knowledge should avoid two extremes – the one of sensual pleasure and the other of self-affliction. Both these paths are ignoble and useless. The midway between these two extremes is the right path for gaining vision, knowledge and self-awakening.
Buddha explained suffering using the four noble truths which can be understood as:
Nature: Suffering is the nature of our existence. Birth is suffering, ageing is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering, association with what is unpleasant is suffering, disassociation with what is pleasant is suffering, not getting what is desired is suffering.
Source: The cause of suffering is not the outside world but our own desire, greed, attachment, craving. Craving for delight here and there. Craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for unbecoming.
Cessation: It is the fading away, renunciation or letting go of the craving.
Path: The way leading to the cessation of suffering consists of an eight fold path: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.