The first teaching of Buddha, the transformed Siddhartha Gautama is when the “Enlightened One” explained the truths he learned and the fundamentals of Buddhism. This was his first sermon with his newfound understanding.
He introduced the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths were a way of understanding our existence. Some would call it our reason for being.
The First Noble Truth is dhukka. Stated simply it explains that all human life is suffering.
The Second Noble Truth explores the cause of the suffering. It points out that suffering in related to human desires. Desiring things or want that can never be fully satisfied only brings suffering. You’ve probably heard the phrase “we always want what we know we can not have”. It’s the same school of thought. Ignorance or lack of understanding the world as it truly exists can only cause suffering.
The Third Noble Truth suggests that either the end of suffering in this life or in the spiritual life is Narvana.
The Fourth Noble Truth is essentially the Eightfold Path. The steps to reach Nirvana.
The Buddha’s first teaching ended with the explantion of the Eightfold Path. The steps of the Eightfold Path are
– Right understanding
– Right thought
– Right speech
– Right action
– Right livelihood
– Right effort
– Right mindfulness
– Right concentration
These can be divided into three themes. These themes are, good moral conduct ( understanding, thought and speech), mental development and meditation (livelihood and effort) and finally wisdom (mindfulness and concentration).
There were a small group of monks, most accounts say it started with five, that accepted the truths quickly and became followers. They traveled and taught with Buddha for the remainder of his life. And so you see, the beginning of Buddhism was one First Teaching. Wouldn’t it be considered one of the world’s most powerful sermons?