[I: The First Teachings]

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[8: The Meeting at Isipatana]

Then the Gracious One, while walking gradually on walking tour approached Bārāṇasī and the group-of-five monks at the Deer Park in Isipatana. Mahāvastu and Lalitavistara again have more detail. apparently the Buddha met some yakkhas on the way; and had an encounter with a ferryman when he needed to cross the river Ganges, but having no money he crossed by supernatural power (see From Uruvilva to Ṛṣipatana elsewhere on this website); this incident is said to have led to King Bimbisāra abolishing fares for monks on ferries.01 The group-of-five monks saw the Gracious One coming from afar and after seeing (him), they resolved among themselves (on this course of action): “This Ascetic Gotama who is coming, friends, is luxuriant, forsaking the striving he has gone back to luxury. He should certainly not be worshipped or stood up for, nor should his bowl and robe be taken, however, we can prepare a seat - if he wishes he will sit down.”

As the Gracious One approached the group-of-five monks, the group-of-five monks were unable to continue with their own agreement, According to Jā Nid this was because the Buddha was pervading them with loving-kindness (mettā).02 and after going out to meet the Gracious One, one took the Gracious One's bowl and robe, one prepared the seat, one placed the water (for washing) the feet, the foot-stool, and the foot-stand, and the Gracious One sat down on the prepared seat, and while sitting the Gracious One washed his feet.

Then they addressed the Gracious One by name and by the word ‘friend’. After this was said, the Gracious One said this to the group-of-five monks: “Do not address the Gracious One by name, monks, and by the word ‘friend’, the Realised One is a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha, lend an ear, monks, I will instruct you about the attainment of the Deathless, Comm: the Deathless Emancipation attained by me is what is meant; which refers the clause back to himself, though one might have thought it meant the Buddha intends teaching the others the Path to the Deathless Emancipation, in the Pāḷi it can be read either way.03 I will teach the Dhamma, (and) following the path as it has been preached, after no long time you will (attain) that good for which young men of good family rightly go forth from the home to the homeless life, that unsurpassed conclusion to the spiritual life, and will dwell having known, experienced, and attained it yourselves in this very life.”

After this was said, the group-of-five monks said this to the Gracious One: “But you, friend Gotama, They are still using āvuso and his clan name, even though told not to because they are still unconvinced of the Buddha's achievement.04 by that (ascetic) lifestyle, that practice, that difficult way of living, did not arrive at a state beyond (ordinary) human beings, a distinction of what is truly noble knowledge and insight. So how can you now, luxuriant, forsaking the striving, gone back to luxury, attain a state beyond (ordinary) human beings, a distinction of what is truly noble knowledge and insight?”

After this was said, the Gracious One said this to the group-of-five monks: “The Realised One, monks, is not luxuriant, is not forsaking the striving, and has not gone back to luxury. The Realised One is a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha, lend an ear, monks, I will instruct you about the attainment of the Deathless, I will teach the Dhamma, (and) following the path as it has been preached, after no long time (you will attain) that good for which young men of good family rightly go forth from the home to the homeless life, that unsurpassed conclusion to the spiritual life, and will dwell having known, experienced, and attained it yourselves in this very life.”

For a second time the group-of-five monks said this to the Gracious One: “But you, friend Gotama, by that (ascetic) lifestyle, that practice, that difficult way of living, did not arrive at a state beyond (ordinary) human beings, a distinction of what is truly noble knowledge and insight. So how can you now, luxuriant, forsaking the striving, gone back to luxury, attain a state beyond (ordinary) human beings, a distinction of what is truly noble knowledge and insight?”

For a second time, the Gracious One said this to the group-of-five monks: “The Realised One, monks, is not luxuriant, is not forsaking the striving, and has not gone back to luxury. The Realised One is a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha, lend an ear, monks, I will instruct you about the attainment of the Deathless, I will teach the Dhamma, (and) following the path as it has been preached, after no long time (you will attain) that good for which young men of good family rightly go forth from the home to the homeless life, that unsurpassed conclusion to the spiritual life, and will dwell having known, experienced, and attained it yourself in this very life.”

For a third time the group-of-five monks said this to the Gracious One: “But you, friend Gotama, by that (ascetic) lifestyle, that practice, that difficult way of living, did not arrive at a state beyond (ordinary) human beings, a distinction of what is truly noble knowledge and insight. So how can you now, luxuriant, forsaking the striving, gone back to luxury, attain a state beyond (ordinary) human beings, a distinction of what is truly noble knowledge and insight?”

After this was said, the Gracious One said this to the group-of-five monks: “Are you aware of my having spoken to you like this before?”

“Certainly not, venerable Sir.” Here they address the Buddha as Bhante, rather than āvuso, marking their conviction that he really has attained Sambodhi, and their willingness to listen to him with respect.05

“The Realised One is a Worthy One, a Perfect Sambuddha, lend an ear, monks, I will instruct you about the attainment of the Deathless, I will teach the Dhamma, (and) following the path as it has been preached, after no long time (you will attain) that good for which young men of good family rightly go forth from the home to the homeless life, that unsurpassed conclusion to the spiritual life, and will dwell having known, experienced, and attained it yourself in this very life,” and the Gracious One was able to persuade the group-of-five monks. Comm: was able to persuade them: “I am a Buddha”.06 Then the group-of-five monks listened to the Gracious One, they lent an ear, (so as) to attend with their mind to deep knowledge.