Buddhist Studies for primary students
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unit four: what the buddha taught

In this unit: After his enlightenment, the Buddha was in two minds about teaching the Dharma because it's so profound. But he soon realised that there were lots of people like him who also wanted to learn the Truth of existence, so he decided to teach after all. His first - and most important teaching - was on the Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha decides to teach
The Buddha decides to teach
After a long rest, the Buddha began to plan what to do in the future. He thought: "Although the Dharma is deep and will be difficult for most people to understand, there are some who only have a little craving. Such people may be able to accept it.

So I should not keep this truth a secret. I should make it known everywhere, so that all people can benefit from it."
Read & Discuss: Story of the Buddha

Teaching  the Dharma to the five friends

Teaching the Dharma to the Five Friends

The Buddha decided to first teach the Dharma to his five friends who had taken care of him during his six years of struggle for Enlightenment.

The Buddha walked slowly to the Deer Park in Sarnath near Varanasi where they were staying. His five friends were Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji.

When they saw the Buddha, they refused to welcome him, thinking that he was enjoying a sensuous life. However, as the Buddha walked closer to them, they were attracted by his calm look.

They finally agreed to sit down and listen to him. Then for the first time, the Buddha taught the Dharma or the Four Noble Truths to his five friends, known as the turning of the "Wheel of the Dharma".

What is the Dharma?

Dharma means Truth and is sybolised by a wheel. The Dharma Wheel is a symbol of the continuous spreading of the Buddha's teachings to help people live more happily.

The basis of the Buddha Dharma or the Buddha's teachings are the Four Noble Truths:

Dharma Wheel

1. The Truth of Suffering

2. The Truth of the Cause of Suffering

3. The Truth of the End of Suffering

4. The Truth of the Path leading to the End of Suffering

When we get sick, we go to a doctor. A good doctor first finds out what illness we have. Next he decides what has caused it. Then he decides what the cure is. Finally, he gives the medicine that will make us well again.

In the same way, the Buddha showed that there is suffering in the world. He explained the cause of this suffering. He taught that this suffering could be ended. Finally, he showed the way leading to the end of suffering.

Look at the table to see the connection between a doctor and the Buddha.

  A Doctor tells us
  Buddha tells us the truth about
  What is wrong with us   The presence of suffering
  What is the cause of our illness   The cause of suffering
  That there is a cure   The end of suffering
   What we have to do to get well   The way to the end of suffering

The Truth of Suffering

The Buddha's discovery of the solution to the problem of suffering began with the recognition that there is suffering in life. If people examine their own experiences or look at the world around them, they will see that life is full of suffering or unhappiness. Suffering may be physical or mental.

The Truth of the Cause of Suffering

The Buddha saw that the cause of suffering is selfish desire and greed. People want all kinds of things and want to keep them forever. However, greed is endless, like a bottomless pit that can never be filled. The more you want, the more unhappy life is. Thus, our limitless wants and desires are the cause of our suffering.

The Truth of the End of Suffering

To end suffering, selfish desire must be removed. Just as a fire dies when no fuel is added, so unhappiness will end when the fuel of selfish desire is removed. When selfish desire is completely removed, there will be no more suffering. Our mind will be in a state of perfect peace. Buddhists call this state Nirvana.

The Truth of the Path leading to the End of Suffering

The way to end suffering is to follow the 'Noble Eightfold Path':

    means to have a correct understanding of oneself and the world.

    means to think in the right way.

    means to avoid lying, tale telling, gossiping, backbiting, idle talk and harsh words.

    means not to harm or destroy any life, not to steal and not to use sex in a harmful way.

    means not to live on work that would in any way bring harm to living beings.

    means to do our best to become a better person.

    means to be always aware and attentive.

    means to keep the mind steady and calm in order to see the true nature of things.

activity box quiz: unit 4
Guided Meditations:
There are seven guided meditations, with instructions for teachers.
Colouring Book:
Story of the Buddha. (eBook Library)
A Buddhist Tale to Read & Discuss: 
"Bamboo's Father" [Wasted Advice].
Buddhist Songs: 
Seven audio files (MP3 format), with lyrics.
Colouring in Dharma Wheel (eBook Library)
Now that you have
finished unit 4, why not see what you have learned by doing the unit 4 Quiz?
Launch Quiz
Note: Quiz uses Flash 6.0

Let's Continue! Work Unit 5
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