Readings from the Pali Canon
This modest selection of excerpts from the Pali Canon provides a rough sketch of the life of the Buddha. I hope you will find enough in this rather sparse selection to gain at least an inkling both of the range of the Buddhas teachings and of the sweeping trajectory of his extraordinary life....
I have heard that on one occasion, when the Blessed One was newly Self awakened, he was staying at Uruvela on the bank of the Neranjara River, at the foot of the Goatherds Banyan Tree. Then, while he was alone and in seclusion, this line of thinking arose in his awareness: "This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, enjoys attachment. For a generation delighting in attachment, excited by attachment, enjoying attachment, this/that conditionality and dependent co arising are hard to see. This state, too, is hard to see: the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. And if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me."
Just then these verses, unspoken in the past, unheard before, occurred to the Blessed One:
Enough now with teaching
what only with difficulty
This Dhamma is not easily realized
by those overcome
with aversion and passion.
What is abstruse, subtle,
hard to see,
going against the flow --
those delighting in passion,
cloaked in the mass of darkness,
As the Blessed One reflected thus, his mind inclined to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.
Then Brahma Sahampati, having known with his own awareness the line of thinking in the Blessed Ones awareness, thought: "The world is lost! The world is destroyed! The mind of the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Rightly Self awakened One inclines to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma!" Then, just as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, Brahma Sahampati disappeared from the Brahma world and reappeared in front the Blessed One. Arranging his upper robe over one shoulder, he knelt down with his right knee on the ground, saluted the Blessed One with his hands before his heart, and said to him: "Lord, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma! Let the One Well Gone teach the Dhamma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes that are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma."
Then the Blessed One, having understood Brahmas invitation, out of compassion for beings, surveyed the world with the eye of an Awakened One. As he did so, he saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace and danger in the other world. Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses -- born and growing in the water -- might flourish while immersed in the water, without rising up from the water; some might stand at an even level with the water; while some might rise up from the water and stand without being smeared by the water -- so too, surveying the world with the eye of an Awakened One, the Blessed One saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace and danger in the other world.
Then Brahma Sahampati, thinking, "The Blessed One has given his consent to teach of Dhamma," bowed down to the Blessed One and, circling him on the right, disappeared right there.