The Buddha’s first encounter after his enlightenment

Shortly after the Buddha’s enlightenment, he set off to find his 5 companions.  As he was walking along, someone was quite taken aback by the newly enlightened Buddha’s radiant appearance and awesome demeanor:

1.1) “Who are you friend? Your face is so clear and
bright, your manner is awesome and serene. Surely you
must have discovered some great truth – who is your
teacher, friend and what is it that you have discovered?”

The newly-awakened Buddha replied: “I am an Alltranscender,
an All-knower. I have no teacher. In all the
world I alone am fully enlightened. There is none who
taught me this – I came to it through my own efforts.”

“Do you mean to say that you claim to have won victory
over birth and death?”

“Indeed friend I am a Victorious One; and now, in this
world of the spiritually blind, I go to Benares to beat the
drum of Deathlessness.”

“Well, good for you friend,” said Upaka and, shaking his
head as he went, he left by a different path.
~ MV 1.6
Cited in p26 of The Island by Ajahn Passano and Ajahn Amaro

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4 thoughts on “The Buddha’s first encounter after his enlightenment

  1. Notice here that enlightenment is associated with “Deathlessness” – that which does not die. This is important because you’ll hear Buddhists everywhere saying that “Absolutely everything is impermanent” (which is not true).

    Yet here, in the Buddha’s first words to someone after his enlightenment, he talks about something which is NOT impermanent, something which is not at the mercy of death.

    In other words, the Buddha found something real, something of substance, something which death can not touch. Hence he found something of immense value which lasts forever.

  2. Why did the Buddha set off on his Quest?
    Prince Siddartha (the Buddha to be) was heir to the throne, had a beautiful wife and had the finest things in life for him to enjoy, courtesy of his father, the King. Life wasn’t too bad being a prince. But in the prime of his life, Prince Siddartha left everything behind in search of the Ultimate Truth.

    Why?

    Because even though he was extremely handsome, strong and healthy, he was shocked to realize one day, he too would get old. One day, his good health will be no more – he will encounter illness and eventually die.

    The Limitations of the Happiness Found in the World
    He realized that the pleasures of life are good while they last – health, wealth and good family and friends – but they can only satisfy us so much. You can only enjoy these good things in life for only so long before they start changing and before you know it, one day, they’ll be gone. He realized that one day, everything that was his, everything that was beloved to him will become otherwise, will become separated from him.

    So he left it all behind, to set off on a spiritual quest to see if there was an answer to the dilemmas of getting old, getting ill and eventually dying. Is there a way to be free of these things? If so, how?

    What the Buddha Discovered
    The newly enlightened Buddha gives his answer – even though his physical body would deteriorate over the years, he has discovered something that does not decay or die, inside of him. Something of utmost purity, supreme wisdom and of the highest happiness.

    But unlike the everyday pleasures of the world, the sort of happiness that the Buddha discovered does not decay or die out over time, because it is beyond time. And so, this happiness he discovered is eternal and everlasting – he called it Nirvana. “Nibbanam paramam sukham” – Nirvana is the highest happiness, Nirvana is the utmost bliss! – the Buddha declares in Dhammapada verse 204.

    The Buddha sets off to share the Goodness and Wisdom that he has Discovered
    So here, the Buddha answers Upaka’s question that he is indeed a Victorious One. For he has won victory and freedom over birth and death – because he has discovered something inside of him that is Deathless.

    Even though time may age his body, death can not touch this awakened nature within him. And so, he is going back into the world to “beat the drum of Deathnessness” so that all may hear… and learn how to find this precious jewel of enlightened Nirvana inside of themselves as well.

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