Sok Ga Mo Ni Buddha’s First Teaching
This painting depicts Sok Ga Mo Ni Buddha’s first teaching and is called the Turning of the Wheel of Truth. It was given on the full-moon day of July.
This discourse was given to the five ascetics who were his former companions, at the Deer Park in Isipatana (now called Sarnath), near Benares, India. Many devas and brahmas (angels and gods) were present to listen to the discourse.
The Buddha started the discourse by advising the five ascetics to give up two extremes. These were indulgence in sensual pleasures and the tormenting of the body (self-indulgence and self-mortification).
He advised against too much sensual pleasure because these pleasures were base, worldly, not noble and unhelpful in spiritual development. On the other hand, tormenting the body was painful, not noble and also unhelpful in spiritual development. He advised them to follow the Middle Way, which is helpful in seeing things clearly, as they are, and in attaining knowledge, higher wisdom, peace, and enlightenment or nirvana.
The Buddha then taught the five ascetics the Four Noble Truths. They are: the truth of suffering; its cause; its end; and the way to its end. Everything in this world is full of suffering, and the cause of suffering is craving. The end of suffering is nirvana. The way to the end of suffering is via the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Buddha said that He was enlightened only after He understood these Four Noble Truths.