CHOEKAR DUCHEN – THE BUDDHA’S FIRST TURNING OF THE WHEEL OF DHARMA 24 July 2020
Choekhor Duchen falls on the 4th day of the 6th month in the Tibetan calendar, this year on 24 July 2020. It is important to be aware on this day all positive and negative actions are multiplied ten millionfold, an extremely meritorious day to carry out as much practice as possible for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Please enjoy reading this beautiful passage from Jamgon Kontrul’s Treasury of Knowledge, Volume two, describing Choekhor Duchen, the first teachings the Buddha gave at Saranath, Varanasi, India, on The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path.
The Eleventh Deed
At the request of Brahma and others, He taught in known places Expedient and Definitive meanings in three successive turnings of the Wheel of Dharma.
During the time the perfect Buddha sat beneath the tree of liberation, he thought that no worldly being could realise the profound understanding he had attained.
Thus, he said:
“Deep, tranquil, unformulated, non-composite clear light. This ambrosia-like reality I have gained is unfathomable by anyone I might teach. Thus, I will dwell at the forest’s edge in silence. He sat alone with little activity in his mind.”
Through the Buddha’s power, Brahma with a tufted crown arrived with his retinue of sixty-eight hundred thousand, and beseeched Him to teach the Dharma, but the Buddha did not do so. Brahma then called on Shakra for assistance. After the third request, the Buddha, clearly seeing His disciples’ different capabilities, promised to open the door of ambrosia-like teachings, beginning with the teachings to any kind of sentient being. The tidings, “The Transcendent Buddha will Turn the Wheel of Dharma”! resounded as far as Brahma’s realm.
The Buddha then went to seek alms in Varanasi. When He arrived at Deer Park, Descent of the Sages, the five excellent ones came to greet Him. The Buddha called forth, and they thereby became true fully ordained monks.
At that place, one thousand magnificent lion-supported thrones appeared. The Buddha circumambulated the first three; when He sat in cross-legged posture on the fourth, a great light spread throughout worlds in the ten direction, and a sound arose beings to listen to His teachings. A god called ‘Bodhisattva Who Turned the Wheel of the Teachings to Attain Awakening’ presented Him with a one thousand-spoked wheel made of gold from the Jambu River. He and countless other bodhisattvas and gods assembled.
On the fourth day of the sixth lunar month, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths in three enunciations: (He first explained) their essence, then their function, and finally their result. In this way, He presented that cycle of teaching in twelve aspects. As a result, the five excellent ones attained (the state of) Arhat (foe-subduer), and for the first time the Three Jewels (Buddha, Teaching and the Spiritual Community) appeared in this world.
Beginning with instruction in the Expedient and Definitive meanings (of Dharma), the Buddha turned the Great Wheel of Dharma ~ virtuous in the beginning, middle, and end in three stages. He taught in known locations such as Gaya Peak, Gandhamadana Mountain, Rajgir, Vulture’s Peak, Shravasti, Jetavana, Kosala, Kapilavastu, and the city of Vaishali, as well as in many places unknown (to humans), such as realms of gods and nagas, and the precious Vajra Place.
The Buddha lead innumerable disciples of the four kinds, including the sublime pair, to the attainment of four results. He foretold the awakening of countless humans and gods who had affinity with the Great Way. In Shravasti, He displayed supreme miracles, both mundane and supramundane. For His mother Mayadevi’s sake, He spent one summer retreat period in Heaven of the thirty-three, then descended from the god’s realm (back to earth) at Sankashya. At glorious Treasure Mound Stupa and other places, the Buddha taught the secret mantra way to exceptional disciples. In these ways, His displays of the Four Taming Miracles were inconceivable and indescribable.
In summary, the Buddha stayed in His father’s royal residence until the age of twenty-nine. He practiced the austerities over six years, and at the age of thirty-five attained enlightenment. From then until His eightieth year, he conducted forty-five summer retreats and set in motion the highest Wheel of the teachings.
From the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism 31 July 2014