Dear Dhamma Friends,
Noble Eight-fold Path(NEP) or a.t.tha`ngika-magga is preached by the Buddha in his very first discourse called dhamma-cakka-ppavattana sutta.m. Anatta was not preached in that very first discourse yet. Before this discourse there were also Buddha's words. The Buddha became enlightened on the full-moon day of the fourth month. The Buddha then went into phala-samaapatti for 49 days called Satta-sattaaha. At the end of 49 days there came two brothers named Tapussa and Ballika.
The Buddha had talks with these two brothers and they were given upaasakaa-hood after they promised "dvevaacika sara.nagamana" ,which include taking refuge in the Buddha and the Dhamma. This had to happen because at that time there were still no disciples yet and there was no sa.mgha. So they were the first upaasakaas and the only people who just had double-gems instead of triple-gems.
The Buddha then gave them some hair from His head after touching with the right hand for future homage for them while they lived far away from where the Buddha lived. After they left, the Budhha considered whether not to preach dhamma as what he discovered was so subtle, so deep, so complex, so complicated. At that time a Brahma came to Him and asked to preach dhamma as there were many to be liberated.
Then the first thought to Aa.laara Kaalaama and the second thought to Udaka Raamaputta arised and He was informed that both passed away before The Buddha attained Buddha-hood. "They were gone in vain, they were gone in vain!". The third thought was to the group of five called pancavaggii. They renounced even when Bodhisatta went off for searching amata-dhamma or nibbaana.
They were in migadaa vana (deer park) and they had been with Bodhisatta for about six years after which they left the Bodhisatta as He resume food for growing of His body. The Buddha thought that the first discourse must be given to them as they were ripen. Then He considered how ancient Buddhas went to the first disciples for the first discourse.
And He found that They all flied through the sky with jhaana. But in His case, He considered to go on foot as that might be more beneficial than flying in the sky. This is because if He went on foot He would meet a man called Upaka who was a paribbaajaka (renounced man).
They met on the way. Upaka looked at the Buddha. But he did not know that the Buddha was a genuine Buddha. Even when the Buddha admitted that He was a Buddha, Upaka said `so it be, so it be!'. But Upaka well remembered that the Buddha name was "Ananta Jina". Upaka was taken as refuge by a hunter, who had a beautiful daughter called "Caapaa". Later Upaka was married to Caapaa.
However, they divorced when they got a baby. Caapaa insulted Upaka (vain-man, ex-ascetic) and Upaka remembered "Ananta Jina". So he left Caapaa and searched Ananta Jina at Jetavana Monastry in Saavatthi. After hearing the Buddha teaching he became an anaagaamii. Caapaa again followed him and came to know this event and she also became a bhikkhunii and later became an arahat. For this benefit the Buddha went on foot when he left the place of enlightenment.
When met with the Buddha those five ascetics forgot their promise of not to welcome, not to give place to sit, not to give water for washing feet and so on. They did the opposite. When the Buddha admitted Himself is a Sammaa-sambuddha they did not believe. The Buddha, after having said three time that He was Buddha reminded them saying " Have I ever admitted I become a Buddha?".
The five then thought over again and they accepted that Siddhattha Gotama never said lie and they started to listen what the Buddha taught. The Buddha gave them the first discourse called `dhammacakkappavattana sutta.m'. The whole discourse was on truth and it is called four noble truths or the truths realized by ariyaas namely 1. Dukkha-ariya-saccaa 2. Dukkha-samudaya-ariya-saccaa 3. Dukkha-nirodha-ariya-saccaa and 4. Dukkha-nirodha-pa.tipadaa-gaaminii-ariya saccaa.
Simply they are also called dukkha saccaa, samudaya saccaa, nirodha saccaa, and magga saccaa. Dukkha saccaa is the noble truth of sufferings, samudaya saccaa is the noble truth of the cause of sufferings, nirodha saccaa is the noble truth of the cessation of sufferings, and magga saccaa is the noble truth of the path leading to cessation of sufferings.
This last truth or magga saccaa or the noble truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering is the basic for all advanced things in dhamma. So the Buddha first preached this discourse on four noble truths. There was no term like "ANATTA" in this discourse. Because of this discourse Ko.n.da~n~na became a sotapanna and the Buddha announced that Kondanna became a sotapanna. "A~n~naasi Ko.n.da~n~no! A~n~naasi Ko.n.da~n~no!".
There were 5 ascetics or the group of five monks namely Kondanna, Baddiya, Vappa, Mahaanaama, and Assaji. They became sotapanna one after another on five successive days. Except Kondanna all four others had to do practice with the guidance from the Buddha. The Buddha performed as a close teacher for them while they did the practice.
On the 1st waningmoon day Kondanna and another monk went alms round while two other monks were taught by the Buddha about dhamma. On that day Baddiya, next day Vappa, next day Mahaanaama and next day Assaji, who was the teacher of `Upatissa Saariputta' the right wing disciple of the Buddha, finally became a sotapanna. Saariputta always slept with his head toward the direction wherever Assaji dwelled not to the Buddha.
In Noble Eight-fold Path or NEP the Buddha described `sammaa-di.t.thi' first. Sammaa-di.t.thi comes first and this is followed by sammaa-sa`nkappa. These two parts of the path are called pa~n~naa-magga`ngas. Without these two part the path cannot be true path or genuine path. If not genuine it may lead to wrong path. The middle three parts namely sammaa-vaacaa, sammaa-kammanta, and sammaa-aajiiva are called siila-magga`ngas.
The last three parts of the path namely sammaa-vaayaama, sammaa-sati and sammaa-samaadhi are called samaadhi magga`ngas. Whoever want to follow the path, they must follow the genuine path which is led by sammaa-di.t.thi. There are 7 purifications or satta visuddhis. Siila-visuddhi or morality-purification must be led by sammaa-ditthi. Citta-visuddhi or mind-purification must also be led by sammaa-ditthi. Di.t.thi-visuddhi or view-purification must also be led by sammaa-di.t.thi.
Ka`nkhaavitara.na-visuddhi or suspicion-purification must also be led by sammaa-di.t.thi. Maggaamagga~naa.nadassana-visuddhi or true-path-purification must also be led by sammaa-di.t.thi. Pa.tipadaa~naa.nadassana-visuddhi or practice-purification must also be led by sammaa-di.t.thi. Finally ~naa.nadassana-visuddhi or wisdom-purification must also be led by sammaa-di.t.thi. In vipassanaa matter these purifications should have been studied beforehand.
May you all be well and happy,
With Unlimited Metta,
( V-019 DT-906 )