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Chapter 18: The First Monastery

Now that the Buddha had sixty disciples, he directed them to disperse to spread the doctrine of the buddhas so that as many people as possible could benefit from it. He told them not to go in groups, but one by one, to calm the spirits of all people and teach them to overcome suffering. He himself planned to journey to Yōulóu-pínluó village in the land of Mójiē-tuó 摩揭陀 to teach.

When he had dispersed the sixty luóhàn, the Buddha left the Deer Park and headed southeast to the land of Mójiē-tuó 摩揭陀 and Yōulóu-pínluó village and the hamlet of Jiéfǎ-wàidào 结发外道, where there lived about a thousand men seeking enlightenment under the leadership of three brothers named Jiāyè 迦叶. The Buddha intended to replace their delusions with enlightenment, although they were not initially any more receptive than anybody else.

After he spoke to them, the three brothers and their thousand followers all understood the truth and joined the growing band of luóhàn.

Accompanied by them, he went on to the town of Wángshè, further down the road but still in the land of Mójiē-tuó, to fulfill his promise to King Pínpó-suōluó to tell him of his enlightenment and bring the truth to all the king's people. He sent his luóhàn ahead into Wángshè to spread the word, and himself headed for a palm grove, and there, his heart filled with compassion, he preached to King Pínpó-suōluó and the people of Wángshè so that they would be able to avoid suffering.

People had begun to speak of that Buddha and his message as the "three treasures" ( sānbǎo 三宝): the Buddha (fó ) himself and all the other buddhas past and future, the Buddhist teachings, which were called the "law" (fǎ ) because they are the way the world works, and the Buddha's committed followers who left their families to learn and teach. They were called priests (sēng ).

King Pínpó-suōluó told the Buddha he wished to become a home-dwelling follower and to support the Three Treasures. and he presented him with a plot of ground called the Bamboo Forest Retreat (Zhúlínjīng shè 竹林精舍). This became the first monastery, establishing the tradition of monasteries that today we call sì .

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