Buddha appeared in this world to fulfill his compassionate wish to benefit each and every living being every day. Accordingly he demonstrated the manner of attaining enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya.
After attaining enlightenment, Buddha remained absorbed in meditative equipoise, but although a living Buddha was now present in our world human beings were unaware of what had taken place.
Buddha knew that even though he could teach a complete path to enlightenment, unless living beings made a request from their side they would not be able to receive the teachings within their minds.
Happily, the gods Brahma and Indra could see the presence of this enlightened being. Out of kindness, they wished to create the causes for the people of this world to meet Dharma. This is why, forty-nine days after Buddha attained enlightenment, the gods came to make this request:
“O Buddha, treasure of compassion, living beings are like blind people in constant danger of falling into the lower realms. Other than you there is no protector in this world. Therefore we beseech you, please rise from meditative equipoise and turn the Wheel of Dharma.”
As a result of this request, Buddha arose from meditation and began to give teachings to the people of this world, beginning in the Deer Park in Sarnath near Varanasi where he delivered his first teaching, The Sutra on the Four Noble Truths.
Buddha then spent the rest of his life travelling throughout India giving eighty four thousand verses of Dharma teaching. Through his immaculate example he clearly demonstrated the stages of the path to great enlightenment, to a life beyond sorrow.
Buddha promised that after he passed away, he would continue to emanate in this world to help all living beings, both Buddhists and non-Buddhists. The supreme way would be as a Spiritual Guide. Even today, there are numerous Spiritual Teachers who appear as ordinary beings, but who are in fact actual emanations of Buddha guiding others along the liberating path.
The anniversary of Buddha’s first teaching in this world, which is called ‘Turning the Wheel of Dharma Day’, is celebrated on June 4 by Kadampa Buddhist throughout the world. It is an extremely auspicious day during which the karmic effect of our actions is greatly multiplied.
This day also marks the birthday of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the Founder of NKT-IKBU, who was born on Turning the Wheel of Dharma Day in 1931.
We dedicate all merit to Venerable Geshe-la’s continued long life, good health and the success of all his activities. Out of immeasurable kindness he has revealed the path to liberation and enlightenment, so we now have the opportunity to experience real happiness and freedom from suffering. By taking his advice to heart may we be able to fulfil his perfect vision of bringing Dharma to every country throughout the world.