The Buddha Teaches
After his enlightenment, the Buddha wandered to the Deer Park near the holy city of Benares and shared his new understanding with the five ascetics. They understood immediately and became his disciples. This marked the beginning of the Buddhist community, the Sangha.
For the next forty-five years, the Buddha and his disciples wandered from place to place in India, spreading the Dharma. At night they would sleep where they were, and when hungry ask for a little food. The Buddha’s compassion knew no bounds, he helped everyone along the way: both men and women, rich and poor, king and slaves.
Wherever the Buddha went, he won the hearts of the people because he dealt with their true feelings. He advised them not to accept his words on blind faith, but to decide for themselves whether his teachings were right or wrong. He encouraged everyone to have compassion for each other and develop their own virtue. He said, "You should do your own work, for I can teach only the way."
The Buddha never became angry or spoke harshly to anyone, not even to those who opposed him. He always taught in such a way that everyone could understand. Each person thought the Buddha was speaking especially for him. The Buddha told his followers to help each other on the Way. Following is a story of the Buddha living as an example to his disciples.
Once the Buddha and Ananda visited a monastery where a monk who was suffering from a contagious disease, lived. The poor man lay in his own filth, with no one looking after him. The Buddha himself washed the sick monk, and Ananda placed him on a new bed. Afterwards, the Buddha said to the other monks. "Monks, you have neither mother nor father to look after you. If you do not look after each other, who will look after you? Whoever serves the sick and suffering, serves me."