Reflecting on the different natures of beings, compared to the four kinds of lotuses, the Buddha accepts the invitation

The story of Lord Sahampati Brahma coming to invite the Buddha to spread his teaching to the world, as explained in Picture 32, is an allegorical teaching. Translated into a factual statement, we might interpret Sahampati Brahma as being the Buddha's own compassion.

Even though the Buddha was inclined not to teach the Dhamma, another part of him, which was stronger, decided to teach. Having made up his mind, the Buddha reflected on the different natures of beings in the world and saw that they could be divided into four levels or groups:

First group: Extremely clever-merely listening to the name of a teaching they immediately understand it.
Second group: very clever: after listening to an explanation of the teaching, they understand it.
Third group: moderately clever: the "veneyya" beings. They must devote a lot of time to training their minds before they can understand.
Fourth group: the "padaparama," the fools, the idiots, who are unteachable. In other words they are the people the Buddha had nothing to do with.
The first group are like lotuses that have grown and risen above the water level. As soon as they contact sunlight, they open out. The second group are like lotuses that are just under the surface of the water, ready to rise above it. The third group are like lotuses that are deeper down in the water, which will at a later time grow up and rise above the water level. The fourth group are like lotuses that are very deep down in the water, so deep that there is no way they will rise above the surface because they fall food to fishes and turtles. The Buddha saw the different levels of wisdom among people like this.

Then the Buddha began to reflect on who would be the best person to first impart his teaching to. He saw in his mind the images of the two ascetics who he had previously studied with, but both of them had already passed away. Then he came to know that the Group of Five (pancavaggiya) were still alive, and so he made up his mind to first give his teaching to them.
 

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