Tomorrow Friday 12. July 2013, Chokhor Düchen - the "First Turning the Wheel of Dharma" (first teaching) is celebrated. It is one of the four major Tibetan Buddhist holidays. Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche says this is a Buddha Multiplying Day multiplying the effects of all positive and negative actions 10 million times. Lama Zopa's advice for practice to do on Buddha Multiplying days can be found here:https://fpmt.org/teachers/zopa/advice/sakadawa/
What is the significance of Chokhor Düchen?
For the first seven weeks after his Enlightenment, Buddha Shakyamuni did not teach. After the Buddha had attained enlightenment he went in search of his five former friends who were still pursuing ascetic practices. He told them he had finally found the Enlightenment they had been seeking.
At first they were not confident, but since he had never claimed such thing before, they listened. Encouraged by Indra and Brahma, he then gave his first teachings at Sarnath on the Four Noble Truths.
The Buddha taught them the Four Noble Truths which have remained the basis of all traditions of Buddhism. The Buddha talked all through the night and when morning came, these first five students took refuge in the Three Jewels; the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
Together with the Buddha, they became the first members of the Sangha, the community of practitioners who follow the teachings of the Buddha. Chokhor Düchen commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon and the teaching of the Four Noble Truths.
The Buddha's first sermon is called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, meaning the sutra (sermon of the Buddha) "setting the wheel of dhamma [Pali, or Skt. dharma] in motion."
It represents anniversary of Buddha's first teachings in this World. On the 49th days after he attained enlightenment Buddha came out from meditation and taught first Hinayana Code of conduct, it is also called First turning of the wheel. These teachings, which included the Sutra of the Four Noble Truths and other discourses, are the principal source of Hinayana Buddhism today.
On this day in addition to Lama Zopa's recommendations for practice, typically Tibetan Buddhists make pilgrimages to holy places, offering incense and hanging prayer flags.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths