The Buddha, His Life and Teachings

The Peerless Physician

The Buddha is also known as the peerless physician (bhisakko), the supreme surgeon (sallakatto anuttaro). He indeed, is an unrivalled healer.

The Buddha’s method of exposition of the Four Noble Truths is comparable to that of a physician. As a physician, he first diagnosed the illness, next he discovered the cause for the arising of the illness, then he considered its removal, and lastly applied the remedy.

Suffering (dukkha) is the illness; craving (tanhâ) is the arising or the root cause of the illness (samudaya); through the removal of craving, the illness is removed, and that is the cure (nirodha-nibbâna); the Noble Eightfold Path (magga) is the remedy.

The Buddha’s reply to a brahmin who wished to know why the Master is called a Buddha clearly indicates that it was for no other reason than a perfect knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. Here is the Buddha’s reply:

“I knew what should be known,
What should be cultivated I have cultivated,
What should be abandoned that have I let go.
Hence, O brahmin, I am Buddha,
The Awakened One.”n26

With the proclamation of the Dhamma for the first time, with the setting in motion of the Wheel of the Dhamma, and with the conversion of the five ascetics, the Deer Park at Isipatana became the birthplace of the Buddha’s Dispensation (sâsana) and of his Community of Monks (sangha).n27