“Then, monks, the Brahma Sahampati knew with his mind the thought in my mind and he considered: ‘The world will be lost, the world will perish, since the mind of the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, inclines to inaction rather than to teaching the Dhamma.’ Then, just as quickly as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, the Brahma Sahampati vanished in the brahma world and appeared before me. He arranged his upper robe on one shoulder, and extending his hands in reverential salutation toward me, said: ‘Venerable sir, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma, let the Sublime One teach the Dhamma. There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are perishing through not hearing the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.’ The Brahma Sahampati spoke thus, and then he said further:
‘In Magadha there have appeared till now
Impure teachings devised by those still stained.
‘Open the doors to the Deathless! Let them hear
The Dhamma that the stainless one has found.
‘Just as one who stands on a mountain peak
Can see below the people all around,
So, O wise one, all-seeing sage,
Ascend the palace of the Dhamma.
Let the sorrowless one survey this human breed,
Engulfed in sorrow, overcome by birth and old age.
‘Arise, victorious hero, caravan leader,
Debtless one, and wander in the world.
Let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma,
There will be those who will understand.’
“Then I listened to the Brahma’s pleading, and out of compassion for beings I surveyed the world with the eye of a Buddha. Surveying the world with the eye of a Buddha, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and with much dust in their eyes, with keen faculties and with dull faculties, with good qualities and with bad qualities, easy to teach and hard to teach, and some who dwelled seeing fear and blame in the other world. Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses that are born and grow in the water thrive immersed in the water without rising out of it, and some other lotuses that are born and grow in the water rest on the water’s surface, and some other lotuses that are born and grow in the water rise out of the water and stand clear, unwetted by it; so too, surveying the world with the eye of a Buddha, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and with much dust in their eyes, with keen faculties and with dull faculties, with good qualities and with bad qualities, easy to teach and hard to teach, and some who dwelled seeing fear and blame in the other world. Then I replied to the Brahma Sahampati in stanzas:
‘Open for them are the doors to the Deathless,
Let those with ears now show their faith.
Thinking it would be troublesome, O Brahma,
I did not speak the Dhamma subtle and sublime.’
“Then the Brahma Sahampati thought: ‘The Blessed One has consented to my request that he teach the Dhamma.’ And after paying homage to me, keeping me on the right, he thereupon departed at once.
“I considered thus: ‘To whom should I first teach the Dhamma? Who will understand this Dhamma quickly?’ It then occurred to me: ‘Alara Kalama is wise, intelligent, and discerning; he has long had little dust in his eyes. Suppose I taught the Dhamma first to Alara Kalama. He will understand it quickly.’ Then deities approached me and said: ‘Venerable sir, Alara Kalama died seven days ago.’ And the knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Alara Kalama died seven days ago.’ I thought: ‘Alara Kalama’s loss is a great one. If he had heard this Dhamma, he would have understood it quickly.’