It is said that Buddha had about 1200 disciples. The thing that they sought for was getting “Eternal Life” by hearing the teachings of Buddha. This is perhaps considered that it was reaction against Brahmanism of those days. About that time, there was an Upanishad philosophy that said everything was ruled under the god called Brahman. This thought considered people product of karma and it was the teachings that discriminated by class. However, Buddha, who appeared like a comet preached that we can get eternal life by changing our minds. Moreover, since Buddha had the power called “Perfect Enlightenment” which he could foresee human’s past, present and future by training, it is considered that his disciples could believe in Buddha who understood their minds.
When they were allowed to enter as disciples of Buddha, they entered the organization called “Sangha”. They would practice according to the basic rules of daily life here. One of them was “Monpo”. This is to listen to Buddha’s enlightenment. People who listened to the teachings were named “Shomon¹” (Sravaka). However, they tried to follow the map and do it, it was not easy for them to abandon habituated conception. For example, as reading Buddhist biography, it describes an episode that Buddha admonished sternly when Prices of Sakya showed arrogant behavior toward the senior monk named Upali in the slave hierarchy. Such insolent words and deeds or anger, greed and mind flatter were the biggest evil thought when practicing. Thereupon Buddha said, “Introspect your own mind.” and taught them meditation. At this point, people who sought for a higher level of training than Shomon (Sravaka/voice-hearers) were called “Engaku²” Sangha was composed of the people of Shomon and Engaku. In belief, what disciples sought for was to rise to mind of a high order by hearing the teachings and meditation.
You cannot become like Buddha with mind formed by bad karma. You cannot reach the state of moksha to acquire eternal life. Condition of moksha was to be released from ups and downs of six regions which is one’s thoughts and feeling that became habituation. Buddha’s real intention was not just to make them remain the worlds of Shamon and Engaku. Even if they left the world of six regions and stepped into the four worlds, they were merely one’s own ease. As Buddha says, “Preach the greatest law for people of the world.” , he wanted his disciples to give people who were anguished salvation as soon as possible by clear eyes and noble mind they acquired by training. The thing that Buddha requested to about 1,200 disciples was to lead each to “Buddhahood”. If you attain here, it is “The world of Buddhahood”. It can be said the highest stage of awareness with full of love and wisdom.
*¹ Shomon: the state of mind when you listen to the truth of Dharma
*² Engaku: the state of mind when you meditate