This lesson was shared with children ages 5-8.
You can find a simple retelling of the story here.
Yasa was the son of a rich merchant. Like Siddhartha, Yasa had plenty of material possessions. Also like Siddhartha, Yasa was not satisfied by his life of luxury. He felt he was missing something more important. When he heard the Buddha explain the Four Noble Truths, Yasa felt as if he were awakened from a dream. He decided to stay with the Buddha and follow his teachings. 54 of Yasa's friends decided to follow the Buddha as well.
Now the Buddha's followers numbered 60. The Buddha sent his followers out to share his teachings. His followers returned with even more people who wished to follow the Buddha.
This is a good lesson for emphasizing that material goods and an easy life won't ultimately bring you peace and eternal happiness. Ask the children to tell you about things they have and enjoy. You'll get fun answers about toy cars, video games, ice-cream, etc. It is important that the children understand that it is not wrong to like and enjoy these things. Then ask how these things might disappoint them someday. Maybe the toy will break. The game system won't play newer games. Too many sweets can give you a tummy ache. Reflecting back to the lesson on Samsura, we can remind the children that all things eventually die or go to ruin. So while it is nice to enjoy them, we have to try to not be so attached to these things that we become angry and sad when they are gone.
Keep it simple.
My fellow Sunday School teacher read this story from a book in The Buddhist Series: Life of Buddha. You can find more information about these books in the Resource Section or by clicking here.
Use what you have.
The children colored pictures of Yasa pictures of the Buddha commissioning his followers to spread his teachings. You can find simple coloring pages for these stories on pages 43 and 44 of buddha.nets book here.
This lesson was kept short and simple. We followed it with the story of Yasa's Father.
May all be free from suffering by the power of the Triple Gem!