I think about the life of the Buddha a lot. I know, I should be thinking about the teachings of the Buddha – and I do , but the life of the Buddha is held up as a sort of moral way to live. Today, I am reflecting on the story of how the Buddha abandoned his wife and child so that he could learn non-attachment and attain enlightenment – it’s sort of a bullshit story.
All the western buddhists I’ve spoken with (and I haven’t spoken with any eastern buddhists about this) talk about how it was a noble act, how he was so attached to his family that he had to do it to let go of his attachments. Yeah, easy for him to do – maybe it would have been harder if he were poor and not a prince, if he were leaving them in an uncertain and dangerous state. You know what I mean? I mean, honestly, what’s so noble about abandoning your family and where is the great sacrifice in leaving them in a palace with servants and protection?
Maybe I’d think about excercising the Buddha privelige if I were a prince and I could leave my family in safety while I wandered the world looking for truth. The Buddha (in some stories) returned to his family and even got to teach the dharma to his son. That’s not leaving, that’s taking a vacation so you can enjoy some time to yourself.
I love the teachings of the Buddha and I live it as best I can – but that story? It’s bullshit. It should be held up as an example of un-enlightenment. Staying with his wife and child and STILL finding nirvana – that would have been the real challenge.
Yeah, I’m bugged by the fact that a rich guy can walk away and leave it with his family – it wasn’t like he gave everything away and then said “Sink or swim wife and child, I got some shit to do” and if he had, he would have been courting bullshit anyway.
Just a thought…