Friday, February 15, 2008

What Would Buddha Do?

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a fan of Dominique Cimafranca and his blog, village idiot savant . In a recent post, entitled Ryonouke's "The Spider's Thread" , Dom gives an excellent commentary on the 1918 short story. Reading the post, I was reminded of a conversation I once had with an old friend. I left a comment saying as much; I want to elaborate on the comment I made.

More than a few "baby boomers" abandoned their Christian upbringing for the more exotic Buddhism. I suspect that, for many, it was a way to show themselves to be superior and more sophisticated than the great unwashed. It's not unusual to find that many of these Western Buddhists do not practice the precepts of the religion; they never meditate and are ravenous carnivores to boot.
This old friend told me of two books he had enjoyed reading; Charlotte Kasl's "If the Buddha Dated" and "If the Buddha Married".

I haven't read either book, but in an article about the books, Kasl glosses over the fact that Prince Siddhartha Gautama abandoned his pregnant wife in his search for enlightenment.

"One might rightly ask, then, why would we look for wisdom on marriage from a man who left his wife and child for a life of celibacy? The answer lies in his exploration into the roots of human suffering and the profound wisdom of his teachings that lead to joy, compassion, and loving kindness-traits that free us to form loving relationships."

The fact is, according to Buddhist tradition, upon learning that his wife had given birth to a son, the future Buddha gave him the name Rāhula, saying  "A rāhu is born, a fetter has arisen."

Very telling. Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines "fetter" as :
1 : a chain or shackle for the feet
2 : something that confines

So, we're "to form loving relationships" by abandoning the ones who are most dependent on us.
If the way to Nirvana means leaving my wife and child, I'll pass on Nirvana.

1 comment:

Dominique said...

Thanks for the link and the kudos, Robert. I'm a fan of your blog, too. ;-)