That stinks: The story of the Buddha as seen by a child

The story of the Buddha could only have been written by a man. 

Though Buddhists had a strong oral tradition, nothing was written down until approximately 400 years after the Buddha’s death. So . . . there may have been some embellishment along the line.

Here’s the quick version I told Zane: Siddhartha grew up fabulously well off. As a young prince whose father doted on him, he had all the riches the world could offer at the time. Still he grew dissatisfied with his life and at the age of 29 he left his family, including his wife and young child.

Zane: “He stinks.”

Me: “Why?”

Zane: “Did he ever go back?”

Me: “To his home?”

Zane: “Yeah, his family.”

Me: “Not for many years, and even then not to go back and live with them.”

Zane: “He stinks. I would never do that.”

Me: “He went on a spiritual journey.”

Zane: “That stinks.”

Me: (I explained Siddhartha’s quest, his suffering, about becoming an extreme ascetic, about his gaggle of fellow severe ascetics, about sitting under the tree, about finding enlightenment—)

Zane, interrupting: “That’s wrong. To give up his wife and child. I would never do that. Would you?”

Me: “No, I wouldn’t. I get exactly what you’re saying. I wouldn’t and I couldn’t leave you. That’s always bothered me about his story too.”

It’s difficult imagining a woman of that era conceiving of his abandonment of his family as part of a noble tale. Nor possibly a child of any era. 

After that Zane was no longer interested in hearing about the Buddha. That may have to wait until a few sleepless months after his first child is born . . . .

You can click here to enjoy an email update once or twice a month.

Thoughts on John of God
Celebrating (she does for others what I do for my dog when I come home from work)