Thursday, February 28, 2008

A lovely new talk

I have an interest in the historical Buddha, even though in a way it's irrelevant to the higher spiritual reach. There's even the suggestion that the Buddha didn't leave his family, that might be mythical. Check the new talk out here.


Jayarava said...

Hi Steve

I was at this talk, and I live with Dh. Dhivan. I'll tell him you liked his talk - he was quite pleased to get one on FBA.

He is quite right to say that the Buddha probably did not leave a family behind when he left home - the Ariyapariyesana Sutta does seem to be an archaic version of the myth and leaves out any wife and child.

However I interpret the later story in a positive way. The Buddha left home to discover the way to the deathless because he could not bear the thought that his loved ones would die. He did find the way to the deathless, returned home and taught that way to his family. What more could one ever hope to do for one's family but to help them to escape from all suffering? In this version of the story he left his family well cared for in a wealthy household and they would not have wanted for anything while he was striving on their behalf. He gave up everything, sacrificed everything for them. He persevered with the most horrendous austerities on their behalf. And he succeeded.

There is a parallel here in the life of Kukai who's first literary work is an apologetic for his lifestyle as a renunciate, and a satire of the Confucianist ideals of his family. The story is in Hakeda's book "Kukai : Major Works".

Stephen Parks Bell said...

Thank you for the comment Jayarava!