Thank you for that link. Unfortunately there is a lot of mythological elements in Buddha's story, so much so, that I can only believe He existed - though I don't have proof that He did.
In MN36 it says that his mothe
r and father were present when He went forth. He didn't sneak out of the palace, and no hints of wife and child:
before my enlightenment, when I was not enlightened, yet a seeker of enlightenment, it occurred to me: The household life is full of troubles and defilements. It is not possible to lead the completely pure holy life while living in a household. What if I shaved head and beard, donned yellow clothes and went forth. Even in the prime of youth, with black hair, against the wish of mother
and father, when they were crying with tearing eyes, I shaved head and beard, donned yellow robes leaving the household became homeless. http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... ta-e1.html
In MN123, his mother was supposed to have died seven days after she gave birth to him
`Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. "ânanda, seven days after the birth ofthe one aspiring enlightenment, the mother of the one aspiring enlightenment passed away and was born with the happy gods"http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... tta-e.html
And of course, we don't even know Buddha's name. At least not in Pali Canon. Buddha is a title. Gotama is name of clan.
Alex - in MN36 it clearly says that the Buddha utters the words "what if" and he's clearly teaching Saccaka the Jain - so he must be stating how "one" would think before one left his house and not necessarily about what went on when the Buddha himself decided to do just that - remember all of this is conversation with the aim of brining someone closer to understanding something.
"Why wouldn't it have, Aggivessana? Before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. Life gone forth is the open air. It isn't easy, living in a home, to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, a polished shell. What if I, having shaved off my hair & beard and putting on the ochre robe, were to go forth from the household life into homelessness?'
It could also very well mean how he had thought before he decided to leave: "how ones parents would think" in spirit, regardless of whether or not they are alive - and remember Buddha had a foster mother who became the first Buddhist nun, maybe it is her he had meant. So you see, don't take this stuff literally, and come to conclusions as a means to some end. We should use our reasoning, Buddha himself has always taught that.
I started reading RIchard Gombrich's book recently (someone here had posted a link to it somewhere - it's called How Buddhism Began). It's a good book, and in one section at least (I haven't read the whole thing, yet), he analyses how we should look at the Sutta's - he introduces the problems caused by language, its translation, the massive time periods it had taken to write these Suttas down, and reminds us to take into account what is said in the context of the time, the particular story and the processes that have taken place on the text we are reading today (in English, Chinese, even the original Pali one). While this may seem a little obvious, we don't always look at it this way - and it's hard to because we're so used to thinking what we read is what was meant.
None of this means all Sutta's a worthless or they are some how all lies. We shouldn't get stuck on the literal aspects of this stuff and come to conclusions, rather concentrate on the "spirit" of the words, and all of the Buddha's teachings as a whole.