This is in reference to last week’s story about Mu-Nan and Gudo from ‚ÄúA Diamond In The Road‚Äù which can be found at http://www.dailybuddhism.com/archives/87
A Reader recently wrote:
Did Mu-nan leaving his family to become Gudo’s successor not also cause suffering to his wife and children?
Was the loss of his income from his absence any different to them than the loss of his income from gambling and drinking?
And my response:
These little stories always need a little analysis and thought, and I’m glad you’re thinking about them. They’re more than just history or entertainment.
Keep in mind that these are ancient orally-transmitted stories and there’s no way to validate the historical accuracy of any of this, so speculation and literary analysis are all that we have. Fortunately, that’s enough in most cases.
Mu-Nan left his wife and children to follow the Way of the Buddha. Remember, Buddha himself abandoned his wife and child in the middle of the night. There’s a definite parallel there between the two. Buddha was a wealthy prince, and he left his family in the care of his rich father the king, so they really didn’t suffer much. Using that information as a model to look at Mu-Nan’s story, we can see that Mu-Nan’s wife was the one selling the sandals, not Mu-nan himself. Essentially, it was her business to sell shoes; she was the bread-winner of the family. Mu-Nan the gambling drunkard probably got all his money from her, so his presence was probably more of a drain than his absence.