One of the difficulties I had with Buddhism when I first learnt about it was that the whole process began with what I have to call a wrong action. I tried to ignore this because of the obvious profundities of the religion/philosophy but nevertheless it always nagged away at me. I can't say it makes Buddhism wrong but it somehow detracts from the rightness of it. There is nothing similar in the life of Christ which was without blemish from start to finish unless you count overturning the tables of the money changers at the temple or cursing a fig tree as in some way sinful which I don't. The former was making a point in the best way possible and shows that Christianity does not just turn the other cheek in all circumstances but distinguishes between a personal insult and an insult to God or truth (an important distinction) which sometimes requires firm action. The second was just odd. I suppose it has a symbolic point and demonstrates that if you have a creative gift you must use it, but it's still a strange episode.
The incident I am referring to in the life of the Buddha came right at the beginning of his spiritual journey. He left his wife and son. There is no getting away from this. He had a young wife and a baby boy and he abandoned them. This has been rationalised as either a sacrifice on his part or else a lesson for them. People say he had a mission and they say also that he knew they would be looked after as they were of the royal family. All of which may be true but the fact remains. He abandoned his family, and I do wonder if the knowledge that he had done this encouraged or was used to justify others to do the same. I can't think this is right. Surely your responsibilities come first? If you are wanting to lead a spiritual life, you cannot start by neglecting them.
I know the stories say that the Buddha did not do this easily and I know his wife and child later joined him as disciples. Moreover, two and a half thousand years ago it was a different world but still, and this is the point of my discussing this episode, it is important to make clear that we do not become spiritual by neglecting our worldly duties. Indeed, sometimes it is through fulfilling such mundane duties that we actually progress along the path and grow in the kind of self-sacrifice that the spiritual aspirant all too often forgets is at the heart of the spiritual journey. I know I do, in practice if not in theory.
I don't doubt that the Buddha was a special case. I have enormous love and respect for him and his achievement. I really do. But ultimately he was a man with human limitations and no man is perfect. He was not without sin as Christ was. It is of the greatest importance that we have someone who lived on this earth who really was perfect. It lifts up the whole world and strikes a deadly blow at the heart of evil from which it can never recover.