Anyone who tries to evaluate what happened in terms of Prince Siddhartha leaving his family, and to judge that action based on today's standards really has a small view of things. Or, maybe they support arranged marriage. I don't know. Marriage today isn't even what it was 100 years ago, much less, 2,500 years ago and in a different civilization!
What people miss is the importance of the story.
What Siddhartha had was the perfect life, yet he wasn't satisfied. He gave up traditional life and he had to crawl out of his comfort zone. And the family is very important, and also in terms of royalty and passing things from parents to children, the family line and so forth, this leaving home really symbolizes quite a lot. He really had to make a hard choice about what to do. It's about commitment, and the point is that he was as committed to finding an end to suffering as a person should be committed to his or her family. All beings became his family. So, it's not really accurate or fair to just write him off as a deadbeat dad.
Likewise, many single men today study dharma, and even if they do not become monks, they live the life of the wandering mendicant, or as a 'dharma bum' or whatever, free and easy and don't really have to go past a theoretical experience. But getting married can take you right out of that one-man buddha realm. having somebody else in your face all the time, or raising kids, that can really test you. All of a sudden you can't spend all day doing 'dharma practice' and you have to feed the baby and make more money. Then you really find out if all that 'dharma practice' is a string of beads hanging around your neck or if it is running through your veins.
Single is not better, and married is not better. it depends on the individual and it depends on not getting too cozy.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth. Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.