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I want to comment on Krista's question to John Kabat-Zinn about the Buddha leaving/abandoning his wife and son to seek enlightenment.

In some versions of the Buddha's biography it is explained that having a son was actually the key piece of his motivation for renouncing his worldly life and leaving his family. That becoming a father was what awakened his compassion and drove him to discover and share the truth possessed by an awakened being (Buddha).

When his son was born, the Prince of the Shakya clan realized that while he could offer his son a great worldly legacy, he had nothing he could give him that was permanent. Only by becoming spiritually liberated would he be able to bestow a legacy that was truly meaningful, truly worthwhile...

Further, on attaining enlightenment he returned to his family home and his wife and son both became members of his sangha (spiritual community).