Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Budding Buddha?

I recently watched a Discovery Channel documentary on a boy (teenager) called Ram Bahadur Bomjon. And have been intrigued endlessly ever since. This boy went into deep meditation for more than 10 months at a stretch without food, water et al! (I am not using words like seems and apparently as there are reliable eye witnesses to vouch for the episode, including the Discovery Channel team) The boy is a Buddhist from Nepal and I do think he has divine looks. I am not going to narrate the whole story as you can read the story in its original form by just Googling for “Ram Bahadur Bomjon”. The world never lets people be themselves. There’s always someone or the other who waits to take advantage of others. There was apparently a commercial angle to the whole episode and money was being collected from intrigued and reverent visitors. Ram, also called the Buddha Boy, did not want the swarm of people around him and disappeared one day. He reappeared a year later (earlier this year) and said he would go back to the forest to meditate and would return yet again, ready to be buried alive while in meditation - which in fact is something that ancient Indian mystics have resorted to. The documentary aired on Discovery included comments from doctors who were amazed that the boy faced no physiological consequences whatsoever despite the rigorous meditation minus food and water!

For people – especially in modern days - who are skeptical about the existence of a supernatural power, this is one of those great excuses to think again.

2 comments:

vinod said...

Congrats to head the list of 45 KM and cos the title I can expect even better topics,hope to get a continuity as b4 in writing....Army as said by those 3 ppl the low level cadre are forced to join to RUN their life , and as u stated not every one perish if they are not making right moves,as there are lot of administrative jobs.....keep ur good work going !!!

Leo Volont said...

The Ongoing Saga of Ram Bomjon, the Buddha Boy

Ram Bomjon’s fame had been hitting its peak back in the spring of 2006 when it became generally publicized that he was commencing a six year fasting meditation, that is, that he would not eat anything for six years, and that he would meditate sufficiently to attain to something of the highest status that any mere mortal can attain within the metaphysical expectations held forth by the Buddhist Traditions. He was found to be meditating in the jungles of Nepal, but close enough to the roads so that his meditation site became a very popular pilgrimage destination. Many Westerners were able to visit the local and return with their versions of his story. It became a fascinating enough human interest story that many news services and blogs picked up on it.

But things started going sour for our young man. Well, they started well enough when the Government of Nepal insisted upon investigating the Buddha Boy. The Nepalese Government is a Buddhist Regime and would not wish that the Buddhist Traditions be made a hoax of. Also, they may have feared that the Maoist Guerrillas, so popular in the rural districts of Ram Bomjon’s neighborhood, were somehow involved. Well, this Marxist connection would seem on its face to be absurd, since it is the most basic of premises within Marxism that their view is utterly materialistic and atheistic. Marxists are not known to be very thorough-going Spiritualists. But on the practical level, it was found that some local Marxist Thugs and Gangsters were extorting a percentage of the moneys from those who were passing the collection baskets among all of the many pilgrims. Marxist Doctrine being one thing, but the money was too good to ignore and they exploited Ram Bomjon. Yes, it has been construed against the Buddha Boy that he has arranged these collections, and so it is being assumed by many that the Buddha Boy himself is some corrupt and scheming predator. Well, not necessarily. You see, in the Far East and South Asia, as well as in our own New Age Movements, there is an ingrained tradition of supposing that one must make offerings at places of pilgrimage, shrines and to the Saints and Gurus and such. People expect to drop off money and so they will drop off money. So of course there will be people setting up tables to collect it. One can hardly blame a sixteen year-old boy who is meditating, that is, actively attempting to ignore the whole business. He can meditate, or he can try to manage all the business going on in this vast campground, but he can hardly do both.

Anyway, the Government’s investigation went forward, and they found that the Buddha Boy’s religious and spiritual complains were quite genuine. They determined that he really was not eating anything, and that he was indeed deep in continuous meditation, exemplifying a level of expertise that they had not seen, and they had seen plenty. They had also found connections between the Maoist Gangs and those who were collecting ‘offerings’ to Ram Bomjon, but that the boy himself had not been involved beyond being the center of attraction. So the Government froze the bank accounts involved, and was probably somewhat influential in having Rom Bomjon abandon his popular roadside meditation site and then to go back further into the jungle.

You think people would appreciate that the Buddha Boy had been vindicated by such a powerful investigatory entity, but, no, the skeptical materialists had many of their own committees and they resented that they had been chased away by the Buddha Boy’s security team. You see, after having passed the very intrusive investigation conducted by their own Government, they did not see the point of repeating the process over and over again for every new group that came by. After all, the young man was trying to meditate, and each new group of skeptics wanted to poke and prod and cause their own volume level of noise and disturbance. And then there was the matter of these skeptic groups being skeptical, that is, that they had no respect for what was going on, and they discerned small victories for themselves in any case where they could prove to be a bother to the young man, that is, if they could rouse the Buddha Boy out of his meditation, then his meditation was not much of a meditation, etc. Well, who needs such people. After they proved to be rude and offensive, well, they were kept away, and that is what they should have published regarding the situation. But instead they published very self-serving accounts of the transactions, claiming that the Buddha Boy’s people were afraid of repeated scrutiny. But the truth is that repeated scrutiny is redundant, and that the Government Investigation, conducted by a government that has no compunction about arresting and imprisoning people of whom it does not approve, should be seen to be sufficient, at least for the present time.

But after last spring, the Buddha Boy picked up and left everybody and everything behind and went back further into the jungle to be alone. Yes, I suspect that the government may have asked him to try to be more private in his spiritual practices, his Sadhana, but there was also the matter of the repeated snake bites. Even while the crowds were surrounding him, roped off some number of meters from his sitting, still, it was reported that he had been snake bit on 3 separate occasions. Ouch.

Anyway, since last spring there have been 3 reports that I know of. First, some of his old friends had found Ram Bomjon new meditation site back a few more kilometers in the jungle. Apparently the jungle is quite thick. A second time a group of hunters encountered Rom Bomjon, seeing him with a sword. Apparently the young man was not meditating, as he was engaged in worldliness enough to explain that “even the Buddha had to protect himself”. I can only suppose that our young man is still being bothered by snakes and perhaps the other wild things of the jungle. But this is most disappointing in regards to what potential he may have had as a future Spiritual Leader and Moral Exemplar. After all, the taint and downfall of Islam has been so much mention and rationalization for violence, that is, there had been so much mention of swords this and swords that in that particular Religion that swords had become an integral part of the Religion, much to its detriment. And so what is the first thing this Buddha Boy does but to be seen with a sword and then to defend its use. Well, what sense does it make? We certainly don’t need a new generation of Spiritual Leadership to justify violent militancy, as we certainly have plenty of that already. Anyway, the Buddhist Community was perhaps the one group that the World could depend upon not be a bunch of cut-throat murderous fanatics, and then the Buddha Boy jumps up with his sword and so far the only Doctrine that can be attributed to him is that, and this is how it might be understood, that ‘Buddha Himself had to commit genocide in order to advance his agenda of interests’. This is a very dad development. We are find that this young man is less and less very special, but is in fact much the same as most young men – he is a fool and will have to live down the mistakes of his youth. What was his mistake? Well, he should have told these people that he had no ‘sword’ but rather that he thought of it as a really long ‘snake-rat knife’. But that would be to expect a level of wisdom from even the most promising sixteen year old – which would have been a rather unique event in history, now that I think about it. We have prior prophecy that states that “swords will be beaten into plough blades”. Well, the first sword that will need such a transformation is this faux pas ‘sword’ of the silly Buddha Boy’s.

Also, his fast has been called into question by his admission that he had been ingesting “medicinal herbs”. Huh!? Why would somebody who apparently has no need for nutrition to have a crying need for medicines? It makes no sense. The last proven faster I have heard of, Pralad Jnani of Sterling Hospital fame (the old man had been known to have not eaten anything in the last 60 years, and so the Sterling Hospital investigated and found this claim to substantially plausible, having observed him for 10 days not eating or drinking a thing, and not loosing body weight or deteriorating in function) simply did not eat or drink, and so it was the unexceptionality of his claim that was remarkable. But now the young man, our Buddha Boy, has tossed aside his most important claim to exceptionality, and now he can only be seen as just one more of what we must suppose are so many others who practice relatively serious levels of expert meditation. I can’t help to be a little disappointed in him, although I certainly can’t claim to be any better.

But we need to remember that the young man never claimed any absolute statuses for himself – rejecting the notion that he would be the Matraiya or another Buddha, and supposing that at most would be of some secondary rank. There, we should still be wishing him luck.

The last we heard of this young man, he had persuaded one of his followers to dig him out a meditation cellar, that is, an underground shelter. Perhaps this will finally resolve his issue with the snakes and whatever else he believed he needed a sword to protect himself from. Perhaps he will now be able to buckle down to his serious meditations and dispense with his need for ‘medicinal’ salads.

Meditation holes in the ground may have a promising past. Old Sai Baba of Shirdi, one of the most illustrious Saints of the 19th and early 20th Centuries was purported to have spent a number of his childhood years meditating in a sealed off cellar situated under the roots of a tree.

Now, perhaps we should all contemplate exactly what benefits may be hoped that one could acquire from meditation, especially from the meditations of the Buddhist Traditions. Shutting down the mind. Quieting all desires. Fine, but so what? In the context of our present situation, we are seeing the collapse of our own amoral, and materialistic Civilization and the rise of a ruthless and nihilistic Barbarism in its place. Well, we can hardly expect that six years spent mindlessly could be of much constructive use. What might be useful would be to see Meditation less in the perspective of being absolutely beyond quality and attribute, and to allow that Duality may have a worthy role to play in Meditation – that Meditations may be of more benefit if they are permitted to be Visionary and Prophetic. Any Saint worth his salt must have some moral perspective, but moral perspective cannot come from simple mindlessness. What we need is some deep and true connection to a genuine Collective Consciousness – a consciousness that is necessarily moral and cooperative as it is inclusive of all Living Things. So, I really hope that our Buddha Boy does not waste every moment of the next five or six years in some empty mindless void, however free of pain that state of mind might be, but spends enough time in the Collective Consciousness to return to us with some valid moral insights, and what we have not seen much from him yet – some actual evidence of wisdom, and discernment. But in this regards, perhaps every sixteen year old could benefit from being locked away, and then not turned loose until they are 22.

Oh, I anticipate that there might be many Buddhists coming forward to defend the Buddhist cosmology and philosophies. But allow me to argue that Buddha might have benefited more from thinking than from eschewing thought. His notion that all suffering resulted from desire is simplistic and incomplete, even after only a minimal reflection. One can quickly understand why Buddhists are encouraged to stop thinking, since that seems to be entirely necessary so that their philosophical premises might be allowed to continue to stand. What makes much more sense is a Maslow-like conception of an ascendancy of needs – the recognition that people are confronted with real necessities, both physical and emotional. Telling people not to desire food and money does nothing to solve the real problems of hunger and poverty, but would even aggravate the situation. So what was Buddha thinking? Well, he had been a spoiled Prince raised in a palace who thought it was a novel lark to learn how to meditate and it was easy for him to come out with such “let them eat cake” philosophies – to blame desire because he had never known need. I guess that I have not been the first person ever to notice this discrepancy between basic Buddhist Philosophy and the most elementary common sense, but, then again, the Buddhists all tell themselves that they mustn’t think about it. Shut up and meditate!

Anyway, despite this Buddha Boy not being entirely perfect, and despite his mixed record – making substantial mistakes as well as some public relations mistakes causing misconceptions which can often be even more seriously damaging, still this young man may be worth some degree of hope. We should wish him well. And here I should point out an old historical example, referring to the best and most powerful Saint in well documented history, Vincent Ferrer of the 14th Century. He was known to heal thousands of people each day, as well as being surrounded by a plethora of other supernatural miracles. But what distinguished Vincent Ferrer from every other Saint in history is that Vincent Ferrer engaged a large troupe of 10,000 fasting flagellants who accompanied him on his Tour of Miracles. I can only suppose that these people, with their active atonements and ascetic sufferings, contributed some kind of spiritual energy toward the miracles of their leader Vincent Ferrer, and that they were effectively the battery of power that enabled him and made his mission possible. Likewise, our own limited ascetic practices may be dedicated, at least in part, toward the success of Ram Bomjon’s Meditation and future career of Spirituality. Granted that he is not perfect, but looking around I can’t see any better candidates. If anybody should be a focal point of our spiritual and ascetic energies, well, who better than this Buddha Boy, who, while being flawed, is still perhaps one of the least flawed among us.