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Barbara O'Brien

Buddha Boy Bahadur Bomjan: Batterer?

By August 3, 2010

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The so-called "Buddha Boy" of Nepal is under investigation for assaulting 17 local villagers who disturbed him while he was meditating. One report says Rom Bomjan and his attendants locked the villagers in a small room and kept them there overnight. Several of the alleged assaultees required medical attention.

News stories say Ram Bomjan admits he and some of his attendants had assaulted the villagers, slapping them around and beating them with sticks. His story is that they climbed onto his meditation platform and mimicked him. "I was therefore forced to beat them," he allegedly said.

According to Republica, Ram Bomjan also said "I took minor action against them after taking them under control when they came to disrupt my meditation. I let them go after they apologized." However, the villagers say they were beaten relentlessly even after they apologized. One man had a head injury that he said resulted from being hit with an axe handle.

The villagers, who said they were just foraging for fruits and vegetables before they were assaulted, have filed formal complaints with the police. But news stories say the Buddha Boy has let it be known he cannot be bothered to attend a court hearing.

Let us remember that people are innocent until proven guilty. But I did get a kick from comments by Todd Hartley in the Aspen Times, who notes that Ram Bomjan claims to have been fasting since 2005. "I know if I go more than about a half-hour without eating, I start to get cranky. If I somehow went five years without a snack, it's pretty much a given that I'd want to pummel somebody. Chances are most of you would, too," Hartley said.

Time for a snack, I say.

Comments
August 4, 2010 at 10:22 am
(1) Pete in b'more says:

He must not have been meditating on loving-kindness. I remember once when my exwife asked me to watch our small kids when I was circumambulating a Stupa. I got angry and irritably said “can’t you see that I’m doing a spiritual practice! why don’t you watch them”. Apparently I missed the point. She’d been watching them all morning, not to mention all week every week. I needed to have gratitude, not attitude.

August 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm
(2) Madhu says:

Fasting for 5 years? Buddha taught the middle path. Meditation makes the mind calmer, more tolerant. One should be able to meditate in the midst of chaos. One story that come to mind told by Ajahan Brahm, is about the time he visited a western Australian prison where he taught meditation to prisoners, one of them complained whenever he started meditating the guards would deliberately cause a din. Ajahan Brahm asked him to continue meditating in spite of the noise. Very soon the noise stopped. People can meditate for 1000 years and not gain wisdom, just as wearing a yellow robe does not make a monk.

August 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm
(3) Adam says:

Personally I do not think that the fault lies with Badhur Bomjan but rather with those who tried to disturb him.

We need to appreciate that patience, love and compassion are all attitudes of mind and can express themselves in many different ways. My own belief and point of view is that those who tried to disturb his spiritual practice were accumulating heavy negative karma and that his action of perhaps slapping them was, in my own opinion, motivated by compassion.

The eleventh down-fall of the Bodhisattva Vows is ‘Not believing that Bodhisattva’s compassion ensures that all their actions are pure’ and I would suggest that we should bear this in mind when considering the actions of Badhur Bomjan.

I respect other peope’s right to hold a different point of view, but my own personal belief is that it would be a breach of my own moral discipline to view his actions as motivated by malice.

Besides it is only in recent times in our own cultures that we have come to put such a taboo on minor slaps for misdemeanours, and many other cultures do not regard this as a big thing.

I suspect the motives of those trying to take him to court. It is patently obvious that he poses no risk to the public.

Time for us to all grow up a little and see things in perspective.

August 5, 2010 at 8:12 pm
(4) Barbara O'Brien says:

Personally I do not think that the fault lies with Badhur Bomjan but rather with those who tried to disturb him.

Assuming the facts of the situation are as reported — a Buddha would have used the opportunity to teach, not to punish. The kid has one whopping big ego on him, I’d say. He deserves no more or less consideration than any other living being. And if the charges prove to be substantive, he should be subjected to the penalty of law.

my own personal belief is that it would be a breach of my own moral discipline to view his actions as motivated by malice.

The villagers deserve the same consideration. He is no more “holy” than they are.

August 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm
(5) Adam says:

Having read a little more I would like to add that my remarks refer to the actions of Badhur Bomjan and not to the actions of his associates.

If his associates hit these villages with sticks then clearly that is excessive and wrong. All the same, their actions should not be taken out of context.

I would suggest that a small police presence at the site might be the best solution.

It should be noted that a further downfall of the Bodhisattva Vows, (secondary downfall 45) is to not engage in wrathful actions when it is appopriate to do so:

“There are times when it is necessary to resort to wrathful methods, such as speaking in a very forceful manner to prevent someone committing negative actions or to subdue their pride.”

If those villagers have been hit with sticks then they deserve an apology for that. Then they should be told to not disturb Badhur Bomjan again, and some steps should be taken to try to prevent a similar incident happening again.

August 5, 2010 at 8:00 pm
(6) Barbara O'Brien says:

If those villagers have been hit with sticks then they deserve an apology for that. Then they should be told to not disturb Badhur Bomjan again, and some steps should be taken to try to prevent a similar incident happening again.

Badhur Bomjan deserves the same respect that any other human being deserves, but if these charges turn out to be true it’s just one more big honking neon sign that the kid is no Buddha.

August 6, 2010 at 2:03 am
(7) Lewis says:

observe and do not judge, the answer lies in itself.

August 6, 2010 at 9:44 am
(8) takepillsdie says:

nobody has any idea what they are talking about ever. it’s all hearsay. people need to get out of everyone else’s business and focus on themselves. nobody is going to save you. stop being vampires. nothing is going to help ever for long since it never has. everyone you know is going to die and there isn’t anyone that is going to care, at least not for long. focus on yourself cause that’s all you got, sort of. thanks

August 10, 2010 at 2:05 am
(9) Rob says:

Oh, boy, Buddha Boy again?! My heart went out to him when I first saw what he was up to: giving it all up to go meditate by a tree. It has a certain appeal, and it didn’t help matters any that I thought he was kinda cute.

Now every time I hear about this guy, I think of Ardra, the amorous villain in the Star Trek (Next Gen) episode. She hears about a planet’s religious compact with the Goddess Ardra, and mimics the signs of Ardra’s return. Apparently she’s the goddess of Real Estate.

Except, the Buddha was never to return, nor did he find solace in ascetic practices like starvation, nor did he meditate for nine years, nor act like a common thug. This kid is duping us, and he’s not even sticking to the script!

I recall seeing a picture of Buddha Boy with his finger touching the Earth. Posing for a picture as he defeats Mara. How conveniently timed…

So, by now he’s reached nirvana, right? RIGHT?!

All props to him for diligent practice, if that’s what he’s really out there doing. I think he’s just another poor, deluded youth; avoiding his real pain by playing this role. (Not to belittle the dangers to those of us who are easily swayed by a compelling story, or a pretty face…)

Give him some rice pudding, and let’s get on with our lives.

August 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm
(10) Saka says:

No matter what he does, his fervent followers will always regard him as the holiest being, and the most perfect teacher.
Although he didn’t claim himself to be a buddha, but he did proclaim himself to be a bodhisattva AND the Teacher of all Dharma. And by doing that, it clearly shows that he is indeed NOT a bodhisattva. He is merely feeding his own pride.

August 12, 2010 at 10:15 am
(11) Lee says:

This is a true story. A monk was meditating at a Vipassana Meditation Centre. A boy lights a fire cracker and threw at the monk while he was meditating. The monk got up and gave the boy a slap on the face. What do you think? I think the boy deserves it.

August 12, 2010 at 4:38 pm
(12) Barbara O'Brien says:

What do you think? I think the boy deserves it.

I think I need more details. If this happened in Asia you might argue — although I don’t know that I would — that the child should have been taught to respect the monks. However, I think a senior monk would find a more skillful way to teach the boy it’s not a good idea to throw firecrackers at anybody, monks or no monks. But here in the states the child might just have been ignorant, and slapping him wouldn’t help him at all.

And his parents probably would sue, unless the monk could prove he was injured by the firecracker and threatened to sue back. Then the lawyers might work out a settlement that would require the kid to go to the monstery to clean all the incense bowls every Saturday morning for a month.

August 13, 2010 at 3:00 am
(13) Niramaya says:

The villagers deserved a good slap. Mimicking and mocking someone who doesn’t eat or drink and spends his time meditating shows their lack of tolerance. I would spank these naughtykins myself if I could. But no doubt the attendants probably good in the spirit of the slapping a bit too much. No big deal. Let the kid get on with his meditation. He claims he needs it, and this shows he does.

August 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm
(14) Barbara O'Brien says:

The villagers deserved a good slap. Mimicking and mocking someone who doesn’t eat or drink and spends his time meditating shows their lack of tolerance.

The villagers deny that’s what they did, so let’s not judge who deserves what without objective facts in hand.

No big deal.

Slapping people around and then keeping them locked up overnight against their will is a serious criminal offense in most parts of the world and is a big deal.

He claims he needs it, and this shows he does.

It’s more likely the kid needs a big dose of Humble, plus a good teacher. Let him submit to being an ordinary monk, and I’d respect him.

August 16, 2010 at 8:59 am
(15) Adam says:

In general I respect you for producing a valuable educational resource on Buddhism, and I feel personally grateful to you for some of your articles which have been really excellent and insightful.

However, I don’t know where you are coming from on this one. It sounds to me that you dislike him for being a gifted meditator!!!

August 16, 2010 at 10:23 am
(16) Barbara O'Brien says:

It sounds to me that you dislike him for being a gifted meditator!!!

We have no way to know that he’s a gifted meditator, and not just a publicity-seeking grandstander. For all the claims of his spiritual exploits, I’ve yet to see any shred of evidence that the kid has any insight into the dharma. What’s important to Buddhism is insight, not doing magic tricks.

August 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm
(17) Adam says:

Perhaps you haven’t read or watched his speeches, or perhaps you have done so but were left unimpressed.

Personally I find his words very insightful and insipring, and his example even more so.

In any case you will be able to judge his insight better when he ends his retreat next year and starts to teach.

August 16, 2010 at 8:40 pm
(18) Barbara O'Brien says:

Personally I find his words very insightful and insipring, and his example even more so.

His example gives me the creeps. It too much resembles the kind of extreme ascetic practices the historical Buddha rejected. A genuine teacher doesn’t perform superhuman feats to impress people. If there are any of his words online, in English, do send a link, however.

August 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm
(19) Adam says:
August 17, 2010 at 9:29 pm
(20) Barbara O'Brien says:

Adam — Thanks for the link. The kid seems to think he is some kind of messiah, which confirms my suspicion that he is a phony who should be avoided. And he’s talking about souls? and “upper souls”? No no no. Not Buddhism.

You already have everything you need to realize enlightenment. You don’t need nonsense like this.

August 19, 2010 at 4:36 am
(21) Adam says:

Yes, I appreciate your points. I was also puzzled by his use of Hindu teachings which are clearly different from Buddhist teachings. I am not sure whether this represents his real point of view or whether he was saying this because he was speaking to a Hindu audience.

I basically agree with you when you say “You already have everything you need to realize enlightenment.” However, I am an emotional person, and also I find that I resonate with him strongly on an emotional level (attachment???).

Also, most of what he teaches (he has only taught on a handful of occasions so far) is completely in accordance with Buddhism.

As to whether he thinks he is some sort of Messiah, I think that there is room for a variety of interpretations on this point. I don’t find his words to be blatantly egotistical. If it is his experience that he knows that he remembers his past lives and knows himself to be a realized meditator, the perhaps he is just speaking the truth when he says this. If he knows that he will be teaching the meaning of many Buddhist texts then perhaps he is just being truthful when he says this.

It certainly sounds egotistical from a normal point of view, but I am not sure if it is fair to judge him by those standards, when he may be coming from a completely different mind-space.

I am open-minded on this one…. but also very inspried by his example, and his words of truth.

It will be interesting to see what happens when he finishes his retreat and starts teaching.

August 19, 2010 at 11:33 am
(22) Barbara O'Brien says:

Adam — I understand that in Nepal “Buddhism” is more of a Buddhist-Hindu hybrid than what might be recognized as Buddhism elsewhere.

If it is his experience that he knows that he remembers his past lives and knows himself to be a realized meditator, the perhaps he is just speaking the truth when he says this.

People can imagine they are many things. The delusion that one has realized something is very common. That’s why working with a realized teacher is so critical; the teacher can correct you when you’re bullshitting yourself, which we all do. That’s why I can’t take the kid seriously until he submits to some standard training and his understanding is verified by advanced teachers.

In the Zen tradition, there are many stories of people who had an enlightenment experience and then found a teacher. For example, Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch and possibly the single most influential Zen master in all of Zen history, is said to have been a youth selling firewood on the streets when he heard someone recite some lines from the Diamond Sutra. Hui Neng had a deep realization of enlightenment on the spot, the legend goes. So he found a Chan (Zen) teacher and asked to be admitted to the monastery. He became a junior novice and did all the stuff junior novices do, cleaning the toilets and mopping the floor, and made no complaints. No one else in the monastery knew Hui Neng was in any way remarkable but the abbot of the monastery, the Fifth Patriarch. Only after some time had passed did the Fifth Patriarch call Hui Neng into his “study” for one-on-one advanced teaching, and that was only because the old man was about to die and couldn’t wait any longer to name his successor.

Now, whether this actually happened or not is anyone’s guess, but the point is that this is a recurring theme in Zen history. The great masters were all servants of the process of learning, teaching, verifying, and preserving the dharma for the next generation.

And it’s the process that’s important. The historical Buddha perfectly turned the dharma wheel and revealed all the teachings 25 centuries ago. What does anyone have to teach that hasn’t already been taught? What changes and varies over time is the manner in which the dharma is presented, not the dharma itself.

Further, even if the kid were a highly enlightened being — and if he is, he’s not the only one — he still can’t give enlightenment to you or anyone else. You still have to submit to the process yourself.

If he is genuinely realized, he wouldn’t hesitate to take a humble seat among novice monks and allow his understanding to be tested by a teacher. If he can’t bring himself to do that, then he’s just bullshitting himself.

August 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm
(23) Adam says:

Your remarks on Nepali “Buddhism” are interesting. I cannot accept this form of “Buddhism” as literally true, as all of the great Buddhist Masters that I know of from the lineage which I follow reject Hindu beliefs,and it is my understanding that Buddha rejected Hindu beliefs also.

I apprecitate your reservations and scepticism, but I think that you are ill-informed. His teacher is Lama Jamyang Yeshe of the Sakya tradition. You can see Lama Jamyang Yeshe meditating with him and talking about him in the following You Tube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndg_6eajjNM&feature=related

August 19, 2010 at 5:54 pm
(24) Barbara O'Brien says:

Adam — that a lama meditates with the kid occasionally isn’t exactly what I mean by a “teacher.” It might very well be that the boy is sincere and has some insight, although I don’t see any evidence of that in the text you provided in the link. And I can’t get excited about some boy in Nepal maybe having some insight when there are realized teachers here in the U.S. So while I wish the kid well and hope for everyone’s sake he’s legitimate, I am not holding my breath waiting for him to save the world. He’s got nothing to give you, you know. That’s true of all teachers — they’ve got nothing to give you. Even if he is perfectly realized, he’s got nothing to give you and nothing new to teach that hasn’t already been taught.

I should turn this around — why are you so interested in him? What niche do you think he fills?

August 19, 2010 at 5:05 pm
(25) Adam says:

Go to 3:40 on the video if you want to go straight to the part where Lama Jamyang Yeshe does his meditation with him.

August 20, 2010 at 9:32 am
(26) Adam says:

I do not think that I need him in the sense that I am very happy with my current teacher and my current tradition which I believe gives me all that I need.

However, I find his words and his example to be very inspiring. As to what niche he fills, I think that it is quite clear that he will introduce people to Buddhism and provide a route through which some people are able to appreciate the meaning of Buddhist teachings.

That is no more and no less than what other Buddhist teachers have accomplished and are accomplishing.

By the way – I am not American. I am English and live in Southampton, United Kingdom.

August 20, 2010 at 9:37 am
(27) Adam says:

I believe that Ram Bomjan does benefit me in the sense that I feel inspired by his words and his example.

He inspires me to want to meditate and to gain a deeper appreciation of the Dharma teachings that I have already received.

September 7, 2010 at 3:49 am
(28) J says:

What buddah boy is doing is –counterbalance–. He is counterbalancing the vast amounts of negative energy in the earth with his meditation. This can be done by a person with a very high level of consciousness. This is the dharma he is practicing. People need to let him alone so he can continue.
…The fragrance of sandalwood and rosebay does not travel far. But the fragrance of virtue rises to the heavens.

He does not need food, he lives on energy, because of the siddhis. …His food is knowledge. He lives upon emptiness.

September 7, 2010 at 9:13 am
(29) Barbara O'Brien says:

What buddah boy is doing is “counterbalance“. He is counterbalancing the vast amounts of negative energy in the earth with his meditation. … He does not need food, he lives on energy, because of the siddhis. …His food is knowledge. He lives upon emptiness.

That’s fine, but he’s in the wrong religion. Grandstanding stunts like that have nothing to do with Buddhism, and anyone who falls for this malarkey is impressed with Buddha Boy utterly misunderstands Buddhism. I’m not sure what religion it does fit into, but it ain’t Buddhism.

September 16, 2010 at 5:24 pm
(30) Adam says:

With all due respect Barbara, you are talking from the point of view of your own tradition.

Both the Tibetan and the Theravada tradition believe that people can gain so called super-human powers though the power of meditation. Ram Bonjan’s own teacher said that this sort of thing is no big deal really!

If it is simply the case that you can meditate without eating or drinking it isn’t a performance act to do so – it is simply the case that you are getting on with your spiritual practice.

September 16, 2010 at 6:21 pm
(31) Barbara O'Brien says:

With all due respect Barbara, you are talking from the point of view of your own tradition.

Yes, but I also have many years of experience at spotting frauds. I can’t believe people are so gullible about this kid.

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