Tuesday, March 11

The Incredible Buddha Boy


Here's one of those stories which keep coming up from the exotic orient. Where amazing inexplicable things happen.  When I was your age son, didn't really believe in God. Or that unseen power. Why would I? Brave man. Full of knowledge of the world. Science. Regression statistical analysis. There is no god. There's only nature. 

And then I started to see stuff that didn't make sense. And yes I learnt about fear. Fear for you two kids. Knowing that you are totally dependent upon me to raise you up like a good man, a good citizen and that you will have a good life. Do all I can to help. 

And god appeared. I'm not religious but do believe in God son. I'm not saying you have to do it as well. This is a journey all have to go through themselves. But what that, and meditation, helped me to get along in my life son. 

Another thing in this article, the author doesn't think through his religions in Nepal. It's actually a Hindu Kingdom but the way Hinduism works, it's very difficult to separate out in the layman. Buddha was considered and is still venerated as an incarnation of Vishnu. Go figure. It usually drives the Buddhists completely spare but hey, the Buddha himself never said that he was inventing a new religion or to worship him but that's what his followers did. Just like Christ. He never said that people need to become Christians, he just wanted to refocus people's minds on Judaism. And then people started worshipping him. 

Anyway I digress. Indian mythology is full of examples of our Rishi and munis going for long periods of time without eating or drinking while meditating. Me? I cannot do that. It takes too long. 

Oh another thing, beware of people who tell you that you have to show off your meditation. It's inward looking son. Just you and your mind and god. People go about doing huge productions out of meditation. Well that's fine but at end of the day, it's just you your mind and God. Or the universe. 



Longform Reprints: The Incredible Buddha Boy by George Saunders

All photos by Jeff Riedel


Last December, I got an e-mail from my editor at GQ. A 15-year-old boy in Nepal had supposedly been meditating for the past seven months without any food or water. Would I like to look into this?

I went online. The boy’s name was Ram Bahadur Bomjon. He was sitting in the roots of a pipal tree near the Indian border. The site was being overrun by pilgrims, thousands a week, who were calling this boy “the new Buddha.” He’d twice been bitten by poisonous snakes; both times he’d refused medicine and cured himself via meditation. Skeptics said he was being fed at night behind a curtain, that his guru was building himself a temple, that his parents were building themselves a mansion, that the Maoist rebels, in on the hoax, were raking in tens of thousands of dollars in donations.

I e-mailed my editor back: I was pretty busy, what with the teaching and all, besides which Christmas break was coming up and I hadn’t been to the gym once the preceding semester, plus it would be great to, uh, get an early start on my taxes.

Then we embarked on the usual Christmas frenzy, but I couldn’t get this boy off my mind. At parties, I noted two general reactions to the statement Hey, I heard this kid in Nepal has been meditating uninterruptedly in the jungle for the past seven months without any food or water.

One type of American—let’s call them Realists—will react by making a snack-related joke (“So he finally gets up, and turns out he’s sitting on a big pile of Butterfinger wrappers!”) and will then explain that it’s physically impossible to survive even one week without food or water, much less seven months.

A second type—let’s call them Believers—will say, “Wow, that’s amazing,” they wish they could go to Nepal tomorrow, and will then segue into a story about a transparent spiritual being who once appeared on a friend’s pool deck with a message about world peace.

Try it: Go up to the next person you see, and say, Hey, I heard this kid in Nepal has been meditating uninterruptedly in the jungle for the past seven months without any food or water.

See what they say.

Or say it to yourself, and see what you say.

What I said, finally, was: This I have to see.

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