Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid
July 29, 2010
There are plenty of words and phrases that come immediately to mind when one is faced with a meditating Buddhist, assuming one will someday be faced with a meditating Buddhist. Pacifist, vegetarian, teetotaler, barrel of laughs, life of the party, etc. You get the idea: hysterically funny people, but generally not the most violent types.
There are exceptions, to be sure. Bruce Lee, arguably the biggest bad ass in history, was a Buddhist, and so are the Shaolin monks who seem to show up in every kung-fu movie. But Buddha himself? Not so much. That’s not really his reputation. In all the millions of statues of the guy he’s either reclining or sitting down with his eyes closed. It’s tough to look fearsome when you’re half asleep.
Don’t be fooled by appearances, though, people. I can assure you Buddha isn’t all puppy dogs and rays of sunshine. And I’ve got a new word you can add to your little description: ass-whupper.
How can I make such a bold claim, you ask? Did the Dalai Lama suddenly go postal and smack around some of his attendants? Not to the best of my knowledge, no. But Buddha himself ran afoul of the law in Nepal last week for something very similar.
According to BBC News, the man in question, 20-year-old Ram Bahadur Bomjon – popularly known as “Buddha Boy” – is being investigated by police for dishing out a beating to a group of locals who disturbed his meditation. Not exactly what you’d expect to hear about a man believed by his followers to be the living reincarnation of the Buddha.
Now, I could see Bomjon getting a little irked if some punk kid came up and tickled his ear with a piece of straw or something. Sure. Be my guest. Slap that kid upside the head and go back to meditating. But Buddha Boy took things a little farther than that, sending to medical facilities a staggering 17 people who claimed they were just out looking for wild fruits and vegetables.
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The attack, which took place in the Bara district of Nepal, and which Bomjon has admitted to, came as a shock to local authorities and others in the Buddhist community, who know of Buddha Boy as a result of his more peaceful endeavors.
Bomjon, it seems, is famous among Buddhists for his feats of inedia, or the ability to live without food and water. In 2005 he made international headlines by reportedly meditating cross-legged under a tree without moving for almost 10 months. In 2007 he went missing in the jungles of southern Nepal, only to reappear more than a year later, claiming not to have eaten anything the whole time.
Whether Bomjon’s claims are true is the subject of much debate, but for a 2006 Discovery Channel documentary he was filmed for 96 hours straight, and not once did he change his position or have anything to eat or drink.
So why would someone so serene, so mentally tough, suddenly break his meditation to lash out and slap 17 people silly? According to Bomjon, it was because they came onto his platform and mimicked him, forcing him to slap them “two or three times,” in his own words.
“They disturbed me while I was meditating … tried to manhandle me,” said Buddha Boy, as nonchalantly as Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti Western. “I was therefore forced to beat them.”
Compelling testimony, admittedly, but I think the real reason for Bomjon’s suddenly violent tendencies has more to do with physical urges than any disturbed mental state.
You see, Buddha Boy swears he hasn’t eaten anything 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.
I’ve often wondered what Buddhists think of when they meditate. On the few occasions that I tried it, most of my thoughts had to do with various parts of the female anatomy. I always figured that was likely not what Buddhist monks were concentrating on.
Now, though, I feel like I finally have my answer, and I think there’s a lesson here for all of us to learn. The next time you’re faced with a meditating Buddhist, be careful, because what he’s thinking of is jumping up out of his cross-legged position and kicking your ass.
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