Buddha Boy grabs attention

by Joel Crabtree, The Main Campus, Issue date: 9/14/06 Section: Soap Box

Many find inspiration in teen's 10-month meditation

Maine, USA -- This summer brought us some incredible stories in the news world: the near-miss terrorist attack in England, the wrath of hurricane Ernesto, and, of course, the mystery beast that was found in the local town of Turner and caused an uproar all over the state. But none of these headline-grabbing stories could match the curiosity factor of the Buddha Boy.

The Buddha Boy, whose name is Ram Bahadur Bomjon, supposedly sat underneath a tree in Nepal meditating for 10 months without food or water. While in meditation, the 15-year-old boy was supposedly bitten by a poisonous snake and refused treatment. A feature story was published in the June issue of GQ that focused on the faith that the boy had inspired as well as the skepticism surrounding his feat.

The story of the Buddha Boy seemed to unite people in its own odd way. Whether or not people believed the story was true didn't seem to matter, readers all over the world seemed to be rooting for the boy.

People talked about it, joked about it or came up with potential theories as to how he accomplished his 10-month meditation. The story got people's attention and didn't cause arguments or unjust political grudges; it served to entertain and provoke thoughtful conversation.

The media are often criticized for being too negative, and when one looks at the front page of most papers it becomes clear where that criticism comes from. There is war, suicide bombers, terrorism, polls and surveys telling us how poorly things are going in nearly every facet of humankind and electric cars are extinct.

And then out of nowhere a 15-year-old boy sits underneath a tree and meditates for 10 months. People came from miles and miles to see the teenager meditate, and for many, it solidified their faith in religion.

But at the end of the day people seem to be most interested in finding out if it is real or not, if Ram Bahadur Bomjon actually sat underneath a tree for 10 months without food, water or medical treatment. Video, photos and firsthand accounts tell me that Bomjon's story was not a hoax, but when I think about it rationally, I question whether it is physically possible.

It does not matter whether it was a hoax or not. The 15-year-old grabbed people's attention as a worldwide phenomenon and became a religious symbol to several believers, many of whom came from hundreds of miles away.

What does matter is that this boy was able to take attention away from wars and what is generally considered negative news and engage readers worldwide. It says a lot about the world. Whether we dismissed his story as a hoax or accepted it as truth people were interested in the boy, they supported him, and above all else, they enjoyed reading and talking about it - not just locally but around the globe. That's something that not even the Turner mystery beast could do.