“Buddha Boy” by Kathe Koja Review

Over the years, people from several religions have coexisted in different societies across the world. Despite the difference in religious practices and beliefs believers affiliated to each denomination have been able to understand other people’s tradition hence creating a peaceful as well as conducive environment for everyone. For instance, most nations base their laws on specific religious laws such as Christianity but the countries still accommodate people from other religions (Merino, 231). Kathe Koja’s Buddha Boy also indicates how Jinsen, a Buddhist coexisted with his classmates despite the religious difference that made him the look odd among his peers. Outwardly, the ability to accommodate other people from other religions is majorly influenced by the religious teachings. Notably, all the teachings in every religion advocate for equal treatment of humans hence showing that religious teachings greatly influence how people relate to each other in different societies across the world. Therefore, this paper will extensively elucidate how various religious teachings upholds religious diversity.

Different religions across the world have various beliefs about nature and how different creatures relate to each other. Interestingly, every religion has a story that upholds diversity not only among human beings but also other creations in nature. All the believers including the Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and the Jews have laws that highly values human life regardless of religious affiliation. Notably, all the believers from each religion are taught to show love and kindness to fellow humans even if they are non-believers or sinners (Makransky 58). In Koja’s Buddha Boy Jinsen’s Buddhist believes enabled him to treat his classmates with kindness even though they were mean to him. In several occasions Jinsen was picked on because of his religious practices that made him look like a monk. He was the odd one out probably among Christians hence the reason why he was bullied by his friends. Despite being tormented and bullied by his classmates Jinsen never hated any of them and treated them with kindness instead. He never accused his classmates and even prevented Justin from informing the school administration when the bullying became worse. He feared the consequences the bullies will face and stopped Justin from reporting which showed an act of kindness.

Jinsen’s acts of kindness throughout the book showed how religion has teachings that guide the believers on how to react or respond to others in certain situations which greatly promotes coexistence of religions. For instance, the Buddhist teaching emphasizes on the need to treat others kindly for a person to be treated well in return. The famous Buddhist belief known as Karma plays a critical role in promoting peace and diversity. In case of conflicts, the believers do not respond with violence or any other evil means as they believe that they will be treated in the same way. Jinsen’s calm response while being bullied reflects the Buddhist teachings and the response promoted peace and coexistence. If Jinsen responded harshly to his bullies the situation could have worsened and turn more violent or he could have been suspended from the school for misbehavior. The restrictions guiding the believers not to responds with violence or evil is a measure that ensures that no human harms the other regardless of their culture or religion hence ensuring diversity in the society (Makransky 51).

Different religious teachings encourage believers to be flexible in adopting various noble ways that would enable to live a happy life (Makransky 49). Despite the religious restrictions on how believers should conduct themselves, most religions including Christians are allowed to adopt moral practices that makes them happy and gives them peace (Makransky 64). Initially, Jinsen was a Christian as suggested by his name, Michael Martin, but he preferred Jinsen his spiritual name after he was introduced to Buddhism by his arts teacher. Notably, during his transition to Buddhism Jinsen did not face difficulties as the Christian moral values had no significant difference with the Buddhist values. The only contrast from other students was his simple look given that he often wore hippie shirts and shaved his head making him look like a monk. However, the Buddhist moral beliefs were relatively similar to the Christian moral values. For instance, as a Buddhist Jinsen was expected to live a humble life guided by respect to all other people which is similar to Christian expectations.

Religious teachings do not prevent the people from leaving as long as they are happy and uphold moral values which are relatively similar across all religions (Makransky 51). From Jinsen’s transition it is clear that different religions can accommodate each other hence enhancing coexistence. Outwardly, Jinsen’s transition to Buddhism is as a result of self-realization that exists in both Christianity and Buddhism. Christian teachings encourage the believers to explore paths that would enable them to maximize their full potential hence indicating that Jinsen was justified to join Buddhism. Similarly, Buddhism also allows its believers to choose ways that makes them happy as long as they uphold the moral laws and do not offend anyone. In his path as a Buddhist, Jinsen explores his full faith which is not only encouraged in Buddhism but also Christianity. Jinsen’s staunch belief in the Buddhist teachings fulfills the Christian teachings on self-realization. For instance, when Jinsen was a Buddhist he seemed to live the life that is desired by most Christians. Jinsen lived a humble life and loved everyone including those who mistreated him which is a basic teaching even in Christianity. He did not judge any body and also had a strong faith despite his predicament in school. The self-realization taught in Christianity made him to explore the extent of his faith even though he had converted to Buddhism.

Most importantly, religious diversity is not attained with the existence of several religions with but with ability for everyone to appreciate each other’s religious practices (Zhang et al. 32). Jinsen’s experience during his transition to Buddhism suggests that religious diversity is attained when people different backgrounds can easily fulfill the teachings or the requirements of each religion. For instance, when Jinsen’s classmates mistreated him for adopting Buddhist practices such as shaving his head they did not show religious diversity but rather religious pluralism. Religious diversity is attained when each person affiliated to different religions appreciates and understands the other people’s religions (Zhang et al. 32). For example, Jinsen’s act of understanding the other students indicates religious diversity. Jinsen respected them and loved them despite their unkindness towards him.

Evidently, religious teachings play a crucial role in ensuring religious diversity. Jinsen’s Buddhist beliefs shows how different religions accommodates everyone hence creating diversity. His experience while trying to cope with the other students reveals the features that religion has in enhancing religious diversity. All the religious teachings encourage the believers to appreciate and understand everyone hence indicating diversity.