Jataka Tales of the Buddha: An Anthology, Volume I

Jataka Tales of the Buddha: An Anthology, Volume I

by Ken Kawasaki, Visakha Kawasaki
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Jataka1 Tales of the Buddha: An Anthology, Volume I 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
tcorsus More than 1 year ago
In the Jataka tales, the teachings of the Buddha are presented in narrative form. The stories follow the countless lives of the Bodhisatta... the Buddha before his enlightenment. According to tradition, the Bodhisatta strove for countless lives to perfect the virtues which would allow him to attain full Buddhahood. Ken and Visakha Kawasaki have masterfully retold these stories, imbuing them with fresh life. For anyone unfamiliar with the Buddha's teachings, these stories are an engaging and accessible introduction. For those on the path, the stories are inspiring and invaluable. There are two features that really stand out in these stories. The first is the Bodhisatta's ability to turn any situation, no matter how unpleasant, into an opportunity for learning and growth. Time and time again, the stories show the Bodhisatta enduring many hardships for the benefit of others. There is a central message in these stories: the greatest aim in life is to develop one's merits. All else pales in comparison, and often even life itself is sacrificed for the sake of a good deed. A second central feature of these stories is the continuity between lives of the Buddha and his friends, the holy company of monks. It was not merely for his own sake that the Buddha developed his merits from lifetime to lifetime, but also to help his friends elevate themselves, to guide and inspire them in their efforts. For many lives, they set the stage for what was to come--a colossal flowering of enlightenment which would illuminate the world for millennia. The Jataka tales are often fantastical, but at their core they are grounded by universal insights into the nature of existence and pragmatic moral teachings. Their mass appeal is evident through their influence, which shows not only in ancient Indian stories and literature but also in fables of the West. The stories are not necessarily intended for children, as their subject matter is often quite graphic. None of the horrors or intrigues of human life have been glossed over. And yet, what makes these stories worth reading is the presence of the Bodhisatta. In the face of terrible vicissitudes, the Bodhisatta displays equanimity. In the face of temptations and distractions, the Bodhisatta displays restraint. In the face of danger and challenges, the Bodhisatta displays strength and courage. These stories are meant to ennoble us, to push us to a point where we are ready to strive for liberation, no matter how long it might take or how difficult it might be. May these stories be a beacon of hope for all those going through dark times. May we all find peace, happiness, and liberation.