Book Review: Endless Path

Endless Path – Awakening Within the Buddhist Imagination: Jataka Tales, Zen Practice, and Daily Life
Written by Rafe Martin
Published by North Atlantic Books

Recently I reviewed one of Rafe Martin’s other books, “The Banyan Deer” and I raved about it. Not only did I rave about the storytelling, but for the fabulous illustrations by Richard Wehrman. The pair have teamed up again, this time in a much larger book, with multiple stories and illustrations.

“Endless Path…” is a collection of 10 jataka tales. For those that do not know, the jataka tales are stories which are based, and believed to be, about the Buddha’s previous incarnations as either humans or animals. Jataka tales have been told for many years, and while some are not the exact story they may have originally been, they are very close representations I’m sure.

Rafe offers a refreshing spin on the familiar stories, as well as one I was not acquainted with at all, the “Blue Bear Jataka”. Not only does he retell the stories, but he offers commentary on each on at the end of the chapter.

Rafe’s ability to retell the stories draw the reader into an almost “round the fire” type of feeling. I can picture numerous folks, throughout the years, passing these stories around. His mastery of storytelling transports one into this very setting, cozy and comfortable.

These stories do not just appeal an or apply to young readers, this collection is very much on an adult level. That doesn’t mean a child wouldn’t enjoy the stories, but the moral behind each might get lost without an explanation. So do not doubt it, this book was meant for you to read, yes you.

If you are looking to take a break from the academic books on Buddhism you have your nose buried in, than “Endless Path…” is not only the book to read, it’s a great one! Each story represents an opportunity to contemplate the true meaning of compassion and kindness in a way that is not only fun, but truly enjoyable.

You should be ordering this book by now…

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