Back of the Book
Buddhist Tales in Modern Times is a collection of stories woven from the many accounts which exist of things the author did and experienced. Most of the stories have been inspired by the author’s various trips to Ladakh, Nepal and many places in India. This book takes us to a fantasy world where there are animals, insects, birds and trees that talk and behave like human beings. The stories are presented in an unusual but interesting style. As in Buddhist teachings, most of the characters mentioned in these stories are also animals.
The book relates the journey of Buddhism from India to China, Japan and Tibet. The stories of the soul in this book elucidate the philosophy of reincarnation, which is the spiritual entrance to salvation, describe the eight sacred places of the Buddha and dispel myths about the Tibetan medical philosophy. Some of the stories are based on the Lotus Sutra and have been combined with Nepali traditions and culture. These stories provide a perfect blend of various rituals of Buddhism and its history.
Ven. Gyomyo Nakamura was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1954. He came to India in 1975 and has been living in India since then. In India, he has travelled to various places. In 1976, he went to Rajgir, where Buddha attained enlightenment, and got inspired to become a Buddhist monk. He has travelled all over the world spreading the message of peace through Buddhism. He has established many Buddhist temples like the Ladakh Shanti Stupa in Ladakh, World Buddhist Centre in New Delhi, and Meditation Hut in Manali.
Ven. Thupstan Paldan, the illustrator was born in 1944 in Ladakh. He became a Buddhist monk when he was 12 years old. He spent 9 years in Tibet from 1951-59. He studied Buddhist studies in Sri Lanka, and Sanskrit in Banaras Hindu University. He worked as an assistant editor at the J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Language from 1982-2002. He has written 32 books in the Tibetan language, and has also received a state award for his works.
There was once a young man who decided to leave all that he knew. He had chosen a different path from the one all his friends and family expected from him. He left the country of the Rising Sun, he left the islands of Japan and went to the country of the Buddha: India. He arrived there knowing only a bit of English, having just a small amount of money in his pocket, but not much. There was nothing written for his future, his future was a world of possibilities waiting to be fulfilled, a large book full of blank pages; he had no idea what was going to happen to him. He took a leap into the unknown and the adventure began. That was thirty-three years ago.
The young man travelled to holy Buddhist places, he went to Bodhgaya where Buddha reached enlightenment, and got inspired to become a monk. All along his travelling, he met and lived with all kinds of Indian people. He stayed in many different places, befriending beggars, autorickshaw drivers, children, simple people, poor people, rich people and various animals. He became the witness of the daily life of Indians and of their daily struggle to survive. He became a witness of their faiths, of their strength, of their dreams and hope.
Life was not always easy, and the poor monk in New Delhi had no other place to sleep but the bare ground of the train station. One day, a compassionate man having heard about this Japanese monk living in the train station, came to him and offered him food and accommodation. The Japanese monk felt very grateful towards this man who came from Ladakh, a remote area of the Indian Himalayas, at the border with Pakistan and Tibet. A strong friendship was born between the two men. After some time, the Ladakhi A man brought the monk to Ladakh and showed him the little Buddhist kingdom, up in the heart of the Himalayas, where water was scarce and the mountains barren. The monk loved the high altitude desert at once. The Ladakhi man then asked him, in the name of all the population, to build a Buddhist monument, a Stupa. The Japanese monk agreed to do it, being happy to be able to help the man who had once helped him.
However he had not realised that building this monument was a titanic task. Little did he know that it was going to take him ten years, that he would have to gather help from all the population, from far away villages. The location he had chosen after quite a lot of searching was a little hill, and he had to blow up the top of it for two years, in order to make a flat platform for the large Stupa of peace he had designed. This construction work forced the persevering man to spend a lot of time in Ladakh, and sometimes the whole of winter also, as the roads were then closed due to the snow on the high passes. And so he had a lot of time. Looking at the beautiful mountains and peaks surrounding him, at the night full of endless shining stars, he began to sink in reverie. His memories, his experiences and his unusual way of seeing things blended becoming fantasy tales. Here is a collection of the stories he dreamt...
I met this man Rev. Gyomyo Nakamura, who has been mentioned above, in November 2007. He requested my help with the published tales he had written in Japanese, as he wanted to do an English version of them. Knowing that I was a writer, he asked me to rewrite them in English. I accepted and so he orally translated his stories. I rewrote them without changing their essence. I added some parts and made the stories more adaptable to the Western audience. May you enjoy these stories.
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