Review: The Great Buddhist Stories Omnibus

[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: Shen Shi’An” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Abril%20Fatface%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Great Enlightening Tales For The Young & Old!

‘The Great Buddhist Stories Omnibus’ written by Ven. S. Dhammika and illustrated by Susan Harmer is a single volume collection of the tales previously featured in ‘Buddha and His Friends’, ‘Stories the Buddha Told’ and ‘Buddha and His Disciples’. Having read these individual titles in the past, it was nevertheless exciting to encounter the omnibus version years ago. Immediately, I bought a copy for myself and another for my niece and nephew. Even after giving away my personal copy to yet another pair of young relatives, I jumped at the chance of getting my present copy, made available as a keepsake after review.

I guess you get the idea after so much rambling. It is that fantastic a book, worth repeatedly getting and giving as an ideal gift for the young and old, for its messages are both easy to understand yet profound in impact. I am rereading the book soon, and yes, ever ready to give it away, yet again. After all, as the Buddha himself put it, ‘the gift of truth excels all other gifts’, as spiritual lessons shared with others can benefit them endlessly, even leading to enlightenment. I do hope the makers of the book will create more volumes for an even richer future omnibus!

Mindfully selected and simplified, the book gathers some of the best-loved classic teaching incidents that occurred in the Buddha’s time, including that of his disciples. Of course, it starts with the telling of the Buddha’s personal story, of how he came to be the Buddha, the fully awakened one. Presented as a Tintin-styled and sized full-coloured comic book, the book showcases the brilliant wit and wisdom of the Buddha, with his great compassionate skilful means in illuminating the lives of folks from all walks of life.

Comprising of 30 self-contained yet partially interconnected stories, the format of the book makes for great casual and engaging reading for the time-pressed grown-up. Having graphics also makes it ideal material for showing and telling meaningful stories to kids. Yes, even bedtime stories can be ‘awakening’ in nature! Well, these stories are way more thought-provoking than classic overtold fairy tales! In case you are still uncertain of its suitability as a gift for yourself or others, especially if the latter are free-thinkers or not Buddhists, this down to earth book is never preachy, while it depicts universal morals that all would surely appreciate!

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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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