Ancient Teachings: Jataka Tales

“It wasn’t simply a case of being enchanted by the stories themselves and Rafe’s telling. We plugged into a hitherto unexplored—by us—part of our rich Buddhist tradition.”

Jataka tales are mythic sources of depth for spiritual seekers of all traditions. Far from being quaint tales for children only—the Jataka tales tell us the ways of bodhisattvas, those with boundless hearts dedicated to the happiness and enlightenment of all beings.

For over forty years, Rafe Martin has been investigating, working with and writing about these ancient, traditional Buddhist teachings. His Buddhist writings have appeared in Tricycle, Buddhadharma, Shambhala Sun, The Sun, Parabola, Zen Bow, Blind Donkey, Mountain Record, Mountains Talking, and Walking Mountains. For the past several years, Rafe has been sharing the Jatakas and his profound interpretations of them in a teaching capacity at Buddhist communities throughout the world.

Rafe began formal Zen practice in 1970 with Philip Kapleau Roshi, later became his disciple, and was chosen by him to be editor of his final two books: Awakening to Zen and Straight to the Heart of Zen. After Roshi Kapleau’s retirement, Rafe worked for several years with Robert Aitken Roshi, then in 2002, he began training with Danan Henry Roshi, who gave him full lay ordination in 2010. His teachings on the Jataka tales grow out of both his many years of professional storytelling and his long experience of Buddhist tradition

At retreats and sesshins, Rafe is an inspiring speaker, instilling the listeners with a deep sense of purpose and continuous practice.

Workshops and talks centered around the Jataka Tales are geared to energize life relationships in all their opportunities for creativity and delight. Here is a description of one type of workshop Rafe offers:

In this workshop, finding ourselves reflected through the experience of the Jataka mirror, we will take up the work of bodhisattvas, embodying these stories through our own body, speech and mind and bringing renewal to our lives, our understanding, and our spiritual practice.

Contact Rafe for more information about conducting a workshop, retreat, or sesshin centered around the ancient wisdom of the Jataka tales.

AZTA (American Zen Teachers’ Association annual meeting)   Joseph Campbell Festival of Myth & Story
Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple   Zen Mountain Monastery, Mt. Tremper, NY
Bai Lin Zen Monastery, China   National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, TN
Casa Zen de Costa Rica, Heredia   Rochester Zen Center, NY
Denver Zen Center, CO   Syracuse Zen Center, NY
Empty Hand Zen Center, New Rochelle, NY   Toronto Zen Centre, ON, Canada
Open Sky Yoga Center, Rochester, NY   Vermont Zen Center,
Shelburne, VT
Great Vow Zen Monastery, Clatskanie, OR   Village Zendo, NYC
Florida Community of Mindfulness: Naples, Tampa, & St. Petersburg, FL   White Lotus Society,
Rochester, NY
International Storytelling Center, Jonesborough, TN   Wind Horse Zen Community, Asheville, NC
Jewel Heart Tibetan Buddhist Center, Ann Arbor, MI   Zen Community of Portland, OR