Light on the life

5th December 1997 at 00:00
THE LIFE OF THE BUDDHA. Cassette tape and teacher's handbook. Pounds 9. 95. Dharmachakra, 3 Coral Park, Henley Road, Cambridge CB1 3EA. Tel: 01223 516821.

This 90-minute tape and accompanying handbook from Dharmachakra, another face of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, is for key stage 4 and above. It consists of a three-voice dramatisation of the life of the Buddha, focusing on 19 of the best-known episodes associated with his birth, early life, enlightenment, teaching and death.

It is a useful supplement to book-based introductions to the Buddha's life, but cannot replace them. The narration is sometimes so reverent that it inclines more to devotional than to educational use, and the Buddha's voice needs to be stronger.

The handbook would have been improved by full details of books referred to, and more inclusive suggestions for background reading. And an illustration of the Wheel of Life would have been more useful than the picture of the Buddha used for episode 10.

The life of the Buddha is the key to understanding this religion. Dharmachakra's production is a further resource in a crucial area and as such, despite its flaws, is welcome.

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