Past-life memory in Cambodia is common. In Buddhist scriptural practices, past-life memory is usually thought of in terms of the Buddhist cycle of saṃsāra, where past-life memory is often a prerequisite for advanced stages of spiritual accomplishment. However, in practice, past-life memory is often deeply disturbing to the rememberer, their family and their community. This presentation discusses three examples of contemporary past-life memory out of Erik’s fieldwork in Cambodia, highlighting the practices that surround such memory and uses to which such memories are put. Examples include a young girl who remembers being her own uncle, a spiritual leader who claims to be the most important Buddhist leader of the Cambodian twentieth century, and another woman who put two families together in her youth, and has maintained their connections into her eighties. Erik Davis is a UW and Jackson School alum. He is currently an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College in Minnesota.
Erik Davis: Past Live Present, Tense
April 4, 2016