I learn new things every day, which on use becomes knowledge and wisdom over the years. From Buddhism point of view, I can reincarnate in different world and time , can remember my previous birth. What does Buddhism say of samsaric knowledge gained on previous birth? Is it accessible to new reincarnate being?

3 Answers 3


Habits practiced over many lifetimes persist. Say there is monkey born as a monkey over 500 lifetimes and subsequently born human. The tendency to be a bit jumpy will persist.

The other knowledge you cannot access unless you develop the ability to recall past life. This is not easy and developing these kind of abilities are not connected to the Buddhist goal hence not encouraged.

Without such ability and an average person so cannot access past life knowledge you will most likely not be able to do in this and future lives also.


According to the Tibetan tradition, some children can remember fragments of their previous life, based on the tradition preserved in the Pali Canon that one can intentionally influence one's future rebirths. These children are tulkus, intentional rebirths of somewhat advanced beings (not necessarily "masters" as commonly asserted). Moreover, the Buddha remembered all of his previous lives, which is paradoxical since samsara is beginningless, as noted by Dr. Richard Gombrich. Therefore, the karmic continuum, mindstream or santana, must include memory. However, this is not normally accessible and is usually "overwritten" early in life due to the greater immediacy and intensity of current experience. Dr. Ian Stevenson has documented this is to some extent.

  • "based on the tradition preserved in the Pali Canon that one can intentionally influence one's future rebirth" Atma is not sure that such is so but rather remembers the Sutta where the Buddha illustrated rebirth like a thrown stick, sometimes falling on the top, side or the other side, Mr. Duncan. All your current knowledge requires a lot of gratitude, beginning by your parents. There is actually less evidence of such thoughts and even if you would resolve to remember something, let say in 2 days or 10 yeas, its not sure that you would. There is no nicca in sanna-kandha.
    – user11235
    Dec 30, 2015 at 6:44
  • Such references are fairly frequent in the Pali Canon. Again, I will post a reference in the next few days. I do hope you realize just how onerous it is to have to document every allusion with specific textual references in a chat forum. Nevertheless I am glad to do it if it furthers dharma knowledge. The Pali Canon is a long and tedious work which it is understandably more difficult to study than sectarian secondary sources. Nonetheless it is the most important resource for Buddhism.
    – user4970
    Dec 30, 2015 at 14:34
  • The answer argument sound very clear and if there is a fairly frequent its will be much relaxing after being really sure about it. Mudita, Mr Duncan.
    – user11235
    Dec 30, 2015 at 14:46
  • In "How to Be United in Future Lives," in Bhikku Bodhi's In the Buddha's Words, pp. 121f., Bodhi quotes A 4:55;II 61-62, the story of Nakulapita and Nakulamata, a husband and wife who perform an Act of Truth in order to be reborn together. There are other references too in the Pali Canon to intentional rebirth, esp deva rebirth. In addition, according to the Mahavamsa, a non-canonical work on the history of Sri Lanka, Moggaliputta-Tissa intentionally reincarnates in order to preside over the Third Buddhist Council, showing that the concept of intentional rebirth is not exclusively Tibetan.
    – user4970
    Dec 31, 2015 at 0:00
  • This story is usually interpreted as "if people wish to meet each other again, they need to have the same tendency", such is no evidence for a specific birth at all and the interpretation is an interpretation. Atma has no doubt that there as certain ideas like in certain later mahayana ideas in certain commentaries. But actually no, so far, in the Buddhas teachings. Sadhu for your effort and still looking forward to see that Atma was wrong.
    – user11235
    Dec 31, 2015 at 0:21

One perspective not mentioned in other answers is that going through the bardo is a traumatic experience. This is the primary reason for not maintaining memory between rebirths. The other primary reason being that memories are a physical aspect of the brain.

That being said, karmic seeds are said to grow, not just naturally, but also because of psychological propensity to repeat the same actions.

I am not sure if it is said that these propensities carry from life to life, or just the karma from them. It seems that it in some way must. Not identity though... but a type of personna or personality. However now I get off topic, so I will cease my ramblings.

  • What should Bardo be? A distance between two railway stations, Mr/Mrs Hellyale? Such ideas are unknown in Buddhas teachings and merely an adoption of native religion found in every culture, even in Theravada folk Buddhism.
    – user11235
    Dec 30, 2015 at 6:48
  • The bardo translates as the in-between
    – hellyale
    Dec 30, 2015 at 9:13
  • The Tibetans tradition includes the bardo as does Mahayana and Vajrayana.
    – hellyale
    Dec 30, 2015 at 9:15
  • In between what and who? And even if those and them would include such, how does such fit to the Buddhas teachings? Mr/Mrs Hellyale.
    – user11235
    Dec 30, 2015 at 9:23
  • @samana johann rebirth and karma kind of fall apart without it. At least as a coherent logical system... Between death and rebirth is where the bardo is... Some sects of Buddhism reject it and propose instantaneous rebirth as an alternative
    – hellyale
    Dec 30, 2015 at 11:52

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