The idea of having more than one life in Buddhism is regarded not just as a theory but a truth that can be experienced and verified If this is so, what was the technique used by the Buddha to recollect past lives? What is the exact technique that leads to remembering one's past lives according to Buddhism?

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    The technique is called reaching enlightenment ;)
    – Rabbit
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 9:24
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    lol! although if Im not mistaken it is a power that you don't need to have to become enlightened and you can develop this supernormal ability without being enlightened through deep concentration practice. Bhante would be the best person to answer this one. Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 11:40

5 Answers 5


According to my teachers (Korean Zen and Tibetan Vajrayana), because Buddhism explicitly denies existence of soul (see anatta), the concept of rebirth does not refer to reincarnation of the same person, but rather to propagation of information from one life to another.

Recollection of past lives then is not to be understood literally but as a metaphor for clearly seeing patterns of karma acting out from one generation to another. This requires shedding an irrational belief in existence of "I" as a solid entity, subject of experience, and independent agent of action.

The technique for achieving this level of insight is known as vipassana or "special insight meditation", to be preceded by "calm abiding meditation", samatha, in order to attain the necessary clarity of mind.


Technically, the memory of past lives requires the four meditative stages to be accomplished. See my answer to this thread: What exactly is Jhana?


"Visuddhimagga" Chapter XII can be used as the reference. It begins with

Now, in order to perfect those kinds of direct-knowledge the task must be undertaken by a meditator who has reached the fourth jhána in the earth kasióa, and so on.

Here it describe 5 kinds of "direct- knowledge". The 4th one is the knowledge of recollection of past lives;

According to the text the technique is quite lengthy (hence not going to past here) and very well described.

Apart from that, I have read /listened to various "Dhamma" talks regarding this subject. According to those, it is required to have a deep state of "samadhi" to begins with.

Then you can train your mind to remember the past. You could start with remembering things backwards. For example, what was I doing before now, then before that, then before that...

When you got stuck, just come back to the meditation, develop the "samadhi" again and try training again.

Please have a look at these could of videos as well.


Hope this helps.



According to the Maha-Assapura Sutta translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, a practitioner works on The Three Knowledges, one of which is recollection of past lives, after obtaining all four Jhanas..

"And furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure and stress — as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress — he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure nor stress.

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives.


The technique is appear in the first ten Sutta of Tipitaka, such as DN2 SamannaphalaSutta, DN10 SubhaSutta.

Those Sutta is about keeping precept to practice wholesome minds at six doors on the wholesome objects, PatibhagaNimitta (instead of Nimitta and Anubayanjana which are unwholesome objects), in every posture, all situations, until the practitioner could get the 4th Mastery Jhana.

Then the concentration and Panna at this Jhana is good enough to practice the better Panna, AdhiPannaSikkha, such as Past-Lives-Recollection and the other Seven Vijja.

You need high skill of reciting and pali language to understand DN10 like what I've written, it's called Sandhi-Anusandhi/Pabbapara in Pali cannon. It's required skill to understand Pali cannon.

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