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The Treasures of the Buddha – សម្បត្តិ​ព្រះ​ពុទ្ធ

This is the Khmer Proverb that supplies the title of my dissertation: “Treasures of the Buddha: Imagining Death and Life in Contemporary Cambodia.”

សម្បត្តិ​មនុស្ស​គឺ ស្រី​ស្រា​ឡាន​វិឡា

សម្បត្តិ​ទេវតា មាន​ធូប​មាន​ទៀន

សម្បត្តិ​ព្រះ​ពុទ្ធ​គឺ ផ្នូរ​នឹង​និព្វាន៕

The treasures of man are women, wine, cars and villas

The treasures of the angels include incense and candles, but

The treasures of the Buddha are the grave and nirvana.

The proverb, which is somewhat obviously ‘non-traditional,’ speaks to what different types of beings consider valuable, and was my entrée to discussions of value in Cambodia, and its  transformations, which is the focus of my dissertation.

The last line identifies the treasures of the Buddha with death and (the impossible-to-conceive) nirvana. How is this a value? Khmer often find this proverb both funny and unnerving, since it mirrors back to the monastic establishment what they themselves say about value and the treasures of the Buddha, but does so in such a blatant way that they are convinced, somehow, that it is somehow ‘sacrilegious.’

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2 thoughts on “The Treasures of the Buddha – សម្បត្តិ​ព្រះ​ពុទ្ធ

  1. Pingback: Weekend links with little comment « deathpower

  2. LoveTruth007 says:

    ពាក្យទាក់ទងនឹងនិព្វានខាងលើគ្រាន់តែជាពាក្យលែងសើចតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ ។ It is just a joke for the above mentioning words referring to nirvana that is more than what the ordinary people like us can comprehend with less thinking.

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