- Doctoral Candidate
- Arizona State University
“Funeral one time, monastery ten times.” This proverb not only reveals a surging interest among Burmese Buddhists in seeking soteriological rewards through funeral services. It speaks also to the significant role of Free Funeral Service Societies (FFSSs) -- organizations dedicated to social services for welfare of others (parahita) “without discrimination of race and religion” -- in transforming funeral services from a defiling activity into a popular merit-making practice. My dissertation argues that FFSSs are innovating a progressive, socially engaged Buddhist soteriology in contemporary Myanmar. Focusing on FFSSs, my ethnographic research explores how encountering and engaging suffering allows Burmese Buddhists to experience, imagine, and embody parahita as a practice for merit-making.