Taṇhā Etymology

The literal meaning of taṇhā is “thirst”;[30][31] however, in Buddhism it has a technical meaning described above.

In part due to the variety of possible translations, taṇhā is sometimes used as an untranslated technical term by authors writing about Buddhism.

One source suggests that the opposite of taṇhā is upekkha (peace of mind, equanimity).[31]

Smith and Novak emphasize the difficulty of translating this term; they state:

The cause of life’s dislocation is tanha. Again, imprecisions of translations—all are to some degree inaccurate—make it wise to stay close to the original word. Tanha is usually translated as “desire.” There is some truth in this, but if we try to make “desire” tanha’s equivalent, we run into difficulties. To begin with, the equivalence would make this Second Truth unhelpful, for to shut down desires, all desires, in our present state would be to die, and to die is not to solve life’s problem. But beyond being unhelpful, the claim of equivalence would be flatly wrong, for there are some desires the Buddha explicitly advocated—the desire for liberation, for example, or for the happiness of others.[32]

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via: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taṇhā

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