Taṇhā Types

The Buddha identified three types of craving (taṇhā) (λαχτάρα): sense-craving, craving to be, craving not to be.[1][4][5][6][7][8]

Sense-craving (λαχτάρα για αίσθηση)

  • Pali: kāma-ta
  • Also referred to as craving for “sensuality” or “sensual pleasures”
  • [todo] This is a craving for sense objects which provide pleasant feeling, or craving for sensory pleasures.[4]
  • Walpola Rahula states that tanha includes not only desire for sense-pleasures, wealth and power, but also “desire for, and attachment to, ideas and ideals, views, opinions, theories, conceptions and beliefs (dhamma-taṇhā).”[1]

Craving to be

  • Pali: bhava-ta
  • Also referred to as craving for “becoming” or “existence”
  • This is craving to be something, to unite with an experience.[4]
  • Ron Leifer states: “The desire for life is present in the body at birth, in its homeostatic, hormonal, and reflexive mechanismsAt the more subtle level of ego, the desire for life is the ego’s striving to establish itself, to solidify itself, to gain a secure foothold, to prevail and dominate, and so to enjoy the sensuous delights of the phenomenal world. The desire for life manifests itself in all of ego’s selfish, ambitious strivings…”[9]
  • Ajahn Sucitto states: “Craving to be something is not a decision, it’s a reflex… So the result of craving to be solid and ongoing, to be a being that has a past and a future, together with the current wish to resolve the past and future, are combined to establish each individual’s present world as complex and unsteady. This thirst to be something keeps us reaching out for what isn’t here. And so we lose the inner balance that allows us to discern a here-and-now fulfillment in ourselves.[10]

Craving not to be

  • Pali: vibhava-ta
  • Also referred to as craving for “no becoming” or “non-existence” or “extermination”[11]
  • This is craving to not experience the world, and to be nothing.[4]
  • [todo] The Dalai Lama states that craving for “destruction is a wish to be separated from painful feelings”.[12]
  • Ron Leifer states: “As the desire for life is based on the desire for pleasure and happiness, the desire for death is based on the desire to escape pain and [suffering]… The desire for death is the yearning for relief from pain, from anxiety, from disappointment, despair, and negativity.”[13]
  • “The motive for the desire for death is most transparent in cases of suicide. Clearly, people with terminal illnesses who commit suicide are motivated by the desire to escape from physical pain and suffering. In so-called “altruistic” suicide, such as hari-kari, kamakazi, and other forms of socially conditioned suicide, the motive is to avoid mental suffering–shame, humiliation, and disgrace.”[13]


via: Taṇhā @wikipedia

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