Tanha or Craving in Buddhism

Buddha, the Founder of Buddhism

"There are these three cravings. Which three? Craving for sensuality, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming. These are the three cravings."

— Itivuttaka 58

An arrow in the heart

"Craving is... an arrow. The poison of ignorance spreads its toxin through desire, passion, & ill will."

— Majjhima Nikaya 105

Six kinds of craving

"There are these six classes of craving: craving for forms, craving for sounds, craving for odors, craving for flavors, craving for tangibles, craving for mind-objects."

— Majjhima Nikaya 9

What traps us in samsara

"Monks, I don't envision even one other fetter — fettered by which beings conjoined go wandering and transmigrating on for a long, long time — like the fetter of craving. Fettered with the fetter of craving, beings conjoined go wandering and transmigrating on for a long, long time."

Itivuttaka 15

Bound with the bondage of craving,
their minds smitten with becoming & non-,
they are bound with the bondage of Mara  —  
	people     with no safety from bondage,
	beings     going through the wandering-on,
	       headed for birth & death.
While those who've abandoned craving,
free from the craving for becoming & non-,
reaching the ending of fermentations,
	though in the world,
	have gone      beyond.

Itivuttaka 58

A cause of dukkha

"And what is the cause by which stress comes into play? Craving is the cause by which stress comes into play.

AN VI.63

Cutting the roots of craving

If its root remains
undamaged & strong,
a tree, even if cut,
will grow back.
So too if latent craving
is not rooted out,
this suffering returns
	again
	&
	again.

— Dhammapada 338

Encircled with craving,
people hop round & around
like a rabbit caught in a snare.
Tied with fetters & bonds
they go on to suffering,
again & again, for long.

— Dhammapada 342

For a person
	forced on by his thinking,
	fierce in his passion,
	focused on beauty,
craving grows all the more.
He's the one
	who tightens the bond.
But one who delights
	in the stilling of thinking,
always  mindful
	       cultivating
	a focus on the foul:
He's the one
	who will make an end,
the one who will cut Mara's bond.

— Dhammapada 349-350

Where does craving arise, and where does it dwell?

"And where does this craving, when arising, arise? And where, when dwelling, does it dwell? Whatever is endearing & alluring in terms of the world: that is where this craving, when arising, arises. That is where, when dwelling, it dwells.

"And what is endearing & alluring in terms of the world? The eye is endearing & alluring in terms of the world. That is where this craving, when arising, arises. That is where, when dwelling, it dwells.

"The ear... The nose... The tongue... The body... The intellect...

"Forms... Sounds... Smells... Tastes... Tactile sensations... Ideas...

"Eye-consciousness... Ear-consciousness... Nose-consciousness... Tongue-consciousness... Body-consciousness... Intellect-consciousness...

"Eye-contact... Ear-contact... Nose-contact... Tongue-contact... Body-contact... Intellect-contact...

"Feeling born of eye-contact... Feeling born of ear-contact... Feeling born of nose-contact... Feeling born of tongue-contact... Feeling born of body-contact... Feeling born of intellect-contact...

"Perception of forms... Perception of sounds... Perception of smells... Perception of tastes... Perception of tactile sensations... Perception of ideas...

"Intention for forms... Intention for sounds... Intention for smells... Intention for tastes... Intention for tactile sensations... Intention for ideas...

"Craving for forms... Craving for sounds... Craving for smells... Craving for tastes... Craving for tactile sensations... Craving for ideas...

"Thought directed at forms... Thought directed at sounds... Thought directed at smells... Thought directed at tastes... Thought directed at tactile sensations... Thought directed at ideas...

"Evaluation of forms... Evaluation of sounds... Evaluation of smells... Evaluation of tastes... Evaluation of tactile sensations... Evaluation of ideas is endearing & alluring in terms of the world. That is where this craving, when arising, arises. That is where, when dwelling, it dwells.

Digha Nikaya 22

Suggestions for Further Reading

Introduction to Hinduism
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Selected Upanishads
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The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
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The Chandogya Upanishad
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The Bhagavadgita Complete Translation
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Source: Reproduced and reformatted from Access to Insight edition © 2005 For free distribution. This work may be republished, reformatted, reprinted, and redistributed in any medium. It is the author's wish, however, that any such republication and redistribution be made available to the public on a free and unrestricted basis and that translations and other derivative works be clearly marked as such.

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