The four noble truths - and craving.

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The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:22 pm

Hi everyone,

This thread is for a discussion of the four noble truths. I would like to begin with craving in the second truth.

The second noble truth analyses craving into three components, the usual translation is : craving for sensual pleasures, craving for being and craving for non-being. In the Pali this is : kama-tanha, bhava-tanha and vibhava-tanha.

I think we all have a good idea of what kama-tanha is, but there seems to be confusion about what the other two are. What are your thoughts?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby bodom » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:49 pm

My understanding of bhava-tanha is the craving to continue on in some form in future lives and vibhava-tanha would be the exact opposite as in the wish to be completely annihilated at death, to have no more future existence in any form. Eternalism and Nihilism. Or in a simpler sense, craving and aversion to present circumstances. Let the debate begin.

Cula-sihanada Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... b.html#n-5

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Sat Feb 20, 2010 1:36 am

Hi bodom,

A good start to our discussion. I may be in agreement with you - not sure yet.

So you are saying that: "everyone has both these cravings" - would be wrong?

If a given individual has only one of these two cravings, then what determines which craving he has?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:25 pm

Hi Vincent,

I think according to the following passage (MN11), one only adopts one view and rejects the other.
"Bhikkhus, there are these two views: the view of being and the view of non-being. Any recluses or brahmans who rely on the view of being, adopt the view of being, accept the view of being, are opposed to the view of non-being. Any recluses or brahmans who rely on the view of non-being, adopt the view of non-being, accept the view of non-being, are opposed to the view of being.

They seem to be mutually exclusive.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:36 pm

Hi acinteyyo,

Yes, the views are mutually exclusive. What I do not understand is the relationship between the views and the cravings.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:22 pm

Hi everyone,

I will be presenting the opinions of various authorities on these cravings, here is what was said by a well-known scholar-monk from Sri Lanka.

From chapter four of : The Buddha's Ancient Path, by Piyadassi Thera.

"Whenever craving for these objects is connected with sense pleasure it is called `Sensuous Craving' (kama-tanha). When it is associated with the belief in eternal personal existence, then it is called `Craving for Existence and Becoming' (bhava-tanha). This is what is known as the View of Eternalism (sassata ditthi), attachment to becoming, the desire for continuing to exist for ever. When craving is associated with the belief in 'self-annihilation' it is called craving for non-existence (vibhava-tanha). This is what is known as the View of Annihilationism (uccheda-ditthi)."

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:52 pm

Hi everyone,

Some questions about the opinions of Piyadassi Thera:

He is saying that craving which is 'associated' with the 'eternalist view' is called bhava tanha.
Q 1. What is this 'association' - how are the two things related?
Q 2. What is the 'object' of bhava tanha?
Q 3. If the eternalist view was removed, would there still be bhava tanha?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:25 am

Hi everyone,

Some more problems with the opinions of Piyadassi Thera:

1. The eternalist view is the view that the self is eternal, so :
a) One is automatically reborn - no need for any desire or craving. It will happen.
b) So why would someone who holds this view crave for eternal existence?

2. The annihilationist view is the view that an existing self ends with the death of the body, so :
a) Again, no need to do anything, no desire or craving is needed. It will happen.
b) So why would one holding this view crave for annihilation?

I can't make any sense of the opinions of Piyadassi Thera. He appears to be saying that someone holding the eternalist view will have a craving for eternal existence. But surely, this is a contradiction? The only other interpretation is that by 'craving for eternal existence' he means craving for the eternalist view, but if so then what he has written was not clearly expressed.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby Reductor » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:35 am

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

Some more problems with the opinions of Piyadassi Thera:

1. The eternalist view is the view that the self is eternal, so :
a) One is automatically reborn - no need for any desire or craving. It will happen.
b) So why would someone who holds this view crave for eternal existence?

2. The annihilationist view is the view that an existing self ends with the death of the body, so :
a) Again, no need to do anything, no desire or craving is needed. It will happen.
b) So why would one holding this view crave for annihilation?

I can't make any sense of the opinions of Piyadassi Thera. He appears to be saying that someone holding the eternalist view will have a craving for eternal existence. But surely, this is a contradiction? The only other interpretation is that by 'craving for eternal existence' he means craving for the eternalist view, but if so then what he has written was not clearly expressed.

Best wishes, Vincent.


The three taints are: sensuality, being and ignorance.

The three cravings that lead to identity are: craving for sensuality, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.

I believe that these three cravings are closely related to the first two taints: so they are deeper causes of becoming than the eternalist view or the annihilist view. In fact they are an elaboration of the ever troublesome 'lust' that propels kamma and our round of samsara.

We see them operating everyday in our lives. e.g, We desire to become warm when we are feeling cold. In that very act the desire for becoming and non-becoming both function together. They are a pair, so far as I can tell.

Anyway, the clinging to views of eternalism and annihilation arise at a higher and more complex level when a being takes existence itself as sufficiently desirable that they would like to retain it forever, and so take the view that this existence is in fact eternal. This view grows out of the more rudimentary craving of becoming. The annihilist view is that existence, or some aspect of it, is sufficiently undesirable that they crave annihilism. So that view grows out of non-becoming -- a desire to escape from a current state of existence.

MN 102:
The tathagat, bhikkhus, understands this thus: 'those good recluses and brahmins who describe the annihilation, ... of an existing being [at death], through fear of identity, disgust with identity, keep running and circling around that same identity. Just as a dog bound by a leash tied to a firm post or pillar.


And Bhikkhu bodhis note on this passage is:

The "fear and disgust with identiy" is an aspect of vibha-vatanha, the craving for non-existence. The annihilationist view to which it gives rise still involves an identification with self - a self that is annihilated at death - and this, despite his denials, it binds the theorist to the round of existence.


Anyway, I don't know if this is the kind of answer your looking for, but I'm out of time.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:40 am

vinasp wrote:Some questions about the opinions of Piyadassi Thera:
He is saying that craving which is 'associated' with the 'eternalist view' is called bhava tanha.
Q 1. What is this 'association' - how are the two things related?
Q 2. What is the 'object' of bhava tanha?
Q 3. If the eternalist view was removed, would there still be bhava tanha?

A1: bhava tanha means craving for being (or existence). one craves to be in essence someone. when one craves to be, one doesn't want to be not. this means as long as one craves for being, one opposes not to be anytime which means one wants to be forever.
A2: This question doesn't make sense. You could ask 'what is the object of tanha (craving)?' - 'It's being or existence (bhava).
A3: No.
vinasp wrote:Some more problems with the opinions of Piyadassi Thera:
1. The eternalist view is the view that the self is eternal, so :
a) One is automatically reborn - no need for any desire or craving. It will happen.
b) So why would someone who holds this view crave for eternal existence?

One who holds this view beliefs himself existing beyond the five khandha. So when the five khandha cease he thinks his self isn't involved with the cessation of the five khandha. He beliefs himself existing beyond the five khandha because of the desire to be forever thus he thinks since the khandhas are impermanent his self has to be beyond the khandhas and allows to falsely believe such a self would then be eternal.
vinasp wrote:2. The annihilationist view is the view that an existing self ends with the death of the body, so :
a) Again, no need to do anything, no desire or craving is needed. It will happen.
b) So why would one holding this view crave for annihilation?

One who holds this view beliefs himself existing as or in one or more of the five khandha. So when the five khandha cease he thinks his self ceases too. This allows to falsely believe such a self would then be annhilated with the cessation of the khandhas.
Both views depend on attavada (belief in self). The craving (tanha) depends on feeling (vedana). If there is a positive feeling with regard to being or existence, which is experienced through the six senses, there is craving (greed) for the positive feeling (kama-tanha) and thus there's also craving for being so that the positive feeling will last. If there is a negative feeling with regard to being or existence, which is experienced through the six senses, there is craving (hatred) for the negative feeling and thus there's also craving for not being so that the negative feeling won't last. All these beliefs and views have their footing in avijja.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:22 pm

Hi thereductor,

That is exactly the sort of answer that I am looking for!

I think you are correct, bhava tanha and vibhava tanha are much deeper than the eternalist view or the annihilationist view.

But the question is : are these terms also used for these high-level views? Is there a craving for views?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:13 pm

Hi acinteyyo,

Thank you for the detailed reply. There is one point on which I am not clear. When you speak of a "craving for eternal existence" (of a self), do you mean a craving for the view of an eternally existing self?

Is a "craving for eternal existence" (of a self) a craving for actual existence, or only a craving for a view of "the eternal existence of a self"?

Is not any craving to be, just craving for an idea, a view? What do you think?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:00 am

Hi everyone,

We shall now turn to another authority in our search for clarification, the following quotations are from:

The Great Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma, by the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw [translated by U Ko Lay (Zeya Maung)] Published by the Buddhadhamma Foundation Bankok Thailand. 1996 ISBN : 974-7890-70-4.

"Bhava Tanha. According to the Commentary, bhava tanha is the craving that is accompanied by sassata ditthi, the wrong view of eternalism." page 161.

"Vibhava Tanha. Vibhava means non-becoming, non-being, annihilation of existence. Craving with the view that there is existence only while alive, that there is nothing after death, is termed vibhava tanha. This is the tanha which is accompanied by the wrong view of nonexistence, uccheda ditthi, which holds that "nothing remains after death; there is complete annihilation." page 162.

On the second noble truth: "What is this craving? It is of three kinds: namely, kamatanha, sensual craving, the desire for enjoyment of sense pleasures; bhavatanha, craving for eternal existence, holding the eternity-belief; vibhavatanha, craving for nonexistence (self-annihilation), believing that there is nothing after death. These three kinds of craving are the truth of the origin of suffering." page 124.

" He also gave a description of this craving. Firstly, there is the thirsting for sensual pleasures; secondly, there is attachment to the belief in eternality; and thirdly there is holding onto the view that there is nothing after death. These three types of craving are the truth of the origin of suffering." page 159.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby nschauer » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:07 am

So my comment may fall under the 'duh' category but maybe you all can teach me something.
My understanding is the first noble truth is that there is suffering - Ive always heard it that way. I understand the source of suffering is craving but the statement that "there is suffering" is different from "there is craving".
I'm thinking about how it is possible to crave or cling to a condition that causes suffering. This is not sensual pleasure, nor being or unbeing.
I'm curious why the discussion has not mentioned suffering.
Clarify for me please.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:50 am

Hi everyone,

My comments on the statements by the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw:

Again we find bhava tanha associated with the eternalist view, and vibhava tanha with the annihilationist view. Why is this? The quotation from page 159 even seems to be saying that bhava tanha is clinging to the eternalist view.

An important question here, is whether there is a 'craving for views'. Not everyone, it seems, admits that there is such a thing.

I think that bhava tanha is clinging to the eternalist view, but that bhava tanha is not just that clinging, it includes clinging to other views of self. So bhava tanha is associated with all views of an existing self.

This may explain why one cannot say exactly what bhava tanha is, it covers a range of things.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby Reductor » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:15 am

vinasp wrote: This may explain why one cannot say exactly what bhava tanha is, it covers a range of things.

Best wishes, Vincent.


I think that may be the case, yes.

As for 'view craving', I have not read anything in the cannon itself (yet) which references that exact phrase or concept. There is 'clinging to views' as one of the four forms of clinging... but what is a 'view'? It is a class of mental object comprised of the usual suspects: perception, thought and feeling - with form and consciousness acting as support. So at the time that a view is present, it is itself an element of the being as it currently is.

So I would think that clinging to a view is just clinging of the usual sort to phenomenon in general, whereas the content, if you phrase it such, of that phenomenon is concerned with an eternal self or a non-eternal self. Which is why a person can point to the 'clinging of views' but not so much to 'craving of views' -- a view once it is formed is something that can be clung to, but until it is formed it is comprised of more indiscreet mental activity that is being compelled by the more basic cravings of becoming and non-becoming.

These are my thoughts at this time, but I admit that I am neither scholar of the cannon nor an intellectual. It is entirely possible that I am mistaken in every way.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby Reductor » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:32 am

nschauer wrote:So my comment may fall under the 'duh' category but maybe you all can teach me something.
My understanding is the first noble truth is that there is suffering - Ive always heard it that way. I understand the source of suffering is craving but the statement that "there is suffering" is different from "there is craving".



It might seem so, but that is not the case. There is existence, which is a big narly process which is impersonal and very hard to direct with complete (or even a little) mastery. The reason that suffering exists is that we crave for this existence to be one way or another, or to stay the same, and for it to yield only those things that we desire, and not those thing we desire not to exist. Unfortunately it is impossible for existence to be under our mastery and to yield only that which we find desirable.

So when you undercut craving, the suffering that comes from existence is also cut off, and so there is no suffering although such a person who has accomplished this might continue to live. However, the cutting off of craving also cuts off the process that makes for further rebirth after death, and issues in nibbana...

When we talk of sensual craving we talk about craving for things outside our being to be one way or another. When we talk of the other two cravings, that is talk of how we want our being to be.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:02 am

Hi thereductor,

A view-craving is described in AN ii 10 (Yokes), and in several other discourses.

"And how is there the yoke of views? There is the case where a certain person does not discern, as it actually is present, the origination, the passing away, the allure, the drawbacks, & the escape from views. When he does not discern, as it actually is present, the origination, the passing away, the allure, the drawbacks, & the escape from views, then — with regard to views — he is obsessed with view-passion, view-delight, view-attraction, view-infatuation, view-thirst, view-fever, view-fascination, view-craving."

It is not clear if this should be understood as a craving for views, or only a craving 'associated' with views. There is, of course, dhamma-tanha found in later discourses, what it is, exactly, is not clear to me at present. Can there be clinging to views without a craving for views?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:14 am

Vinasp can I answer by posing a question. What in your view is the purpose of the Dhamma ?
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Re: The four noble truths - and craving.

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:03 pm

vinasp wrote:When you speak of a "craving for eternal existence" (of a self), do you mean a craving for the view of an eternally existing self?
Is a "craving for eternal existence" (of a self) a craving for actual existence, or only a craving for a view of "the eternal existence of a self"?
Is not any craving to be, just craving for an idea, a view? What do you think?

The puthujjana craves for actual existence of an illusory self. The puthujjana can't see the contradiction (the illusory self cannot exist, what can exist is just the illusion itself) because the puthujjana takes for granted what appears to him as his true self. Would the puthujjana see it, he wouldn't crave for existence, he wouldn't crave for being, he wouldn't wish to be in essence. By the way, he wouldn't crave for non-existence neither, if he could understand anatta. In fact the puthujjana's inability to see anatta is a reason why he's still a puthujjana.
I guess we could also say it is craving for an idea. For an idea based on personality-view, based on the belief in a self.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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