Craving for continued existence = survival instinct?

I’ve seen the suggestion that craving for continued existence ( Second Noble Truth ) is equivalent to “survival instinct” - see the Wiki article below.

Do you think this is a valid comparison? Personally I struggle to see how an evolutionary instinct would be susceptible to insight, but I’d be interested to hear what you think.

I think this is another way of interpreting the personality view sakkhayaditti.
With Metta

I could see the survival instinct as a type of craving for becoming. But we can change instincts, just like we can change habits. It’s within our power to change and cultivate our mind the way we want it to be.

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Obviously humans are capable of going beyond the survival instinct. Every country has their heroes and martyrs. But have they gone beyond birth?

Interesting point. I wonder though if “survival instinct” is a view, it sounds more “biological”? Like something hard-wired…instinctive I guess.

Good point, it’s clearly possible to overcome ( suspend? ) survival instinct.

Could you elaborate? Do you mean gone beyond future birth?

The distinction is interesting. Can we actually change instincts, or is it more like going beyond them?

way i see it; people who willingly put down their life either do it out of great love or intense hate. Love and hate are both sides of craving.

“What gives birth to a person?
What do they have that runs about?
What enters transmigration?
What’s their greatest fear?”

“Craving gives birth to a person.
Their mind is what runs about.
A sentient being enters transmigration.
Suffering is their greatest fear.”

Even Buddha had the survival instict I suppose.
He went on alms rounds seeking food, he took medicine when he was ill and he avoided the dangerous situations.
In other words Buddha also experienced the feeling (vedana)
What Buddha did not have was the Thanha and Upathdana.

If we take survival instinct as Anusaya (latent dispositons) then Buddha did not have them.

It is definitely hard wired through eons of conditioning and that is why it is so hard to get rid of. IMO it is not biological but originates solely due to ignorance of not realizing what one is all about. If it is biological, then there is no way to overcome it other than through biological means.
With Metta

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I see survival instinct as reflexive. Like rapidly drawing your limb away from a red-hot object that it unexpectedly contacts. Or getting that burst of adrenaline like for example if a tiger jumps out of the jungle in front of you or you just stop yourself short of falling off a cliff. Or something really basic like holding your breath and getting that urge to breath. I think an arahant would still do and experience these and similar things, but they would do so mindfully and they wouldn’t be accompanied by mental defilements like delight and lust, fear, clinging, etc. Craving for continued existence is something we add to basic experiences like survival instincts because of our ignorance.


That’s a good way of putting it.

So the craving is like a psychological counter-part to the “biological” instinct for self-preservation?

In a sense, yes, though I’d say there are some differences, the main one being the biological instincts/reflexes reflexes aren’t kamma whereas craving is.