Have we pre-programmed ourselves?

Have we pre-programmed to think along the lines of Craving? So that we have more than a millions of different ways/infinite ways of thinking for a single thought but with each and every thought governed by Craving and attachment?
Are there Sutta’s that explains this the most?

Not every single thought are governed by craving and attachments. If that were so, liberation is impossible, or arahants cannot think.

MN18 comes to mind for your question.

As well as MN138 SuttaCentral


We have to maintain the body so desire for food for example, is necessary to some extent. But it is possible to eliminate the asavas (intoxicant biases), which are sense desire, desire for existence, and ignorance. Each moment we have a choice whether to take the path dictated by the asavas or toward renunciation. This is known as appropriate attention.

"The Blessed One said, “Monks, the ending of the fermentations is for one who knows & sees, I tell you, not for one who does not know & does not see. For one who knows what & sees what? Appropriate attention & inappropriate attention. When a monk attends inappropriately, unarisen fermentations arise, and arisen fermentations increase. When a monk attends appropriately, unarisen fermentations do not arise, and arisen fermentations are abandoned. There are fermentations to be abandoned by seeing, those to be abandoned by restraining, those to be abandoned by using, those to be abandoned by tolerating, those to be abandoned by avoiding, those to be abandoned by dispelling, and those to be abandoned by developing.”—MN 2

Bikkhu Bodhi speaking on MN 2, discussion of primordial taints begins at 30m. Here Bikkhu Bodhi explains how out of the seven strategies, two remove the taints. ‘Seeing’ results in the destruction of the first three fetters, identity view, doubt, and grasping at precepts and practices, and allows entry into the stream of the dhamma :

MN 2 continued, begins at 3m:

Here is the statement from MN 2 describing appropriate attention:

“He attends appropriately, This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts & practices. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by seeing.”

The Buddha described how in the pre awakening period he focussed on which thoughts are conducive to tranquillity and awakening, and which are not, in other words the second and third noble truths:

"And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with sensuality arose in me. I discerned that ‘Thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.’

The Buddha reiterated this in detail when giving instructions to his son Rahula in MN 61.

“As I noticed that it leads to my own affliction, it subsided. As I noticed that it leads to the affliction of others… to the affliction of both… it obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding, it subsided. Whenever thinking imbued with sensuality had arisen, I simply abandoned it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence.”—MN 19

Therefore the practitioner must engage in investigation of which thoughts lead to suffering and which do not by seeing it for themselves, and then implement right effort.


Thank you, much appreciated…with Metta :pray:

Hi Axion, and welcome to the forum.

You might like this article on Dependent Origination, especially chapter 3

The “forward” order of paṭicca samuppāda , when analysed, shows that only some of the first eleven factors are a sufficient condition for the factor following.


I think it’s fair to say that our DNA (in addition to Dependant Origination), has heavily pre-programmed us to crave (you know, members of the opposite sex, etc). There are good books about how strongly DNA influences our behaviour, such as Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene”. (Btw: I don’t advocate Dawkins’ religious, or atheistic views whatsoever, but he speaks authoritatively within his area of expertise; that of Genetics).

Wether we can follow the Buddha’s myriad, awesome advice (all over the place in the Suttas) and practice “free won’t” (as opposed to “free will”), overriding our compulsions to act unskillfully, remains to be seen.


“Free Won’t” is my new mantra lol