What is craving to continue existence and craving to end existence?

Now this is the noble truth of the origin of suffering.
It’s the craving that leads to future rebirth, mixed up with relishing and greed, taking pleasure in various different realms. That is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving to continue existence, and craving to end existence.

What is craving to continue existence and craving to end existence?
Is craving to continue existence trying to live longer? Is craving to end existence trying to die faster? (such as suicide)
Does a noble one have these two kinds of craving?
As I remember, in one sutta, there is a venerable says that he don’t want to live and also don’t want to die, just like a worker wait for payday.


I understand it as the desire to be alive and to continue living. In my day-to-day life it’s not always felt, but at moments when my life has been threatened it’s really jumped to the fore. So if I’d always been physically safe in my life I think I’d have been subject to the delusion that I didn’t have it.


I understand it as the desire to be alive and to continue living.

Yes, I think it’s easier to understand than “craving to end existence”. Let discuss about “craving to end existence”.
I understand it as something like suicide. Don’t know if that understanding is correct or not.
If a normal people want to be a noble one as fast as he can, does it mean that he has craving to end existence?


I’ve always thought about vibhava-taṇhā as “craving to not-be” which covers suicide but a whole lot else. Any time you find yourself despising someone, thinking “God, I don’t ever want to be like that” or despising how you are (i.e. “if only I weren’t so ____ tall, short, fat, skinny, you name it_____”) wishing to not be like that is vibhava-taṇhā

Remember that this level of craving is only let go at the final step. It’s the last one to go. So, until you’re a late-stage anāgāmī, keep your taṇhā! Just refine it. Instead of craving TO BE rich and famous, crave TO BE content and relaxed. And instead of craving TO NOT BE sick and old, crave TO NOT BE cruel and mean. Recruit taṇhā into helping you walk the path… when you’re at the end, then you can let it go. Hope that helps!


These 3 are like:
Craving for sensual pleasures = greed (lobha)
Craving for continue existence = delusion (moha)
Craving for non existence = ill-will (dosa)

Craving for continue existence = continue to seek more and more existence, never have enough due to ignorance.

Craving for non existence = rejecting life (suicide). Hating their life. Develop ill-will to oneself and others.

But the implication can be very deep because there are more components in them. These 3 are all mental states.

A wise person will try to let go one by one after understand the drawbacks.

This is an arahant/ perfected/ awaken one. Job is done. Hence they just wait their time. If the body is die, it is fine since the body is not theirs. But they hang around teach others, but this will depend each personality.


Understanding this requires knowledge of the ‘golden mean’ a concept in Greek philosophy which the Buddha was influenced by according to the knowledge of the time, and adapted as the Middle Way, and which is the hidden element in the dhamma. In the first sermon the Buddha pronounced he had discovered the middle way, but from then on it is not much heard of specifically, but is taken to be understood. Therefore we see instances like this in the OP arising, where all that is presented are the two extremes.

"The golden mean or golden middle way is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. It appeared in Greek thought at least as early as the Delphic maxim “nothing in excess” and emphasized in later Aristotelian philosophy.[1]

For example, in the Aristotelian view, courage is a virtue, but if taken to excess would manifest as recklessness, and, in deficiency, cowardice."—Wikipedia

The relevant practical example is how the practitioner should approach the extremes of conventional and ultimate reality:

“Citta, these are the world’s designations, the world’s expressions, the world’s ways of speaking, the world’s descriptions, with which the Tathagata expresses himself but without grasping to them.” [10]"—DN 9

That’s why even if only conceptually, to find the middle way the two extremes of conventional and ultimate reality shouls be established in the mind.

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Just to add more details.

A common folk doesn’t understand drawback of doing bad conducts by mind, speech, and body. Hence it is possible to have an existence in lower realms such as animal, ghost and hell,

A noble one knows bad deeds drawbacks and more, there is no chance for existence in lower realms.

A stream enterer knows drawback of doing bad deeds, hence they keep good conducts. But they havent let go the sensual pleasure yet, so they will have existence in Sensual realms (human and 6 deva realms) if they die. This means there is no more bhava (existence) in lower realms. This means their mind is only experiencing sensual pleasure in current life. If they put effort, they can progress further.

A non returner know more and has let go the sensual pleasure, hence the mind only stay on Form realm (rupa loka). If they die, they will be reborn in Form realm depends on their jhana, and never return to human world. They maintain jhana in their daily life.

An arahant has eradicated all cravings. Job is done.

So having “right view” is important. So one can cultivate and elevate their minds similar to higher realm being, even though they have human body.

Hence Buddha always push common folk to be a stream enterer first, because the suffering of stream enterer is much less than suffering of common folk.

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I think the common characteristic of craving (tanha) is that the mind places/projects some kind of escape from actual experienced suffering in the future. Mind is looking forward to the future, delights in something in the future. It is attracted to that. It looks forward to becoming, creating that future, as it were.
Tanha is how the mind habitually seeks for a solution of actual experienced suffering of any kind, physical or mental.
In the case of kama tanha mind sees a solution to actual suffering in a future experience of some kind of sensual pleasure. Finally…then I am happy! When I eat that icecream. That’s how mind thinks when there is kama tanha.
In the case of bhava tanha it is the prospect of a rebirth as a deva or Bramha, in a happy realm. “Finally then there will be happiness!”
In the case of vibhava tanha it is the prospect that the fierce pain and suffering one experience here and now will finally end completely at death and death is welcomed as a kind of release from suffering.
All these craving are the habitually way mind seeks a solution to the suffering it experiences here and now. It has a longing for the future and becoming. All those craving are continually playing a role in our lives, I am sure. One feels bad, lonely, desperate, and immediately the mind sees a solution in eating a cake, ice etc.

Ofcourse the Buddha taught that mind’s habitual way of dealing with suffering does not really end suffering. Once reborn in a happy destination, for example, one will probably be rebon in a bad destination. So a happy destination is not the solution of suffering. A nice ice cream isn’t. And in the view of a Buddha death is not the end of suffering because one is reborn again and will experience some kind of suffering related to that existence.
So behind those 3 craving there is wrong view about suffering and its solution. We all have this. It is not unusual.

This also shows one cannot crave the ending of suffering or Nibbana. I read somewhere that tanha can be useful. I do not think so. One has to give up or let go craving and future expectation.

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So in the case of bhava tanha, at least that man has right view because he believes in reborn, and in the second case that man has wrong view because he believes death is the end. Do you think so? Or may be in the first case, that man has wrong view about an eternal soul?

I have heard this explanation before:

craving for sensual pleasures = to have
craving to continue existence = to be
craving to end existence = not to be

Basically, when one take ownership of something, one establish an existence with it.

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Vibhava-taṇhā takes bhava (existence i.e., having an enduring essence) for granted, and therein lies its trap.

To desire continued existence, or to wish for the end of existence, one must first take existence to be real.

Existence, however, is a deception; it is only extinguishment that is true and has an undeceptive nature (taṁ saccaṁ yaṁ amosadhammaṁ nibbānaṁMN 140).

The way of practice is for the ending of this (notion of) existence (bhavavippahānāya kho,
panidaṁ brahmacariyaṁ vussati
Ud 3.10), thus eliminating the very basis for those two types of taṇhā.

Edit: The foregoing should also indicate that, when the Buddha teaches “from the middle” (majjhena tathāgato dhammaṁ desetiSN 12.15), he is not taking the “moderate way”. He is rejecting both ends and establishing an entirely new point of departure. Dependent co-arising does not lie somewhere in between existence and non-existence; it reveals, among other things, how those two views arise based on ignorance and craving.


Well said.

Existence requires fuel. When one encounters pleasant feeling, delights in it and craves for it, existence is sustained. When one feels unpleasant feeling, want to manipulate that feeling and creates hateful thoughts, existence is sustained there too. Not knowing the mechanism, beings craves to be or not to be, grasp onto the experiences tightly with more thoughts, sustained the 5 clinging aggregates and perpetuate dukkha.


I think the only thing that can be deceptive is the way we understanding things. What is deceptive about a house, a star, a tree? When things arise because of causes and conditions are they deceptive?

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Interesting riddle. :sweat_smile:

But you are exist here now. How can one get into extinguishment (nibbana) if you are not in present moment? Can one dream abandoning two tanha into extinguishment in future?

Also, there are 3 tanha, Why only 2?

Can one skip from being a common folk (puthujjana) and become an Arahant? Seems this is how your riddle sound.

Also, Wouldn’t a baby with no tanha can reach nibbana since there is no desire/tanha when they just having been born? :sweat_smile:

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“I exist here now” is, in fact, the self view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi) that is eliminated with stream entry.

Can one skip from being a common folk (puthujjana) and become an Arahant? Seems this is how your riddle sound.

Yes, if things were atta—under one’s control. Alas, they aren’t, and it is because of anattā that a gradual way of practice for the elimination of desire and ignorance needs to be followed.

Wouldn’t a baby with no tanha can reach nibbana since there is no desire/tanha when they just having been born?

The Buddha has already answered this in MN 64.

Also, there are 3 tanha, Why only 2?

That was just a reference to what is relevant to the question; it wasn’t supposed to be exhaustive.

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There is no house, star or tree independent of your understanding or conception of it: all things (i.e., all experiences) are but ‘name-and-form together with consciousness’. It is impossible to talk about a name or form or consciousness that stands on its own, unless as an abstraction that has no practical relevance.

And for the puthujjana, these things (i.e., experiences) are fundamentally deceptive, for they invariably indicate an “experiencing self”, as explained in Mūlapariyāya.

Sakkayaditthi is identity view, not a self view.

Self can only be eradicated when one who reach arahant level. Stream entry can’t eradicate self yet.

Even a stream entry wouldn’t fully understand what truly Bhava tanha is. How can one who just dream not to exist understand what bhava tanha is? I said it is impossible.

Hi Prabhath

Suppose you have a child, but you belief that this child does not exist independent of your understanding or conception of it. What does that even mean?
That you do not belief the child exist on her own causes and conditions?
That you hallucinate the child all the time? That your observation creates the child?
This is, ofcourse, nonsense.

As far as the Dhamma is concerned, the world is the world of experience (SN 35.23).

Things exist for you as experiences. Their supposed ontological independence has little relevance for the problem for which the Dhamma offers a solution. In fact, such ‘independent objects’ are entirely beyond the range of understanding: they can be grokked only if/when experienced, at the very least mentally (as mano and dhammā).

That’s clear. Thanks