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This is from the Bhikkhuni Sutta AN 4.159

"Taṇhā sambhuto ayaṃ bhagini kāyo, taṇhaṃ nissāya taṇhā pahātabbā"

"'This body, Sister, comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.'

(Translation from Access To Insight)

Now this tanha, is it a kaama tanha, bhava tanha, vibhava tanha, any of them, or something other than them?

This is more of an academic question so, please answer when time permits. Thank you in advance.

With metta.

  • Hello Kaveenga. Good to see you back on the site. – Lanka Jun 20 '17 at 13:52
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It is bhava-tanha.

If you read the same Bhikkhuni Sutta you quoted in the question, it says:

This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now.' The thought occurs to him, 'I hope that I, too, will — through the ending of the fermentations — enter & remain in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for myself in the here & now.

Bhava-tanha is a craving to be a certain way. It's a wish or a dream of having oneself occupy a certain position in the future. This is exactly what this is, a desire to be enlightened, achieve Nirvana, become Buddha etc.

  • Thank you Andrei. Your answer is in line with understanding as well. – Kaveenga Wijayasekara Jun 22 '17 at 2:01
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Brahmana Sutta: To Unnabha the Brahman

I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Ananda was staying in Kosambi, at Ghosita's Park. Then the Brahman Unnabha went to where Ven. Ananda was staying and on arrival greeted him courteously. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Ananda: "Master Ananda, what is the aim of this holy life lived under Gotama the contemplative?"

"Brahman, the holy life is lived under the Blessed One with the aim of abandoning desire."

"Is there a path, is there a practice, for the abandoning of that desire?"

"Yes, there is a path, there is a practice, for the abandoning of that desire."

"What is the path, the practice, for the abandoning of that desire?"

"Brahman, there is the case where a monk develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on desire & the fabrications of exertion. He develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on persistence... concentration founded on intent... concentration founded on discrimination & the fabrications of exertion. This, Brahman, is the path, this is the practice for the abandoning of that desire."

"If that's so, Master Ananda, then it's an endless path, and not one with an end, for it's impossible that one could abandon desire by means of desire."

"In that case, brahman, let me question you on this matter. Answer as you see fit. What do you think: Didn't you first have desire, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular desire allayed?"

"Yes, sir."

"Didn't you first have persistence, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular persistence allayed?"

"Yes, sir."

"Didn't you first have the intent, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular intent allayed?"

"Yes, sir."

"Didn't you first have [an act of] discrimination, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular act of discrimination allayed?"

"Yes, sir."

CHANDA is a different kind of Tanha. One needs to have an liking (more like an obsessed liking) for the PATH; this is called chanda which we can translate as liking. It is not greed, but pure in quality and grows to become a life goal. Chanda is NOT greed, it is the determination to attain a goal.

  • Agree in the Brahmana Sutta, Ven Ananda uses the word "chanda". Yet in the Bhikkhuni Sutta Ven Ananda uses the word "tanha". Yet even if we say that chanda is a different kind of tanha, i.e. it is a type of tanha nonetheless, are you asserting that type of tanha falls outside the 3 types of tanha namely kaama bhava and vibhava? If so why doesn't this tanha have its own classification? – Kaveenga Wijayasekara Jun 20 '17 at 16:02
  • The way I umderstand it, Chanda is a form of loba, and hence the warning not to go to extremes (agathi). – Kaveenga Wijayasekara Jun 20 '17 at 16:04
  • Chanda can be used in two different ways. In “kämachanda”, it is mind blinded by käma or sense pleasures. So it is like Tanha. In this case “Chanda” wrapping one’s mind with samma vaca, samma kammanta, and samma ajiva. As you are Sinhalese, this is the ‘nirukthi’ of the word: (cha + anda, where “cha” is mind and “anda” is “anduma” or clothes). – Saptha Visuddhi Jun 20 '17 at 16:27
  • It is interesting the way you dis-aggregated the word 'Chanda'. Is that from the Pali? – Kaveenga Wijayasekara Jun 21 '17 at 9:09
  • What was spoken during Buddha’s time was Magadhi Prakruth language. It was very similar to the Sinhala language of antiquity. Magadhi was a language of the educated. When in Sinhala (Hela) language, Commentaries were written for Buddha Dhamma preached in Magadhi language, they used what was called “Artha, Dharma, Nirukthi and Patibhana.” Listen to Walasmulle Abhaya Thero’s sermons. He just arrived in Toronto from Vancouver & we will meet him today & attend the 14 day meditation retreat. All sermons are there online in “Nirapekshathwaye Maga”. – Saptha Visuddhi Jun 21 '17 at 9:35
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"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming. Sn56.11 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

The Tanha that causes suffering are of 3 types. Kama Tanha, Bhava Tanha, Vibhava Tanha (sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming). And as mentioned above the Buddha specifically says that the origination of stress is the Tanha that makes for further becoming. To continue this samsara.

Tanha for destruction of Tanha (Niravana) isn't technically the Tanha that we know. You could use the word Chanda(1 of the 4 Iddhipada) which means the strong likeliness to attain nibbana (Intention or purpose or desire or zeal to attain nirvana) . So it's a matter of the wordings in which you are confused with.

Tanha to end Tanha isn't the Tanha that makes us continue samsara. It's Chanda.

  • Hi Akila, thank you for your reply. However the word in the Pali (given above) is tanha not chanda. – Kaveenga Wijayasekara Jun 20 '17 at 8:18
  • @Kaveenga... I think that what Akila said was right. I am too busy these days to write answers, but I will post a direct translation of a Sutta, that is more to what you are looking for.... with metta. – Saptha Visuddhi Jun 20 '17 at 9:56
  • @KaveengaWijayasekara Yes. As I explained earlier, Tanha is basically craving that causes suffering. The Tanha or Asava to abandon Tanha isn't technically Tanha and it doesn't come under the 3 types of Tanha mentioned by the Buddha in the abovementioned sutta. That willingness or asava is called Chanda. Not Tanha. I think Saptha Visuddhi has also put a good explanation. – Akila Hettiarachchi Jun 20 '17 at 10:14
  • So when Ven Ananda used the word Tanha he actually meant Chanda? – Kaveenga Wijayasekara Jun 20 '17 at 10:17
  • Yes, it is a different kind of Tanha. One needs to have an liking (more like an obsessed liking) for the PATH; this is called chanda which we can translate as liking. It is not greed, but pure in quality and grows to become a life goal. Chanda is NOT greed, it is the determination to attain a goal. – Saptha Visuddhi Jun 20 '17 at 10:22
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Craving for Nibbana as an alternative to craving for sense sphere experiences is craving to abandon craving.

  • Yes and how are we to classify that tanha within the threefold expansion of tanha as kaama, bhava and vibhava? – Kaveenga Wijayasekara Jun 20 '17 at 8:20
  • It does not fall into this categorisation. It is not Kama Tanha since it is not directed as a sense sphere object, it not Bhava Tanha as it is not directed at longing for an existence, and not Vibhava Tanha as it is not based on avoiding experience and existence. But having said that it is most closest to Vibhava Tanha. Also the desire for Nibbana should be more a Chanda than a Tanha in the sense of Kama, Bhava & Vibhava Tanha. In Nibbana you do not come together (no rel Vibhava Tanha) or part with (no rel Vibhava Tanha) any experience and the happiness experienced is not sensory (no rel Kama) – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Jun 20 '17 at 9:46

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