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I am not asking about depression or suicidal thoughts but the actual aspiration for this life/human experience to end.

So of course the desire for material and immaterial existence (rebirths) are themselves two of the ten fetters. I may be incorrect but I take this as a desire to be reborn in either a material or immaterial form in the form or formless realms, not specifically a desire to be reborn in samsara or a desire to NOT be reborn at all.

There is the sutta of the monk who took the knife and was blameless, meaning he did not desire another form/rebirth so the Buddha did not say that his suicide was unvirtue, (I forgot the sutta name and number) which would lead me to assume that the desire to want to die itself is not unvirtuous.

So what I am actually asking is if this mindstate, the desire to want this life and human experience to end, is it a mindstate of renunciation, or a mindstate of desire for life/suffering to cease. Realistically the end goal of the dharma is to not be reborn in existence.

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  • If one has the desire to end the rebirth without eliminating causes, then it is a cause of suffering. (Vibhava tanha)
    – Blake
    Commented May 9, 2023 at 10:06

6 Answers 6

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In the first sutta (Dhammacakka) that was preached by the Buddha at Baranasi, it is mentioned three types of Desire that is the cause of Suffering.

  1. Kama tanha
  2. Bhava tanha
  3. Vibhava tanha

Herein, Vibhava tanha is interpreted as desire of Uccheda ditthi (annihilation) which is the desire of not to be born again (after this life or after number of lives).

But this desire of annihilation is ignorant of the fact that however much one wishes there will be no end to the cycle of rebirth unless he is eliminate the cause of rebirth.

The Buddhist view is there are causes for rebirth and as long as the causes exist there will be no end to the cycle of rebirth.

And if one eliminated the cause of rebirth, there will not be any rebirth for him. This fact denies the Sassata (eternalist) view.

Therefore, if one have the desire to end the rebirth without eliminating causes, then it is a cause of suffering. (Vibhava tanha)

And if one has the desire to be reborn repeatedly, then it is a cause of suffering. (Bhava tanha)

But the desire to paractice the correct path (related with dependent origination) is described as a type of useful desire in Commentaries while Kattukamyata-chanda (need for doing) is praised (as the pure one) over the craving for the path.

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No. It is not a mindset of renunciation. It is simply craving.

SN45.170:0.3: Craving
SN45.170:1.1: “Mendicants, there are these three cravings.
SN45.170:1.2: What three?
SN45.170:1.3: Craving for sensual pleasures, craving to continue existence, and craving to end existence.
SN45.170:1.4: These are the three cravings.

The remedy is the Noble Eightfold Path:

SN45.170:1.5: The noble eightfold path should be developed for the direct knowledge, complete understanding, finishing, and giving up of these three cravings.
SN45.170:1.6: What is the noble eightfold path?
SN45.170:1.7: It’s when a mendicant develops right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion, which rely on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripen as letting go.

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Kaccayanagotta Sutta tells the following.

'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

Things neither exist nor do not exist as per the sutta. If someone wants to end one's own life, it's clear the person is not seeing things clearly. And that requires a serene mind which is very hard if you are tangled in worldly affairs. Let's untangle and see reality as it is. Regards.

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  • For example, there are cases where a monk has self immolated without showing any agony as per the spectators. It's clear mind is very powerful. However, physical ailments like insomnia, etc may make life hell. It's best to not do such things for petty reasons. Only for extreme cases may suicide be preferred. For e.g, the person is going to die sooner or later due to ailments. He could bypass the agonizing process before death using lethal injection, etc
    – ukh
    Commented May 9, 2023 at 16:11
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Several topics on this site, tagged , have answers which could help to address this question.

The second noble truth names, kāma-taṇhā, bhava-taṇhā and vibhava-taṇhā. There are several questions on this site related to vibhava-taṇhā ...

... so perhaps its meaning isn't clear -- but "desire, to want to die" might be vibhava-taṇhā, is it not?

There's also the topic of the Middle Way -- i.e. avoiding both of two extremes -- and there are suttas (e.g. SN 45.2, and SN 51.15) which I think imply that a goal is not "death" but is rather, "to live the holy life" -- brahmacariyā is interpreted or used to mean "chastity" but I think it has a more general meaning, i.e. life in the Sangha and according to the Vinaya.

Beware, that even "describing the advantages of dying" is explained as being "an offense of defeat".

In summary I think that "desire to die" and "desire to be reborn" are, both, forms of desire -- and not of right desire. Whereas a right desire (Right Resolve or Intention) might be as mentioned in SN 51.15

Have you ever had a desire to walk to the park, but when you arrived at the park, the corresponding desire faded away?”

I think the word for "park" there also means monastery i.e. from when the monks lived in "forest monasteries".

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The desire for material and immaterial rebirths are not two of the ten fetters. These two fetters are lust for material jhana & lust for immaterial spheres (jhana).

In MN 144, Channa, who took the knife blamelessly practiced euthanasia rather than suicide. Regardless, MN 144 does not say he did not desire another "rebirth". The Pali here is "aññañca kāyaṁ upādiyati...natthi", which means "did to not attach to any new kaya". The word "kaya" means a "grouping" of five aggregates rather than the "physical body". In summary, Channa abandoned/put aside (nikkhipati) the five aggregates without longing for any other type/grouping of aggregates.

For example, the five aggregates of Channa were generating & experiencing great physical pain. Channa ended his life without wishing to be in any other conditioned state.

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Arahant Venerable Revata "I don’t delight in death, don’t delight in living. I await my time like a worker his wage. I don’t delight in death, don’t delight in living. I await my time mindful, alert." — Theragatha 14:1 https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/KN/Thag/thag14_1.html

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  • Lol life is too long to be talking about death when someone is young enough.
    – ukh
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 16:33

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