3 Kinds of Craving

Kinds of Craving:

  • Craving for Sense Pleasure (kama-tanha)
  • Craving for Existence (bhava-tanha)
  • Craving Not to Exist (vibhava-tanha)

Why does it matter?
Tanha literally means “thirst” and is one of the main metaphors that the Buddha used for desire. Remember that in the Four Noble Truths, desire is the big problem here. We want the world to be different than it is, so we suffer.

Kama-tanha is pretty straightforward. We want sense pleasures, everything from food and sex to not being hungry and feeling satisfied with our work.

Bhava-tanha, craving for existence, is a near universal in living beings. The drive to stay alive, to be, is so strong that it’s difficult to image getting past it.

It’s tempting to say, “Hmm, if I’m not supposed to desire existence, then I’ll just got the other way.” The drive to end yourself is not as powerful, obviously as bhava-tanha, but we are much more likely to kill ourselves than to be killed by someone else, so clearly it’s there. The Buddha taught that this was every bit as problematic as the other two, and probably worse in the final analysis.


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