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Craving (Skt. tṛṣṇā; Pal. taṇhā; Tib. སྲེད་པ་, sepa, Wyl. sred pa) is identified by the Buddha as the origin of suffering in his first teaching on the Four Truths of the Noble Ones:

What is the origin of suffering? It is the craving that perpetuates existence, which is attended upon by the passion for enjoyment, and which finds pleasures here and there. That is the origin of suffering.
Lalitavistara Sutra[1]
The Noble Truth of the origin of suffering is this: It is this thirst (craving) which produces re-existence and re-becoming, bound up with passionate greed. It finds fresh delight now here and now there, namely, thirst for sense-pleasures; thirst for existence and becoming; and thirst for non-existence (self-annihilation).
Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta (Saṃyutta Nikāya)[2]

Craving is also counted as the eighth of the twelve links of dependent origination.


The Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta quote above distinguishes three main cravings:

  • thirst for sense-pleasures (Skt. kāmatṛṣṇā);
  • thirst for existence and becoming (Skt. bhāvatṛṣṇā); and
  • thirst for non-existence or self-annihilation (Skt. vibhāvatṛṣṇā)

Craving can also be divided into the three cravings of: the realms of desire, form and formlessness.


  1. Source: The Play in Full, 26.62, translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Read here.
  2. Translated by Walpola Rahula, in What Buddha Taught (New York: Grove Press, 1974), page 93.

Alternative Translations

  • thirst

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