The Positive Psychology of Buddhism and Yoga: Paths to a Mature Happiness

By Marvin Levine | Go to book overview

8

The Noble Truth of Tanha (Craving)

The Truth of Tanha : We are vulnerable to suffering because of the way human nature is constituted. Specifically, we are a bundle of urges that push and pull from within.

The Buddha places the ultimate cause of suffering squarely within the individual. It is our cravings that keep us in Dukkha. This is an important shift of emphasis from the external to the more immediate internal cause of suffering. For example, we tend to think that being deprived of food is a cause of suffering. In the Buddhist view, it is the hunger we experience and the craving for food that is the immediate cause of our suffering. Deprivation of food is clearly a critical part of the causal sequence, but is one step removed from the final cause of suffering. I have known people who would periodically go on 3-day fasts, believing that this was healthy for the body. A common report was how wonderful (one of them used the term euphoric) they felt halfway through the fast. Clearly, deprivation of food for a couple of days is not, by itself, sufficient to cause suffering. On a fast, deprivation is clearly present. However, the craving for food, the final link in the chain leading to suffering, appears to be absent.

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