Abandon Craving – Tanhavagga – Dhammapada 24


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For a complete understanding of this sutta in the context intended by an awakened human being please read the linked suttas at the end of this article. ([x])

The Dhammapada is a twenty-six chapter volume in the fifth book of the Sutta Pitaka known as the Khuddaka Nikaya. The Khuddaka Nikaya is a fifteen-book collection of short texts difficult to classify within the other volumes. The Dhammapada is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse that can be read as a concise and thorough presentation of an awakened human being’s teachings. [1] Pali Canon

The Dhammapada is loosely formatted by topic. The individual topic(s) presented in each chapter mostly stand on their own with the understanding that everything the Buddha taught can only be understood and developed skillfully within the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. [2,3] Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta | Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

The twenty-fourth chapter of the Dhammapada is the Tanhavagga. Tanha means “thirst,” “craving,” “desire,” and constantly grasping after satisfying life experiences.

It is through the development of restraint that the wise Dhamma practitioner is able to clearly recognize individual clinging to all manifestations of craving. [4]  Wisdom Of Restraint

In this way, the Tanhavagga describes in practical detail the scope and purpose of the Buddha’s Dhamma. The Buddha taught a single path, the Eightfold Path, to develop a profound understanding of Four Noble Truths so to recognize and abandon all views rooted in ignorance of these Four Noble Truths and live free of the stress of constant craving.  [5] Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta

My comments below are in italics.


Abandon Craving – Tanhavagga

Dhammapada 24

The craving of mindless people grows like a creeper. Like a monkey seeking fruit in the forest, they leap from moment to moment tasting the fruits of their Karma.

Those unrefined, clinging to craving, are overcome in the world. Their sorrow grows like grass after the rains.

Those refined, having overcome the world, released from craving, difficult to escape, their sorrow rolls away like water beads off a lotus.

The Buddha does not teach a “mindfulness of all things” Dhamma. This is a modern strategy used to continue distraction and continue ignorance. He taught a refined mindfulness which means engaging in Right Meditation for the sole purpose of increasing concentration. A well-concentrated mind can then support the refined mindfulness necessary to be mindful of – to hold in mind – the Eightfold Path as the framework and ongoing guidance for developing an unwavering calm and peaceful mind. [6]  Right Meditation – Samadhi – Jhanas

I say to all of you: You are all fortunate indeed. As you would uproot medicinal herbs you should uproot craving! Do not let Mara destroy you as a raging river continually destroys reeds.

Mara is a common metaphor used throughout the Buddha’s Dhamma that describes the ongoing suffering resulting from ignorance of Four Noble Truths as being manipulated and distracted by the malevolent god Mara.  [7] Mara And Metaphor

Just as a tree will rise again if its roots are not cut, any craving not rooted out will arise again and again.

The mindless person, the currents of craving flowing unrestrained, are always grasping after pleasure and are swept away by the flood of their own passionate thoughts.

Everywhere the currents of craving flow, the creeper grows and grows. Understanding, the wise Dhamma practitioner cuts craving at its root!

The root of craving, as shown in the Paticca Sampadha Satta, is ignorance of Four Noble Truths. [2]  Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta

Flowing in from all phenomena and sustained by craving, feelings of pleasure arise in all beings. Grasping after pleasure and satisfaction people succumb to impermanence and decay.

Overwhelmed by craving, the fool chases pleasure like a caged rabbit looking for escape. Bound to the world by greed, aversion, and deluded thinking, they give rise to suffering forever.

It is craving for and clinging to sensory experience that results in ongoing greed, aversion, and deluded thinking. In the Bhava Sutta, the Buddha uses a metaphor in a most beautiful and insightful manner: “Karma is the field, consciousness the seed and craving the moisture” that sustains ignorance of Four Noble Truths. [8] Becoming Explained

Overwhelmed by craving the fool chases pleasure like a rabbit caught in a snare. Those that strive to abandon passion will destroy craving.

There are those that abandon worldly entanglements and turn to my Dhamma and, though free, run back to that bondage. Look at this person! Once free they run back to the same old chains.

The wise know that bveing shackeld to iron, wood or hemp is easier to cut than an infatuation with jewels, ornaments, children, or spouses. This is the bond that is elastic, constraining, hard to cut!

It is the nature of a deluded mind to value arbitrary and impermanent objects – some more than others. The more value (clinging) one places on an object the more potential for continued distraction and stress is present.

The wise cut even these bonds. The wise abandon sensual pleasures and calmly renounce the world.

Those infatuated by desire are stuck in the swirling river current of ignorance like a spider stuck in its own web. The wise Dhamma practitioner cuts this off at its root. Having abandoned craving they abandon all suffering and are free of worldly entanglements.

Release the past! Release the future! Release the present! Cross over to the farther shore of existence. With a mind wholly liberated you will no longer give birth to another moment rooted in the living death of ignorance.  [9] Karma And Rebirth

For a person who is tormented by their own deluded thoughts, overcome by passion for the pursuit of pleasure, their craving only grows stronger, indeed.

Those who delight in overcoming delusion, who is always mindful, who abandons greed, aversion, and deluded thinking, will end craving by (recognizing and) abandoning ignorance.

Those fearless, free of craving, having overcome passion for the world, who has plucked the thorns of ignorance, there will be no further becoming. [8]  Becoming Explained

Those free of craving and clinging, perfectly understanding the truth of my Dhamma and the proper context will indeed be free of ignorance. They are profoundly wise, a great person.

Through (right) knowledge, I have conquered the world. I an free of clinging. Through abandoning ignorance I an free of craving. I have comprehended this by myself, who would I call my teacher?

True “Buddhist” refuge is found in the human Buddha, his Dhamma, and a well-informed and well-focused sangha and not in adapted, accommodated, and embellished modern Buddhist practices and lineages. [10,11]  True Refuge – The Ratana Sutta  | A Human Buddha

The gift of the Dhamma is foremost. The taste of the Dhamma is foremost, Delight in the Dhamma is foremost. Free of craving ends all suffering.

Riches ruin only the fool not the wise Dhamma practitioner seeking Nibbana. The fool ruins themselves as well as others.

“Nibbana” means “extinguished” as in extinguishing the fires of craving.

Weeds destroy fields as craving ruins humanity. Therefore, what is offered to others free of craving yields abundant fruit.

End Of Chapter

Related Articles For Further Study

  1. Pali Canon
  2. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  3. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  4. Wisdom Of Restraint
  5. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  6. Right Meditation – Samadhi – Jhanas
  7. Mara And Metaphor
  8. Becoming Explained
  9. Karma And Rebirth
  10. True Refuge – The Ratana Sutta
  11. A Human Buddha


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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.

Becoming-Buddha.com and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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