Despite the inclusive
understanding of craving for non-existence (vibhava-ta?h?)
as the desire for complete annihilation at death, it assumed to be able to interpret
from practical notion of changing undesirable state into a undesirable one. Craving
(ta?h?) causes all suffering. It is thirst
(ta?h?) which classified into
threefold: craving for sensual pleasure (k?ma-ta?h?),
craving for existence (bhava-ta?h?)
and craving for non-existence (vibhava-ta?h?).
Among the threefold, the craving for non-existence is only interpreted as
craving for annihilation at death(uccheda-v?da).
Its etymological definition is derived from vi
prefix and bhava, which means
negation of existence of sensual pleasure to annihilation of existence.
In this paper, I
will focus on the following questions: what is the definition of vibhava-ta?h?? How can we understand vibhava-ta?h? in practical
understanding? Is vibhava-ta?h? similar
with annihilitionism (uccheda-di??hi)?
How the process of vibhava-ta?h?
arises in the mind of worldly beings? How vibhava-ta?h?
could be explained through middle way of dependent arising (pa?iccasamupp?da)? The methodology of this writing will be
applied the textual method. The aim of this paper is to show the comprehensive
understanding of the concept of vibhava-ta?h?.
In order to achieve this aim, I will draw and analyse the sources from Suttapi?aka.
Keywords: Vibhava-ta?h?, Uccheda-di??hi, Dependent arising
Interpretation of vibhava-ta?h?
Commonly vibhava-ta?h? is understood as annihilationism,
which is a kind of wrong-view as stated in Brahm?j?lasutta. Those who hold this view, they express: This
aspiration reads: may I not be, may it not be for me, I shall not be and it
will not be for me1. From
textual and commentarial perspective, craving for non-existence and
annihilationism represent the same meaning with two different words. They are parallel according to the above
sources however, from precise definition it seems they differ in terms of its
degree or intensity. It seems craving for non-existence and annihilitionism in extreme degree has similarity. However, it
seems craving for non-existence could arise even at the normal life of a
person’s desire to change from undesirable state to a desirable one. The
Commentary of Sa?g?tisutta explains
attached and passionate citta that
accompanied by the notion of annihilitionism is called vibhava-ta?h?.2
in Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta vibhava-ta?h? can be
interpreted as the closer meaning of delight from here to there (tatratatr?bhinandin?).3 It arises due to the changing of sensual
pleasure (k?ma-ta?h?) and craving for
existence (bhava-ta?h?) into
non-existence. As dependent on feeling there is the arising of craving4 shows the arising of vibhava-ta?h?. However, among all feeling (vedan?) dependent on unpleasant feeling (dukkha-vedan?) there is the arising of vibhava-ta?h?.
craving is a series of changing from one stage to another. The logical sequence
of the threefold craving arises beginning with craving for sensual pleasure (k?ma-ta?h?), wishing to last the craving
for existence eternally (bhava-ta?h?)
and the desire to change the undesirable feeling into a desirable one (bhava-ta?h?). Therefore, the strict
definition of (vibhava-ta?h?) craving
for non-existence is associated with nihilitionism.
If it indicates
annihilationsim at death then, every Buddhist who has not attained yet any
noble attainment (ariya-magga) would be
free from craving for non-existence. Therefore, rather than taking the absolute
definition, it has to approach from a contextual rendering. When a person
suffers from pain, he will yearn for a pleasant feeling. Herein, a fact is not
an essential factor but it depends on the interpretation of facts. Therefore,
it seems proper to include temporary annihilation and permanent annihilation as
supposed to be the inclusive meaning of vibhava-ta?h?. Harvey interprets vibhava-ta?h? is the drive to get rid of unpleasant situations,
things and people. In a strong form, it may lead to the impulse for suicide, in
the hope of annihilation.5
Vibhava-ta?h? and the
way to eradication
Due to improper
attention, there is the arising of craving for non-existence (vibhava-ta?h?). From the extreme
interpretation of vibhava-ta?h?, it
has the definition of the annihilitionism view that Buddha regarded as one of
the two extremes: Everything
exists and everything does not exist. Avoiding these two extremes, the
Tathagata teaches the Dhamma through the middle path.6 Dependent arising is also generally accepted
as a middle way. Y. Karunad?sa interprets, according to dependent arising, it
is not a question of existing or non-existing, but dependent arising.7
Including craving for
non-existence, no single state arises independently. Every state arises due to
the complete necessary conditions. As the abridged popular quotation on
dependent arising runs as ‘due to this that arises, due to the arising of this,
Dependent on eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises similarly with the rest
of the six. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite
condition, there is feeling9. Therefore,
craving for non-existence also does not happen independently but completely
depends on necessary conditions.
In order to attain the complete eradication of vibhava-ta?h?, one has to apply bare
attention (sati). With regard to bare
attention, as taught by Buddha to B?hiya is a profound teaching. B?hiya Sutta asserts that ‘in reference to the seen, there will be only the
seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed,
only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how
you should train yourself.10
It is non-judgmental awareness without harboring of ideas and thoughts which
strays ones to the path of suffering.
cassa, no ca me siy?; na bhavissati, na me bhavissati. M II
2 Tattha katam? vibhavata?h??
s?r?go cittassa s?r?go, aya? vuccati vibhavata?h?. D-a, III, 988.
3 Y?ya? ta?h? ponobbhavik?
seyyathida? — k?mata?h?, bhavata?h?, vibhavata?h?. S V, 426.
4 Vedan?paccay? nu kho, bhikkhave, ta?h?. M I 263.
5 (Harvey 2013, 63).
6 Sabba? atth?’ti kho,
kacc?na, ayameko anto. ‘sabba? natth?’ti aya? dutiyo anto. ete te, kacc?na,
ubho ante anupagamma majjhena tath?gato dhamma? deseti. S II 18.
7 (Karunadasa, Early Buddhist Teachings: The Middle Position in
Theory and Practice 2015: 26.)
8 Imasmi? sati ida?
hoti, imassupp?d? ida? uppajjati. M I 263.
9 Cakkhuñca pa?icca r?pe ca uppajjati
cakkhuviññ??a?, ti??a? sa?gati phasso, phassapaccay? vedan?. M III 281.
10 Tasm?tiha te, b?hiya, eva? sikkhitabba? — ‘di??he di??hamatta?
bhavissati, sute sutamatta? bhavissati, mute mutamatta? bhavissati, viññ?te viññ?tamatta? bhavissat?’ti. evañhi te, b?hiya,
sikkhitabba?. S V