Revised April 28, 2018
There are various names for greed in Pāli. Each has a different meaning and the differences are significant.
1. Let us look at the two terms “lōbha” and “rāga” first.
lōbha is the more stronger term of the two. In a deep sense, lōbha (“lo” + “bha” where “lo” is for the lokaya or world and “bha” is for “bihiveema” (arise or establish) is the main reason how the material world is created and sustained with greed.
lōbha is the extreme form of greed, what is called a “pāpa kamma” (see, “Kusala and Akusala Kamma, Punna and Pāpa Kamma“), that makes one destined to the apāyas. When someone has lōbha, it is exhibited in two ways:
- one wishes that all the “riches” should come to oneself and not to others (one may be already “rich”, but wants more for oneself).
- one is not willingly to share some of the “excess” one has with others, and does not share with even the family.
It is hard to quantify these, but the idea is that “lōbha” is manifestation of the overbearing attachment one has to worldly things.
- It must be noted that lōbha is one of 52 cētasika (mental factors). It is reduced in stages: kāmaccanda or “blinded by craving for sense pleasures” (“kāma” or sense pleasures + “icca” or liking + “anda” or blinded) removed at the Sōtapanna stage, kāma rāga removed at the Anāgami stage, and rūpa rāga and arūpa rāga removed only at the Arahant stage.
- Kāmaccanda is pronounced “kāmachchanda”.
3. Rāga (“rā” means cravings, “ga” means to touch or bind) means one believes there is pleasures to be had in staying in sansāra (rebirth process), and thus one likes to stay around and enjoy the worldly pleasures.
- When one is born rich (or acquires wealth), and enjoys life with sense pleasures, that is not lōbha, that is just rāga. Such a person is not doing harm to the others; but such a person COULD have lōbha too. It is said that no matter how much one has, one wants more.
- When one has lōbha, one could do things highly immoral acts (even if one is rich). If one is willing to kill, steal, lie, etc. to gain something one desires, then that is when one could acquire “apāyagami” kamma. One does not necessarily has to carry out these acts or speech; just thinking about it and making abhisankhara (planning or even enjoying such thoughts) itself is lōbha. Thus even the poorest person can have lōbha.
- Even the dēvas in dēva loka have rāga; they like to enjoy sense pleasures, but they don’t crave for what others have; they do not have lōbha.
4. Then there is kāmaccanda and kāma rāga, another set of decreasing levels (in that order) of attachment to kāma loka. Käma means attachment to the sense pleasure available in the kāma loka, i.e., those available for the gratification of the five senses.
- kāmaccanda is the highest level of that attachment. Here one is willing to do abhorrent acts (killing, raping, etc) to satisfy one’s desires. When one has developed kāma to the kāmaccanda level, one becomes unaware of the bad consequences of one’s actions; it is said that “one loses one’s mind” when blinded by attachment to sense pleasures, i.e., one cannot think rationally when one has kāmaccanda.
- Thus, one needs to be mindful not to let one’s kāma rāga develop into kāmaccanda, which is one of the five hindrances that “cover the mind”.
5. When one has kāma rāga, one likes to enjoy sense pleasures, but not at the expense of others. Thus when husband and wife engage in sexual activity, that is due to kāma rāga.
- Inappropriate sexual activity (affairs outside marriage and rape) are done with kāmaccanda, i.e., when one becomes blind with kāma.
6. It is also helpful to see how these different levels of greed are removed at various stages of Nibbāna. This will give a better sense of differentiation.
- A Sōtapanna has permanently removed kāmaccanda and also does not have the worst level of lōbha. Thus he/she will not engage in “apāyagami” acts to gain sense pleasures. A Sōtapanna has not given up kāma rāga.
- A Sakadagami also has kāma rāga to a lesser extent; this is why he could be reborn in the kāmaloka for one more time.
- An Anāgami has removed kāma rāga; he will not return to any of the 11 eleven kāma loka realms, including the human and dēva realms, and will be reborn in the suddavasa in the rūpa loka, and will attain Nibbāna there.
- However, an Anāgami may still enjoy (but not attach to) sense pleasures, i.e., still has kāma; see #3 of, “Akusala Citta and Akusala Vipāka Citta“ . This is a subtle point, but the point is that an Anāgami would still have the “4 greed-based citta without wrong views”, and that is kāma. Those four akusala citta are prevented from arising only for an Arahant.
7. Some may have given up the desire to enjoy pleasures in kāma loka, but like the jhanic pleasures. Thus they have rūpa rāga and arūpa rāga (or the liking to wander about in rūpa loka and arūpa loka). rūpa rāga and arūpa rāga are removed only at the Arahant stage, as discussed in “Akusala Citta and Akusala Vipāka Citta“.
Next, “lōbha,Dosa, Moha Versus rāga, Patigha, Avijja“, ……..