Pīti

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Pīti in Pali (Sanskrit: Prīti) is a factor[A] (Pali:cetasika, Sanskrit: chaitasika) associated with the concentrative absorption (Sanskrit: dhyana; Pali: jhana) of Buddhist meditation. According to Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, piti is a stimulating, exciting and energizing quality, as opposed to the calmness of sukha.[1]

Piti is a joyful samskara (formation) associated with no object so the practitioner is not attaining it by desire, it is often translated with the English word "rapture" and is distinguished from the longer-lasting meditative "joy" or "happiness" (Pali, Sanskrit: sukha) which is a subtler feeling that arises along with pīti.

Absorption factor[edit]

Rupajhana[2][3][4]
First jhāna Second jhana Third jhana Fourth jhana
Kāma / Akusala dhamma
(sensuality / unskillful qualities)
secluded from;
withdrawn
Does not occur Does not occur Does not occur
Vitakka
(applied thought)
accompanies
jhāna
stilled Does not occur Does not occur
Vicāra
(sustained thought)
Pīti
(rapture)
seclusion-born;
pervades body
samādhi-born;
pervades body
fades away
(along with distress)
Does not occur
Sukha
(pleasure)
pervades
physical body
abandoned
(along with pain)
Upekkhāsatipārisuddhi
(pure, mindful equanimity)
Does not occur internal confidence;
mental unification
equanimous;
mindful
mindful;
no pleasure or pain

In Buddhist meditation, the development of concentrative absorption (Sanskrit: dhyāna; Pali: jhāna) is canonically described in terms of the following five factors:

  • directed thought (vitakka)
  • pondering (vicāra)
  • physical pleasure (pīti)
  • happiness/joy/bliss (sukha)
  • equanimity (upekkhā)[5]

Both pīti and sukha are born of seclusion from the five hindrances and mental quietude, the 5th century CE Visuddhimagga distinguishes between pīti and sukha in the following experiential manner:

And wherever the two are associated, happiness [here, Ñāamoli's translation of pīti] is the contentedness at getting a desirable object, and bliss [sukha] is the actual experiencing of it when got. Where there is happiness [pīti] there is bliss (pleasure) [sukha]; but where there is bliss [sukha] there is not necessarily happiness [pīti]. Happiness is included in the formations aggregate; bliss is included in the feeling aggregate. If a man exhausted in a desert saw or heard about a pond on the edge of a wood, he would have happiness; if he went into the wood's shade and used the water, he would have bliss....[6]

Fivefold classification[edit]

As the meditator experiences tranquillity (samatha), one of five kinds of physical pleasure (piti) will arise, these are:

  • Weak rapture only causes piloerection.
  • Short rapture evocates some thunder "from time to time".
  • Going down rapture explodes inside the body, like waves.
  • Exalting rapture "makes the body jump to the sky".
  • Fulfilling rapture seems to be a huge flood of a mountain stream.

Note only the last two are considered specifically piti, the first four are just a preparation for the last one, which is the jhanic factor.[7]

See also[edit]

  • Dhyāna/Jhāna (absorption)
  • Rapture (Christian use of the term "rapture")
  • Sukha (happiness/bliss, conascent with piti during first two jhanas)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ One of the elements, circumstances, or influences which contribute to produce a result.
  1. ^ Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Author), Santikaro Bhikkhu (Translator). Mindfulness With Breathing : A Manual for Serious Beginners. 1988, p. 69
  2. ^ Bodhi, Bhikku (2005). In the Buddha's Words. Somerville: Wisdom Publications. pp. 296–8 (SN 28:1-9). ISBN 978-0-86171-491-9. 
  3. ^ "Suttantapiñake Aïguttaranikàyo § 5.1.3.8". MettaNet-Lanka (in Pali). Archived from the original on 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  4. ^ Bhikku, Thanissaro (1997). "Samadhanga Sutta: The Factors of Concentration (AN 5.28)". Access to Insight. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  5. ^ See, for instance, Samādhaṅga Sutta (a/k/a, Pañcaṅgikasamādhi Sutta, AN 5.28) (Thanissaro, 1997).
  6. ^ Vsm. IV, 100 (Ñāamoli, 1999, p. 142). Similarly, see also the Abhidhamma's commentary, Atthasalini (Bodhi, 1980).
  7. ^ Vsm. IV, 94-99 (Ñāamoli, 1999, pp. 141-2).

Sources[edit]