Pīti

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Pīti in Pali (Sanskrit: Prīti) is a mental factor 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.

Within the Jhanas

Table: Jhāna-related factors.
  first jhāna second jhāna third jhāna fourth jhāna
sensuality
(kāma),
unskillful
qualities

(akusala
dhamma
)
secluded
from,
withdrawn
     
applied
thought

(vitakka)
accom-
panies
jhāna
stilled    
sustained
thought

(vicāra)
rapture
(pīti)
seclusion-
born;
pervades
body
samādhi-
born;
pervades
body
fades
away
(as does
distress)
 
pleasure
(sukha)
pervades
physical
body
aban-
doned
(as is
pain)
pure,
mindful
equanimity

(upekkhā-
sati-
pārisuddhi
)
  [internal
confidence,
mental
unification]
equani-
mous,
mindful
mindfull;
neither
pleasure
nor pain
 Source: AN 5.28 (Thanissaro, 1997)  *  diagram details

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)[2]

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....[3]

Five factors related to the first jhana -- medition on the breath

Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo describes the mental factors related to the first jhana within the contexts of meditation on the breath.

To think of the breath is termed vitakka, directed thought. To adjust the breath and let it spread is called vicara, evaluation. When all aspects of the breath flow freely throughout the body, you feel full and refreshed in body and mind: This is piti, rapture. When body and mind are both at rest, you feel serene and at ease: This is sukha, pleasure. And once you feel pleasure, the mind is bound to stay snug with a single preoccupation and not go straying after any others: This is ekaggatarammana, singleness of preoccupation. These five factors form the beginning stage of Right Concentration.[4]

Fivefold classification

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.[5]

See also

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

Notes

  1. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Author), Santikaro Bhikkhu (Translator). Mindfulness With Breathing : A Manual for Serious Beginners. 1988, p. 69
  2. See, for instance, Samādhaṅga Sutta (a/k/a, Pañcaṅgikasamādhi Sutta, AN 5.28) (Thanissaro, 1997).
  3. Vsm. IV, 100 (Ñāamoli, 1999, p. 142). Similarly, see also the Abhidhamma's commentary, Atthasalini (Bodhi, 1980).
  4. Access to insight icon 50px.png Keeping the Breath in Mind
  5. Vsm. IV, 94-99 (Ñāamoli, 1999, pp. 141-2).

Sources

This article uses material from Pīti on Wikipedia (view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikipedia logo