Pīti

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This article is about a mental factor in Buddhism. For the town in Guam, see Piti, Guam. For the soup, see Piti (food). For the Spanish footballer, see Francisco Medina Luna.

Pīti in Pali (Sanskrit: Prīti) is a mental factor (Pali:cetasika, Sanskrit: chaitasika) associated with the concentrative absorption (Sanskrit: dhyana; Pali: jhana) of Buddhist meditation. Piti is a very specific joy associated with a state of deep tranquillity. It is often translated with the English words "joy" or "rapture" and is distinguished from the longer-lasting meditative "pleasure" or "happiness" (Pali, Sanskrit: sukha) that arises along with pīti.

Absorption factor[edit]

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withdrawn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
neither
pleasure
nor pain;
permeates
body with
pure mind
 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:

  • applied thought (vitakka)
  • sustained thought (vicāra)
  • joy/rapture/happiness (pīti)
  • happiness/pleasure/bliss (sukha)
  • equanimity (upekkhā)[1]

Both pīti and sukha are born of bodily seclusion 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....[2]

Fivefold classification[edit]

As the meditator experiences tranquillity (samatha), one of five kinds of joy (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.[3]

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. ^ See, for instance, Samādhaga Sutta (a/k/a, Pañcagikasamādhi Sutta, AN 5.28) (Thanissaro, 1997).
  2. ^ Vsm. IV, 100 (Ñāamoli, 1999, p. 142). Similarly, see also the Abhidhamma's commentary, Atthasalini (Bodhi, 1980).
  3. ^ Vsm. IV, 94-99 (Ñāamoli, 1999, pp. 141-2).

Sources[edit]

  • Ñāamoli, Bhikkhu (trans.) (1999). The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga. Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2.