Pīti

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Pīti in Pali (Sanskrit: Prīti) is a physical factor (Pali:cetasika, Sanskrit: chaitasika) associated with the concentrative absorption (Sanskrit: dhyana; Pali: jhana) of Buddhist meditation. Piti is a very specific physical pleasure 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 mental factor 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withdrawn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
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)[1]

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....[2]

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.[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]