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Pīti in Pali (Sanskrit: Prīti) is a mental factor (Pali:cetasika, Sanskrit: caitasika) associated with the development of jhāna (Sanskrit: dhyāna) in 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 saṅkhāra (formation) associated with no object, so the practitioner is not attaining it by desire. It is often translated into the English word "rapture" and is distinguished from the longer-lasting meditative "joy" or "happiness" (Pali, Sanskrit: sukha) which is a subtler feeling which arises alongside pīti.

Mental factor in meditation[edit]

In the commentarial tradition on Buddhist meditation, the development of jhāna (Sanskrit: dhyāna) is described as the development of five mental factors (cetasika) that counteract the five hindrances:[note 1]

Table: Rūpa jhāna
(mental factors)
Kāma / Akusala dhamma
(sensuality / unskillful qualities)
secluded from;
does not occur does not occur does not occur
pervades body
pervades body
fades away
(along with distress)
does not occur
(non-sensual pleasure)
physical body
(no pleasure nor pain)
("applied thought")
unification of awareness
free from vitakka and vicāra
does not occur does not occur
("sustained thought")
Upekkhāsatipārisuddhi does not occur internal confidence equanimous;
purity of
equanimity and mindfulness
  1. vitakka ("applied thought") counteracts sloth and torpor (lethargy and drowsiness)
  2. vicāra ("sustained thought") counteracts doubt (uncertainty)
  3. pīti (rapture) counteracts ill-will (malice)
  4. sukha (non-sensual pleasure") counteracts restlessness-worry (excitation and anxiety)
  5. ekaggata (one-pointedness) counteracts sensory desire

Both pīti and sukha are born of bodily seclusion and mental quietude in first jhāna, then are born of focused concentration (samādhi) in the second jhāna but only sukha is sustained in the third jhāna while pīti fades away in the course of cultivating pure, mindful equanimity (upekkhāsatipārisuddhi).

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....[5]

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 that only the last two are considered piti, specifically. The first four are a preparation for the final stage, which is the jhanic factor.[6]

See also[edit]

  • Samatha (tranquility of the mind)
  • Jhāna (absorption)
  • Sukha (happiness/bliss, conascent (sahajāta) with piti during first two jhanas)
  • Upekkha (equanimity)


  1. ^ See, for instance, Samādhaga Sutta (a/k/a, Pañcagikasamādhi Sutta, AN 5.28) (Thanissaro, 1997b).


  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 §". 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. ^ Vsm. IV, 100 (Ñāamoli, 1999, p. 142). Similarly, see also the Abhidhamma's commentary, Atthasalini (Bodhi, 1980).
  6. ^ Vsm. IV, 94-99 (Ñāamoli, 1999, pp. 141-2).

Further reading[edit]