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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.
Piti is a joyful samskara (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
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|
|Kāma / Akusala dhamma
(sensuality / unskillful qualities)
|does not occur||does not occur||does not occur|
(along with distress)
|does not occur|
(no pleasure nor pain)
|unification of awareness
free from vitakka and vicāra
|does not occur||does not occur|
|Upekkhāsatipārisuddhi||does not occur||internal confidence||equanimous;
equanimity and mindfulness
- vitakka ("applied thought") counteracts sloth and torpor (lethargy and drowsiness)
- vicāra ("sustained thought") counteracts doubt (uncertainty)
- pīti (rapture) counteracts ill-will (malice)
- sukha (non-sensual pleasure") counteracts restlessness-worry (excitation and anxiety)
- 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, Ñāṇamoli'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....
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.
- Samatha (tranquility of the mind)
- Jhāna (absorption)
- Sukha (happiness/bliss, conascent (sahajāta) with piti during first two jhanas)
- Upekkha (equanimity)
- Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Author), Santikaro Bhikkhu (Translator). Mindfulness With Breathing : A Manual for Serious Beginners. 1988, p. 69
- Bodhi, Bhikku (2005). In the Buddha's Words. Somerville: Wisdom Publications. pp. 296–8 (SN 28:1-9). ISBN 978-0-86171-491-9.
- "Suttantapiñake Aïguttaranikàyo § 18.104.22.168". MettaNet-Lanka (in Pali). Archived from the original on 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- Bhikku, Thanissaro (1997). "Samadhanga Sutta: The Factors of Concentration (AN 5.28)". Access to Insight. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- Vsm. IV, 100 (Ñāṇamoli, 1999, p. 142). Similarly, see also the Abhidhamma's commentary, Atthasalini (Bodhi, 1980).
- Vsm. IV, 94-99 (Ñāṇamoli, 1999, pp. 141-2).
- Bodhi, Bhikkhu (1980). Transcendental Dependent Arising: A Translation and Exposition of the Upanisa Sutta (Wheel No. 277/278). Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. Retrieved 2008-05-08 from "Access to Insight" (1995) at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel277.html.
- Ñāṇamoli, Bhikkhu (trans.) (1999). The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga. Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997). Samadhanga Sutta: The Factors of Concentration (AN 5.28). Retrieved 2008-05-09 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.028.than.html.