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Pīti as jhāna factor vs pīti as bojjhaṅga vs pīti as arising from abandoning hindrances


#1

Hello everyone,

I have noticed there are three prominent places where pīti gets mentioned: As a jhāna factor (either vivekaja or samādhija in the first and second jhāna respectively), as one of the bojjhaṅga, and in the graduated training, in that interesting passage after the abandoning of the hindrances but before the jhāna:

Tassime pañca nīvaraṇe pahīne attani samanupassato pāmojjaṃ jāyati, pamuditassa pīti jāyati, pītimanassa kāyo passambhati, passaddhakāyo sukhaṃ vedeti, sukhino cittaṃ samādhiyati.
Seeing that the hindrances have been given up in them, joy springs up. Being joyful, rapture springs up. When the mind is full of rapture, the body becomes tranquil. When the body is tranquil, they feel bliss. And when blissful, the mind becomes immersed.

Is there a relationship between these different uses of pīti? Do they refer to the same thing, or different things? What is the relationship between these different situations or instances of the use of the word?

Thank you and much mettā,
Ryan


#2

I can’t think of a reason why these are to be understood as not the same thing!


#3

The quote indicates piti as being the result of overcoming, and that is its characteristic. In the factors of awakening, investigation can result in right effort and the successful outcome of this is piti. In general piti may be associated with wholesome or unwholesome processes. The next task therefore is to distinguish between pleasant feelings of the flesh and not of the flesh, which is the task of the second foundation of mindfulness. This is critical, because progress depends on replacing the former with the latter as mental nourishment.


#4

Thank you! This gets right at what I was unsure about. So pīti is, in some sense, just another feeling, although it may be associated with exalted states of mind and, moreover, that pīti associated with exalted states of mind is to be cultivated, and that the first two jhāna are sufficient but not necessary conditions for the presence of pīti.


#5

My impression from the EBTs is that the 7 factors of enlightenment progressively displace the 5 hindrances.


#6

Piti is the result of striving, and it may be in pursuit of one-pointed concentration, or the outcome of overcoming a hindrance in insight practice, and that is the perspective spoken from here. The linear interpretation of the factors of awakening, investigation, energy, joy, refers to insight practice and the remaining three factors are passive and related to tranquility. It is significant that the factors of awakening list piti as part of an insight practice. Piti should not be over- estimated, it can be a simple sense of joy as a result of mental seclusion but that is sufficient to provide wholesome mental nourishment as an alternative to sensuality (AN 5.176).


#7

Also in the five instances in the which the faculty of release can arise:

(1) “Here, bhikkhus, the Teacher or a fellow monk in the position of a teacher teaches the Dhamma to a bhikkhu. In whatever way the Teacher or that fellow monk in the position of a teacher teaches the Dhamma to the bhikkhu, in just that way he experiences inspiration in the meaning and inspiration in the Dhamma. As he does so, joy arises in him. When he is joyful, rapture arises. For one with a rapturous mind, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body feels pleasure. AN 5.26: Liberation (English) - Pañcaka Nipāta - SuttaCentral

If joy or rapture leads to samadhi then (with Right view, or while seeing dhamma as reflected in the Dhamma, or dhammanuadhamma patipada working the background) it would be possible to reach nibbana. Joy should here not lead to excitement, but rather a calm contended rapture.


#8

It should not be assumed that the process is linear leading to an end result of jhana. The seven factors of enlightenment are divided into two groups, investigation, energy and rapture comprising the active group of the process of insight, and the last three being the tranquillity group. These two elements should be applied dependent on the state of the mind: when it is lethargic, then investigation should be activated; when it is over-energized, then that is the time to employ tranquility. This is in pursuit of the destruction of the defilements.


#9

Something else that distinguishes pīti is that it appears to fall out as a factor later in the path. In the eight-fold path formulation, samma samadhi is described in various places as samadhi that is underpinned by all the earlier 7 factors. The seven enlightenment factors seem to mostly work in a similar way (earlier factors strengthening later factors). Pīti seems a bit of an exception, though, given that it drops out from third jhana onwards.