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What is the difference between delight, joy, rapture, tranquility and bliss?


#1

This question arose in an EBT study group. It is an interesting question, so we thought to share it with the public D&D forum. These terms are quite specific in their meaning in Bhante Sujato’s translations and they are also used consistently throughout his translations. Note that in English, we tend to blur these somewhat. However, we do need to understand each of these terms personally as we experience the Dhamma, and a shared understanding will help us all.

How do you experience the difference between delight, joy, rapture, tranquility and bliss as you read the EBTs?


#2

Joy/rapture and happiness/bliss can be either worldly or unworldly, and this determination is the focus of the second foundation of mindfulness.

Using the seven factors of enlightenment as a reference, joy/rapture is a compoent of the active trio of investigation, energy, rapture. Tranquillity and its resultant bliss (sukha) are components of the passive samadhi group. The combination of active and calming factors is a necessary process in keeping the mind steady between the poles of torpidity and agitation.

This exercise can be found in the four tetrads of the Anapanasati sutta, where the practitioner first sensitizes themselves to a particular phenomenon, then brings it to calm. At first sight the second tetrad might seem to include two similar factors, rapture and pleasure (sukha), but they are in fact opposite in terms of their dynamic (active and passive). The exercise then goes on to investigate how mind states are dependent on feelings:

[5] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.’ [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.’ [7] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.’[4] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.’ [8] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.’ He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.’—-MN 118