Why sukkha is higher than pīti?

Why Sukaha (third Jhana) is higher than Pithy (second Jhana)?
In other words why Sukaha does not come before Pithy?
This question is based on the following Sutta.


The Moggallana suttas 1-4 in SN 40 contain the same samma samadhi STED (standard EBT definitions) of the four jhanas. I’m not sure what you’re asking, are you asking why third third jhāna has only sukha, while first and second jhāna have both pīti and sukha?

sukha can come any time any place, in jhana, not in jhana, before jhana, after jhana. Sukha vedana is usually referring to physical pleasant feeling, but can include a mental component as well.

sukha vedana in 3rd jhana is primarily felt as bodily pleasant feeling. Piti in first and second jhana is primarily referring to the volitional mental part of it, experiencing rapture or spiritual uplift, excitement, etc. But just like vitakka and vicara, piti is an independent variable you can learn to switch off. So 3rd jhana sukha is just the physical part of the bliss that remains after the mental excitement is removed.

the physical part of the bliss, sukha, in 3rd jhana, you can’t just switch off at will anymore than you can switch off leg pain. That just wears off on its own as the sublimation of internal energy in the jhana process charges into a higher more refined state of energy, and the sukha vedana gradually transitions to 4th jhana’s a-dukkham-a-sukham vedana.


Just to clarify:

The First Absorption (Pathama-jhana) has five factors (vitakka, vicara, piti, sukkha, and ekaggata), which when used properly, disperse the Five Hindrances.

The Second Absorption (Dutiya-jhana) consists of three factors (piti, sukkha, and ekaggata), which suppress vitakka and vicara.

The Third Absorption (Tatiya-jhana) has two factors (sukkha and ekaggata), which eliminate piti.

The Fourth Absorption (Catuttha-jhana), which dispenses with sukkha, has two factors (ekaggata and upekkha—indifferent feeling).


With metta

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The question is why it can’t be like this.

The Second Absorption (Dutiya-jhana) consists of three factors (piti, sukkha, and ekaggata), which suppress vitakka and vicara.
The Third Absorption (Tatiya-jhana) has two factors (piti and ekaggata), which eliminate sukkha.

Piti (rapture) is more agitating than sukha (bliss) - vitakka and vicara are more agitating than both those. Jhana become increasingly refined and peaceful the higher you go, so the more gross factors are lost first.

With metta

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My understanding is Sukha is related to the body and Pithi related to mind.
My opinion is body (pain) is more gross than the mind (pain).

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I’m not sure about this- body sensations should arise at the skin sense door. There should be a physical cause, such as the brushing of clothing (or the skin itself) being detected, at the skin (body) ‘door’. Now on the other hand the mind cannot be located or pinned down to one physical location. Its effects can be felt anywhere in the body. So when sukha (or was it piti) is being intentionally suffused everywhere in the body in jhana, it is only a mental construct despite it being felt in the body. In my opinion both sukha and piti are mental phenomena, with piti having more gross manifestations in the body (goosebumps etc). To use a ‘local’ example sukha is like curd or yoghurt while piti is like honey, in how its pleasurable nature when inside the jhana could be characterised.

With metta

I think I got the answer to my question in Dhamma Wheel.
Please do continue the discussion.


Sorry Mat ekaggata is not a jhana factor found in the suttas.

It is important to note that there are more than four stages to Jhana.Please note Pasaddha come in between Piti and Sukkha


These factors can be present outside of jhana and there is no mention of jhana in the sutta above. If the Buddha’s wanted to say that this was about jhana he would have, as he has done many other times. My impression is that these are advanced states of adhi citta heightened mind practice with piti, sukha, passadhi experienced separately at different levels of progress, closer to non-returning.

When we focus on the in and out breath what is being developed is one-pointedness or ekaggata. I agree that term itself is not used AFAIK. But the meaning is not uncommon- cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ is used in the second jhana, meaning pretty much the same thing.

With metta

AN10.2 / AN11.2 mentions samadhi (as a natural outcome of sukha). You may not agree completely but in EBTs samadhi is analogous to all four jhanas.

Hence, if we take the selfless and natural transcendental dependent origination found in those sutras (and SN12.23 as well) as a legitimate big picture of the way awakening unfolds internally then we learn that piti comes before sukkha for it’s key for the causation of tranquility that results in sukha itself.

Moreover we learn that if sukha (and all proceeding factors) are not present samadhi simply may not take place at all. And last but not least we see clearly that for liberating knowledge and vision to take place samadhi is key.

When it comes to the development of the path, if we decide to ignore what these powerful texts tells us we can very easily stick to a version of the story in which insight is all about personal struggle, effort and pain, dry bare awareness and unnatural effort and energy put into things usually called vipassana etc.

It is a personal choice, but unfortunately not the natural way for things to unfold into freedom. It sort of ends up making the path looking more like those of the Jains than the one of the Buddhas. :sweat: