Why is sukha (third Jhana) higher than pīti (second Jhana)? In other words, why does sukha not come before pīti?

This question is based on the following suttas in the Moggallāna Saṃyutta.

  • I found a satisfactory answer in Dhamma Wheel.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=30148
    – SarathW
    Aug 25, 2017 at 22:45
  • why does sukha not come before pīti? You're probably mistaken, for an experienced expert of meditator, he is able to jump between the - Jhanas. Moggallana was famous for being able to jump in and out of different - Jhanas. There is a story in Vinaya abt his jumping causing certain dispute for he said he heard music of the Devas when he's in realm that's only accessible by the 4th J. In 4th J. You will not be able to hear. Sure if you search your Pali Tipitaka you will find this story to confirm what I said, although I learnt mine from the Chinese Tripitaka. Aug 27, 2017 at 5:32
  • In the suttas referred to in the question, Mogallana was not yet an expert. Aug 27, 2017 at 8:56
  • Sukha, piti is byproduct of mastering 覺觀. No 覺 no 觀 is 4th. It appears that the OP put incorrect concern on the two using as the guide for Jh. The guide is 覺觀, not the byproducts. Happy, joy, pleasant, ecstasy... how could they be used as measuring instrument except literally? Aug 27, 2017 at 10:10
  • 1
    @Lanka Ok. I was just passing by carelessly dropping words for I think the Mog. story was quite interesting... :). I think in Sanskrit/ Pali, 覺: vitarkah/vitakka; 觀: vicāra. Many different translations, but it also said no exact term found in Eng. According to Nagarjuna 《大智度論》(Mahāprajñāpāramitā śāstra): 心初念是名為覺。細心分別是名為觀, transl. the beginning of a thought is called Vitarkah, the following continuing discerning called Vicara. Further explaint, like a bell, when it rings is Vitarkah, the ringing is Vicara. Direct transl. is 覺: aware, 觀: contemplate. Abandoning these is 2th Jh... to 4th. Aug 30, 2017 at 5:53

5 Answers 5


Lesser khandha = Stable mind state = Better happiness.

Vitakka, vicāra, pīti, and sukkha are acceleration of consciousness to access jhāna. the practitioner need them to develop jhāna-consciousness, until he turn to be professor in each jhāna. After that they become an obstruction of jhāna's stability.

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

  • Ok. So in your opinion mind (Sankhara) is more grosser than body?
    – SarathW
    Aug 25, 2017 at 4:12
  • I'm sorry. I mean khandha. In tipitaka lonly saṇkhāra-word mean 5 khandha. however I have edited above answer.
    – Bonn
    Aug 25, 2017 at 4:16
  • Another saṅkhāra mean "khandha is arise by confused mass of causes", that is compatible with the main idea of the answer. Therefore I used sankhara-word before I have changed it to khandha-word.
    – Bonn
    Aug 25, 2017 at 4:25

Joy is still an emotion, it has an element of excitement. Sukkha, is just peaceful satisfaction, "everything is right".

Joy makes you tired. It shifts you off-balance. You can be a bit drunk with joy, so joy is still an intoxicant, an asava.

Sukkha is stable. It has it's problems too, it's own limits, but it's way more sober than joy. When you're emotionally sober, you can see things much more clearly, you can act with more skill.

However, cultivating Joy is considered a prerequisite, because you need to learn to control your brain chemistry before you proceed with advanced vipashyana practice.

  • The Buddha destroyed the asava yet the Buddha entered into the 1st jhana after his enlightenment (such as in DN 16, before he passed away); which had piti. Aug 27, 2017 at 8:54
  • That is correct :)
    – Andriy Volkov
    Aug 27, 2017 at 12:58

Upasaka Sarath, two thing come to mind that might be supportive to dispel doubt and give rise to clearency:

One is the chain of "depending co-dissapearing", "lokuttara depending co-arising": jāti -> dukkha -> saddha -> pāmujja -> pīti -> passaddhi -> sukha -> samādhi ... (see SN12.23 or AN 10.1 which shows the same pattern, so to see that it's not a onetime issue.

And the other is, that in origin countries (traditional) pīti is not translated as rapture or joy like in english, but with words equal "satisfied" or gratified, like if have eaten enough (which makes also the chain above more understandable, and does not require to develop philosophical theories of what the different between "joy" and "pleasure" might be.

Maybe that "short-cut" brings sufficent satisfaction, gatification, or was final dish for pīti to simply follow further the chain.

(Note: This answer is a gift of Dhamma an not meant ro use for commercial purposes or other wordily gains.)


In the third jhana equanimity arises, this is neither a pleasant nor painful feeling. This 'neutral' feeling goes beyond pleasant feeling and mental satisfaction of pleasant feeling (Piti and sukha). Equanimity is pleasantness of a different variety to the material world, a pleasantness which has surpassed the feeling of the material world, but cannot be said to be pleasant feeling as it essential does not reside in the physical plane.

Try not to attribute piti and sukha with any certain jhana. Leading up to the first jhana body is surmounted (which feels relaxing), in the first jhana feeling is surmounted (which feels pleasant), in the second mind is surmounted (which feel like mental calm), in the third mind objects are surmounted (which feels releasing), in the fourth the entire physical experience is surmounted (which feel liberating). These are the four foundations of mindfulness which stack up on one and other as you move through to the fourth.

'mindfulness of breath supports the four foundations, the four foundations support the seven factors'

'Purity of mindfulness due to equanimity' (fourth jhana)

  • I could not understand you one hundred percent with my experience but I see what you getting at so I gave you a thumbs up.-)
    – SarathW
    Aug 31, 2017 at 21:38
  • yes my apologies, perhaps that was a little confusing. Use the breath to relax the entire body until your whole body feels pleasant and there is mental satisfaction with the meditation, this is piti and sukha or in other words bliss. And you have arrived at the first jhana.
    – user12001
    Sep 3, 2017 at 18:33

Sukha can come before piti.

Try it yourself.

Go directly into the third jhana, stay there, then go into the second jhana. In this way sukha will be before piti.

If you're asking why the jhanas follow in such order so that piti naturally comes before sukha, it is because of layers of ignorance.

The more to the surface of meditation the more you experience. (or The more ignorance, the more you experience)

The deeper you go into meditation the less you experience. (or The less ignorance, the less you experience)

Thus, in Jhana meditation you are getting rid of ignorance and that's why piti comes naturally before sukha.

Why exactly piti comes naturally before sukha?

Because of kamma.

Kamma defines our ignorance.

Ignorance defines the natural order of Jhanas.

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