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I always read piti: joy is mental happiness and sukha is physical. But lately i have been reading pīti is physical, sukha is emotional. At first i thought this didn't matter but now for Jhana training I'm reading move from the piti physical sensation to sukha emotional sensation, which completely throw me off. Any help?

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Can't separate like that. Mental-emotional-somatical is a continuum, not discrete. Or, more precisely, they are layers of the same, like different frequencies that can be isolated within the same signal function - not separate.

Sukha is that mental/emotional state/feeling when everything is just right. Everything is just the way it should be. It feels peaceful, subtle and sweeeeeeet. It also has somatic component. The breath becomes fluid, the body feels light, the movements are spontaneous. It's like that feeling when you just woke up after wonderful sleep and you feel refreshed and blissful, gentle and peaceful.

Piti is a much more coarse condition. It is like that feeling when you listen to a very inspiring lecture or a song and suddenly realize - and feel - profound significance and gratitude, and then you may get goosebumps or the tears may start rolling. Somatically at that moment, you may feel being aflame or tingling or orgasm-like waves going through your body. Unlike sukha, piti is kinda taxing, one can get tired of it.

So yeah, piti is coarser of the two and sukha is subtler - in this sense you could say, piti has a stronger somatic component and sukha is more focused on the mental/emotional end of the spectrum.

  • I have experienced these feelings before, so i understand what you mean when you describe them. Truly something wonderful. So what your saying is they are one in the same not to much is different about them. I only ask cause as you progress in the jhana you have to eliminate these factors so i wish to understand them. So should i stop labeling and just try to eliminate the feeling describe in the jhana. – DeusIIXII Jul 22 '18 at 11:58
  • It is the opposite, you're supposed to generate them and wash your mind in them as much as possible. Elimination happens automatically when you had enough of it and are ready to get over it. Like having had enough sleep or having had enough cuddling or food etc., at some point you get over - but not before you had enough, cuz generating them helps eliminate even coarser dharmas. It's a progression, progressive refinement. – Andrei Volkov Jul 22 '18 at 14:11
  • So from the second jhana onwards i don't have to do anything for the next Jhana, it will happen automatically once my mind is ready? – DeusIIXII Jul 23 '18 at 22:54
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Sukha as well as piti are both mental factors. The bodily unpleasant or pleasant sensations are domanassa and somanassa.

If you want to dive deeper into mental states and their accompanying factors you might want to read the Abhidhamma. A free pdf version can be downloaded here.

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    I guess i haven't learned much in my buddhism studies. I really should stop trying to classify things and go off what i feel. I just want to make sure i understand the jhanas. And thanks for the book. That is a BIG help i was searching for more information like this. – DeusIIXII Jul 22 '18 at 12:02
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With this sutta, it is Vinnana which is secluded, which means fewer objects cognized, then it is mano which has piti and the kaya has passambhati then sukhaṃ vediyati, and the citta has sukhha then samadhi.

Here is the pali version.

  • The word "seclusion" means seclusion from the external & sensual world. As for your entire answer, you have quoted a relevant sutta (thus I scored your answer up) however, for this web site, please improve the quality of your answer presentation. Regards – Dhammadhatu Jul 21 '18 at 22:19
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    @Dhammadhatu What change/improvement to the presentation do you recommend? – ChrisW Jul 21 '18 at 23:44
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A few useful links that could help distinguishing the two: Piti definition; sukha definition; and detailed analysis at Vism Chapter IV.94

  • Thanks for your links but why don't you write a detailed answer (rather than post like the librarian Aloka who runs Buddhism Without Boundaries. Thanks – Dhammadhatu Jul 21 '18 at 22:18
  • If not a detailed answer, it's good to add a summary in your own words, and/or a (relevant) quote from the page[s] you're referencing. – ChrisW Jul 21 '18 at 23:10
  • Let's wait for the original poster DeusIIXII to comment on the usefulness of people's posts. – santa100 Jul 22 '18 at 15:55
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My answer below is not definitive but mere consideration.

The 1st four jhanas are called "rupa" jhana however I have never read a compelling explanation for this. However, it is known via experience that rupa jhana arises from the calming of the physical processes (breath & physical body) that are stressed by mental formations (sankhara). Thus, as the physical body is purified of mental stress, the nerves of the physical body start to bliss out. Once the breathing completely calms and the physical body is purified of stress, all the mind can be conscious of is the bliss (which is jhana). It appears the bliss of jhana has its basis in the nervous system of the physical body and possibly is physical in its basis. MN 111 refers to two types of feelings in rupa jhana, bolded below. The 2nd feeling is part of "nama" (refer to SN 12.2) and is definitely mental in it basis (because it remains in the arupa jhana) but the piti and sukha of rupa jhana could be feelings arising from/towards the rupa sense base (kāyāyatanaṃ).

There was the case where Sariputta — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities — entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Whatever qualities there are in the first jhana — directed thought, evaluation, rapture, pleasure, singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention — he ferreted them out one after another. Known to him they arose, known to him they remained, known to him they subsided. He discerned, 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He discerned that 'There is a further escape,' and pursuing it there really was for him.

Furthermore, with the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, [perceiving,] 'Infinite space,' Sariputta entered & remained in the dimension of the infinitude of space. Whatever qualities there are in the dimension of the infinitude of space — the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space, singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention — he ferreted them out one after another. Known to him they arose, known to him they remained, known to him they subsided. He discerned, 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He discerned that 'There is a further escape,' and pursuing it there really was for him.

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