experience of piti and sukha

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Supramundane
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experience of piti and sukha

Post by Supramundane » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:20 am

This is one of the most powerful quotes of the Buddha:

I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening. Maha-Saccaka Sutra

The experience of piti and sukha is a type of pleasure that does not lead to craving or suffering. Wikipedia differentiates piti and sukha as follows:

And wherever the two are associated, happiness [here, Ñāṇamoli's translation of pīti] is the contentedness at getting a desirable object, and bliss [sukha] is the actual experiencing of it when got. Where there is happiness [pīti] there is bliss (pleasure) [sukha]; but where there is bliss [sukha] there is not necessarily happiness [pīti]. Happiness is included in the formationsaggregate; bliss is included in the feeling aggregate. If a man exhausted in a desert saw or heard about a pond on the edge of a wood, he would have happiness; if he went into the wood's shade and used the water, he would have bliss. (Wikipedia Sukha)

If one can enter the first jhana, this entails using samadhi to reach sati and the after-effect will be piti and sukha.

If I understand correctly, it is sort of like a ‘negative pleasure’ in that it is a release from other sensations and thus is wholesome and sustainable, ultimately leading to the path of Awakening.

I would like to ask if anyone has felt piti and sukha in their practice and how this experience unfolds.
thank you

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by SunWuKong » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:10 am

I'm still looking for the Mahayana equivalent for the Jhana Sutta, but yes I can comment a bit on this. There are 5 Jhana Factors in the Sutta:" initial application (vitakka), sustained application (vicara), joy (piti), happiness (Sukha) and one pointedness (ekaggata)." That's very crudely put. Ekaggata is very striking in that thought turns inward before it fully manifests (no-thought). It can't be forced, it has to be both cultivated and coaxed. Fear of it will drive it away. Piti can feel like electricity, or thunder and lightening, and raises goosebumps on your skin, and your muscles go into something like turgor pressure like plants do when they are full of water, so that the posture is full, straight and expanding. Time slows way down, it can be excruciating. Sukkha is the diametric opposite of dukkha, it is often overlooked as it begins to form early on in most meditators, as it's a pleasant feeling of release that does not come from the sensual realm at all. Still both sukkha and piti won't interest you is you are looking for true liberation. Ekaggata on the other hand, is a taste you will never forget. It is pure equanimity of mind. The thing to hope for is to realize ekaggata, this is the nuts and bolts of Dhyana practice, then to rest in it coming out of the "Samadhi whilst sitting" into "Constant Samadhi in the Midst of all activity" where the mind is free to investigate the subtle Dharma discriminations fully. That's my take on it. I'm sure this explanation will be misunderstood and I'll get slammed for it, but since you asked? Some people ask as though it is a threat to the Greater Vehicle. I find this an odd reaction since it's not threatening to those in the "Lesser Vehicle" - but I wouldn't know that since I don't see anything set before me to inquire as greater or lesser really
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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by stevie » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:10 am

Supramundane wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:20 am
The experience of piti and sukha is a type of pleasure that does not lead to craving or suffering.
If that would be the case then 'piti and sukha' would be equalled with 'awakening'. But they are merely assigned to the path to awakening.
Better to assume that as long as there is affirmation of self craving and suffering will ensue from agreeable experiences. Post-meditation sooner or later suffering will re-arise and on the basis of self craving after meditation and the agreeable experience will ensue. Then if meditation is not successful - which is likely to happen due to the intention - more suffering will be the result.

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by Supramundane » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:12 am

stevie wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:10 am
Supramundane wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:20 am
The experience of piti and sukha is a type of pleasure that does not lead to craving or suffering.
If that would be the case then 'piti and sukha' would be equalled with 'awakening'. But they are merely assigned to the path to awakening.
Better to assume that as long as there is affirmation of self craving and suffering will ensue from agreeable experiences. Post-meditation sooner or later suffering will re-arise and on the basis of self craving after meditation and the agreeable experience will ensue. Then if meditation is not successful - which is likely to happen due to the intention - more suffering will be the result.
that surprises me --- i had assumed that jhanic pleasure is not a negative emotion. sukha is the opposite of dukha....

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by stevie » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:44 am

Supramundane wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:12 am
stevie wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:10 am
Supramundane wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:20 am
The experience of piti and sukha is a type of pleasure that does not lead to craving or suffering.
If that would be the case then 'piti and sukha' would be equalled with 'awakening'. But they are merely assigned to the path to awakening.
Better to assume that as long as there is affirmation of self craving and suffering will ensue from agreeable experiences. Post-meditation sooner or later suffering will re-arise and on the basis of self craving after meditation and the agreeable experience will ensue. Then if meditation is not successful - which is likely to happen due to the intention - more suffering will be the result.
that surprises me --- i had assumed that jhanic pleasure is not a negative emotion. sukha is the opposite of dukha....
It is not a question of negative or positive.
Having temporarily gotten rid of the coarse dukkha of the desire realm it is only temporary and there's still the dukkha of the form and the dukkha of the formless realm. So how could a state in the form realm be the opposite of dukkha?

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:29 am

When I first practiced meditation I had several experiences of rapture often in the most unlikely places, like the checkout queue. They were unlike anything else that had ever happened, it was totally out of the blue. Amazing. That’s one of the things that made me believe there was something in it. For moments there - days, even - it was exhilarating, in a way that I’d never felt before. (One vivid day was spent serving sausage sandwiches at son’s junior soccer match canteen.)

But then, what goes up..... All of the various issues that you have didn’t simply evaporate and politely go away. I still had to deal with a lot of mundane stuff. So the way I began to frame it was that whatever this was, had a life of its own. You couldn’t chase it, summon it, or keep it. When it happens it just happens, when it goes again then it’s just gone. (There’s a biblical verse, ‘the wind bloweth where it listeth’.) So after a while, I called it ‘the bliss you cannot have’ - because any attempt to have it is basically futile.

But it’s real, it’s not just emotion or fantasy.

It’s been like that since (and ‘since’ is a long time.) It comes sometimes, usually unexpectedly, usually some time after what seemed a perfectly non-eventful meditation. And then it goes again.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by Supramundane » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:45 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:29 am
When I first practiced meditation I had several experiences of rapture often in the most unlikely places, like the checkout queue. They were unlike anything else that had ever happened, it was totally out of the blue. Amazing. That’s one of the things that made me believe there was something in it. For moments there - days, even - it was exhilarating, in a way that I’d never felt before. (One vivid day was spent serving sausage sandwiches at son’s junior soccer match canteen.)

But then, what goes up..... All of the various issues that you have didn’t simply evaporate and politely go away. I still had to deal with a lot of mundane stuff. So the way I began to frame it was that whatever this was, had a life of its own. You couldn’t chase it, summon it, or keep it. When it happens it just happens, when it goes again then it’s just gone. (There’s a biblical verse, ‘the wind bloweth where it listeth’.) So after a while, I called it ‘the bliss you cannot have’ - because any attempt to have it is basically futile.

But it’s real, it’s not just emotion or fantasy.

It’s been like that since (and ‘since’ is a long time.) It comes sometimes, usually unexpectedly, usually some time after what seemed a perfectly non-eventful meditation. And then it goes again.
The checkout queue? i can't beat that one.

sounds strange but then again:

The ground where we stand is the Pure Lotus Land
And this very body, the body of Buddha.
Hakuin


But does the pleasure you describe come from a release, a sense of freedom, or is it simply a mundane pleasure that is transitory and thus essentially dukkha?

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by stevie » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:16 am

Supramundane wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:45 am
But does the pleasure you describe come from a release, a sense of freedom, or is it simply a mundane pleasure that is transitory and thus essentially dukkha?
All jhana states, with or without piti/sukkha, up to the peak of cyclic existences in the formless are releases, partial releases. But they are not trivial mundane pleasures seen from the perspective of the desire realm.
The sphere of the supramundane begins with the path of seeing. But that does not mean that in the sphere of the supramundane there wouldn't occur states of the form or the formless, such may occur or are even intentionally practices but their emptiness is seen directly.

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by haha » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:08 pm

If one relies on Abhidharma, it will give better understanding of those two words.

The common terminology does not give proper meaning. First one should understand that, this sukha will arise in first absorption. To enter into the first one, one needs mental image (nimitya). So, one can say that it is not the ordinary kind of sukha; it is the dhyanik sukha. For this case, one needs to deal with five nivarana; the sukha you mention is arisen due to the suppression of Auddhatya Kaukritya (restlessness and worry).

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:36 pm

Supramundane wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:45 am
But does the pleasure you describe come from a release, a sense of freedom, or is it simply a mundane pleasure that is transitory and thus essentially dukkha?
Who knows? All I knew at the time was that it was totally new and completely unexpected. As you well know, Buddhist teachers always say 'don't seek such things or hold onto them', and I completely get that. But it was and is the real deal.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by stevie » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:52 pm

Having attenuated - temporarily or permanently - the afflicted desire realm obscurations previously one may effortlessly slip into jhana states of the form realm.
Not having attenuated - temporarily or permanently - the afflicted desire realm obscurations previously one may effortfully attain jhana states of the form realm.
The wisdom that knows emptiness attenuates - temporarily or permanently - the afflicted desire realm obscurations.
Experiencing jhana states of the form realm conjoined with the wisdom that knows emptiness it doesn't matter whether these states occur or do not occur.

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by SunWuKong » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:55 pm

Supramundane wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:45 am
Wayfarer wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:29 am
When I first practiced meditation I had several experiences of rapture often in the most unlikely places, like the checkout queue. They were unlike anything else that had ever happened, it was totally out of the blue. Amazing. That’s one of the things that made me believe there was something in it. For moments there - days, even - it was exhilarating, in a way that I’d never felt before. (One vivid day was spent serving sausage sandwiches at son’s junior soccer match canteen.)

But then, what goes up..... All of the various issues that you have didn’t simply evaporate and politely go away. I still had to deal with a lot of mundane stuff. So the way I began to frame it was that whatever this was, had a life of its own. You couldn’t chase it, summon it, or keep it. When it happens it just happens, when it goes again then it’s just gone. (There’s a biblical verse, ‘the wind bloweth where it listeth’.) So after a while, I called it ‘the bliss you cannot have’ - because any attempt to have it is basically futile.

But it’s real, it’s not just emotion or fantasy.

It’s been like that since (and ‘since’ is a long time.) It comes sometimes, usually unexpectedly, usually some time after what seemed a perfectly non-eventful meditation. And then it goes again.
The checkout queue? i can't beat that one.

sounds strange but then again:

The ground where we stand is the Pure Lotus Land
And this very body, the body of Buddha.
Hakuin


But does the pleasure you describe come from a release, a sense of freedom, or is it simply a mundane pleasure that is transitory and thus essentially dukkha?
Check-out Lane Brahma Vihara - I know!! Makes you want to shout out "I love ALL of you!"
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:16 pm

SunWuKong wrote:Makes you want to shout out "I love ALL of you!"
Actually, a very real and practical consequence of those early experiences was not exactly that, but it was definitely an opening up of the sense of compassion for others. At the time - 30 years ago - I had finally, belatedly, gotten something like a career together, in the computer sales business, at a uni computer shop. This is the early days of computers, when many people (myself included) were first encountering and using them. And one of the things that came out of this experience was a better ability to empathise with customers - to listen to their wants, speak their language. I attributed that to a 'heart-opening' which had definitely occurred at that time. Coincidentally (or not!) I had been to a lecture by the famous Lama Yeshe - I really think that planted a seed, or opened a door. It brought together a lot of what I had been reading and meditating on.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by SunWuKong » Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:42 am

piti and sukha aren't really suitable topics for forum discussion, it's just easier to find a teacher who can point out the way and find out first hand. It's entering into a territory where verbal descriptions fail, because the verbal part of the mind is being left behind. Everyone has an opinion on the topic none the less
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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by stevie » Tue Mar 19, 2019 5:09 am

SunWuKong wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:42 am
piti and sukha aren't really suitable topics for forum discussion, ...
Why? They are phenomena belonging to modes of conventional consciousnesses everyone can experience. Nothing special, not truly existing and impermanent. They are getting special only of the desire realm afflictions are strong. Having attenuated desire realm afflictions and having collected enough merit piti and sukkha will be one's familiar friends. So practice and piti and sukkha are not inherently different.

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by Supramundane » Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:12 am

stevie wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 5:09 am
SunWuKong wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:42 am
piti and sukha aren't really suitable topics for forum discussion, ...
Why? They are phenomena belonging to modes of conventional consciousnesses everyone can experience. Nothing special, not truly existing and impermanent. They are getting special only of the desire realm afflictions are strong. Having attenuated desire realm afflictions and having collected enough merit piti and sukkha will be one's familiar friends. So practice and piti and sukkha are not inherently different.
i agree with Stevie: there is a significant number of references to piti and sukha in various sutra.

They are attained from relinquishment which leads to insight.

Viveka is the quality which allows us to discern the marks of existence which then leads to the possibility of the relinquishment of the hindrances (nivarana), which then creates piti and sukha. They are pleasures, but healthy pleasures:

Which of these two fires would have a better flame, color and radiance: a fire that might burn in dependence on fuel, such as grass and woods, or a fire that might burn independent of fuel such as grass and wood?


Piti and sukha as i understand them do not engender karma.

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by Supramundane » Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:40 am

haha wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:08 pm
If one relies on Abhidharma, it will give better understanding of those two words.

The common terminology does not give proper meaning. First one should understand that, this sukha will arise in first absorption. To enter into the first one, one needs mental image (nimitya). So, one can say that it is not the ordinary kind of sukha; it is the dhyanik sukha. For this case, one needs to deal with five nivarana; the sukha you mention is arisen due to the suppression of Auddhatya Kaukritya (restlessness and worry).

this is interesting, HH.

you are homing in on the answer i am seeking.

this suppression you make reference to, do you believe it is a product of one-pointed concentration (the meditative experience itself) or of a (pre-existing) deeper understanding (i.e. qualities that are not associated with the immediate act of meditation) that allow for the suppression of restlessness and worry?

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by stevie » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:13 am

Supramundane wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:12 am
Piti and sukha as i understand them do not engender karma.
Depends. If one gets attached then karma of the form realm may ensue.

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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by catmoon » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:27 am

Supramundane wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:40 am


this suppression you make reference to, do you believe it is a product of one-pointed concentration (the meditative experience itself) or of a (pre-existing) deeper understanding (i.e. qualities that are not associated with the immediate act of meditation) that allow for the suppression of restlessness and worry?
Is it suppression at all? If I'm sitting on a jagged rock, and it's uncomfortable and it hurts, I may get up, walk away and sit somewhere else. This doesn't mean I am suppressing the rock. I'm just not getting wrapped up in the rock, and the pain and discomfort, and maybe I have something more interesting to do than sit on it.
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Re: experience of piti and sukha

Post by stevie » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:39 am

Supramundane wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:40 am
this suppression you make reference to, do you believe it is a product of one-pointed concentration (the meditative experience itself) or of a (pre-existing) deeper understanding (i.e. qualities that are not associated with the immediate act of meditation) that allow for the suppression of restlessness and worry?
Both views are appropriate. If in turbulence the effort of one-pointed concentration may be helpful to exclude the turbulence from experience, leaving no room for turbulence through one-pointed concentration. Actually no suppression takes place, only an excluding focus.
On the other hand one may also simply reveal the turbulance being illusory or artificially created in a sphere of peace. Here also no suppression takes place, only a dissolution of the illusory.

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