Our Lakeland Insight Meditation Group (LIMG) has been studying and practicing the teachings of the Satipatthana Sutta, the four abidings in mindfulness. This week, we are in the fourth foundation, mindfulness of dhammas (mental processes.) To this point in the dhammas, we have studied the five hindrances, the five aggregates, and the six senses. We are now studying the seven factors of awakening. We have studied the first three awakening factors of mindfulness, investigation and energy. We now move to the awakening factor of joy and rapture. The rest of the awakening factors are tranquility, concentration and equanimity.
Joy or piti, is the joy that results from meditative practice:
“The monk who has retired to a solitary abode and calmed his mind, who comprehends the Dhamma with insight, in him there arises a delight that transcends all human delights.”
Joy can be translated as heightened interest, or engaged enthusiastic interest. Joy is s described as delight. Joy along with the next awakening factor tranquility is a mental state that has pleasant affect. Piti has the function of refreshing the mind and the body, like a cool breeze on a hot day. When piti is present it makes experience endearing. Joy is activated because the hindrances of desire, ill will, restlessness and dullness are at bay. Joy can arise with sharp mindfulness clear of the hindrances or any other mental phenomena. The heightened interest of piti activates the mind to increase mindfulness, investigation and energy. These factors feed off each other. The mind will be in a positive feedback loop, the increased interest and energy and joy encourage more mindfulness and investigation, activating more joy.
Rapture is the energy associated with Piti. The energy can get so strong it can make it very unpleasant. There have been five grades of piti desciribed: minor joy like goosebumps, tingling sensations, it can lift the posture; momentary joy, like a jolt or elevator falling; wavelike joy, thrilling sensations, coming in waves throughout the body; uplifting joy, can feel like the the whole body floating off the ground or sinking in the ground, it is said it can levitate the body; and pervading joy:
“A sublime feeling of happiness and exhilaration filling the entire body with an exceeding ly sweet and subtle thrill”
In rapture, Practitioners have reported a luminosity of mind that can light a bright room or the ability to see things in a dark room.
Like tranquility, practitioners can get attached to the pleasantness of piti. the pleasure of piti can fool one into thinking they are in concentration or even awakened. All of these awakening factors are imperamannect, and can give us insight into the fabrication of an enduring self.
There can be some confusion between sukkha (happiness) and pitiukkha vs Pita happiness, rapture gets confused with sukka. Sukka is associated with the second foundation of mindfulness, mindfulness of feelings, in this case pleasant feelings. Piti is a fourth factor a mental object. The metaphor is given of being in the desert and seeing the oasis (rapture.) What would your mind feel like? The energy of Piti. When we arrive at the oasis, there would be the gentle pleasant feeling of happiness.
Here are some conditions for the arising of joy:
- Contemplation on the Triple Gem, the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha. The contemplation on the Buddha may be that the practice lead us to have a sense of contentment like the Buddha, contentment with all things. The contemplation on the Dharma may be the gratitude for having the teachings and one’s development in the teachings. The contemplation of the Sangha may be the support we receive in the development of our spiritual life.
- Cultivate Samadhi. When concentration is developed to the extent that energy isn’t bound up in the hindrances, particularly sloth and torpor, there’s a noticeable lightness of consciousness, a buoyancy.
- Cultivate an uncomplicated lifestyle that isn’t burdensome. A simple life may lead to the simple joys of life.
- Maintain an ethical foundation for living. A clear conscience is a delight. W often take for granted our silo (morality.)
- Associate with people who have an uplifted view of life, that is, that “the cup is half-full, not half-empty”. We become infected by other’s joy.
- Read inspiring spiritual literature. Often the material can be so inspiring that a practiioner will want to meditate. This may include books written about the life of spiritually accomplished individuals.
- Practice generosity and the other Paramus. There’s great potential for joy when intentionally bringing someone else happiness. Empathic joy is one of the four “divine abidings” related to benevolent intention.
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