Samatha - Five jhana-factors II

Another jhāna-factor is vicara, which is translated as 'sustained thinking'. This cetasika arises with different kinds of citta, but when it is developed in samatha, it is a jhāna-factor. The 'Visuddhimagga' (IV, 88) states concerning vicāra:


'... Sustained thinking (vicārana) is sustained thought (vicāra); continued

sustainment (anusañcarana), is what is meant. It has the characteristic of

continued pressure on (occupation with) the object. Its function is to keep

conascent (mental) states (occupied) with that. It is manifested as keeping

consciousness anchored (on that object).'

  In samatha, vicāra keeps the citta anchored on the meditation subject. When we continue to think of wholesome subjects such as the Buddha's virtues or his teachings there is no vicikicchā or doubt. Vicāra helps to inhibit doubt.


Another jhāna-factor is pīti, translated as 'rapture', 'enthusiasm' or

'happiness'. Pīti arises also with akusala cittas, but when it is developed in

samatha it is a jhāna-factor. The 'Visuddhimagga' (IV, 94) states concerning



'...It refreshes (pīnayati), thus it is happiness (pīti). It has the characteristic of

endearing (sampiyāyana). Its function is to refresh the body and the mind; or

its function is to pervade (thrill with rapture). It is manifested as elation. But it

is of five kinds as minor happiness, momentary happiness, showering

happiness, uplifting happiness, and pervading (rapturous) happiness.'

According to the 'Visuddhimagga' (IV, 99) the jhāna-factor piti is the

'pervading happiness' which is the root of absorption and comes by growth

into association with absorption.

  When piti is developed in samatha it inhibits the hindrance which is ill-will (vyāpāda). However, keen understanding is needed in order to know whether there is akusala piti which arises with attachment or kusala piti. Even when one thinks that there is wholesome enthusiasm about a meditation subject, there may be clinging. The jhāna-factor piti takes an interest in the meditation subject without clinging. Wholesome piti which delights in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha or in another meditation subject refreshes the mind and then there is no aversion, no boredom as to kusala.


Topic 194