The third factor present in the first jhana is piti, usually translated as joy or rapture.  In the suttas piti is sometimes said to arise from another quality called pamojja, translated as joy or gladness, which springs up with the abandonment of the five hindrances. When the disciple sees the five hindrances abandoned in himself "gladness arises within him; thus gladdened, rapture arises in him; and when he is rapturous his body becomes tranquil" (D.i,73). Tranquillity in turn leads to happiness, on the basis of which the mind becomes concentrated. Thus rapture precedes the actual arising of the first jhana, but persists through the remaining stages up to the third jhana.
The Vibhanga defines piti as "gladness, joy, joyfulness, mirth, merriment, exultation, exhilaration, and satisfaction of mind" (Vbh. 257). The commentaries ascribe to it the characteristic of endearing, the function of refreshing the body and mind or pervading with rapture, and the manifestation as elation (Vism.143; PP.149). Shwe Zan Aung explains that "piti abstracted means interest of varying degrees of intensity, in an object felt as desirable or as calculated to bring happiness." 
When defined in terms of agency, piti is that which creates interest in the object; when defined in terms of its nature it is the interest in the object. Because it creates a positive interest in the object, the jhana factor of rapture is able to counter and suppress the hindrance of ill will, a state of aversion implying a negative evaluation of the object.
Rapture is graded into five categories: minor rapture, momentary rapture, showering rapture, uplifting rapture and pervading rapture.  Minor rapture is generally the first to appear in the progressive development of meditation; it is capable of causing the hairs of the body to rise. Momentary rapture, which is like lightning, comes next but cannot be sustained for long. Showering rapture runs through the body in waves, producing a thrill but without leaving a lasting impact. Uplifting rapture, which can cause levitation, is more sustained but still tends to disturb concentration, The form of rapture most conductive to the attainment of jhana is all-pervading rapture, which is said to suffuse the whole body so that it becomes like a full bladder or like a mountain cavern inundated with a mighty flood of water. The Visuddhimagga states that what is intended by the jhana factor of rapture is this all-pervading rapture "which is the root of absorption and comes by growth into association with absorption" (Vism.144; PP.151)
The Five Forms of Rapture
1. Minor rapture (khuddaka piti): Your hair stands on end, and tears come to your eyes, either with or without your being aware of the fact. This happens, not through a sense of sadness, but through a feeling of pleasure, fullness, and satisfaction in a skillful object.
2. Momentary rapture (khanika piti): A shiver runs through the body, and a feeling of satisfaction appears for a flash in the heart, like a flash of lightning or the flicker of lightning bugs.
3. Recurrent rapture (okkantika piti): A stronger sense of thrill comes over the body, like waves washing over a shore.
4. Transporting rapture (ubbega piti): A sense of transporting joy comes welling up through the body to the point where you lose control and start acting or speaking in various ways. For instance, sitting in concentration, you may suddenly raise your hands in adoration or bow down. If the feeling grows really strong, you may not be conscious of what you're doing. You may start speaking, the words coming out on their own without any forethought on your part.
5. Pervading rapture (pharana piti): A flush or tingling sensation spreads through and permeates the body. Sometimes the body itself appears to grow and swell, or else to become very small.
When any one of these forms of rapture arises, you should keep your powers of reference firm. Don't give in to the feeling and don't let it take over. Keep your mind unaffected. Don't lose your sense of your body and mind. Keep your words and actions firmly under control. Don't act under the influence of the feeling. If the sense of rapture comes in a gentle form, well and good; but if it comes in a strong form, and you give in to its power, you can easily get hooked and start jumping to false conclusions. Don't go assuming that you've gained this or reached that, because all of these feelings are inconstant, stressful, and not-self. If you get fixated on them, the mind won't be able to attain proper concentration of any worth or value. If you fall for them, they'll become enemies of your concentration and discernment.
pīti: rapture, enthusiasm (rendered also by joy, happiness); interest it is one of the mental factors or concomitants (cetasika) and belongs to the group of mental formations (saṅkhāra-kkhandha). As, in Sutta texts, it is often linked in a compound word. with 'gladness' (pāmojja) or 'happiness' (sukha), some Western translations have wrongly taken it as a synonym of these two terms. Pīti, however, is not a feeling or a sensation, and hence does not belong to the feeling-group (vedanā-kkhandha), but may be described psychologically as 'joyful interest'. As such it may be associated with wholesome as well as with unwholesome and neutral states of consciousness.
A high degree of rapture is characteristic of certain stages in meditative concentration, in insight practice (vipassanā) as well as in the first two absorptions (jhāna, q.v.). In the latter it appears as one of the factors of absorption (jhānaṅga; s. jhāna) and is strongest in the 2nd absorption. Five degrees of intensity in meditative rapture are described in Vis.M. IV. 94ff. It is one of the factors of enlightenment (bojjhaṅga, q.v.).
Tex wrote:I've been a little confused on this one myself. I don't think "euphoria" is quite right, as that indicates (to me at least) a feeling.
I think of piti as somewhat similar to a master musician playing his instrument -- if you've ever seen a concert pianist at work he's completely enraptured by what he's doing and there is a certain joy or mental high going on. I'm not sure if that's correct, though.
bdah wrote:And I'm totally lost on "effluents."
A genre brought to its pinnacle (or depth ((of despair))) by Jeffery Hopkins (who most here, fortunately, will not have read).Paññāsikhara wrote:Many decades ago, a linguistic distinction was made between orthodox post-Paninian Sanskrit, and that used by early Buddhist Sanskrit texts, especially of the Mahayana. The latter became known as "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit".
What we are seeing above, in this thread, is now known in the field as "Buddhist Hybrid English".
bdah wrote:Perhaps someone here can help me understand some of the ENGLISH terms used for Pali words. (Or point me to some resources for better understanding.)
Paññāsikhara wrote:Any better suggestions for translations of "asava"
Paññāsikhara wrote:As any translator will point out, criticizing established terms is easy.
Proposing alternatives that are both accurate and accepted, is not.
Any better suggestions for translations of "asava", "samudaya" (?), "agantuka" and "samaropa"?
(This is not a rhetorical question, as a translator, I'm always interested in what people think of various English Buddhist terms.)
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