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Passaddhi is a Pali noun (Sanskrit: prasrabhi, Tibetan: ཤིན་ཏུ་སྦྱང་བ་,Tibetan Wylie: shin tu sbyang ba) that has been translated as "calmness," "tranquillity," "repose" and "serenity." The associated verb is passambhati (to calm down, to be quiet).
In Buddhism, passaddhi refers to tranquillity of the body, speech, thoughts and consciousness on the path to enlightenment. As part of cultivated mental factors, passaddhi is preceded by rapture (pīti) and precedes concentration (samādhi).
Passaddhi is identified as a wholesome factor in the following canonical contexts:
In various Buddhist canonical schema, the calming of the body, speech and various mental factors is associated with gladness (pāmojja, pāmujja), rapture (pīti), and pleasure (sukhaṃ) and leads to the concentration needed for release from suffering.
Calming (passambhayaṃ) bodily and mental formations is the culmination of each of the first two tetrads of meditation instructions in the Pali Canon's famed Anapanasati Sutta:
|||Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'....||Dīghaṃ vā assasanto dīghaṃ assasāmīti pajānāti....|
|||Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'....||Rassaṃ vā assasanto rassaṃ assasāmīti pajānāti....|
|||He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body....'||Sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmīti sikkhati....|
|||He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication....'||Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmīti sikkhati....|
He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture....'
Pītipaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmīti sikkhati....
|||He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure....'||Sukhapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmīti sikkhati....|
|||He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication....'||Cittasaṅkhārapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmīti sikkhati....|
|||He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication....'||Passambhayaṃ cittasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmīti sikkhati....|
A number of discourses identify the concurrent arising of the following wholesome mental states with the development of mindfulness (sati) and the onset of the first jhana:
By establishing mindfulness, one overcomes the Five Hindrances (pañca nīvaraṇi), gives rise to gladness, rapture, pleasure and tranquillizes the body (kāyo passambhati); such bodily tranquillity (passaddhakāyo) leads to higher states of concentration (samādhi) as indicated in this Pali-recorded discourse ascribed to the Buddha:
|Seeing that [these five hindrances] have been abandoned
within him, he becomes glad.
Glad, he becomes enraptured.
Enraptured, his body grows tranquil.
His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure.
Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.
|Tassime pañca nīvaraṇe pahīṇe|
attani samanupassato pāmojjaṃ jāyati.
Pamuditassa pīti jāyati.
Pītimanassa kāyo passambhati.
Passaddhakāyo sukhaṃ vedeti.
Sukhino cittaṃ samādhiyati.
Alternately, with right effort and sense-restraint, paññā ("wisdom," "discernment") is fully realized, and the jhana-factors arise:
|When defiling mental qualities are abandoned and bright mental qualities have grown, and one enters & remains in the culmination & abundance of discernment [paññā], having known & realized it for oneself in the here & now, there is joy, rapture, serenity [passaddhi], mindfulness, alertness, and a pleasant/happy abiding.||Saṅkilesikā ceva dhammā pahīyissanti. Vodāniyā dhammā abhivaḍḍhissanti. Paññāpāripūriṃ vepullattañca diṭṭheva dhamme sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharissanti. Pāmujjañceva bhavissati pīti ca passaddhi ca sati ca sampajaññañca sukho ca vihāro.|
Passaddhi is the fifth of seven factors of enlightenment (sambojjhanga) that lead to deliverance from suffering. Among the factors of enlightenment, serenity (passadhi) is preceded by rapture (pīti) and leads to concentration (samādhi) as further described by the Buddha in the Anapanasati Sutta:
|Table: Rūpa jhāna|
|Kāma / Akusala dhamma
(sensuality / unskillful qualities)
|does not occur||does not occur||does not occur|
(along with distress)
|does not occur|
(no pleasure nor pain)
|unification of awareness
free from vitakka and vicāra
|does not occur||does not occur|
|Upekkhāsatipārisuddhi||does not occur||internal confidence||equanimous;
equanimity and mindfulness
In describing one's progressive steps through the absorptions (jhanani), the Buddha identifies six sequential "calmings" (passaddhis):
Passaddhi is a "supporting condition" for the "destruction of the cankers" (āsava-khaye), that is, the achievement of Arahantship. More specifically, in describing a set of supporting conditions that move one from samsaric suffering (see Dependent Origination) to destruction of the cankers, the Buddha describes the following progression of conditions:
In the Pali literature, this sequence that enables one to transcend worldly suffering is referred to as the "transcendental dependent arising" (lokuttara-paticcasamuppada).
In the Abhidhamma Pitaka's Dhammasangani, the first chapter identifies 56 states of material-world consciousness that are wholesome, including "lightness of sense and thought," upon which the text elaborates:
Passaddhi is referenced in the Visuddhimagga and other Pali commentarial (atthakatha) texts.
In the Visuddhimagga, the enlightenment factors (bojjhangas) are discussed in the context of skills for developing absorption (jhāna). In particular, the Visuddhimagga recommends that in order to develop the skill of "restrain[ing] the mind on an occasion when it should be restrained" (such as when it is "agitated through over-energeticness, etc."), one should develop tranquillity (passaddhi), concentration (samādhi) and equanimity (upekkhā). Towards this end, the Visuddhimagga identifies seven things from which bodily and mental tranquillity arise: