I still remember when I first read the Bhagavad Gita, the words the wisdom were so powerful I couldn’t put the book down. It’s profound words revealed the answers to many of my long sought after questions regarding the mystery of life. The new concepts I encountered such as Samadhi were overwhelming yet unbelievably enlightening. The Gita had such an enlightening effect on my consciousness that I actually took it upon myself to not only to teach myself Sanskrit, but I also journeyed to India to find more of these hermetic like manuscripts and books.
After studying ancient treatises like the Upanishads and varying Samhitas, the one reoccurring term that was emphasized repeatedly was Samadhi.
Samadhi within Yoga
Within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Samadhi is described as the eighth limb of yoga and is considered the final and consummate meditation state can attain. Within the Upanishads Samadhi is merging the mind in the Atma(self). In that state there are no two entities. Samadhi is a state of equal-mindedness. It is the state in which the oneness of everything is experienced. It’s state one that gifts one the elusive state of mukti – freedom from the cycle of birth and death.
Samadhi within Buddhism
The Buddhist concept of Samadhi does not hold such a lofty state as the Yoga version, even though Samadhi is the part of the Noble Eight fold Path. Interestingly in Buddhism Samadhi does not equate to attaining enlightenment.
Within Buddhism there are varying kinds of Samadhi. Such as Access concentration (upacara samadhi), Fixed concentration (appana samadhi)Momentary concentration (khanikha samadhi) , Concentration without interruption(anantharika samadhi) and Immeasurable concentration (appamana samadhi).
The Buddhist suttas also mention that samadhi practitioners may develop super human powers (abhijna), and list several that the Buddha developed. But oddly within mainstream Buddhism they forewarn that seeking these powers should be avoided as it distracts the practitioner from the larger goal of Nirvana(freedom from suffering).
Samadhi is not the goal of Buddhism but a component; it remains an important tool in reaching the goal of enlightenment.
This is one aspect of Buddhist Philosophy that I disagree with, the escapism clause. I believe that we are on the earth for a reason, we are not here just so we can leave. I believe our body and the earth is a paradise a privilege, but through indoctrination we seek far away “heavens” and ignore what the treasure which is under our feet. But it depends on our courage to re-connect back to the whole and how we design our thoughts, how we live in balance with the earth its resources and life forms.
So what exactly is Samadhi
From my research and experience Samadhi is a term that is not easily transliterated into any language much less English. The word possesses many facets which compiled together give understanding of the whole. Below I’ve compiled a list of all the components that compromise the meaning of Samadhi.
1. Equanimity of thought – meaning one no longer has random thoughts pulsating throughout the mind. The mind is only reactionary to thoughts created by the self.
2. Focused mind – one has attained the ability of single-pointed focused concentration, it’s a state where the mind and the object become one.
3. Self and higher self cooperation – the self and the higher universal self have become one in the sense there is no longer an illusionary barrier between the two.
4. Turiya state – attainment of a state of consciousness that lies beyond waking, dreaming, or deep sleep. In this stage of deep bliss, one may feel as if the body does not exist, even though one is aware that he or she exists. One will be engulfed in subtle light, inner peace and ecstasy.
Mystical powers of Samadhi
Now this aspect of Samadhi is quite interesting, within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is described the more mystical aspects of attaining Samadhi. With the attainment of Samadhi one gains the eight powers (asta siddhis). Here I have listed the acclaimed eight main siddhis one attains after reaching the state of Samadhi.
1. Aṇimā – Ability to reduce the size of the body
2. Mahima – Ability to assume a gigantic form
3. Garima – Ability to become very heavy in weight by will
4. Laghima – having the power to become very light
5. Prāpti – the ability to acquire anything anywhere
6. Prākāmya – The ability to obtain anything desired
7. Iṣiṭva – The power of absolute lordship
8. Vaśitva – The ability to have total control