21 04 2012 SATURDAY LESSON
588 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā
Research And Practice
UNIVERSITY And THE
BUDDHIST ONLINE GOOD NEWS
LETTER by AWAKEN
ONE WITH AWARENESS
ABHIDHAMMA RAKKHITA through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org
Dhammapada: Verses and Stories
Dhammapada Verse 141
141. Practices That Will Not Lead To Purity
Not going naked, nor matted hair, nor filth,
nor fasting, not sleeping on bare earth,
no penance on heels, nor sweat nor grime
can purify a mortal still overcome by doubt.
Explanation: A person seeking the purification of his soul may
practice the ritual of wandering about naked; or else he may wear turbans; he
may even smear his body with mud; he may even refrain from partaking of food as
an austerity to obtain purity; he may lie on bare earth; or else he may throw
dust all over his body. And again, some may practice a squatting posture. All
of these will not wash a person into spiritual purity if his wavering of mind
is not overcome.
Main article: Samādhi (Buddhism)
Samādhi, or concentration of the mind, is the 3rd division of the eightfold path
of the Buddha’s threefold training: wisdom (pañña),
Samādhi (Buddhism) (samādhi) - within which it is developed by samatha
meditation. Some Buddhist schools teach of 40 different object
meditations, according to the Visuddhimagga,
an ancient commentarial text. These objects include meditations on the breath
(anapanasati), loving kindness (metta) and various
colours, earth, fire, etc. (kasiṇa).
Important components of Buddhist
meditation, frequently discussed by the Buddha, are the successively higher
meditative states known as the four jhānas which in the language of the eight-fold path,
are “right concentration”. Right concentration has also been
characterised in the Maha-cattarisaka Sutta as concentration arising due
to the previous seven steps of the noble eightfold path.
Four developments of samādhi
are mentioned in the Pāli Canon:
literature identifies three different types of
The Buddhist suttas also mention
that samādhi practitioners may develop supernormal powers (abhijñā, also see siddhis)
and list several that the Buddha developed, but warn that these should not be
allowed to distract the practitioner from the larger goal of complete freedom
The bliss of samādhi is not
the goal of Buddhism; but it remains an important tool in reaching the goal of
enlightenment. Samatha/samādhi meditation and vipassana/insight
meditation are the two wheels of the chariot of the noble eightfold path and
the Buddha strongly recommended developing them both.
the early Suttas
In Buddhism, samādhi is
traditionally developed by contemplating one of 40 different objects
(mentioned in the Pali canon, explicitly enumerated in the Visuddhimagga),
such as mindfulness of breathing
(anapanasati) and loving kindness (metta).
Upon development of samādhi,
one’s mind becomes purified of defilements, calm, tranquil, and luminous. Once the meditator achieves
a strong and powerful concentration, his mind is ready to penetrate and see
into the ultimate nature of reality, eventually obtaining release from all suffering.
The Buddhist suttas mention
that samādhi practitioners may develop supernormal powers (abhijna,
and list several that the Buddha developed, but warn that these should not be
allowed to distract the practitioner from the larger goal of complete freedom
In the Buddhist noble eightfold path, the Buddha explains that
right concentration (Pāli: sammā-samādhi; Skt.: samyak-samādhi)
involves attainment of the successively higher meditative states known as the
In the Indian Mahāyāna traditions samādhi is used in the earlier sense, but
“there also appear in Mahayana literature references to a number of
specific samadhi, each with a name and associated benefits, and a number of
which are associated with specific sutras. . . one notes the appearance of
lengthy lists of samadhi names, which one suspects have acquired their own aura
of magical potency. Thus we can find samadhi-name lists, some of considerable
length, in the Aksṣayavamatinirdeśa,
Mahāvyutpatti, and various Prajñāpāramitā texts. Section 21 of the Mahāvyutpatti
records some 118 samādhi.
This is reflected in the Heart Sutra, a famous Mahāyāna discourse, in
which Avalokiteśvara gives a teaching in the presence of the
Buddha after the Buddha enters “the samādhi which expresses the dharma
called Profound Illumination,” which provides the context for the
Likewise, the Samādhirāja Sūtra “declares its main theme
to be a particular samādhi that is supposed to be the key to all elements in
the path and to all the virtues and merits of buddhas and bodhisattvas. This
state of mind, or spiritual practice, is called ‘the samādhi that is manifested
as the sameness of the essential nature of all dharmas’ (sarva-dharma-svabhavā-samatā-vipañcita-samādhi).
One may be tempted to assume that this refers to one particular form or state
of contemplation; however, here the term ’samādhi’ is understood in its
broadest signification. This samādhi is at the same time the cognitive
experience of emptiness, the attainment of the attributes of buddhahood, and the
performance of a variety of practices or daily activities of a
bodhisattva—including service and adoration at the feet of all buddhas. The
word samādhi is also used to mean the sūtra itself. Consequently, we can speak
of an equation, sūtra = samādhi = śūnyatā, underlying the text. In this sense
the title Samādhirāja expresses accurately the content of the
Part of a series on
The Five Houses
Doctrine and practice
In Zen, the three
trainings (or threefold learning) are presented in the Parable of the Lamp
using the ancient form of a lamp made up of a dish of oil with a lighted wick.
The table (or floor) is the body, the dish is the conscious mind, the oil is
moral conduct (sīla), the wick is unperturbed contemplation (samādhi),
and the flame is intuitive wisdom (prajñā). That which is a
“lamp” does not exist without all of the parts present and
functioning. If there is no oil then the wick is dry and the flame won’t stay
lit. If there is no wick then there is nothing for the flame to be centered
upon and anchored to. If there is no flame then it is not actually a lamp but
just a bowl of oil with a piece of string in it. The wick does not become a
true wick until it is lit, and the flame has no place to light until it has a
Learned Audience, in my system Samadhi and Prajna are fundamental. But do
not be under the wrong impression that these two are independent of each other,
for they are inseparably united and are not two entities. Samadhi is the
quintessence of Prajna, while Prajna is the activity of Samadhi. At the very
moment that we attain Prajna, Samadhi is therewith; and vice versa. If you
understand this principle, you understand the equilibrium of Samadhi and
Prajna. A disciple should not think that there is a distinction between
‘Samadhi begets Prajna’ and ‘Prajna begets Samadhi’. To hold such an opinion
would imply that there are two characteristics in the Dharma.
In Zen, samādhi is the unified state of steady or unperturbed awareness. In
Chapter 5 of the Platform Sutra, Huineng described the role of
samādhi in meditation practice as follows:
When we are free from attachment to all outer objects, the mind will be in
peace. Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure, and the reason why we are
perturbed is because we allow ourselves to be carried away by the circumstances
we are in. He who is able to keep his mind unperturbed, irrespective of
circumstances, has attained Samadhi. To be free from attachment to all outer
objects is Dhyana, and to attain inner peace is Samadhi. When we are in a
position to deal with Dhyana and to keep our inner mind in Samadhi, then we are
said to have attained Dhyana and Samadhi.
According to B. Alan Wallace, samādhi is also viewed as
serving as the basis for increasing intelligence.
Wallace also maintains that Buddhist psychology suggests that concentration may
be a factor in the emergence of extraordinary intelligence.
MIND AND BODY
There`s more to meditation than just closing ones eyes and an
understanding of this technique demands an understanding of our mental realm.
The subtle state of mind, which is the ultimate stage of meditation, requires a
tremendous amount of energy to reach. An absolute harmony between our gross
physical realm, sensual realm and our life energy is the prerequisite of a
meditative state of mind.
Traditional perceptions of our mental make-up are uncommonly useful in
understanding the workings of the mind. According to ayurveda and yoga, both the mind and the body
are made up of the `Five Great Elements` (Panchabhutas) of earth (prithvi),
water (jal), fire (agni or tej), air (vayu) and ether or space (akash).
But in spite of such composition, they have absolutely opposite elemental
structures. While the body is made up of the heavier elements of earth and
water (the ayurvedic kapha or phlegmatic humoral type), it functions through
the lighter elements of fire (pitta or heat humoral type) and air (vata or
vital energy humor). The pitta, fire or heat of the body controls all digestive
processes and the vata, air or vital energy lends its spark to the nervous
The mind, meanwhile, is composed of air and ether (vata humor)—the lighter
elements, which lend mobility and pervasiveness to the mind. And our mental
functions proceed through the heavier elements of fire, water and earth
(pitta—heat and kapha—phlegm). The element of fire lends reason and perception
to the mind, while water and earth lends it emotion and physical
identification. But our mental functions proceed through the heavier elements
of fire, water and earth. While fire lends reason and perception to the mind,
water and earth lends it emotion and physical identification respectively.
Unlike the phlegmatic body, in substance our minds resemble ether—formless and
all pervading. And in motion it resembles air—penetrating, constantly in flux,
effervescent and unpredictable!
MIND AND SPIRIT
The mind (mana) and the energy spirit (prana, chi or life force) have always had an affinity for
each other, being merely the two sides of the same coin. Whatever the mind
engages upon is soon infused with life energy, and conversely, whatever the soul
hungers for instantly engages our attention. As a result, certain aspects of
each are present in the other.
Out of the two, the mind is the finer and more sophisticated version of the
cruder life force or prana—it has a storehouse of its
own energy and vitality. Some aspects of it naturally spills over, flooding the
spirit with thought and intelligence (buddhi). But it is the vital force, which
is inherently a conscious power, finding its expression in the mind, which is
inherently the active force.
Both prana and mana (mind) are vata (vital force) humoral types, composed of
air and ether. But being composed more of the air element rather than the
ether, the prana is more active and energetic—like the wind! On the other hand,
since the degree of ether is more in the composition of the mind, its nature is receptive and passive—like the wide
PREPARING THE MIND
Meditation, especially passive meditation, brings us face to face with our
subconscious. Not unlike opening up a Pandora`s box full of mischief, if we are
not ready to encounter our inner selves, it could end up being a disastrous
experience instead of an enlightening one! And the most vulnerable seem to
be-people with overwhelming anxiety, who are emotionally or psychologically
disturbed, those who have problems accepting reality, people who suffer from
acute paranoia and even those who develop delusions of grandeur from the
altered states of consciousness that meditation tends to produce.
To avoid such psychosis or simply getting lost in our thoughts and ending up
confused and disturbed, it is necessary to begin meditation sessions with formal practice.
Different schools of thought prescribe different methods of such preparation,
but they all agree on the absolute necessity of concentration exercises preceding
meditation. These preparation techniques are as varied as praying, chanting
mantras, performing pranayama or even visualizing. Once the mind becomes
trained for concentration, actual formless or mindfulness meditation can proceed, such as sitting in
silence, practicing self-inquiry or performing devotional meditation.
While Hinduism-based schools of thought insist on a proper sattvic (pure or
ascetic) lifestyle as a primary condition to true meditation, Buddhist
mindfulness meditation prescribes contemplation on the
`Four Protections` and the `Nine Attributes` of the Buddha.
A helpful tip to keep in mind would be that ultimately meditation is all about being at peace with oneself. It cannot perform miracles
out of thin air. It does not solve problems magically. It`s simply a technique,
which acquaints you with the person you really are. And having gained that
timeless knowledge, it is you who will take that first step towards
self-transformation. Remember always that the technique of meditation is nothing more than a tool in your
HARNESSING THE MIND
Ways of harnessing the ever-changing, ever-shifting mind are as varied as the
different techniques of meditation. But by and large, they all practice mental
exercises, which aim at capturing the very nature of our minds. While the Buddhist
Satipatthana Sutra advices the meditator to be mindful of: the body, feelings,
the mind and mental objects—Patanjali`s Yoga
Sutra talks about the three techniques of: dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation)
and samadhi (absorption or enlightenment).
Dharana, the sixth limb of the Yoga
philosopher Patanjali`s Ashtanga Yoga, literally means `immovable concentration
of the mind`. The essential idea is to hold the concentration or focus of
attention in one direction. This is not the forced concentration of, for
example, solving a difficult mathematics problem; rather dharana is a form of
closer to the state of mind, which could be called receptive concentration.
In practicing dharana, conditions are created for the mind to focus its
attention in one direction instead of radiating out in a million different
directions. Deep contemplation and reflection usually creates the right conditions,
and the focus on a single chosen point becomes more intense. Concentrative
meditative techniques encourage one particular activity of the mind, and the
more intense it becomes the more the other preoccupation of the mind cease to
The objective in dharana is to steady the mind by focusing its attention upon
some stable entity. Before retracting his senses, on may practice focusing
attention on a single inanimate object. After the mind becomes prepared for
meditation, it is better able to focus efficiently on one subject or point of
experience. Now if the yogi chooses to focus on the center (chakra) of inner
energy flow, he/she can directly experience the physical and mental blocks and
imbalances that remain in his or her system. This ability to concentrate
depends on excellent psychological health and integration and is not an escape
from reality, but rather a movement towards the perception of the true nature of the Self.
Dhyana, the seventh limb of Ashtanga Yoga, means worship, or profound and
abstract religious meditation. It is perfect contemplation. It involves
concentration upon a point of focus with the intention of knowing the truth
During dhyana, combining clear insights into distinctions between objects and
the subtle layers surrounding intuition further unifies the consciousness. We
learn to differentiate between the mind of the perceiver, the means of
perception, and the objects perceived—between words, their meanings and ideas,
and even between all the levels of natural evolution. We realize that these are
all fused in an undifferentiated continuum. One must apprehend both subject and
object clearly in order to perceive their similarities. Thus dhyana is
apprehension of real identity among apparent differences.
During dharana, the mind becomes unidirectional, while during dhyana, it
becomes ostensibly identified and engaged with the object of focus or
attention. That is why, dharana must precede dhyana, since the mind needs
focusing on a particular object before a connection can be made. If dharana is
the contact, then dhyana is the connection.
Obviously, to focus the attention to one point will not result in insight or
realization. One must identify and become “one with” the object of
contemplation, in order to know for certain the truth about it. In dharana the
consciousness of the practitioner is fixed on one subject, but in dhyana it is
in one flow.
The final step in Ashtanga Yoga
is the attainment of samadhi. When we succeed in becoming so absorbed in
something that our mind becomes completely one with it, we are in a state of
samadhi. Samadhi means “to bring together, to merge”. In samadhi our
personal identities completely disappear. At the moment of samadhi none of that
exists anymore. We become one with the Divine Entity.
During samadhi, we realize what it is to be an identity without differences,
and how a liberated soul enjoys a pure awareness of this pure identity. The
conscious mind drops back into that unconscious oblivion from which it first
emerged. The final stage terminates at the instant the soul is freed. The
absolute and eternal freedom of an isolated soul is beyond all stages and
beyond all time and place. Once freed, it does not return to bondage.
The perfection of samadhi embraces and glorifies all aspects of the self by
subjecting them to the light of understanding. The person capable of samadhi
retains his/her individuality and person, but is free of the emotional
attachment to it.
ASPECTS AND APPROACHES
MEDITATION AS A THERAPY
Meditation has not only been used as an important therapy for psychological and
nervous disorders, from simple insomnia to severe emotional disturbances, but
lately physicians have also prescribed it for curing various physical ailments
as well. It is useful in chronic and debilitating diseases like allergies or
arthritis, in which stress or hypersensitivity of the nervous
system are involved. Regular meditation practices have also been known to
help in dealing with pain and a number of painful diseases, whether
chronic or acute. The act of meditation comes in useful because it helps
the mind to detach itself from all material and physical attachments—and that
is the ultimate cure for all diseases or at least the way to transcend them
when we cannot avoid them.
Research has found meditation, especially Transcendental Meditation, to be
extremely successful in treating physiological problems. Research on
Transcendental Meditation has been conducted at more than 200
universities, hospitals, and research institutions in 27 countries. As a
result, more than 500 research and review papers have been written covering a
wide variety of physiological, psychological, and sociological effects.
Transcendental Meditation allows mental activity to settle
down in a natural way while alertness is maintained and enhanced. Following Transcendental
Meditation, individuals have reported feeling refreshed physically as well as
mentally. The mind has become calmer and more alert, thinking clearer, and
energy levels have increased. Those with busy schedules have noted that
Transcendental Meditation brings increased efficiency in
activity; time is used more effectively. When mental and physical well being
are enhanced, personal relationships also improve, a commonly reported and
valued benefit of Transcendental Meditation.
Physiological research has shown that Transcendental Meditation gives rise to a state of deep rest
characterized by marked reductions in metabolic activity, increased orderliness
and integration of brain functioning, increased cerebral blood flow and
features directly opposite to the physiological and biochemical effects of
stress. Taken together, these studies clearly distinguish the physiology of
Transcendental Meditation from sleep or simple relaxation.
A review of research on behavioral therapy for hypertension concluded that
Transcendental Meditation provides an optimal non-clinical
treatment and preventive program for high blood pressure because the technique:
• produces rapid, clinically significant blood pressure reductions;
• is distinctly more effective than other meditation and relaxation procedures;
• is continued by a high proportion of subjects (in contrast to lower
continuation rates for relaxation techniques and the frequent problem of poor
compliance with anti-hypertensive drugs);
• has documented acceptability and effectiveness in a wide range of
• is effective in reducing high blood pressure both when used as sole treatment
and when used in concert with medication;
• reduces high blood pressure in `real life` environments outside the clinic;
• is free from harmful side-effects or adverse reactions;
• reduces other cardiovascular risk factors and improves health in a general way.
However, all forms of meditation are not good for everyone, any more
than all foods or herbs are. For this reason both yoga
and ayurveda recommends a proper lifestyle and an
integral approach to meditation that considers both our different
faculties as well as our individual nature.
MEDITATION AND PRAYER
People in the West are more familiar with prayer than meditation. Prayer is a
general term and many types of it exist, but the term usually refers to an
active form of meditation in which we project an
intention—calling on God to help us or our loved ones in some way.
Both ayurveda and yoga
use prayer (prarthana) along with mantra and meditation. Generally mantra is
energized prayer, a prayer or yogic wish directed by special sound patterns or
vibrations of the cosmic Word. Meditation is a silent or contemplative form
of prayer in which there may not be any movement of thought or intention.
Devotional meditation is an intensely personal matter and
is usually conditioned by one`s religious background. Other than worshipping
personal gods and deities who appeal to a particular person`s consciousness,
another important form of devotional worship is-the worship of planetary
deities and cosmic powers behind the forces of time and karma.
AFFIRMATION, AND VISUALIZATION
The use of affirmations goes along with prayer and meditation. Affirmations can
be employed to emphasize our relationship with the divine or our own inner healing powers. People suffering from negative
thoughts about themselves, are often trapped in self-doubt. Affirmations can be
very strengthening in such conditions.
Yet affirmations should lead to action and not substitute for it. To do
anything in life requires a belief that one can do it and
a positive intention to make the effort. In such cases one cannot use the
affirmation as an excuse for inaction.
Visualization goes along with prayer and meditation. One may visualize healed
and improved conditions that one wishes to achieve. One can also direct healing energy to those who are sicker or to
the parts of ones own body that need improvement. Such visualizations usually
employ certain colors and mantras to be directed along with the breath.
Visualizations can also be of deities or beautiful natural scenes to clear the
MEDITATION IN TRANSFORMATION
“As a man wishes in his heart, so is he.” We create our karma and
ourselves through our intentions at a deep level. Motivation or will is the
main mental action behind the creation of our beings, the deep-seated
conditionings behind the mind and heart.
While yoga cultivates the will for self-realization,
ayurveda cultivates the will of healing. A
statement of intentions should precede whatever action one decides to
undertake: “I intend to do the following action (in the following manner
for a specific period of time) in order to produce the following result.”
The path to self-transformation is like a plan or a strategy. No action is done
without the seeking of some sort of result. This result
depends upon the intention behind the action, not simply the superficiality of
what we do. Higher or spiritual actions seek a result that is not ego-bound,
like the development of consciousness and the alleviation of suffering for all
beings. Lower actions reflect ego desires—to get what we want; to accomplish,
achieve or gain for ourselves in some way or another. Spiritual motivations
direct us within and help liberate the soul. Ego-based motivations direct us
without and bind us further to the external world.
Self transformational motivation or will implies not only developing our own
will but also allying our will with the forces that can help it achieve its
aim. Therefore it involves a seeking of help, blessings or guidance. Such
motivations are generally projected as various affirmations and vows during
VARIOUS TECHNIQUES OF MEDITATION
There are many meditation techniques. Some of the techniques
are quite simple and can be picked up with a little practice. Others require
training by an experienced instructor. It is important to note that because of
the effects of meditation on repressed memories and the
resulting psychological impact, a first time meditator may go through some
discomfort initially; hence it is always a good idea to be under the care of a
qualified practitioner as one starts to meditate.
In Christian spiritual training, meditation means thinking with concentration
about some topic. In the Eastern sense, meditation may be viewed as the opposite of
thinking about a topic. Here the objective is to become detached from thoughts
and images and opening up silent gaps between them. The result is a quietening
of our mind and is sometimes called relaxation response. In Christian mystical
practice, this practice is called `contemplation`.
But whatever the technique of meditation, the following aspects are generally
common to all of them:
The best environment for the practice of meditation is a quiet place with minimum
distractions. It sometimes helps to set up a meditating room with special
pictures, icons, holy books or even burning incense sticks and soothing music in order to infuse the atmosphere with
spiritual energy. It is best to sit in a well ventilated room, which receives
The best attitude to follow while practicing meditation is that of a receptive observer.
Try to observe either the mind or the immediate physical environment, without
thinking anything in particular. Watch the mind slowly empty itself out.
Assuming a certain posture has been central to many meditation techniques. Classic postures,
integral to Hatha Yoga, are given in the Yoga
Sutras of Patanjali, which codify ancient yogic healing practices. Other postures appear in
the Kum Nye holistic healing system of Tibet, in Islamic prayer,
and in Gurdjieff movements. Posture is considered very important in Zen
Buddhist practice as well.
A major characteristic of prescribed meditation postures in many traditions is that
the spine is kept straight. This is true in Hindu and Buddhist yogas, in the
Christian attitude of kneeling prayer, in the Egyptian sitting position, and in
the Taoist standing meditation of “embracing the
pillar.” People with misalignments may feel uncomfortable in the beginning
when assuming these postures. The spine is put back into a structurally sound
line, and the weight of the body distributed around it in a balanced pattern in
which gravity, not muscular tension, is the primary influence. It is possible,
although it has not been conclusively proven that this postural realignment
affects the state of mind.
In the East, the cross-legged postures, with head and back in vertical line,
are considered ideal for meditation. In the classic the Lotus posture, when the
legs are crossed with the feet on the thighs, right feeling of poised sitting
for meditation is imparted. These postures are
difficult and even painful at first for those who are not familiar with them.
For such inexperienced individuals, two other traditional Eastern postures—half
lotus posture and the Burmese posture—are usually much easier to follow. For
those who prefer to meditate while sitting on a chair, there is the Egyptian
ELEMENTS OF CONCENTRATION
In Hindu meditative techniques, the object the attention dwells on is often a
mantra, usually a Sanskrit word or syllable. Usually the meditator repeats an
affirmation to increase positive spiritual energies. Alternately prayers or are
often said for calming the mind. Various short rituals are also prescribed before meditation,
such as making offerings of fragrant oils (for earth elements), holy water
(element of water), lamps (fire), incense (air) and flowers or garlands
(ether). These rituals help in cleansing the psychic energy
and preparing the mind for meditation.
In Buddhism, the focus of attention is often the meditator`s own breathing, a
luminous sphere or a translucent Buddha Statue. Some traditional Buddhist
meditations follow forty concentration devices or meditation subjects for tranquilizing the mind
as prescribed by the Buddha These are the ten recollections (anussati), ten
meditations on impurities (asubha) , ten complete objects (kasina), four
immaterial absorption (arupajhana), four divine abiding (brahmavihara), one
perception (ahare patikulasanna) or contemplation of the impurity of material
food, and one defining contemplation (vavatthana) on the Four Elements (earth,
water, fire, and air).
It is always recommended that meditation be practiced daily, twice a day for
best results. Beginners are recommended to meditate for about half an hour
daily. Later when one gets used to the practice, one hour is ideal.
Hindu methods of meditation prescribes about a quarter of an
hour for performing pranayama, the same for mantras and the same for silent or
devotional meditation. What is emphasized is the regularity of practice at all
The entire process of meditation usually entails the three stages of
concentration, meditation and enlightenment or absorption. The meditator
starts off by concentrating on a certain point. Once attention gets engaged,
concentration turns into meditation. And through continuous meditation, the
meditator merges with the object of concentration, which might either be the
present moment or the Divine Entity.
In some branches of Indian philosopohy, direct perception from the inner self
(mana) together with perception that is filtered through the five senses
(pancha indriya) form a part of their valid epistemology (pratyaksha jnana).
And this self-realization or self-awareness (as popularized by Paramahansa Yogananda), is nothing but the
knowledge of the “pure being”—the Self.
Humanity is increasingly turning towards various meditative techniques in order
to cope with the increasing stress of modern-day lifestyles. Unable to
locate stability in the outside world, people have directed their gaze inwards
in a bid to attain peace of mind. Modern psychotherapists have
begun to discover various therapeutic benefits of meditation practices. The state of relaxation
and the altered state of consciousness—both induced by meditation—are
especially effective in psychotherapy.
Meditation is not necessarily a religious practice, but because of its
spiritual element it forms an integral part of most religions. And even though
the basic objective of most meditation styles remain the same and are
performed in a state of inner and outer stillness, they all vary according to
the specific religious framework within which they are placed. Preparation,
posture, length of period of meditation, particular verbal or visual
elements—all contribute to the various forms of meditation. Some of the more
popular methods are, Transcendental Meditation, yoga
nidra, vipassana and mindfulness meditation.
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib informs “Remember in
meditation the Almighty Lord, every moment and every instant; meditate on God
in the celestial peace of Samadhi.” (p 508). So to meditate and remember
the Almighty at all times in one’s mind takes the person into a state of Samadhi.
Also “I am attached to God in celestial Samadhi.” (p 865) tells us that by
carrying out the correct practices, the mind reaches a higher plane of
awareness or Samadhi. The Sikh Scriptures advises the Sikh to keep the mind
aware and the consciousness focused on the Lord at all times thus: “The most
worthy Samadhi is to keep the consciousness stable and focused on Him.” (p 932)
The term Samadhi refers to a state of mind rather than a
physical position of the body. Although, it has to said that you can sit in
mediation and also be in a state of Samadhi. The Scriptures explain: “I am
absorbed in celestial Samadhi, lovingly attached to the Lord forever. I live by
singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord” (p 1232) and also “Night and day,
they ravish and enjoy the Lord within their hearts; they are intuitively
absorbed in Samadhi. ||2||” (p 1259). Further, the Sikh Gurus
inform their followers: “Some remain absorbed in Samadhi, their minds fixed
lovingly on the One Lord; they reflect only on the Word of the Shabad.” (p503)
Samadhi (Sanskrit: समाधि) in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna.
In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras
It has been described as a
non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the
experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object,
and in which the mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated
while the person remains conscious. In Buddhism, it can also refer to an
abiding in which mind becomes very still but does not merge with the object of
attention, and is thus able to observe and gain insight into the changing flow
Samadhi (समाधि samādhi,
Hindi pronunciation: [səˈmaːd̪ʱi])
is the state of consciousness induced by complete meditation. The term’s etymology
involves “sam” (together or integrated), “ā”
(towards), and “dhā” (to get, to hold). Thus the result might
be seen to be “to acquire integration or wholeness, or truth” (samāpatti).
Another possible etymological analysis of “samādhi” is “samā”
(even) and “dhi” (intellect), a state of total equilibrium
(”samā“) of a detached intellect (”dhi“).
Samādhi is the main subject of the first part of the Yoga Sūtras
called Samādhi-pada. Vyāsa, a major figure in Hinduism and one of the traditional
authors of the Mahābharata, says in his commentary on verse 1.1 of the Yoga Sūtras
that “yoga is samādhi.”
This is generally interpreted to mean that samādhi is a state of
complete control (samadhana) over the functions and distractions of
Samādhi is described in different
ways within Hinduism such as the state of being aware of one’s existence
without thinking, in a state of undifferentiated “beingness” or as an
altered state of consciousness that is characterized by bliss (ānanda) and joy (sukha). Nisargadatta Maharaj describes the state in the following manner:
When you say you sit for meditation,
the first thing to be done is understand that it is not this body
identification that is sitting for meditation, but this knowledge ‘I am’, this
consciousness, which is sitting in meditation and is meditating on itself. When
this is finally understood, then it becomes easy. When this consciousness, this
conscious presence, merges in itself, the state of ‘Samadhi’ ensues. It is the
conceptual feeling that I exist that disappears and merges into the beingness
itself. So this conscious presence also gets merged into that knowledge, that
beingness – that is ‘Samadhi’.
The initial experience of it is
enlightenment and it is the beginning of the process of meditating to attain
self-realization (tapas). “There is a difference between the
enlightenment of samādhi and self-realization. When a person achieves
enlightenment, that person starts doing tapas to realize the self.”
Entering samādhi initially
takes great willpower and maintaining it takes even more will. The beginning
stages of samādhi (laya and savikalpa samādhi) are only
temporary. By “effort” it is not meant that the mind has to work
more. Instead, it means work to control the mind and release the self. Note
that normal levels of meditation (mostly the lower levels) can be held
automatically, as in “being in the state of meditation” rather than
needed] The ability to obtain positive results from meditation is
much more difficult than simply meditating.[clarification
needed] It is recommended to find a qualified spiritual master (guru or yogi) who can teach a meditator about the workings of the mind.
As one self-realized yogi explained, “You can meditate but after some time
you will get stuck at some point. That is the time you need a guru. Otherwise,
without a Guru, there is no chance.”
Samādhi is the only stable unchanging reality; all else is
ever-changing and does not bring everlasting peace or happiness.
Staying in nirvikalpa samādhi
is effortless but even from this condition one must eventually return to
ego-consciousness. Otherwise this highest level of samādhi leads to nirvāṇa, which means total unity, the logical end of individual
identity and also death of the body. However, it is entirely possible to stay
in nirvikalpa samādhi and yet be fully functional in this world. This
condition is known as sahājā nirvikalpa samādhi or sahājā samādhi.
According to Ramana Maharshi, “Remaining in the primal, pure natural state without
effort is sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi“.
of Yoga define samādhi
as “complete absorption into the object of one’s love (Krishna).”
Rather than thinking of “nothing,” true samādhi is said to be
achieved only when one has pure, unmotivated love of God. Thus samādhi
can be entered into through meditation on the personal form of God. Even while
performing daily activities a practitioner can strive for full samādhi.
“Anyone who is thinking of
Krishna always within himself, he is first-class yogi.” If you want
perfection in yoga system, don’t be satisfied only by practicing a course of
asana. You have to go further. Actually, the perfection of yoga system means
when you are in samadhi, always thinking of the Visnu form of the Lord within
your heart, without being disturbed… Controlling all the senses and the mind.
You have to control the mind, control the senses, and concentrate everything on
the form of Vishnu.
That is called perfection of yoga” - A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
“Meditation means to absorb
your mind in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is meditation, real
meditation. In all the standard scriptures and in yoga practice formula, the
whole aim is to concentrate one’s mind in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
That is called samadhi, samadhi, ecstasy. So that ecstasy is immediately
brought by this chanting process. You begin chanting and hear
for the few seconds or few minutes: you immediately become on the platform of
ecstasy.” - A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Bhava Samadhi is a state of
ecstatic consciousness that can sometimes be a seemingly spontaneous
experience, but is recognized generally to be the culmination of long periods
of devotional practices.
Shivabalayogi explained that bhava samādhi awakens spiritual awareness,
brings about healing, and deepens meditation.bhava
samadhi” denotes an advanced spiritual state in which the emotions of
the mind are channelled into one-pointed concentration and the practitioner
experiences devotional ecstasy. Bhava
samadhi has been experienced by notable figures in Indian spiritual
history, including Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and some of his
Mahaprabhu and his chief disciple Nityananda, Mirabai and
numerous saints in the bhakti tradition.
See also: Sallekhana
Yogis are said to attain the final liberation or videha
mukti after leaving their bodies at the time of death. It is at this
time that the soul knows a complete and unbroken union with the divine, and,
being free from the limitations of the body, merges effortlessly into the
transcendent Self. Mahāsamādhi (literally great samādhi) is a
term often used for this final absorption into the Self at death.
Samādhi mandir is also the Hindi name for a
temple commemorating the dead (similar to a mausoleum),
which may or may not contain the body of the deceased. Samādhi sites are
often built in this way to honour people regarded as saints or gurus in Hindu religious
traditions, wherein such souls are said to have passed into mahā-samādhi,
(or were already in) samādhi at the time of death.
I. K. Taimni, in The Science of
Taimni’s commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, provides a lucid and precise
understanding of samadhi. In simple terms, Taimni defines samadhi as
“knowing by becoming”. Samadhi, as pointed out above, is the eighth
arm of Patanjali’s Ashtanga (eight limbed) yoga. The last three of the eight
limbs are called Antaranga, or Internal yoga, meaning they occur solely in the
mind of the yogin. The three limbs are: dharana, dhyana and samadhi. Together,
the three are collectively called samyama. Dharana, dhyana and samadhi are sometimes
translated as concentration, contemplation, and meditation, respectively. These
translations do not shed any light on the nature of dharana, dhyana and
samadhi. Dharana, dhyana and samadhi are altered states of consciousness and
have no direct counter-part in normal waking experience, according to Taimni’s
explanation of them.
According to Taimni, dharana, dhyana and samadhi form a graded series.
Dharana. In dharana, the mind
learns to focus on a single object of thought. The object of focus is called a
pratyaya. In dharana, the yogi learns to prevent other thoughts from intruding
on focusing awareness on the pratyaya.
Dhyana. Over time and with
practice, the yogin learns to sustain awareness of only the pratyaya, thereby
dharana transforms into dhyana. In dhyana, the yogin comes to realize the
triplicity of perceiver (the yogin), perceived (the pratyaya) and the act of
perceiving. The new element added to the practice of dhyana, that distinguish
it from dharana is the yogin learns to minimize the perceiver element of this
triplicity. In this fashion, dhyana is the gradual minimization of the
perceiver, or the fusion of the observer with the observed (the pratyaya).
Samadhi. When the yogin can: (1)
sustain focus on the pratyaya for an extended period of time, and (2) minimize
his or her self-consciousness during the practice, then dhyana transforms into
samadhi. In this fashion then, the yogin becomes fused with the pratyaya.
Patnajali compares this to placing a transparent jewel on a colored surface: the
jewel takes on the color of the surface. Similarly, in samadhi, the
consciousness of the yogin fuses with the object of thought, the pratyaya. The
pratyaya is like the colored surface, and the yogin’s consciousness is like the
Samadhi can be compared to normal thought as a laser beam can be compared to
normal light. Normal light is diffuse. A laser beam is highly concentrated
light. The laser beam contains power that normal light does not. Similarly,
samadhi is the mind in its most concentrated state. The mind in samadhi possess
power than a normal mind does not. This power is used by the yogin to reveal
the essence of the pratyaya. This essence is called the artha of the pratyaya.
The release of the artha of the pratyaya is similar to cracking open the shell
of a seed to discover the essential elements of the seed, the genetic material,
protected by the shell.
Once perfected, samadhi is the main tool used by a yogin to penetrate into
the deeper layers of consciousness and seek the center of the yogin’s
consciousness. Upon finding this center, the final act is using a variant form
of samadhi, called dharma mega samadhi, to penetrate the center of
consciousness and emerge through this center into Kaivalya. Kaivalya is the
term used by Patanjali to designate the state of Absolute consciousness free
from all fetters and limitations.
Thus it can be seen that, according to Taimni’s interpretation of the Yoga
Sutras, samadhi is the main tool the yogin uses to achieve the end goal of
yoga, the joining of the individual self with the Universal Absolute.