What is Samadhi - The 8th Limb of Yoga?
Love, freedom & unification
So what does Samadhi - the 8th Limb of Yoga - or Enlightenment, Self-Realization, Self-Actualization, Integration or Absorption really mean?
“It’s by going into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure” ~ Joseph Campbell - professor of literature, comparative mythology and religion.
The Sanskrit word samadhi is made up of two terms, sama meaning equanimity and dhi meaning buddhi or the intellect. If you reach an equanimous state of intellect, you have equal states of consciousness and the joining of all aspects of our being: physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional. In this blog, I delve into the essence of Samadhi, its significance, and the transformative power it holds for those who traverse its path.
A profound state of consciousness
Samadhi is a term commonly used in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Yoga to refer to a state of deep meditative absorption or union with the divine. It is considered a profound state of consciousness and experience a sense of oneness with the object of meditation or the ultimate reality.
- In Hinduism, Samadhi is one of the eight limbs of yoga as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. It is the final stage of meditation, where the practitioner transcends the boundaries of the individual self and merges with the universal consciousness.
- In Buddhism, Samadhi is one of the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path and is associated with the development of concentration and mental focus. It is considered an essential step towards achieving enlightenment and liberation from suffering.
The experience of Samadhi is characterized by a complete absorption of the mind, where all dualistic and discursive thoughts cease to exist. The meditator may experience a deep sense of tranquility, bliss, and a direct realization of the true nature of reality. It is often described as a state of profound peace, clarity, and unity.
Samadhi can vary from person to person
It's important to note that the experience of Samadhi can vary from person to person and there are different levels or degrees of Samadhi. Some may experience temporary states of Samadhi during meditation, while others may achieve more advanced and prolonged states through dedicated practice and spiritual development.
In the journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth, the concept of Samadhi shines as a beacon of profound transformation. Revered by practitioners of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Yoga, Samadhi represents the pinnacle of meditative absorption, where one transcends the limitations of the self and merges with the infinite.
"If you transcend the intellect, you become equanimous. This does not mean you lose the ability to discriminate. If you lose the discriminatory intellect, you will become insane. In a samadhi state, your discriminatory intellect is perfectly in shape but at the same time you have transcended it. You are not making a distinction – you are simply here, seeing life in its true working. Everything becomes one whole, which is the reality. A state like this gives you an experience of the oneness of the existence, the unification of everything that is." ~ Sadguru, philanthropist, spiritual leader, and author.
The Nature of Samadhi:
Samadhi, at its core, is a state of deep meditative absorption that engenders a profound sense of unity and oneness. It goes beyond the ordinary realm of consciousness, allowing practitioners to transcend the incessant chatter of the mind and access a state of pure awareness. In Samadhi, the boundaries of the ego dissolve, and one merges with the object of meditation or the ultimate reality.
The Paths to Samadhi:
Samadhi can be pursued through various spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. The ancient sage Patanjali described Samadhi as the eighth and final limb of yoga in his Yoga Sutras. By practicing the preceding limbs, including ethical principles (1: Yamas), personal observances (2: Niyamas), physical postures (3: Asanas), breath control (4: Pranayama), and withdrawal of the senses (5: Pratyahara), (6: Dharana) deep concentration on one thing, or active forms of meditation, and (7: Dhyana) passive meditation sitting in stillness and silence, you are cultivating the necessary foundation for entering (8: Samadhi) or an enlightened state of existence.
In Buddhism, Samadhi is an integral component of the Noble Eightfold Path. Through mindfulness, concentration, and deep contemplation, practitioners develop the ability to focus their minds and achieve a state of meditative absorption, leading to profound insight and liberation from suffering.
The Levels of Samadhi:
Samadhi is not a monolithic experience but rather a spectrum of states, ranging from initial glimpses to advanced levels of absorption. At the beginning stages, practitioners may encounter fleeting moments of Samadhi, where the mind becomes temporarily free from distractions and experiences a sense of calmness and clarity. With dedicated practice, these glimpses can deepen and evolve into more profound and sustained states of Samadhi, characterized by a complete dissolution of the egoic self and a direct experience of unity with the divine or ultimate reality.
The Benefits of Samadhi:
The practice of Samadhi offers a multitude of benefits for those who embark on its path. By cultivating a focused and concentrated mind, practitioners enhance their ability to navigate the challenges of daily life with greater clarity, insight, and equanimity. Samadhi can also bring about a deep sense of peace, joy, and inner fulfillment, as one transcends the limitations of the ego and taps into the wellspring of divine consciousness within.
Moreover, Samadhi serves as a gateway to spiritual awakening and self-realization. Through the direct experience of oneness, practitioners gain profound insights into the nature of reality, the interconnectedness of all beings, and the impermanent and illusory nature of the ego. This transformative understanding can lead to a profound shift in one's perception, values, and actions, ultimately fostering greater compassion, wisdom, and a sense of purpose in life.
The 8th Limb of Yoga - Samadhi - stands as a sacred and transformative state of consciousness, beckoning those on the spiritual path to dive deep within themselves and discover the boundless nature of their being. It’s absorption into the present moment, a pure state of being where you are no longer a prisoner of the past or future. As practitioners cultivate the necessary foundation through dedicated spiritual practices, Samadhi unveils its treasures, worth more than gold, offering glimpses of unity, love, peace, freedom and transcendence. It’s devotion to this ever evolving life journey that if you are brave enough to embark on, will take you on a physical, mental and emotional roller coaster, requiring patience, discipline, and a willingness to surrender to the profound mysteries of existence.
May we all find the courage to embark on this life-long journey.
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