Last November I read something on a blog I follow and I’d like to share here now. The post can be found by clicking here and deals with the idea of Samadhi. The author writes about a spiritual idea that is often thought to be the culmination of lots of hard work – I think I’ve written about it, too, but this author does really well at touching on something in a meaningful way but without digging so deep that the reader tunes it all out.
In Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness, we can trace some of our foundation to the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and anyone who has studied the broader yoga umbrella and what falls under it will be familiar with the term samadhi. My own understanding of the word, when I first came to Hinduism, was that samadhi is THE highest attainment and means the truest and most complete liberation. It’s The Goal. Synonymous with words like moksha. Stepping off of the samsaric wheel. No more karma, either good or bad. No more samskara. No more anything. Sometimes I’d read that it just meant someone died.
I think there are applications of samadhi, as a word, that still carries all that just fine. But my understanding has evolved. For abhyasis practicing Heartfulness, samadhi isn’t really The Goal. It’s an attainment and a great sign post of one’s personal development and evolution as a human. And I’d say this largely matches what Yogibattle has communicated. And I agree with him that it is possible that one can experience samadhi while in everyday life. From a linguistic standpoint samadhi does communicate the essence of yoga which is union. Here, samadhi gets extra fancy in that is implies a sort of ultimate freedom – but through ultimate union.
Various interpretations for the term’s etymology are possible:
- sam, “together”; a, “toward”; stem of dadhati, “puts, places”: “a putting or joining together;”[web 1]
- sam, “together” or “integrated”; ā, “towards”; dhā, “to get, to hold”: “to acquire integration or wholeness, or truth” (samāpatti);
- sam, “uniformly” or “fully”; adhi, “to get established: : a state wherein one establishes himself to the fullest extent in the Supreme consciousness;
- samā, “even”; dhi, “intellect”: a state of total equilibrium of a detached intellect.
- sam, “perfect,” “complete.” dhi, “consciousness”: a state of being where “all distinctions between the person who is the subjective meditator, the act of meditation and the object of meditation merge into oneness.”
The above excerpt from Wikipedia (I know, I know – whatever) does well at highlighting the “union” aspect of samadhi. You see words and phrases like “together,” “integrated,” and “merge into oneness.” But it’s through this union (a form of binding, being bound) that expansive freedom is experienced and that is the essence, peace, hope, and purpose of yoga and spirituality associated with yoga.
Yogibattle details some of what Patanjali has said about samadhi and I’ll let you spend a few minutes reading his post which I’ve linked to earlier in this post. Samadhi, clearly, is something achievable by austere renunciates escaping everyday life AND the householder / grhasta who operates within worldly living. He also rightly points out how natural and therefore automatic samadhi is and that it isn’t really something one “does.” (This should parallel teachings on meditation where you don’t forcefully clear your mind – but it happens.) He says, “I have an inkling that Samadhi hits us when we are not trying to achieve Samadhi. If you are in your natural state doing your dharma without any expectation, I think you are ripe for the experience.” That means this is probably not at all far removed from times when someone is “in the zone” – when hatha yogis are flowing in and through asana as much as the asana is flowing in and through them. When athletes perform in ways that seem super human. When mothers are mothering like no other mother.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti