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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Samadhi

(Samādhi)The highest state of consciousness in yoga, where the ego or cognizer is no longer separate from the cognized. There are several stages of samadhi as explained in the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali. It is preceded by seven stages of preparation or practice, namely, yama (restraints), niyama (observances), pranayama (control of prana through breathing), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation). All together, they form the eight limbs of yoga.

Samadhi can be with seed (sabija samadhi) or without seed (nirbija samadhi). This is also referred to as savikalpa and nirvikalpa samadhi. In the process of attaining sabija samadhi, the meditator undergoes substages, such as savitarka samapatti, or a state of equilibrium in meditating on gross objects, and savicara samapatti, which is the equilibrium when focusing on subtle objects. In the latter process, the meditator experiences the dawning of inner spiritual light, or the emergence of prajña, which is intuitive wisdom. Prajña is different from samadhi. Thus the essential nature of satori in Zen meditation is different from samadhi.

The triple process of concentration, meditation and samadhi constitute samyama. Patañjali states that when samyama is done on specific objects or themes, certain faculties or capacities are developed in the yogi. For example, samyama on sound enables the yogi to comprehend the sounds made by any living thing; samyama on karma enables the yogi to know one’s time of death, etc.

In the process of raising one’s consciousness from the lower mental to the atmic level, the consciousness goes through another class of stages called samprajñata and asamprajñata stages. Samprajñata means a state of consciousness with objects (visaya) as perceived in one particular level of consciousness, such as the lower mental. As one enters a laya or zero point between one level to another (such as from the lower mental to the higher mental), the meditator passes through a cloud where there is temporarily no content or pratyaya. This cloud is the asamprajñata state.

The attainment of samadhi constitutes a major stage towards attaining ultimate liberation from the round of birth and death, called in Yoga kaivalya (lit. “isolation” or “detachment”).

See RAJA YOGA; SAMAPATTI

 

V.H.C.

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