The Yoga Tutor

The Nature of Samadhi

[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 531 ]

The highest state of consciousness in yoga is called samadhi, or "Cosmic Consciousness." Within this state, it is as though the mind has been transcended and the typical mental states no longer exist. That which has previously been identified as the essence of one's being -- their thoughts, feelings, sense of awareness and entire mental structure -- becomes 'at one' with the Self (atman).

This is reflected precisely within the Sanskrit term samadhi, which come from the roots sama (same, or oneness) and adhi (highest) -- literally translated as "the same as (or at One with) the Highest (Self)."

This state has been referred to in various ways, such as Superconsciousness, union of the individual Consciousness with the Universal Consciousness, etc. Regardless, it conveys the notion that all of the experiences of the lower mind, those of a sensorial nature, logical reasoning, etc have been eliminated producing a state which could only be described as super-sensory, extra-rational, or supra-mental.

This highest state of being has often been described as ecstasy, but Swami Gitananda makes an interesting observation about this reference. He points out that the word ecstasy comes from the Greek extasis, which literally means "moving outwards from stasis." He suggests, rather, that 'enstasy' would more accurately reflect the 'moving into Higher Consciousness' that occurs in samadhi.

Instead of an explosion, or 'blowing of the mind outward', samadhi could more rightly be understood as an 'implosion', or a 'bursting inward'.

In the Yoga Sutras, Sage Patanjali speaks frequently of the state of samadhi, and the experienced student will soon discover that it takes careful study in order to grasp its essential nature and technique. In "Samadhi Pada," Sutra 41, the sage gives perhaps his best over-all description of this profound state:

Translation - Just as the pure crystal assumes shapes and colours of objects placed near to it, so too the yogi's mind, whose chitta-vrittis (modifications) have been almost totally annihilated, becomes clear and balanced and thus attains a state devoid of differentiation between the 'knower', the 'knowable', and the 'known'. This culmination of meditation is samadhi.


NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.

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