The hidden message of samadhi

Lately, the inside of my backpack has begun to resemble a dystopian coral reef, full of bent notecard, used batteries, bicycle repair trinkets and half-melted cough drops. Nearing the bottom of my annual excavation project, an eloquent prose emerges. Somehow, the dogeared condition of the message makes its meaning even more endearing. I will do my best to interpret my own sloppy hand writing for you.

“To practice pratyahara is to untether the senses. Dissociation of each faculty has to occur. Only then can individual consciousness dissolve again into pure source, and be renewed. Unless the mind is crystal clear, free from gross modifications, of fluctuation and desire; concentration, meditation, and samadhi (i.e. the outer limbs of ashtanga yoga) cannot take place. Samadhi means ‘equal reflection’ and dawns when the individual mind and higher being (i.e. atman) unite. Samadhi is progressive, transcending the aspects of object, motion, thought, and instinct. In the first stage (savitarka) mind is absorbed in the object, subject, and perception, thereby dissolving their distinctions. Samadhi, proceeds beyond awareness of the physical, energetic and mental identity and develops into intuition of intellect (vijnanamaya kosha). Past this vail lies complete stillness of everything, on the threshold of liberation (nirbeeja), but there is a gap (shoonya). The gap is oneself for which there is no experience: void. Insight on the dynamic potential of individual existence, that which [Zen] Buddhists call ‘non-self,’ helps. It is a promise that higher realms of samadhi (nirvikalpa) may dawn before us.”

Picture 096
Ascetic in Siddhasana. Available from; Yoga: The Art of Transformation

I recall writing these inspired words after reading the final chapter of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Please keep in mind that this message is merely my humble attempt to make personal sense of the major stages in the progression of samadhi. In other words, this message is influenced to a large degree on my own subtle awakenings. For example, the Pradipika says nothing about Buddhism, per say, but I cannot overlook the perspective which Zen dhyana affords me. Also, there are actually many other stages of samadhi described in the Pradipika which I did not bother to mention. In a certain sense, my prose presents a rough picture of samadhi built up from coarse brushstrokes. Albeit, I hope it is treated with the sort of skeptical adoration typically reserved for honest stream of consciousness writing. The ability to fashion words together in order to describe the state of samadhi presents as its own paradox worthy of discussion.


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