Saturday, September 19, 2015

What is Samadhi? Meditation? Concentration? by Swami Chidananda

What is Samadhi? Meditation? Concentration?
by Swami Chidananda

Now, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi (concentration, meditation and trance), constitute the last three Angas (limbs or steps) of Patanjali Maharshi’s Ashtanga Yoga (Yoga of eight limbs: 1. Yama, 2.Niyama, 3. Asana, 4. Pranayama, 5. Pratyahara, 6. Dharana, 7. Meditation, 8. Samadhi).
The last three Angas (three last steps are Dharana-concentration, Dhyana-meditation and Samadhi-trance, ultimately lead to the supreme state of superconsciousness. .
Now, Patanjali is quite matter-of-fact and specific when he gives us an idea of what these last three practices constitute. If you are able to sit, withdraw the mind and fix it upon a focal point within—it may be gross, subtle or anything—and if you are able to keep the mind fixed like that for a period of twelve Matras—a Matra is approximately a moment, a second—it is counted as one concentration. The Yogic time-calculation is usually stated in Matras and a Matra may be taken roughly as a second. If you can keep the mind steady without moving, without any contrary thoughts coming in, and without moving away from the object of concentration, for a period of twelve Matras, it is regarded as one Dharana or one concentration. Thus, Dharana is actually calculated upon the basis of a steady fixation of the mind or a steady focussing of the mind upon one point. And it should be your endeavour to keep the mind steady like that for twelve seconds at least. Then it is one Dharana.
Go on practising this Dharana for days and weeks and months so that it becomes longer and longer. How long? By continuous practice, if you are able to keep the mind focussed upon one single point without moving here or there, for 144 seconds or a period of twelve Dharanas, then this continuous unbroken concentration of the mind for 144 seconds is termed a Dhyana. So, if you have concentrated for 144 seconds without break, you are already a Dhyani or a Dhyana Yogi. You have reached the stage of Dhyana. And in this way, if you are able to sit, concentrate and enter into Dhyana and keep on meditating, without disturbance, without distraction, keep on meditating, for a minimum of almost half an hour, but not quite, if you are able to sit for that duration absolutely absorbed in your meditation, then that is Samadhi. Actually, in Patanjali’s system, 12 continuous, unbroken concentrations make one meditation, and 12 continuous, unbroken meditations make one Samadhi. Now, meditation means continuous concentration of the mind upon one idea to the exclusion of all other ideas. There should be only one idea. There should be only one thought. There should be only one Vritti—Ekakara Vritti. No second Vritti should be there.
And if you are able to be in that state of one Vritti (Thought-wave, mental modification) continuously for nearly half an hour, then it is Samadhi. It is one Samadhi. Now, you can understand whether Yoga is easy or not so easy. You can try to understand. This is Yoga. Samadhi is 27 minutes of absolutely unbroken, undisturbed concentration. That is to say, it constitutes a continuous process of 12 meditations, each meditation being of 144 seconds’ duration. And when the Yogi has been able to attain to a state of successful practice of Samadhi, then he has no other Yoga, no other Abhyasa (practice), except to go on practising Samadhi. That is why the Yogis seclude themselves. They keep alone, they do not court disturbance, they do not see anyone but go on practising Samadhi. They go on practising Samadhi so that the Samadhi becomes longer and longer. The Samadhi becomes more in number. One Samadhi, two Samadhis, three Samadhis—they go on practising until the Samadhi itself becomes deeper and deeper, and more and more intense, and the body is not felt. That is Yogabhyasa (continuous practice).
Samadhi (trance) is not super-consciousness; it is wrong to translate Samadhi as super-consciousness. Samadhi is only trance, and if you go on practising that trance again and again, daily, many times a day, over a long period of time, then this constant diligent practice of Samadhi or practice of trance may ultimately take you into a state completely transcending the individual consciousness, transcending the body, mind and intellectual consciousness, going completely beyond, where you completely cross beyond this circle of the threefold recurring states of Jagrat (waking state), Svapna (dream sate) and Sushupti (deep sleep state). So, you go beyond the three states of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep and hit the substratum (pure consciousness, Atman or Brahman), that which is the basis for all these three states, upon which these three states keep on, just as upon a screen a movie reel unrolls and goes on. 
 On the movie screen, some scenes come out in black and white, some are coloured, and yet others are technicoloured. A moonlight scene may be only blue, while some other scene may be in technicolour—each flower and each dress having its own colour. But upon what substratum do these changing pictures appear? Upon the substratum of the unchanging permanent screen which is behind. If the permanent screen were not there, neither the ordinary black and white scene could be projected, nor the coloured scene, nor the multicoloured or technicoloured scene. All three would be impossible. Because the screen is there, these things are made possible. Even so, because the pure consciousness or awareness is there, these three ever-changing states of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep find it possible to manifest. So, the support and substratum of the ever-recurring and ever-changeful threefold state or Avastha-Traya(Three states of consciousness, waking, dreaming and deep sleep) is the Turiya Avastha (the fourth state), the permanent, existence-consciousness principle which is the Purusha(The Supreme Being). Existence-consciousness or Sat-Chit which is unchanging, which is permanent, supports all the three states. Existence-consciousness is super-consciousness.

So, Samadhi is trance. Samadhi is still one process or one Anga (step) of Yogabhyasa(Yogic practice). Samadhi is not the ultimate goal. Various types of Samadhi have to be practised until your Samadhi becomes longer and longer in duration, deeper and deeper in intensity, until you become well established in the practice of Samadhi. This is Raja Yoga. So, the meaning in which different terms are used should be clear to your mind.
By continuous, diligent practice of Samadhi, it becomes longer in duration, deeper in intensity, and then you become well established in that state. Gradually you pass through different states of Samadhi and you ultimately reach a state of Samadhi where there is absolutely no movement of the mind at all. The mind comes to a total standstill and there is not even metaphysical movement. There is not even the consideration of the Absolute, that it is Sat, that it is Chit, that it is Ananda, that it is beyond time, space and causation, that it is beginningless and endless. Even these considerations are not present any longer. In that process of holding on to the awareness of the Supreme, there is only Absolute Awareness. That is called Nirvikalpa Samadhi and it is when the Yogi is able to practise Nirvikalpa Samadhi for a long time that he goes beyond even Samadhi and attains to the state of Turiyatita Avastha where he obtains Kaivalya (supreme liberation, supreme independence). This, therefore, is the process. 
Such a state of concentration is possible only for a mind that has become very refined, a mind that has been rendered subtle, rendered fine. If there are gross sensual thoughts, then the mind is not refined; it is still gross. If there are thoughts of love and hate and anger and jealousy and envy and vengefulness, the mind is gross. If there is always concentration upon eating and drinking and enjoying and cinema and radio, then the mind is gross. If the mind always thinks of objects, always thinks about worldly things—gossip, scandal and newspaper—then the mind is gross; the mind is not subtle.
A pure and subtle mind, the most important factors for meditation
Two things are necessary for successful concentration, and it goes without saying, for meditation and Samadhi. The mind must be subtle and the mind must be pure. In Yogic terminology, when we say that the mind must be pure, we mean that the mind must be Sattvic. Sattva and purity are synonymous. The mind must not beRajasic and Tamasic; it should be Sattvic. Only the Sattvic Bhava should come. Sattvic thoughts, Sattvic feelings, Sattvic ideas must be there in the mind. It should not have any Tamasic and Rajasic ideas and feelings. All should be Sattvic. And therefore, at this stage, it is wise for the Yogi to see that everything in his life is Sattvic. His company, his food, his environment, whatever he moves with, should be Sattvic. He should carefully avoid anything that is Rajasic and Tamasic. Because, it will affect the mind, and such a mind which is Rajasic or Tamasic, or is influenced by Rajas and Tamas, ceases to be a fit instrument for meditation. Purity, self-control, Sattvic food, Sattvic environment, Sattvic thoughts, Sattvic reading, Sattvic company—these are very important for the practice of inner Yoga, for the practice of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
extract of his book:
Formats: .pdf (497 kb), .html (513 kb)
Quintessence of the Ashtanga Yoga of Sage Maharshi Patanjali, the well-known eight stages or Limbs of Yoga.
Formats: .pdf (278 kb), .html (265 kb)
Peace, Love, harmony