Samadhi Buddhism


Samadhi (Sanskrit, समाधि, samādhi "immersion, collection," literally "to fix, to fix, to direct attention to something") is a term used in Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen, Jainism, Sikhism, and other Indian teachings.

Samadhi refers to a state of consciousness that transcends waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, and in which discursive thinking ceases. It is described as a complete absorption in the object that has been meditated upon.

In the Bhagavad Gita it is mentioned at the beginning of the second chapter. Samadhi is the 8th limb (anga) of Raja Yoga (or Ashtanga Yoga or Kriya Yoga) according to Patañjali.

Stages of Samadhi

Two types of samadhi are distinguished: the conscious samadhi state is called samprajnata, and the superconscious asamprajnata. In conscious samadhi, also called savikalpa samadhi, the duality between contemplating mind and the higher self (Brahman, Purusha) remains.

In this type of samadhi, the mental process, and here especially the vibrations of mental consciousness (citta-vritti), takes the form of Brahman. Thus, the mental vibration is said to come to rest in Brahman, yet always remain conscious of itself.

In superconscious samadhi, also called nirvikalpa samadhi, the mental consciousness is said to unite with the supreme Self (Paramatma) in such a way that the distinction between cognizer, cognition and cognized evaporates, disappearing like waves in water or dissolving like foam in the sea.

This samadhi differs from the first in that consciousness no longer returns to normal mental ego-consciousness. The unity of consciousness with the inner enlightenment consciousness of the Paramatma Purusha remains. Therefore, only this samadhi is considered true enlightenment.

The spiritual teacher Paramahansa Yogananda, on the other hand, distinguishes three stages of samadhi in his Bhagavad Gita interpretation: The first stage, Jada Samadhi, is an unconscious cataleptic stage, spiritually useless because it only temporarily suspends the consciousness and activity of the ego.

Jada samadhi, or unconscious trance, is produced by methods of physical control, by keeping the mind blank or by pressing on certain glands. This, however, does not attain wisdom or destroy karma.

In the state of Savikalpa Samadhi, however, attention and life force are completely withdrawn from the senses and consciously identify with the ever-joyful mind. In this state, the soul is liberated from ego-consciousness and becomes aware of the spirit in which everything created is absorbed.

The body is in a trance-like state, but the consciousness is fully receptive to the blissful experience within. Finally, in the most advanced state, Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the soul recognizes itself as one with the spirit.

The ego-consciousness, the soul-consciousness as well as the spirit-ocean are all recognized as existing together. In Nirvikalpa, the soul is simultaneously aware of the spirit within and the external world. The divine person in this state is said to be able to pursue his material tasks and activities without losing his oneness with God.

The Raja Yoga describes a gradual path to enlightenment, which has its first climax in the Ishvara Samadhi. This samadhi is considered a spiritual state of consciousness in the body prepared by meditation until then.

The thus purified body is now under the control of the mind and experiences in the Samadhi a deep rest and relaxation. The Ishvara Samadhi, step 8 of Raja Yoga, is followed by the Savikalpa Samadhi and the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the true enlightenment and union with the highest Atman, the Paramatma Purusha and the extinction of the ego feeling.

Experiences of the inner light have the student already on the middle stages of Raja Yoga, only higher Samadhi stages are connected with experiences of the cosmic consciousness. Further samadhi stages to the master are not openly described in the yoga systems.

Samadhi in the Yoga Sutra of Patañjali

Patañjali summarized the yoga knowledge of his time in concentrated verses between 200 BC and 400 AD. Samadhi is called the first and highest step (prathamah samadhi padah) of the yoga (ashtanga yoga) consisting of 8 limbs (anga). In the Yogasutra 1,7-23 and 3,3 there are statements about the term Samadhi.

"When (coming to rest) is attained by means of logical thinking, examining deliberation, bliss, or ego-consciousness, it leads to (various kinds of) immersion (samadhi) associated with knowledge (samprajnata)."

- Yogasutra 1:17
Another statement reads:

"The other (embodied) beings attain a type of immersion (samadhi) through faith, courage, remembrance, collection, and wisdom."

- Yogasutra 1:20
And further it states:

"Due to a weak, medium, or highest intensity, differences (in absorption) arise."

- Yogasutra 1,22

Samadhi in Buddhism

Also called "single-pointedness of mind," "collection," "concentration," or "unification of the heart-mind. Samādhi, together with wisdom (prajna) and virtue (sila), forms the eightfold path in Buddhism.

The realm of "concentration" is composed of right mindfulness (samma sati) and right collection (sammā samādhi). Right collection is oriented toward the first four stages of absorption (jhana) and can be further divided into adjacent (upacāra) collection, that is, without one of the stages of absorption, and full (appanā) collection, with one of the stages of absorption.

In right collection, restlessness subsides, the heart-mind is unified and calms, and inhibitions (nivarana) are absent. For example, in traditional Buddhist meditation techniques, one focuses mindfulness on a meditation object such as the breath in order to gather the mind and achieve the absorptions with body and mind.

"15 Having overcome these five obstacles, the imperfections of the heart that weaken wisdom, he enters the first recess, which is accompanied by initial and sustained turning of the mind, completely secluded from sense pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, and dwells therein, with rapture and bliss arising from seclusion. [...]"

"16. Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, with the stilling of the initial and sustained turning of the mind (to the object of meditation), enters the second recess, which contains inner calming and unity of heart without initial and sustained turning of the mind, and dwells therein, with rapture and bliss arising from concentration. [...]"

"17. Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, with the fading of rapture, abiding in equanimity, mindful and clear of knowledge, full of bodily experienced bliss, enters the third recess of which the nobles say, 'Blissful abides he who is full of equanimity and mindfulness,' and abides therein. [...]"

"18. Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, with the overcoming of happiness and pain and the already earlier disappearance of joy and sorrow, enters and dwells in the fourth recess, which, due to equanimity, has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness in it. He sits there and pervades this body with a pure, clear heart, so that there is no part of the body that is not pervaded by the pure, clear heart. [...]"

- Majjhima Nikāya 39[8]


Mahasamadhi (great samadhi) is the Hindi word for the conscious leaving of the physical body of a yogi at his death. The term samadhi also refers to the burial place of a yogi.

Samadhi" also referred to the practice of being buried alive as a sign of loyalty to a guru or the like. At the instigation of the British envoys, who could not reconcile this with their puritanical moral concepts, the rulers of individual princely states enacted laws from the end of the 1840s that provided for the punishment of those involved.

These were not actually implemented until after 1860, when the respective feudal lords (jagir) in whose villages such things occurred were also punished.[9][10]

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