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A Review of the Samadhis of Sage Patanjali
by Swami Krishnananda

(Spoken on November 3, 1995)

Yoga has been defined as union with reality, and it is union with every level and degree of reality. From the lowest manifestation of reality up to its original absolute nature, union of oneself with it has to be attempted gradually, stage by stage. From consideration on any particular point in this world as a suitable object of meditation, Sage Patanjali takes us to the process of concentration on the whole physical universe. While anything in this universe may be regarded as an object for the purpose of concentration, it is better to take the whole universe in its totality as the final object for the purpose of meditation, because if we choose any particular individualised aspect of the world as an object of concentration, there is a likelihood of the mind being simultaneously aware of the presence of other points also which may be considered equally good for the purpose of concentration. Thus, there will be distraction of attention.

So, Sage Patanjali takes us to a point where such a distraction will not be possible, because the object of concentration, which is the entire physical universe, is free from any kind of externality in any way whatsoever. That is to say, when we regard the entire creation as the object of meditation, the mind cannot move away from this chosen object. There cannot be the usual obstacle – namely, the flitting of the mind from the chosen object in the direction of something else. There is no ‘something else', because even that so-called ‘something else' is included in the whole world.

The method prescribed is known to you already: In the beginning, move your mind from one end to the other end of the vast conceivable physical universe. Rapidly move your mind from one corner to another corner of the entire space, so that you get accustomed to think all things at the same time in their physical form.

Take into consideration all the ten directions of space in their comprehensiveness; and, you may also focus your attention on there being large realities within this vast cup of space – sun, moon, stars, and so on. Later you must try to meld these concepts of individual occupants in the reservoir of space and make them one with space itself, so that the physical universe looks like one ubiquitous expanse.

I mentioned that this kind of meditation, where the concept of space and time is there, together with your attempt at meditation on the wholeness of the cosmos, is technically known as savitarka samapatti. An argumentative process of consciousness continues here, but of course here the word ‘argument' does not mean arguing as in a court, but intellectually adjusting oneself to the possibility of one's at-onement with all things at the same time. This procedure of samadhi, or samapatti, is a mental activity, and is called savitarka, where the mind is intensely active.

A higher stage of samadhi is where you are attempting to free the notion of space and time in your concept of the universe. There is usually a persistent feeling that space is the container of the universe. Actually, the universe is not contained by anything else. It is all-in-all, because the universe includes space and time, also. When you go nearer and nearer to the object of meditation, the idea of spatial distance between yourself and the object diminishes gradually.

Space is nothing but the distance that you maintain between yourself and something else. The very essence of space is distance, and distance goes together with the feeling of oneself as separated from something else. Union, which is the nature of samadhi, does not permit any kind of spatial distance or temporal isolation between oneself and the object of meditation. If this could be achieved, you are at one with the whole universe – not as something contained in space, but inclusive of all space and time. You are in a higher stage of samadhi, called nirvitarka samapatti or samadhi.

There is a higher stage still, wherein the universe is not conceived in its physical solid form, but is reduced to the true nature of the world as an energy quantum. The so-called diversified objects are actually potential points of energy, which is the common denominator of every kind of thing in the world, including the bodies of human beings. You can boil down all the so-called solidity of persons and things to the basic vast sea of energy, undivided in its nature. If this concentration could be practicable, you are in the state of what is known as savichara samapatti samadhi.

Here again you will have the old problem of imagining that the sea of energy is flowing inside space, as electricity is moving everywhere but you think it is moving inside the spatial complex. Can you free this ubiquitous energy from the involvement of space and time? Finally, it is to be learned that space is also included in this comprehensive ocean of force. Space, also, is included in force; it is not an emptiness. What you see here before your eyes as space is not an annihilation of things. It is the potential for the manifestation of everything. Therefore, the concept of the whole universe as pure energy should also be freed from the associated idea of its being contained within space and time. Then, you rise to a higher state of concentration, which is nirvichara samapatti or samadhi.

The mind ceases to think in its normal fashion.         You become, as it were, a super-individual here in this state of identification, or meditation. You cannot be a human being in this condition. The realities which are superintending over the destiny of the universe are not human beings. They are superhuman energy centres, or centres of consciousness, which is the reason why we call them divinities, or gods in heaven. There is a potential divinity manifested in a pinpointed form behind every object, everything, whatever we can conceive; and so, when this logic is applied in meditation, we ourselves get included in this annulment of individuality, which is usually inseparably associated with our personality.

We can never forget that we are in one place. But we are not actually in one place. We are in all places, in the same way as a little drop in the ocean can be said to be everywhere in the ocean. The drop is commensurate with the very body of the ocean. It is not standing outside.   In a similar manner you have to exercise your mind in freeing yourself from the notion of your being in some place. You are in a state where you can think of the whole universe as one compass of all-pervading force; therefore, you cannot be standing outside it, and so you cease to be a human being at that time. You become a representative of cosmic power.

People who have achieved this state are sometimes called supermen or avataras, divinity descended into cognisable form – the manifestation of God, as religions call it. This is the first transcendence that is attained in samadhi. There are other transcendences, also, to come afterwards. You are totally bereft of involvement in cosmic laws. Afterwards, they cannot determine you anymore. There is no determining principle operating outside you when you have reached this state of samadhi known as nirvichara.

The sutra of Patanjali in this connection says that nirvichara samadhi is attended with adhyatma prasada. Nirvicāra vaiśāradye adhyātmaprasādaḥ (Y.S. 1.47) is the aphorism of Patanjali. When the clarity of this nirvichara samapatti is attained, the soul manifests itself in its pristine purity. The soul of the universe manifests itself, and not only the individualised conceived jiva or soul, as you think it to be, inside your body. The pure Universal Consciousness manifests itself in all its resplendence in the state of nirvichara samapatti or samadhi. A flood of light becomes the object, so to say, of your meditation, and light is not a limited individualised object; it is a pervasive radiant energy. You will see dematerialised energy, conscious in its nature, pervading everywhere, as if you are in an ocean of resplendence.

There are still higher stages mentioned – namely, a stage technically known as sananda samapatti, the attainment of bliss supreme. Generally we are under the impression that bliss or happiness is a consequence of our sensory contact with external things. This is not the truth. I will not dilate upon this aspect because I covered it in great in detail in earlier discourses. Happiness does not come from anything outside you, because the character of outsideness that you are imposing upon things is a false imputation of what does not belong to objects. The so-called externality of anything or anyone is nothing but the spatiotemporal character that you are imposing or imputing to that particular thing.

We have already considered the redundancy of anything being contained in the cup of space, because space and time form part of the very existence of a thing; therefore, nothing can be said to be in one place only. Inasmuch as space and time form part and parcel of the existence of anything and, therefore, cannot be regarded as some medium to create distance between objects, this samadhi abolishes that distance, and you find yourself everywhere.

It is something shocking to hear all these things. Can you imagine what it would be to find yourself everywhere? The mind of the human being is not meant to hear these things; it is a shock to the very existence of personality. It is as if your personalised existence is annihilated completely.

Doubts arise in the minds of people: “What happens to me when I am annihilated like this?” because we identify existence with individualised existence, and do not know anything about any other type of existence. The tenacity of egoism of human nature is such that it will not permit us even to think that such a thing is possible, that we can be all-pervasive as energy is all-pervasive, because of the fact that we are included in the sea of force.

Here, a non-objective contact with Reality takes place. Therefore, we cannot even use the word ‘contact', because usually ‘contact' means the coming together of one thing with another thing. There is no ‘one thing' and ‘another thing' here. There is no duality whatsoever. It is a self-contemplation of That which is, independent of the process manufacturing space and time. Ananda, the bliss that arises in this condition, is unsurpassable.

Any amount of thinking and argument will not enable you to understand what this happiness is, just as a beast in the jungle cannot know the brilliance of human genius. Nothing, not any amount of hearing, will allow you to appreciate this wonderful thing because whenever you are listening to discourses of this kind, you assert your personality. You are not supposed to assert your personality when such discourses are given; you are supposed to be setting yourself in tune with what has been told to you, so that gradually the student becomes united with the great idealogy that has been expounded.

Great practice is necessary. The ethical and moral preparations mentioned are of great validity here. If you have not developed the toughness of inner moral fibre, the idea of there being such a wondrous existence as this will not even arise in the mind. It will not be appreciated and accepted, even when it is told a hundred times. The personality will repel any kind of thought like this. You have to put forth arduous effort to be able to appreciate it from the deepest recesses of your being.

This condition of samadhi or union, which is called sananda samapatti or sananda samadhi, is the bliss of God revealing itself before itself. It is as if God is becoming conscious of His own blissfulness. These are certain words which may make no sense, but it is necessary that you should see sense in them.

Now, the further stages are purely ideological for the sense-bound minds of individuals and no meaning will be seen in them, though mentioned repeatedly: namely, the blissful Universal Consciousness becoming aware of Itself as the sole existence – “I am I”, as it is called. The bliss is not experienced by somebody; the bliss itself is experiencing its own existence as “I am what I am”. “I am”; that is all. Afterwards, the word ‘am' also is deleted, and it is just ‘I'. Mystics who have studied these phenomena do not even call this state ‘being'; they call it ‘be-ness'. Here, words fail to express the meaning of these conditions that are superhuman, super-mental, super-intellectual, and super-logical.

This state of pure I-consciousness in the universal sense, the blissful state, is known as sasmita samapatti – the pure ‘I' of the Absolute, satisfied with Itself in every sense of the term, self-complete, all-in-all, all-freedom, all-power, all-knowledge, immortal, deathless Being. The question of perishing in the process of time and delimitation because of the existence of space does not arise here. Who exists here? Not you and I – That which was, even before we were manifested, That alone is.      Before the creation of the world took place, what was there? That will reveal itself as the sole reality. Where were you at that time? You will be where you were before creation took place. It is difficult to conceive this pure I-ness.

The Yoga System does not give any peace of mind now; it says that there is something more than this. This by itself is sufficient to flabbergast your intellect; to say that there is something more is to deal a deathblow to any possibility of thinking at all. Such a state is nirbija samadhi – seedless kaivalya, or utter liberation of spirit – the aloneness of the Absolute. This is moksha.

You would have gathered by this time that moksha, or liberation, is not something to be achieved in the future, because the idea of the future arises because of the persistence of the time process. So, do not bring time here once again, and think that you shall attain it tomorrow. There is no ‘tomorrow'; it does not exist. As time is not there, tomorrow also is not there, and there is no ‘afterwards'. It is a question of here and now. Eternity has no character of a process; therefore, the attainment of eternity is not considered a process of becoming something other than what one is because if one becomes other than what one is, that thing which it so becomes will be a perishable object.

Inconceivable is this majesty! You can never interpret eternity in terms of time. As your mind is always involved in the space-time complex, you are likely to interpret even ‘eternity' in terms of the spatial and temporal connotations. With great effort you must free yourself from these shackles of space and time. You can imagine what eternity could be. Eternity is, at the same time, infinity.

It is the very thing that is enigmatically sung in one of the mantras of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: pūrṇam adah, pūrṇam idam, pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate; pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvasisyate. We sing this one hundred times, but we can make little meaning out of it. We take it as a kind of routine prayer, and any routine has no soul in it. But, here is a wondrous, soulful majesty that is revealed in this otherwise-inexpressible condition, the Infinite rolling into the infinite of creation.

That there cannot be two infinites is something well known. There is no limit for the universe, and there is no limit for the Creator of the universe. So, when it is said that the Creator manufactured or created this universe, does it mean to say that the Infinite God is creating an infinite cosmos? The Infinite cannot create itself as another thing, so creation has not taken place. Therefore, the farthest reaches of scientific analysis concluding that creation has not taken place at all is corroborated here by this great mantra, which was sung by sages before the best of scientists were born into this world.

To say that the infinite universe is created or proceeds from the Infinite Existence is to say that the Infinite alone is, because the subsequent mantra says, pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvasisyate: After the infinite universe has come out of the Infinite Absolute, the Infinite alone still remains, and It is not depleted because of the emergence of another infinite called this universe.

It is a symbolic way of saying that the Absolute has never become other than what it is. There has been no manifestation or creation; therefore, there is not going to be a dissolution, either. The idea that something has been created, that there is a cause from which an effect follows, is associated with the space-time idea in our mind. Causation automatically follows from space-time. The whole world is nothing but space-time-cause, so when one thing is there, the other comes automatically. You cannot eliminate one thing and have the other things; the entire triad has to go away at one stroke. This is possible only if you are prepared to be one with that which you now consider as not yourself.

The individualised self has to become that Self which includes all other selves. You have to become another, in the sense of an alienation from your individualised existence to that Existence which is your real nature. The lower should rise to the higher; that is, you yourself have to expand the dimension of your personality. Now you are limited in your dimensions; physically, you are five or six feet tall and three feet wide. This is all your stature. So puny does this individuality look! And even if you imagine that you are socially, politically or economically expanded, you are in a state of illusion because you cannot expand more than the dimension of your physical individuality. All other expansions spoken of in social terms are illusory psychological extensions, not really existing.

The wealthiest or most powerful and highly esteemed person in society is not larger than the six-foot individuality. He is only just that. Thus, the world is supposed to be an illusion in one sense of the term, because of this imagination that has crept into the minds of people that they can be big, while they are really very small.

A metaphysical, spiritual transformation is necessary in order that you may really become large. You cannot become large by property, by possession, because nothing in the world really belongs to you, really speaking. There is no such thing as property at all; it does not exist. You cannot own anything other than your own self. That is another illusion before you. The real largeness and the increasing of your dimension does not exist in an external accretion growing around you. Name, fame, power, authority and wealth are not your larger dimension. It is an illusion that has been created, like a mist around you, like a cloud that has grown over you. You are a little, petty individual in spite of all these accretions that have grown around you, which fact you will realise when you are about to pass away from this world. You go like a beggar, though you thought you were an emperor. That is a very miserable state.

The practice of yoga is needed to increase the dimension of your soul itself – not your dimension socially, politically, or in any other way. The soul has to become the Universal Soul, so that it is not a kind of horizontal movement, but a vertical ascent from one degree of wholeness to another degree of wholeness, until you reach absolute wholeness – purnam.

This is the majestic moksha spoken of in the scriptures, the goal of human life for which everyone is born. Even the destiny of an ant and an atom is only this realisation. One day or the other, the whole universe will ask for this realisation. What is called evolution in the universe is said to be the march of every atom of creation towards this great, wonderful Self-consciousness of the universe itself.

When the universe Self-realises, so to say, it has attained its mukti. The whole question of mukti is not to be identified with an individual affair; it is a cosmic evolution taking place. When you rise to the Absolute, the whole universe comes with you. It is not that the world is hanging outside for you to perceive it in the state of moksha. This illusion also has to be cast off; it arises again because of the involvement of the mind in space-time-cause.

A competent teacher, a Guru, a mentor is necessary to guide you in this. Only a person who has trodden this path and lives this life can enlighten you, and not any amount of listening from a professorial pulpit or reading from textbooks will suffice. God only has to bless you. I cannot say anything more than this.