Time and again we have heard about Samadhi as a state of enlightenment, ecstasy, or complete absorption. But thinking of Samadhi in mystical terms can make it seem beyond the reach of an aspirant like us. To our surprise, that is not the case. Samadhi is a state which is very much practically achievable for one and all. In the first chapter named Samadhi Pada of his book Yogdarshan, we can see that Sage Patanjali has given us step-by-step guidelines to achieve Samadhi. He defines Samadhi as a state of attention or concentration where our human mind is free from all distractions.
To describe this in more detail, in his next aphorism 1.17, Sage Patanjali describes Samadhi as an inward journey that begins with four stages.
Vitarka vichara ananda asmita rupa anugamat samprajnatah
Translation: Deep concentration on an object consists of 4 types:
Gross thought (vitarka)
Subtle thought (vichara)
and is called samprajnatah samadhi (unity with object and Divine).
The above sutra defines and elaborates the whole process or levels of the concentration meditations. The other type of meditation is the mindless meditation, or the meditation without content, which will be defined in the upcoming sutra.
According to the Sage Patanjali, meditation or absorption (with content) consists of 4 types. These are:
1.Vitarka (Gross): Meditation on physical objects (matter), external sense perceptions, mental visualizations, thought patterns, physical body, mantras etc. Other thoughts are apparent during this state of meditation. It basically means focusing on a physical object, or a gross object. This can be practiced by concentration on any material object and analysing its nature.
For example, we can focus on a beautiful Idol or any painting or anything that can hold our attention and then think about its shape, its colour, etc.
2.Vichara (Subtle): This is one step us, a subtle level of meditation where the aspirant begins to consciously observe the mind states and concentrates on energy realms, levels of consciousness, his attachments/aversions.
Meditations on a certain God/Goddess/Deity or Godly characteristic is something that falls in this category. Maanas Puja of our favourite Deity also is this kind of subtle meditation.
It is more of achieving reflective Samadhi by focusing on intangible items. For example, one can focus on some light, sound, smell, emotions etc
Ananda means pure joy or bliss which is not connected or dependent on any external attributes. It takes the Sadhaka beyond the gross form and subtle impressions of the object and gives him an experience of freedom.
4.Asmita (I-am-ness): This level is the most subtle state of meditation. The Aspirant observes and further unites with the observed and becomes one with All.
This is the last step, which means pure subjectivity. One should not confuse Samadhi on I-ness is with egoism, because we do not relate it with notions like “I am good” or “I am bad”.
Instead, we realize “I am” – the pure observer. In daily life, we observe our body, our thoughts, and eventually, we realize that we are not the body or the thoughts, but the observer of all these.
From this step onwards, we gain the real knowledge about the real and unreal which helps us reach the high consciousness – liberation.
In forthcoming aphorisms, we will learn the procedures and concepts in more details. Till then we will try to practice the above stated 4 levels of meditation for Samadhi because that’s one way of achieving ultimate peace and bliss leading to higher realms of life experiences.
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