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Samadhi, the final Union

Our last articles were about the limbs of yoga composing Patanjali's philosophy. We've gone through the Yama and Niyama, the Asanas, the Pranayama and their health benefits, the Pratyahara and Dharana, and finally, the Dhyan or meditative state. Those seven limbs are mandatory and preparatory to attain Samadhi, the final stage of Yog, where the individual's consciousness merges with the global.

In this article, we will demystify the concept of Samadhi. We'll explore what it is, what can be experienced, and the different paths to attain it.

What is Samadhi?

Samadhi is the state where the individual's soul merges with the Supreme Soul, and self-realization is attained. In Samadhi, the limited individual existence ends, and the eternal existence starts.

That state has been described in many books and by various sages and saints. Some describe Samadhi as the realization of Brahman or Brahmajnana, which is knowledge in its highest form. Samadhi is described in the Bhagavad Gita as a state where one is liberated from bondage. The same attitude is maintained in every situation, and there is indifference towards pleasure and pain or good and bad. It is said that the mind becomes full, and once that fullness is attained, it is impossible to take it away. Samadhi can also be understood through the image of a raindrop that falls into the sea. That raindrop ceases to be an individual and becomes one with the sea.

Samadhi results from a continuous effort to purify the mind and exhaust the karmas of past actions. As we have seen in our previous article about meditation, it is the extension of the meditative state, a prolonged and uninterrupted Dhyan.

Reaching that state of Samadhi is a long process of introspection. The practitioner must recognize his shortcomings, defects, and qualities and try to exhaust them. Once that complete introspection is achieved, the practitioner automatically gains knowledge of a new dimension. He understands the world differently, becomes able to focus his mind easily and enter a clear meditative state, and then flows into Samadhi.

Pravritti Marga and Nivritti Marga

Everyone's path through yoga contains specific steps and characteristics. At first, most people follow the needs given by their society. They spend most of their time on work, property, family, status, and prestige. They live at that time in what sages call Pravritti Marga, or path of extroversion, where the individual loses his identity in material, wordy things.

At some point in their life, some people will realize that they don't feel fulfilled by those things and that these create tensions instead of giving them happiness. From this moment, a new kind of awareness is developed, and the person becomes ready to take the path of introversion, called Nivritti Marga, where he will slowly identify himself. Gradually and through various practices, the yogi starts to recognize his natural form and progresses further in introspection until he reaches Samadhi.

Necessary qualities

All cannot attain Samadhi. Only those who have unique qualities and are blessed by a guru can achieve it.

First, the practitioner must have firm faith in the science of yoga and have unlimited respect, surrender, and trust in his guru. Whichever the chosen path is, the practitioner who wants to attain Samadhi has to practice continuously, with faith and effort. Confidence in the guru is also essential, as he will provide the most knowledge to the yogi according to his qualities and aptitudes. All that faith and surrender brings a sattvic attitude. There is no egoistic self-oriented attitude, and the yogi is focused on his goal.

It is also essential that he has self-confidence. To attain Samadhi, the yogi has to have a strong mind and personality. A lack of confidence will therefore prevent the practitioner from achieving his goal.

The yogi also needs to have a capacity for mental perception so that he can listen to and receive the inner voice. The mind has to be receptive to knowledge. As long as he is not, I can make no progress.

Thus, there are four conditions for the yogi to have the possibility to access Samadhi: faith in yoga, trust in the guru, self-confidence, and a receptive mind.

Paths to attain Samadhi

The yogi can attain Samadhi through different paths. The way that he uses is chosen according to his personality.

The first possible path is through the practice of Dhyan, called the Dhyana Yoga Samadhi. In that way, the yogi is encouraged to meditate on space element and visualize his soul as a light. At a point, the yogi completely dissociates from his body and becomes that light in the space. That is Samadhi.

The second path is called Nada Yoga Samadhi. In that one, the yogi has to practice Bhramari Pranayama and focus his full attention on the humming sound produced in it. Once the mind is completely focused on that sound, it gets disconnected from the body, the senses, and other physical and mental inputs. The mind becomes merged with the sound. That is also Samadhi.

The third path is Rasananda Samadhi. For this path, the yogi has to perform the khechari mudra, where the tongue is folded backward and enters the nasal cavity. It is said that when khechari mudra is perfected, nectar is secreted and the yogi becomes absorbed in it. He then reaches Samadhi.

Laya Siddhi Samadhi is the fourth path. It requires the practitioner to see himself in the form of Shakti, neither masculine nor feminine, young or old, and believe that there are no gender distinctions in the world. Once that is done, the yogi focuses on Shakti and adorns it with complete devotion. By doing so, he becomes absorbed in creating his vision of God and eventually becomes one with it. That union is Samadhi.

The fifth way is through Bhakti Yoga Samadhi. In Bhakti Yoga, the yogi must focus entirely on surrendering to his preferred deity. When he offers himself with complete faith, devotion, love, and bliss, he becomes completely absorbed in these emotions and reaches Samadhi. That method is said to be excellent for emotional or soft-hearted people because it uses that quality to attain Samadhi.

Then comes the Manomoorchha Samadhi, where the practitioner has to practice pranayama, particularly breath retention, and make his mind unconscious. When one retains his breath for a prolonged time, he slowly starts feeling as if his head becomes lighter. His mental activity slows down and then stops altogether. When mental activity stops, the knowledge of the body and the thinking processes is lost. Then, the yogi has to make an effort to unite his mind to the inner global consciousness and, this way, reaches Samadhi.

The seventh path for attaining Samadhi is called Samadhi Yoga Mahatmya. For that, the yogi has to get his mind focused naturally, without any show or display on a specific point, often the nose tip. When he becomes able to focus on his nose only for a prolonged period, it is said that his sensitivity to higher consciousness is increased. It makes it easy to enter in a subtle state and then flow into Samadhi.

In conclusion, Samadhi is the eighth limb of Patanjali's yoga philosophy and is the final goal of a yoga practice. It is the state where the individual merges into the global. To attain Samadhi, one should have certain specific qualities and constantly work towards his self-realization goal. He also needs to be conscious that the energy of the global consciousness is in everything around him and that he, as well as every other thing, is part of that global energy.

The seven previous limbs of yoga are all mandatory and preparatory for attaining Samadhi. They slowly help the yogi gain the necessary qualities for his self-realization.

It is important to remember that there are many yoga schools, and some of them have fewer than eight limbs. As explained in our previous article, those schools are also great ways to attain Samadhi, but they are less suitable for beginners. Patanjali's philosophy describes all the necessary steps in detail, assuming that one is just starting on the path of yoga.

At Japam, we teach according to Patanjali's philosophy. Don't hesitate to visit us at our studio in Upper Tapovan if you want to discuss yogic philosophy with us.

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