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Samadhi

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Samadhi (Sanskrit: समाधि, [səˈmaːd̪ʱi]), also called samāpatti, in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools refers to a state of meditative consciousness. It is a meditative absorption or trance, attained by the practice of dhyāna. In samādhi the mind becomes still. It is a state of being totally aware of the present moment; a one-pointedness of mind.

Contents

Samadhi Samadhi Art Wolfe

In Buddhism, it is the last of the eight elements of the Noble Eightfold Path. In the Ashtanga Yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

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Definitions

Samadhi What does Samadhi mean

  • Sarbacker: samādhi is meditative absorption, attained by the practice of dhyāna.
  • Diener, Erhard & Fischer-Schreiber: samādhi is a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object.
  • Shankman: an abiding in which mind becomes very still but does not merge with the object of attention, and is thus able to observe and gain insight into the changing flow of experience.
  • Sanskrit

    Various interpretations for the term's etymology are possible:

    Samadhi wwwspiritualunitecomarticleswpcontentuploads

  • sam, "together"; a, "toward"; stem of dadhati, "puts, places": "a putting or joining together;"
  • sam, "together" or "integrated"; ā, "towards"; dhā, "to get, to hold": "to acquire integration or wholeness, or truth" (samāpatti);
  • sam, "uniformly" or "fully"; adhi, "to get established: : a state wherein one establishes himself to the fullest extent in the Supreme consciousness;
  • samā, "even"; dhi, "intellect": a state of total equilibrium of a detached intellect.
  • sam, "perfect," "complete." dhi, "consciousness": a state of being where "all distinctions between the person who is the subjective meditator, the act of meditation and the object of meditation merge into oneness."
  • Chinese

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    Common Chinese terms for samadhi include the transliterations sanmei (三昧) and sanmodi (三摩地 or 三摩提), as well as the translation of the term literally as ding (定 "fixity"). Kumarajiva's translations typically use sanmei (三昧), while the translations of Xuanzang tend to use ding (定 "fixity"). The Chinese Buddhist canon includes these as well as other translations and transliterations of the term.

    Origins

    Samadhi blabberwockying Samadhi

    According to Rhys Davids the first attested usage of the term samadhi in Sanskrit literature was in the Maitri Upanishad.

    Samadhi Samadhi Enlightenment in Yoga

    The origins of the practice of dhyana, which culminates into samadhi, are a matter of dispute. According to Bronkhorst, dhyana was a Buddhist invention, whereas Alexander Wynne argues that dhyana was incorporated from Brahmanical practices, in the Nikayas ascribed to Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. These practices were paired to mindfulness and insight, and given a new interpretation. Kalupahana also argues that the Buddha "reverted to the meditational practices" he had learned from Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta.

    Buddhism

    The term 'Samadhi' derives from the root sam-a-dha, which means 'to collect' or 'bring together', and thus it is often translated as 'concentration' or 'unification of mind'. In the early Buddhist texts, samadhi is also associated with the term samatha (calm abiding). In the suttas, samadhi is defined as one-pointedness of mind (Cittass'ekaggatā).

    Buddhagosa defines samadhi as "the centering of consciousness and consciousness concomitants evenly and rightly on a single object...the state in virtue of which consciousness and its concomitants remain evenly and rightly on a single object, undistracted and unscattered" (Vism.84-85; PP.85).

    The Theravada Pali texts mention four kinds of samadhi:

  • Momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi): A mental stabilization which arises during vipassana.
  • Preliminary concentration (parikammasamadhi): Arises out of the meditator's initial attempts to focus on a meditation object.
  • Access concentration (upacarasamadhi): Arises when the five hindrances are suppressed, when jhana is present, and with the appearance the 'counterpart sign' (patibhaganimitta).
  • Absorption concentration (appanasamadhi): The total immersion of the mind on its meditation of object and stabilization of all four jhanas.
  • Dhyana

    Samadhi is the last of the eight elements of the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path is a condensation of more elaborate descriptions of this path, which starts with a householder who hears the dhamma and leaves home, and after preparatory practices starts with the practice of dhyana. Samādhi refers here to the jhanas, levels of gradual deepening of meditation. The Pāli canon describes eight progressive states of jhāna: four meditations of form (rūpa jhāna), and four formless meditations (arūpa jhāna). A ninth form is Nirodha-Samāpatti.

    According to Bronkhorst, the four rūpa jhāna may be an original contribution of the Buddha to the religious landscape of India. They formed an alternative to the painful ascetic practices of the Jains. The arūpa jhāna were incorporated from non-Buddhist ascetic traditions. According to Crangle, the development of meditative practices in ancient India was a complex interplay between Vedic and non-Vedic traditions.

    Description

    Majjhima Nikaya 26:34-42, Ariyapariyesana Sutta, "The Noble Search", gives the following description of the four rupa jhanas ("form jhanas"), the four arupha jhanas ("formless jhanas"), and nirodha-samapatti, the cessation of perception and feeling:

    First jhana

    "Suppose that a wild deer is living in a wilderness glen. Carefree it walks, carefree it stands, carefree it sits, carefree it lies down. Why is that? Because it has gone beyond the hunter's range. In the same way, a monk—quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful qualities—enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One.

    Second jhana

    "Then again the monk, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance. This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One.

    Third jhana

    "Then again the monk, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One.

    Fourth jhana

    "Then again the monk, with the abandoning of pleasure & stress—as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress—enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One.

    The infinitude of space

    "Then again the monk, with the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, [perceiving,] 'Infinite space,' enters & remains in the dimension of the infinitude of space. This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One.

    The infinitude of consciousness

    "Then again the monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, [perceiving,] 'Infinite consciousness,' enters & remains in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One.

    The dimension of nothingness

    "Then again the monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, [perceiving,] 'There is nothing,' enters & remains in the dimension of nothingness. This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One.

    The dimension of neither perception nor non-perception

    "Then again the monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, enters & remains in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One.

    The cessation of perception & feeling

    "Then again the monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And, having seen [that] with discernment, his mental fermentations are completely ended. This monk is said to have blinded Mara. Trackless, he has destroyed Mara's vision and has become invisible to the Evil One. Having crossed over, he is unattached in the world. Carefree he walks, carefree he stands, carefree he sits, carefree he lies down. Why is that? Because he has gone beyond the Evil One's range."

    Mental factors

    The rupa-jhānas are described according to the nature of the mental factors which are present in these states:

    1. Movement of the mind onto the object (vitakka; Sanskrit: vitarka)
    2. Retention of the mind on the object (vicāra)
    3. Joy, rapture (pīti; Sanskrit: prīti)
    4. Happiness (sukha)
    5. Equanimity (upekkhā; Sanskrit: upekṣā)
    6. One-pointedness (ekaggatā; Sanskrit: ekāgratā)

    Two traditions

    A core problem in the study of early Buddhism is the relation between dhyana and insight. The Buddhist tradition has incorporated two traditions regarding the use of jhana. There is a tradition that stresses attaining insight (bodhi, prajna, kensho) as the means to awakening and liberation. But it has also incorporated the yogic tradition, as reflected in the use of jhana, which is rejected in other sutras as not resulting in the final result of liberation. The problem was famously voiced in 1936 by Louis de La Vallee Poussin, in his text Musila et Narada: Le Chemin de Nirvana.

    Schmithausen discerns three possible roads to liberation as described in the suttas, to which Vetter adds the sole practice of dhyana itself, which he sees as the original "liberating practice":

    1. The four Rupa Jhanas themselves constituted the core liberating practice of early buddhism, c.q. the Buddha;
    2. Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained;
    3. Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas and the four Arupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained;
    4. Liberating insight itself suffices.

    This problem has been elaborated by several well-known scholars, including Tilman Vetter, Johannes Bronkhorst, and Richard Gombrich. Schmithausen notes that the mention of the four noble truths as constituting "liberating insight", which is attained after mastering the Rupa Jhanas, is a later addition to texts such as Majjhima Nikaya 36. Both Schmithausen and Bronkhorst note that the attainment of insight, which is a cognitive activity, cannot be possible in state wherein all cognitive activity has ceased. According to Vetter and Bronkhorst, dhyana itself constituted the original "liberating practice". According to Alexander Wynne, the ultimate aim of dhyana was the attainment of insight, and the application of the meditative state to the practice of mindfulness. According to Frauwallner, mindfulness was a means to prevent the arising of craving, which resulted simply from contact between the senses and their objects. According to Frauwallner, this may have been the Buddha's original idea. According to Wynne, this stress on mindfulness may have led to the intellectualism which favoured insight over the practice of dhyana.

    Two kinds of dhyana

    According to Richard Gombrich, the sequence of the four rupa-jhanas describes two different cognitive states:

    I know this is controversial, but it seems to me that the third and fourth jhanas are thus quite unlike the second.

    Alexander Wynne further explains that the dhyana-scheme is poorly understood. According to Wynne, words expressing the inculcation of awareness, such as sati, sampajāno, and upekkhā, are mistranslated or understood as particular factors of meditative states, whereas they refer to a particular way of perceiving the sense objects:

    Thus the expression sato sampajāno in the third jhāna must denote a state of awareness different from the meditative absorption of the second jhāna (cetaso ekodibhāva). It suggests that the subject is doing something different from remaining in a meditative state, i.e. that he has come out of his absorption and is now once again aware of objects. The same is true of the word upek(k)hā: it does not denote an abstract 'equanimity', [but] it means to be aware of something and indifferent to it [...] The third and fourth jhāna-s, as it seems to me, describe the process of directing states of meditative absorption towards the mindful awareness of objects.

    Theravada

    According to Buddhaghosa, in his influential standard-work Visuddhimagga, samadhi is the "proximate cause" to the obtainment of wisdom. The Visuddhimagga describes 40 different objects for meditation, which are mentioned throughout the Pali canon, but explicitly enumerated in the Visuddhimagga, such as mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati) and loving kindness (metta).

    Mahayana

    Indian Mahayana

    The earliest extant Indian Mahayana texts emphasize ascetic practices and forest dwelling, and absorption in states of meditative oneness. These practices seem to have occupied a central place in early Mahayana, also because they "may have given access to fresh revelations and inspiration."

    In the Indian Mahayana traditions the term is also to refer to forms of "samadhi" other than dhyana. Section 21 of the Mahavyutpatti records even 118 samadhi. The Samadhiraja Sutra for example has as its main theme a samādhi called 'the samadhi that is manifested as the sameness of the essential nature of all dharmas' (sarva-dharma-svabhavā-samatā-vipañcita-samādhi).

    Zen

    Indian dhyana was translated as chán in Chinese, and zen in Japanese. Ideologically the Zen-tradition stresses prajna and sudden insight, but in the actual practice prajna and samādhi, or sudden insight and gradual cultivation, are paired to each other. Especially some lineages in the Rinzai school of Zen stress sudden insight, while the Sōtō school of Zen lay s more emphasis on shikantaza, training awareness of the stream of thoughts, allowing them to arise and pass away without interference.

    Patanjali's Yoga sutras

    Samadhi is the main subject of the eighth limb of the Yoga Sutras called Samadhi-pada. They resemble the Buddhist jhanas. According to David Gordon White, the language of the Yoga Sutras is often closer to "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, the Sanskrit of the early Mahayana Buddhist scriptures, than to the classical Sanskrit of other Hindu scriptures." According to Karel Werner,

    Patanjali's system is unthinkable without Buddhism. As far as its terminology goes there is much in the Yoga Sutras that reminds us of Buddhist formulations from the Pāli Canon and even more so from the Sarvastivada Abhidharma and from Sautrāntika."

    Robert Thurman writes that Patañjali was influenced by the success of the Buddhist monastic system to formulate his own matrix for the version of thought he considered orthodox. However, it is also to be noted that the Yoga Sutra, especially the fourth segment of Kaivalya Pada, contains several polemical verses critical of Buddhism, particularly the Vijñānavāda school of Vasubandhu.

    Samadhi

    Samadhi is oneness with the object of meditation. There is no distinction between act of meditation and the object of meditation. Samadhi is of two kinds, with and without support of an object of meditation:

  • Samprajnata Samadhi, also called savikalpa samadhi and Sabija Samadhi, meditation with support of an object.
    Samprajata samadhi is associated with deliberation, reflection, bliss, and I-am-ness. The first two, deliberation and reflection, form the basis of the various types of samapatti:
  • Savitarka, "deliberative": The citta is concentrated upon a gross object of meditation, an object with a manifest appearance that is perceptible to our senses, such as a flame of a lamp, the tip of the nose, or the image of a deity. Conceptualization (vikalpa) still takes place, in the form of perception, the word and the knowledge of the object of meditation. When the deliberation is ended this is called nirvitaka samadhi.
  • Savichara, "reflective": the citta is concentrated upon a subtle object of meditation, which is not percpetible to the senses, but arrived at through inference, such as the senses, the process of cognition, the mind, the I-am-ness, the chakras, the inner-breath (prana), the nadis, the intellect (buddhi). The stilling of reflection is called nirvichara samapatti.
  • Sananda Samadhi, ananda, "bliss": this state emphasizes the still subtler state of bliss in meditation;
  • Sasmita: the citta is concentrated upon the sense or feeling of "I-am-ness".
  • Asamprajnata Samadhi, also called Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Nirbija Samadhi: meditation without an object, which leads to knowledge of purusha or consciousness, the subtlest element.
  • Ananda and asmita

    According to Ian Whicher, the status of sananda and sasmita in Patanjali's system is a matter of dispute. According to Maehle, the first two constituents, deliberation and reflection, form the basis of the various types of samapatti. According to Feuerstein,

    "Joy" and "I-am-ness" [...] must be regarded as accompanying phenomena of every coginitive [ecstacy]. The explanations of the classical commentators on this point appear to be foreign to Patanjali's hierarchy of [ecstatic] states, and it seems unlikely that ananda and asmita should constitute independent levels of samadhi.

    Ian Whicher disagrees with Feuerstein, seeing ananda and asmita as later stages of nirvicara-samapatti. Whicher refers to Vācaspati Miśra (900-980 CE), the founder of the Bhāmatī Advaita Vedanta who proposes eight types of samapatti:

  • Savitarka-samāpatti and Nirvitarka-samāpatti, both with gross objects as objects of support;
  • Savicāra-samāpatti and Nirvicāra-samāpatti, both with subtle objects as objects of support;
  • Sānanda-samāpatti and Nirānanda-samāpatti, both with the sense organs as objects of support
  • Sāsmitā-samāpatti and Nirasmitā-samāpatti, both with the sense of "I-am-ness" as support.
  • Vijnana Bikshu (ca. 1550-1600) proposes a six-stage model, explicitly rejecting Vacaspati Misra's model. Vijnana Bikshu regards joy (ananda) as a state that arises when the mind passes beyond the vicara stage. Whicher agrees that ananda is not a separate stage of samadhi. According to Whicher, Patanjali's own view seems to be that nirvicara-samadhi is the highest form of cognitive ecstacy.

    Samyama

    According to Taimni, dharana, dhyana and samadhi form a graded series:

    1. Dharana. In dharana, the mind learns to focus on a single object of thought. The object of focus is called a pratyaya. In dharana, the yogi learns to prevent other thoughts from intruding on focusing awareness on the pratyaya.
    2. Dhyana. Over time and with practice, the yogin learns to sustain awareness of only the pratyaya, thereby dharana transforms into dhyana. In dhyana, the yogin comes to realize the triplicity of perceiver (the yogin), perceived (the pratyaya) and the act of perceiving. The new element added to the practice of dhyana, that distinguish it from dharana is the yogin learns to minimize the perceiver element of this triplicity. In this fashion, dhyana is the gradual minimization of the perceiver, or the fusion of the observer with the observed (the pratyaya).
    3. Samadhi. When the yogin can: (1) sustain focus on the pratyaya for an extended period of time, and (2) minimize his or her self-consciousness during the practice, then dhyana transforms into samadhi. In this fashion then, the yogin becomes fused with the pratyaya. Patanjali compares this to placing a transparent jewel on a colored surface: the jewel takes on the color of the surface. Similarly, in samadhi, the consciousness of the yogin fuses with the object of thought, the pratyaya. The pratyaya is like the colored surface, and the yogin's consciousness is like the transparent jewel.

    Sahaja samadhi

    Ramana Maharshi distinguished between kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi:

    Sahaja samadhi is a state in which a silent level within the subject is maintained along with (simultaneously with) the full use of the human faculties.

    Kevala nirvikalpa samadhi is temporary, whereas sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi is a continuous state throughout daily activity. This state seems inherently more complex than sāmadhi, since it involves several aspects of life, namely external activity, internal quietude, and the relation between them. It also seems to be a more advanced state, since it comes after the mastering of samadhi.

    Sahaja is one of the four keywords of the Nath sampradaya along with Svecchachara, Sama, and Samarasa. Sahaja meditation and worship was prevalent in Tantric traditions common to Hinduism and Buddhism in Bengal as early as the 8th–9th centuries.

    Sikhism

    In Sikhism the word is used to refer to an action that one uses to remember and fix one's mind and soul on Waheguru. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib informs:

  • "Remember in meditation the Almighty Lord, every moment and every instant; meditate on God in the celestial peace of Samādhi." (p. 508)
  • "I am attached to God in celestial Samādhi." (p. 865)
  • "The most worthy Samādhi is to keep the consciousness stable and focused on Him." (p. 932)
  • The term Samadhi refers to a state of mind rather than a physical position of the body. The Scriptures explain:

  • "I am absorbed in celestial Samādhi, lovingly attached to the Lord forever. I live by singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord" (p. 1232)
  • "Night and day, they ravish and enjoy the Lord within their hearts; they are intuitively absorbed in Samadhi. ||2||" (p. 1259).
  • The Sikh Gurus inform their followers:

  • "Some remain absorbed in Samādhi, their minds fixed lovingly on the One Lord; they reflect only on the Word of the Shabad." (p. 503)
  • References

    Samadhi Wikipedia