Samadhi Part 2 (It’s Not What You Think)

In this film when we use the word Samadhi we are pointing to the transcendent. To the highest Samadhi which has been named Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

Samadhi begins with a leap into the unknown. In the ancient traditions in order to realize Samadhi it was said that one must ultimately turn consciousness away from all known objects; from all external phenomena, conditioned thoughts and sensations, toward consciousness itself. Toward the inner source; the heart or essence of one’s being.

In Nirvikalpa Samadhi there’s a cessation of self activity, of all seeking and doing. We can only speak about what falls away as we approach it and what reappears when we return from it. There is neither perception nor non-perception, neither “thing” nor “no thing”, neither consciousness nor unconsciousness. It is absolute, unfathomable, and inscrutable to the mind. When the self returns to activity there’s a not knowing; a kind of rebirth, and everything becomes new again. We are left with the perfume of the divine, which lingers longer as one evolves on the path.

There are numerous types of Nirvikalpa Samadhi described in the ancient traditions and language has created much confusion over the years. We are choosing to use the word Samadhi to point to the transcendent union, but we could have used a word from another tradition just as easily. Samadhi is an ancient Sanskrit term common to the Vedic yogic and Samkhya traditions of India, and has permeated many other spiritual traditions. Samadhi is the eighth limb of Patanjali’s eight limbs of the yoga, and the eighth part of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha used the word “Nirvana”, the cessation of “vana” or the cessation of self activity. Patanjali described yoga or Nirvikalpa Samadhi as “chitta vritti nirodha”, the Sanskrit meaning “cessation of the whirlpool or spiral of mind.” It is a disentangling of consciousness from the entire matrix or creatrix of mind. Samadhi does not signify any concept because to realize it requires a dropping of the conceptual mind.

Different religions have used various words to describe the divine union. In fact the word religion itself means something similar. In Latin “religare” means to re-bind or reconnect. It’s a similar meaning to the word yoga which means to yoke, to unite the worldly with the transcendent. In Islam it is reflected in the ancient Arabic meaning of the word Islam itself which means submission or supplication to God. It signifies a total humbling or surrender of the self structure.

Christian mystics such as Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Teresa of Ãvila and Saint John of the Cross describe a divine union with God, the kingdom of God within. In the Gospel of Thomas, Christ said “the kingdom is not here or there. Rather the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth and men do not see it.” The works of the Greek philosophers Plato, Plotinus, Parmenides, and Heraclitus when seen through the lens of the perennial teaching point towards the same wisdom. Plotinus teaches that the greatest human endeavor is to guide the human soul towards the supreme state of perfection and union with the One.

The Lakota medicine and holy man Black Elk said “The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers. And when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Great Spirit and that this Center is really everywhere. It is within each of us.

On the path to awakening unless we are in Samadhi there are always two polarities, two doorways one can enter. Two dimensions: one towards pure consciousness the other towards the phenomenal world. The upward current toward the absolute, and the downward current toward Maya and all that is manifested, both seen and unseen.

The relationship between relative and absolute could be summed up in the following quote by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj: “Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.” What is born of this union is a new divine consciousness. Something is born out of the marriage or union of these polarities or the collapse of dualistic identification, yet what is born is not a thing and it was never born. Consciousness flowers creating something new, creating what you could call a perennial Trinity. God the Father, the transcendent, unknowable and changeless, is united with the Divine Feminine, which is everything that changes. This union brings about an alchemical transformation; a kind of death and rebirth.

In the Vedic teachings the divine union is represented by two fundamental forces Shiva and Shakti. The names and faces of the various gods change throughout history but their fundamental attributes remain. What is born out of this union is a new divine consciousness, a new way of being in the world. Two polarities inseparably one. A universal energy that is without center, free of limitation. It is pure love. There’s nothing to be gained or lost because it is utterly empty but absolutely full.

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