The Nature of Samadhi

Samadhi as a state of consciousness is an essential aspect of the conversion from the outward and downward orientation of the intelligent will, to the inward and upward orientation. When we reflect on what samadhi is, we tend to equate it with a top of deep trance, non-responsive and non-perceptive of the touches of the external objects of the senses.

Sri Aurobindo (and the Gita) takes issue with this view of samadhi. “The sign of the man in Samadhi is not that he loses consciousness of objects and surroundings and of his mental and physical self and cannot be recalled to it even by burning or torture of the body,–the ordinary idea of the matter; trance is a particular intensity, not the essential sign.”

Rather, there is a more subtle, inner sign of samadhi in the ability of the person to remain free and above the action of desire, the modes of nature and the dualities of attraction and repulsion. This freedom can and does occur even when the individual is in the midst of action in the world. One cannot recognize the liberated soul acting in samadhi from a particular manner of speaking or acting.

“Equality is the great stamp of the liberated soul and of that equality even the most discernible signs are still subjective.”

The definition of this change in orientation of consciousness, the development of a consciousness of samadhi, is ” ‘A man with mind untroubled by sorrows, who has done with desire for pleasures, from whom liking and wrath and fear have passed away, such is the sage whose understanding has become founded in stability.’ He is ‘without the triple action of the qualities of Prakriti, without the dualities, ever based in his true being, without getting or having, possessed of his self.’ ”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 10, The Yoga of the Intelligent Will, pp. 94-95,