Concentration, Samadhi and the Integral Yoga

As traditionally understood, Samadhi is a state of consciousness that is totally absorbed in the Absolute, devoid of content of “names and forms” and abstracted from the outer world and its forms, forces, powers and events. There are several stages of Samadhi, such as that “with seed” and that “without seed” representing the idea that certain forms of the trance-state still hold the ability to recreate the names and forms, while others are so far developed that nothing can disturb it, and it is essentially a total absorption.

Sri Aurobindo has already observed that Samadhi in the integral Yoga must take on a new meaning, which he defines here: “…a certain self-gathered state of our whole existence lifted into that superconscient truth, unity and infinity of self-aware, self-blissful existence is the aim and culmination; and that is the meaning we shall give to the term Samadhi. Not merely a state withdrawn from all consciousness of the outward, withdrawn even from all consciousness of the inward into that which exists beyond both whether as seed of both or transcendent even of their seed-state; but a settled existence in the One and Infinite, united and identified with it, and this status to remain whether we abide in the waking condition in which we are conscious of the forms of things or we withdraw into the inward activity which dwells in the play of the principles of things, the pay of their names and typal forms or we soar to the condition of static inwardness where we arrive at the principles themselves and at the principle of all principles, the seed of name and form.”

To attain this state of consciousness, the traditional Yoga of knowledge sets forth a systematic discipline of purification and concentration. This method systematically drops off the focus of the consciousness from the outer world and its forms and moves inward to concept, principle and eventually pure status of being. Sri Aurobindo observes in this regard that there is a form of concentration that can provide leverage in this process: “This concentration proceeds by the Idea, using thought, form and name as keys which yield up to the concentrating mind the Truth that lies concealed behind all thought, form and name; for it is through the Idea that the mental being rises beyond all expression to that which is expressed, to that of which the Idea itself is only the instrument. By concentration upon the Idea the mental existence which at present we are breaks open the barrier of our mentality and arrives at the state of consciousness, the state of being, the state of power of conscious-being and bliss of conscious-being to which the Idea corresponds and of which it is the symbol, movement and rhythm. Concentration by the Idea is, then, only a means, a key to open to us the superconscient planes of our existence…”

The main thing is to recognize that this is a technique and that by moving beyond outer forms and names, and concepts to the ideal plane of Ideas, and then moving from there to a status of being that is devoid of specific form, even ideal forms, we are providing leverage for exceeding the limits of the mentality. Once the all-encompassing state of Samadhi is attained, it remains firm whether in the outer world of manifestation or in the inner conscious awareness, and is thus, independent of the physical act of renunciation that has been a requirement of the traditional Yoga of knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 4, Concentration, pg. 307