Samadhi and the Integral Yoga

Traditional paths of yoga, and in particular the yoga practice organised and codified by Patanjali, hold Samadhi as an ultimate state of consciousness that puts the seeker into a state of superconscious reality that effectively links him to the Divine reality and purpose of existence. Swami Vivekananda in his lectures on Raja Yoga describes the methods of attaining to Samadhi and the results therefrom. He indicates that Samadhi, the yogic trance, differs from entering into the sleep state by the results that eventuate. The sage who enters into Samadhi gains new realisations and understanding and becomes enlightened, while the individual who enters into the non-awareness of the outer world of the state of sleep wakes up unchanged. He also describes different stages of Samadhi, such as “with seed” or “without seed” in terms of the finality of the status, that is, with or without the normal human mental activity reasserting itself. Samadhi, while seen as a major goal and stage of realisation in these traditional paths, must obviously be seen from a different viewpoint by the practitioner of the integral yoga, who wants to bring down the divine consciousness to transform the life in the world. Ideally the seeker will experience a modified state of consciousness akin to Samadhi, but without the necessity of the complete withdrawal of all activity so that this new status can act in the life.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “In samadhi it is the inner mental, vital, physical which are separated from the outer, no longer covered by it — therefore they can fully have inner experiences. The outer mind is either quiescent or in some way reflects or shares the experience. As for the central consciousness being separated from all mentality that would mean a complete trance without any recorded experiences.”

“Chit is the pure consciousness, as it Sat-Chit-Ananda. Chitta is the stuff of mixed mental-vital-physical consciousness out of which arise the movements of thought, emotion, sensation, impulse, etc. It is these that in the Patanjali system have to be stilled altogether so that the consciousness may be immobile and go into Samadhi. Our yoga has a different function. The movements of the ordinary consciousness have to be quieted and into the quietude there has to be brought down a higher consciousness and its powers which will transform the nature.”

“Samadhi is not a thing to be shunned — only it has to be made more and more conscious. It is not necessary to be in samadhi to be in contact with the Divine.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Samadhi, pp. 153-154

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