Samadhi

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This article is about meditation. For other uses, see Samadhi (disambiguation).

Samādhi (Sanskrit: समाधि, Hindi pronunciation: [səˈmaːd̪ʱi]), also called samāpatti, in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is meditative absorption, attained by the practice of dhyāna.[1] In samadhi the mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated[web 1] while the person remains conscious.

In Buddhism, it is the last of the eight elements of the Noble Eightfold Path.[web 2] In the Ashtanga Yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali.

Definitions[edit]

  • Sarbacker: samadhi is meditative absorption, attained by the practice of dhyāna.[1]
  • Diener, Erhard & Fischer-Schreiber: samadhi is a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object.[2]
  • 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.[3]

Etymology[edit]

Sanskrit[edit]

Various interpretations for the term's etymology are possible:

  • sam, "together"; a, "toward"; stem of dadhati, "puts, places": "a putting or joining together;"[web 1]
  • 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).

Chinese[edit]

Common Chinese terms for samādhi 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[edit]

According to Rhys Davids[note 1] the first attested usage of the term samādhi in Sanskrit literature was in the Maitri Upanishad.[web 3]

The origins of the practice of dhyana, which culminates into samadhi, are a matter of dispute.[4][5] According to Bronkhorst, dhyana was a Buddhist invention,[6] whereas Alexander Wynne argues that dhyana was incorporated from Brahmanical practices, in the Nikayas ascribed to Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta.[5] Kalupahana also argues that the Buddha "reverted to the meditational practices" he had learned from Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta.[7]

Buddhism[edit]

Main article: Samādhi (Buddhism)

Dhyana[edit]

Samādhi, or concentration of the mind, is the last of the eight elements of the Noble Eightfold Path.[web 2] The term refers here to the jhanas, levels af 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 nineth form is Nirodha-Samāpatti.

The rupa-jhanas are as follows:

  1. First Jhāna — In the first jhana there are: "directed thought, evaluation, rapture, pleasure, unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention"
  2. Second Jhāna — In the second jhana there are: "internal assurance, rapture, pleasure, unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention"
  3. Third Jhāna — In the third jhana, there are: "equanimity-pleasure, unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention"
  4. Fourth Jhāna — In the fourth jhana there are: "a feeling of equanimity, neither pleasure nor pain; an unconcern due to serenity of awareness; unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention".[web 4]

The four rūpa jhāna may be an original contribution of the Buddha to the religious landscape of India.[6] They formed an alternative to the painfull ascetic practices of the Jains.[6] The arūpa jhāna were incorporated from non-Buddhist asectic traditons.[6]

The arupa-jhanas are as follows:

  1. Dimension of Infinite Space - In this dimension the following qualities are "ferreted out":[web 4] "the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space, singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention".[web 4]
  2. Dimension of Infinite Consciousness - In this dimension the following quailities are "ferreted out":[web 4] "the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention".[web 4]
  3. Dimension of Nothingness - In this dimension the following qualities are "ferreted out":[web 4] "the perception of the dimension of nothingness, singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention"
  4. Dimension of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception No qualities to be "ferreted out" are being mentioned for this dimension.[web 4]

The Buddha also rediscovered an attainment beyond the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, Nirodha-Samapatti, the "cessation of feelings and perceptions".[web 4] This is sometimes called the "ninth jhāna" in commentarial and scholarly literature.[8][9]

Dhyana and insight[edit]

[6][10] The Buddhist tradition has incorporated two traditions regarding the use of jhana.[6] 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.[11][4][10] The problem was famously voiced in 1936 by Louis de La Vallee Poussin, in his text Musila et Narada: Le Chemin de Nirvana.[12][note 2]

Schmithausen, in his often-cited article On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism 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.[13][6][11] Schmithausen discerns three possible roads to liberation as described in the suttas, to which Vetter adds a fourth possibility:[14]

  1. Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained;
  2. Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas and the four Arupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained;
  3. Liberating insight itself suffices;
  4. The four Rupa Jhanas themselves constituted the core liberating practice of early buddhism, c.q. the Buddha.[15]

This problem has been elaborated by several well-known scholars, including Tilman Vetter,[11] Johannes Bronkhorst,[6] and Richard Gombrich.[10]

Theravada[edit]

According to Buddhaghosa, im his influential standard-work Visuddhimagga, samādhi is the "proximate cause" to the obtainment of wisdom.[16] 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).[citation needed]

Mahāyāna[edit]

Bodhisattva seated in meditation. Afghanistan, 2nd century CE

Indian Mahāyāna[edit]

The earliest extant Indian Mahāyāna texts emphasize ascetic practices and forest dwelling, and absorption in states of meditative concentration. These practices seem to have occupied a central place in early Mahāyāna, also because they "may have given access to fresh revelations and inspiration."[17]

In the Indian Mahāyāna traditions the term is also to refer to forms of "samadhi" other than dhyana. Section 21 of the Mahāvyutpatti records even 118 samādhi.[18] The Samādhirāja Sūtra for examplehas as its main theme a samadhi called 'the samādhi that is manifested as the sameness of the essential nature of all dharmas' (sarva-dharma-svabhavā-samatā-vipañcita-samādhi).[19][note 3]

Zen[edit]

A traditional Chinese Chán Buddhist master in Taiwan, sitting in meditation

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 samadhi, or sudden insight and gradual cultivation, are paired to each other.[20]

Hinduism[edit]

Patañjali's Yoga sutras[edit]

Samādhi is the main subject of the eight limb of the Yoga Sūtras called Samādhi-pada. Vyasa's Yogabhashya, the commentary to the Yogasutras, and Vacaspati Misra's subcommentary state directly that the samadhi techniques are directly borrowed from the Buddhists' Jhana, with the addition of the mystical and divine interpretations of mental absorption.[21]> 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."[22]

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 Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma and from Sautrāntika."[23]

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.[24] 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.[25]

Samadhi[edit]

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,[26][web 5] with and without support of an object of meditation:[web 6]

  • Samprajnata Samadhi, also called savikalpa samadhi and Sabija Samadhi,[web 7][note 4] meditation with support of an object.[web 6] Samprajnata Samadhi may be compared to the rupa jhanas of Buddhism.[27]
    Samprajata samadhi is associated with deliberation, reflection, bliss, and I-am-ness.[28][note 5] The first two, deliberation and reflection, form the basis of the various types of samapatti:[28][30]
    • Savitarka, "deliberative":[28][note 6] The citta is concentrated upon a gross object of meditation,[web 6] an object with a manifest appearance that is perceptible to our senses,[31] such as a flame of a lamp, the tip of the nose, or the image of a deity.[citation needed] Conceptualization (vikalpa) still takes place, in the form of perception, the word and the knowldge of the object of meditation.[28] When the deliberation is ended this is called nirvitaka samadhi.[32][note 7]
    • Savichara, "reflective":[31] the citta is concentrated upon a subtle object of meditation,[web 6][31] which is not percpetible to the senses, but arrived at through interference,[31] such as the senses, the process of cognition, the mind, the I-am-ness,[note 8] the chakras, the inner-breath (prana), the nadis, the intellect (buddhi).[31] The stilling of reflection is called nirvichara samapatti.[31][note 9]
  • Asamprajnata Samadhi, also called Nirvikalpa Samadhi[web 5] and Nirbija Samadhi:[web 5][note 10] meditation without an object,[web 6] which leads to knowledge of purusha or consciousness, the subtlest element.[31] Asamprajnata Samadhi may be compared to the arupa jhanas of Buddhism, and to Nirodha-Samapatti.[27]

Ananda and asmita[edit]

According to Ian Whicher, the status of sananda and sasmita in Patanjali's system is a matter of dispute.[33] According to Maehle, the first two constituents, deliberation and reflection, form the basis of the various types of samapatti.[28] According to Feuerstein,

"Joy" and "I-am-ness" [...] must be regarded as accompanying phenomenaof 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 constitue independent levels of samadhi.[33]

Ian Whicher disagrees with Feuerstein, seeing ananda and asmita as later stages of nirvicara-samapatti.[33] Whicher refers to Vācaspati Miśra (900-980 CE), the founder of the Bhāmatī Advaita Vedanta who proposes eight types of samapatti:[34]

  • 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.[30] Whicher agrees that ananda is not a separate stage of smadhi.[30] According to Whicher, Patanjali's own view seems to be that nirvicara-samadhi is the highest form of cognitive ecstacy.[30]

Samyama[edit]

According to Taimni, dharana, dhyana and samadhi form a graded series:[35]

  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[edit]

Ramana Maharshi distinguished between kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi:[36][web 8][web 9]

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.[36]

Kevala nirvikalpa samadhi is temporary, [web 8][web 9] whereas sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi is a continues state throughout daily activity.[36] This state seems inherently more complex than samadhi, since it involves several aspects of life, namely external activity, internal quietude, and the relation between them.[36] It also seems to be a more advanced state, since it comes after the mastering of samadhi.[36][note 11][note 12]

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[edit]

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.[citation needed] The Sri Guru Granth Sahib informs:[citation needed]

  • "Remember in meditation the Almighty Lord, every moment and every instant; meditate on God in the celestial peace of Samadhi." (p 508)[clarification needed]
  • “I am attached to God in celestial Samadhi.” (p 865)[clarification needed]
  • “The most worthy Samadhi is to keep the consciousness stable and focused on Him.” (p 932)[clarification needed]

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 Samadhi, lovingly attached to the Lord forever. I live by singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord” (p 1232)[clarification needed]
  • “Night and day, they ravish and enjoy the Lord within their hearts; they are intuitively absorbed in Samadhi. ||2||” (p 1259)[clarification needed].

The Sikh Gurus inform their followers:

  • "Some remain absorbed in Samadhi, their minds fixed lovingly on the One Lord; they reflect only on the Word of the Shabad." (p503)[clarification needed]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ n.d.: unpaginated
  2. ^ See Louis de La Vallée Poussin, Musial and Narad. Translated from the French by Gelongma Migme Chödrön and Gelong Lodrö Sangpo.
  3. ^ Gomez & Silk: "This samādhi is at the same time the cognitive experience of emptiness, the attainment of the attributes of buddhahood, and the performance of a variety of practices or daily activities of a bodhisattva—including service and adoration at the feet of all buddhas. The word samādhi is also used to mean the sūtra itself. Consequently, we can speak of an equation, sūtra = samādhi = śūnyatā, underlying the text. In this sense the title Samādhirāja expresses accurately the content of the sūtra."[19]
  4. ^ The seeds or samskaras are not destroyed.[web 7]
  5. ^ Yoga Sutra 1.17: "Objective samadhi (samprajnata) is associated with deliberation, reflection, bliss, and I-am-ness (asmita).[29]
  6. ^ Yoga Sutra 1.42: "Deliberative (savitarka) samapatti is that samadhi in which words, objects, and knowledge are commingled through conceptualization."[28]
  7. ^ Yoga Sutra 1.43: "When memory is purified, the mind appears to be emptied of its own nature and only the object shines forth. This is superdeliberative (nirvitaka) samapatti."[32]
  8. ^ Following Yoga Sutra 1.17, meditation on the sense of "I-am-ness" is also grouped, in other descriptions, as "sasmita samapatti"
  9. ^ Yoga Sutra 1.44: "In this way, reflective (savichara) and super-reflective (nirvichara) samapatti, which are based on subtle objects, are also explained."[31]
  10. ^ Without seeds or Samskaras[web 5] According to Swami Sivananda, "All the seeds or impressions are burnt by the fire of knowledge [...] all the Samskaras and Vasanas which bring on rebirths are totally fried up. All Vrittis or mental modifications that arise form the mind-lake come under restraint. The five afflictions, viz., Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga-dvesha (love and hatred) and Abhinivesha (clinging to life) are destroyed and the bonds of Karma are annihilated [...] It gives Moksha (deliverance form the wheel of births and deaths). With the advent of the knowledge of the Self, ignorance vanishes. With the disappearance of the root-cause, viz., ignorance, egoism, etc., also disappear."[web 5]
  11. ^ Compare the Ten Bulls from Zen
  12. ^ See also Mouni Sadhu (2005), Meditation: An Outline for Practical Study, p.92-93

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

Printed sources[edit]

  • Bronkhorst, Johannes (1993), The Two Traditions Of Meditation In Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 
  • Buddhaghosa; Bhikkhu Nanamoli (1999), The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga, Buddhist Publication Society, ISBN 1-928706-00-2 
  • David, John (1914), The Yoga System of Patanjali with commentary Yogabhashya attributed to Veda Vyasa and Tattva Vaicharadi by Vacaspati Misra, Harvard University Press 
  • Diener, Michael S.; Erhard, Franz-Karl; Fischer-Schreiber, Ingrid (1991), The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, Shambhala, ISBN 0-87773-520-4 
  • Farquhar, John Nicol (1920), An outline of the religious literature of India, Oxford University Press 
  • Forman, Robert K.C. (1999), Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness, SUNY Press 
  • Gombrich, Richard F. (1997), How Buddhism Began, Munshiram Manoharlal 
  • Gomez, Luis O.; Silk, Jonathan A. (1989), Studies in the Literature of the Great Vehicle: Three Mahayana Buddhist Texts, Ann Arbor 
  • Hui-Neng (year unknown), On the High Seat of "The Treasure of the Law" The Sutra of the 6th Patriarch, A.F.Price and Wong Mou-Lam  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Jianxin Li (year unknown), A Comparative Study between Yoga and Indian Buddhism, asianscholarship.org  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Jones, Constance; Ryan, James D. (2006), Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Infobase Publishing 
  • Kalupahana, David J. (1994), A history of Buddhist philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited 
  • Maehle, Gregor (2007), Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, New World Library 
  • Sarbacker, Stuart Ray (2012), Samadhi: The Numinous and Cessative in Indo-Tibetan Yoga, SUNY Press 
  • Schmithausen, Lambert (1981), On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism". In: Studien zum Jainismus und Buddhismus (Gedenkschrift für Ludwig Alsdorf), hrsg. von Klaus Bruhn und Albrecht Wezler, Wiesbaden 1981, 199-250 
  • Shankman, Richard (2008), The Experience of Samadhi - an in depth Exploration of Buddhist Meditation, Shambala publications 
  • Skilton, Andrew (2002), State or Statement?: Samādhi in Some Early Mahāyāna Sūtras, The Eastern Buddhist, 34-2, 2002 
  • Sutcliffe, Steven (2004), Religion: Empirical Studies, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. 
  • Taimni, I.K. (1961), The Science of Yoga: The Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali in Sanskrit, Nesma Books India, ISBN 978-81-7059-211-2 
  • Thurman, Robert (1984), The Central Philosophy of Tibet, Princeton University Press 
  • Vetter, Tilmann (1988), The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism, BRILL 
  • Werner, Karel (1994), The Yogi and the Mystic, Routledge 
  • Whicher, Ian (1998), The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga, SUNY Press 
  • White, David Gordon (2014), The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: A Biography, Princeton University Press 
  • Wijebandara, Chandima (1993), Early Buddhism, Its Religious and Intellectual Milieu, Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya 
  • Williams, Paul (2008), Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations, Routledge 
  • Wynne, Alexander (2007), The Origin of Buddhist Meditation, Routledge 

Web-sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Buddhism
  • Vetter, Tilmann (1988), The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism, BRILL 
  • Bronkhorst, Johannes (1993), The Two Traditions Of Meditation In Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 
Hinduism
  • White, David Gordon (2014), The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: A Biography, Princeton University Press 
  • Maehle, Gregor (2007), Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, New World Library 

External links[edit]

Hinduism
Buddhism