We’ve made it to the 8th stage of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga! If you haven’t followed along with the previous 7 articles, you can find them under the ‘Learn’ category on my website.
The final limb of Yoga is Samadhi. You’ll notice that as we move through the stages of Yoga, each one becomes less physical and objective, instead becoming more abstract and metaphysical. So, as you can image, Samadhi is one of the hardest concepts to put into words.
The following quote about Zen Buddhism can also be applied to the topic of understanding Samadhi:
“Taking it all in all, Zen is emphatically a matter of personal experience; if anything can be called radically empirical, it is Zen. No amount of reading, no amount of teaching, no amount of contemplation will ever make one a Zen master. Life itself must be grasped in the midst of its flow; to stop it for examination and analysis is to kill it, leaving its cold corpse to be embraced.”
― D.T. Suzuki
When a meditator achieves a state of Samadhi, human consciousness becomes one with cosmic consciousness, therefore it is a state of complete absorption. It can only be achieved through years of dedicated practice of the Yamas and Niyamas (guidelines for right action), Asana (a steady seat), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal from senses), Dhyana and Dharana – the latter two, a.k.a. concentration and meditation practice, especially.
Other words that are akin to Samadhi and can help us understand the concept are:
- Ultimate liberation
- Nibbana / Nirvana
- Equanimity – psychological stability to the point that the mind is undisturbed by any experience that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.
The final synonym listed above is “union”. If you translate the word “Yoga” from Sanskrit to English, it actually means “union”. This is the meaning and ultimate goal of Yoga, which is why Samadhi is the final stage in Ashtanga Yoga – once you achieve oneness, you achieve true Yoga!