Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Yogi Corner: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Samadhi

Yogi Corner: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The most famous part of the Yoga Sutras is called the "eight limbs." Sometimes referred to as branches, these limbs are to be worked on until the impurities are dwindled away in order to achieve yoga. For October we will discuss the final limb, that of "Samadhi."

"Tad Evarthamatra Nirbhasam Svarupa Sunyam Iva Samadhih
B.3, V.3
Translation: Samadhi is the same as meditation when there is the shining of the object alone, as if devoid of form. 

Ah, Samadhi: the elusive "goal" of all yoga. This is it - the final limb - the thing that your consistent work with all of the others has led you to. But what IS it? Well, it has many ways of being described, although most yogis will tell you that you cannot define samadhi in our language. Some possible interpretations have been: Liberation. Freedom. Bliss. Nirvana. Ecstasy.

Some people equate this things with being other-worldy, but the sutras define this state as entirely possible to those on the path of yoga. Somewhere along the line we were told that we could not live a divine life, that we would not ever truly be happy, or free or truly liberated. Yoga says this thinking is erroneous. Yoga tells us that we are all whole, divine, light and free. What we are bound by is our ego and egoic nature that keeps us feeling deprived. When we truly surrender ego, we are no longer bound. We become "Selfless" instead of "Selfish." And that is when we begin to understand.

In the words of Sri Swami Satchidananada about Samadhi, "One who has achieved this may look similar to anyone else. But the burnt nature of his or her mental seeds is the difference between ordinary people and the jivanmuktas (liberated beings). They also eat, sleep and do everything like everybody else. They may be doing anything, but they are not affected by what they do. There is no moisture of attachment to cause sprouting. They are living liberated people. Liberation is not something you experience when you die. While living, you should be liberated. Jivan-muktamukta means liberated, jivan, while living. 

That is the final state of samadhi. It is not sitting stiffly with eyes closed, as some people think. If sitting like a statue is what you call samadhi, all the rocks in the garden must be in deep samadhi. No. You will be useful: you will be active - more active than other people. Your actions are more perfect than other people's. You are dynamic, but you are static."

The Yoga Sutras goes on to say "Tajjayat Prajnalokah." B.3 V.5. Translation: By the mastery of samyamacomes the light of knowledge. This means that when we practice the last three limbs (dharana, dhyana and samadhi) together, that this is called samyama. In samyama the truth behind an object becomes known to us. We finally understand what was previously obscured. 

And so, all of our steps, or limbs, have brought us to this point of understanding. We have discovered new territory and it was right there, all along, right under our own nose.

"Whenever we relinquish our craving, clinging, and grasping, whenever we stop the war with reality, whenever we are totally present and undivided, we are immediately in union with our true nature." Stephen Cope,Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.