A Further Stage of Samadhi

Book 1. Sutra 18. A further stage of samadhi is achieved when through one-pointed thought, the outer activity is quieted. In this stage the chitta is responsive only to subjective impressions.

The word “samadhi” is subject to various interpretations, and is applied to different stages of yogi achievement. This makes it somewhat difficult for the average student when studying the various commentaries. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to realize its meaning is to remember that the word “Sama” has reference to the faculty of the mind-stuff (or chitta) to take form or to modify itself according to the external impressions. These external impressions reach the mind via the senses. When the aspirant to yoga can control his organs of sense-perception so that they no longer telegraph to the mind their reactions to that which is perceived, two things are brought about:

1. The physical brain becomes quiet and still,
2. The mind stuff or the mental body, the chitta, ceases to assume the various modifications and becomes equally still.

This is one of the early stages of samadhi but is not the samadhi of the adept. It is a condition of intense internal activity instead of external; it is an attitude of one-pointed concentration. The aspirant is, however, responsive to impressions from the subtler realms and to modifications arising from those perceptions which are still more subjective. He becomes aware of a new field of knowledge, though as yet he knows not what it is. He ascertains that there is a world which cannot be known through the medium of the five senses but which the right use of the organ of the mind will reveal. He gets a perception of what may lie back of the words found in a later sutra as translated by Charles Johnston, which expresses this thought in particularly clear terms:

“The seer is pure vision… he looks out through the vesture of the mind.” (Book II Sutra 20)

The preceding sutra (Book 1. Sutra 17) dealt with what may be called meditation with seed or with an object; this sutra suggests the next stage, meditation without seed or without that which the physical brain would recognize as an object.

It might be of value here if the six stages of meditation dealt with by Patanjali are mentioned as they give a clue to the entire process of unfoldment dealt with in this book:

1. Aspiration,
2. Concentration,
3. Meditation,
4. Contemplation,
5. Illumination,
6. Inspiration.

It is of value here to note that the student begins by aspiring to that which lies beyond his ken and ends by being inspired by that which he has sought to know. Concentration (or intense focusing) results in meditation and meditation flowers forth as contemplation.


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