[Advaita-l] [advaitin] What is Samadhi?

Ven Balakrishnan ventzu at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Feb 2 13:30:18 EST 2024

I would have approached the question in the way that I think Ramanamaharshi would have - i.e. what / who is it that is to practice samadhi?

The mind is ‘perceived’ or experienced, as much as the body and world is - it is just thoughts, which as percepts are part of the field, rather than the ‘knower of the field’. Consequently mind / thoughts are also superimpositions, avidya.

Self-realisation is dis-identification with the body-mind (‘a a snake sloughs its skin’ per Brhad Up).  Ramanamaharshi would say by looking for the “I”-thought it vanishes.

Gaudapada (and Sankara) in MK3.37 et seq confirms this (taken from Sw Gambhirananda):

37. The Self is free of all sense-organs, and is above all internal organs. It is supremely tranquil, eternal effulgence, divine absorption, immutable, and fearless.

38 . There can be no acceptance or rejection where all mentation stops. Then knowledge becomes established in the Self, and is unborn and poised in equality.

Sankara’s bhasya in discussing this asparsa yoga confirms that it is the disintegration of individuality:
"the non-discriminating ones who apprehend the destruction of their personality, which fact becomes the cause of their fear; they are afraid of it, thinking this Yoga to be the same as the disintegration of their own individuality, though in fact it is beyond all fear.”

Thereafter, Guadapada and Sankara go on to discuss how the mind should be made quiet, withdrawn from sense-objects, etc . Gaudapada goes on:

46. When the mind does not become lost nor is scattered, WHEN IT IS MOTIONLESS AND DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE FORM OF OBJECTS, THEN IT BECOMES BRAHMAN.

47. That highest Bliss is located in one's own Self. It is quiescent, coexistent with liberation, beyond description, and birthless. And since It is identical with the unborn knowable (Brahman), they call It the Omniscient (Brahman).

Compare and contrast with Ramana’s “mauna”, in Guru Vachala Kovai (from Michael James’ translation):

516. The true form [nature] of God [Self] cannot be understood except by the mind which stands firmly still in nishta [Self-abidance or samadhi]. Therefore, without allowing the mind either to wander as a vagabond [i.e. to undergo waking and dream] or to fall into laya [i.e. to fall into sleep] due to tiredness, train the mind to be conscious and still on one target [Self].

517. Give up all attachments towards the petty sense- objects [vishayas], which are caused by the delusion ‘I am this fleshy body’. The silent mind [thus stilled by renouncing sense-objects] is the pure mani-lingam [superior form of Sivalingam]. If this is adored [i.e. if this mental silence is carefully preserved with great love, which is the real worship of it], it will bestow unending bliss.

So it is not that nirvikalpa samadhi needs to be practised and attained. Rather it is the outcome, the culmination of attenuating and finally dissolving the ‘I’-thought. As per Sureshvara, in Naiskama Siddhi:

3.28: The more a man turns inward and negates the body, etc, so much more does the meaning of the word “that” tend to enter into the meaning of the word “thou’.

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