Immersion in States of Samadhi
Samadhi is a Sanskrit word that is translated as the ecstasy or bliss of oneness with God, the universe, or a Supreme entity. A dedicated Yoga practitioner experiences various states and grades of samadhi along the spiritual path. Samadhi is the eighth and final limb of Patanjali's eight limb path of Raja Yoga as delineated in his Yoga Sutras. The experience of samadhi is supremely restful and filled with the bliss of the divine. Samadhi is experienced as a vibrantly awake, non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the seer and the seen become one. According to the Rig Vedas and the Upanishads of ancient India, there are various levels and grades of the experience of samadhi. In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, there are four main levels of samadhi.
The first state of Samadhi is known as Savikalpa Samadhi. In this initial state of samadhi, a Yoga practitioner is supremely awake and aware of the vibrating essence of divinity in and around him or herself. The Yogi or Yogini will be resting in the clear light of inner awareness and be undisturbed by thoughts or occurrences in the internal and external worlds. Some spiritual aspirants have a difficult time being grounded and functioning in this world when they reach this level of samadhi.
Asamprajnata Samadhi is a deepening of the Savikalpa level of samadhi. In Asamprajnata Samadhi, a spiritual seeker will become even more immersed in the internal experience of the construction of the universe and the pulsating bliss of God's love. In this state of samadhi, a Yogi or Yogini may find it even more difficult to operate in the ordinary world and may retreat to do intensive spiritual practices for a time.
The next level of samadhi is known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi. In this state of samadhi, there is only an infinite consciousness of bliss with no form or structure. This is the state that Buddhists refer to as the clear light of bliss. In this powerful state of samadhi, a spiritual seeker loses all sense of personal identity and becomes merged into the divine, transcendental awareness of the divine. For most Yogic practitioners who reach the state of Nrvikalpa Samadhi, it is impossible to function in the world, and the spiritual aspirant must retreat for a time to a secluded and protected cave, forest or monastery to stabilize and integrate his or her experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
The fourth and highest level of samadhi is known as Sahaja Samadhi. In the highest state of Sahaja Samadhi, a Yogi or Yogini is able to remain immersed in the profound bliss and wisdom of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, while simultaneously functioning beautifully in this world on a daily basis. Attaining the level of Sahaja Samadhi is extremely rare.
Over the centuries, there have been a number of spiritual teachers who have attained the highest state samadhi and offered to publicly awaken and guide spiritual seekers. Some of these teachers are the Buddha, Jesus, Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi and Gurumayi, to name only a handful. Spending time with these living masters was nothing short of miraculous for a devoted spiritual seeker.