Raja Yoga: Samadhi and Surrender

The expanse of space is overwhelming

Samadhi is the eighth and last limb of Raja, the Royal Path of Yoga. Raja is also known as Astanga, the Eightfold path.

I was walking along the Arabian Sea in Mumbai when a group of village folk got out of an old bus. They looked at the sea for the first time in their lives. They were simply awe struck. They did not know it, but as they were reflecting on the vastness of the sea, as they stood rooted to the ground, gaping wide eyed in sheer wonder, they had had a split second glimpse of Samadhi!

Indeed we all have had such fleeting experiences of Samadhi. 

A state of wonder and awe

The power behind a deafening clap of thunder is awesome, so is the immense expanse of the sky. We marvel when technological wonders like a Boeing 747 weighing thousands of tonnes lift off and actually fly. Now imagine maintaining that sense of wonder and awe, not for a few seconds, but for a few minutes or as long it takes to completely transform you. That is Samadhi.

We have all had an idea. It may be an idea for a new game, a beautiful outfit or an interesting recipe. How do we describe the feeling that comes with it? We might see it as a  floodlight, we call it a flash of inspiration. In cartoons and pictures it is visualized as a bright bulb over the head. It has a sound that goes with it too: A-ha! It brings a feeling of intense joy. Yet it's gone in a snap of a moment. Now if you could stay in that state long enough that it would make a different person out of you, that would be Samadhi. 

The gift of divine vision

We have moments of heightened perception in our daily lives when we recognize the miracles of nature. Isn't the birth of a child a miracle? Or the blooming of a rose? And the rising of the sun? There are miracles scattered all around us and yet we remain unaware of them. A yogi sees and experiences wondrous miracles in our so called ordinary lives.

Creative people, whether writers, dancers, actors "see" differently. They are perceptive and sensitive and go deep within themselves, such persons have great insights in to life. Artists, musicians, poets and other creatives see a bigger picture; bigger but still incomplete. In the Bhagvad-Gita, Sri Krishna gives Arjuna the divine sight to see Him in his true form, and Arjuna sees the entire Universe. The prospect of seeing the Infinite is terrible and is beyond the conception of the mind.

In the realms of Perfection and Infinity

The Eagle Nebula: Birth of Stars (Hubble Images)

 

Have you ever experienced Infinity? Try this experiment:

Visualize yourself, as you gently fly off the earth, in to the inky darkness of outer space. It is completely silent and still. Do you see the vast emptiness of space? Look beyond the planets, there, where billions of stars fill the dark skies, where thousands of galaxies float in space. This is the Universe. It extends in to Infinity. Does the Universe end somewhere in space? If it does, is there a wall somewhere? Imagine the size of this wall! And what lies beyond this wall...

The mind drifts off and you might feel sleepy when you try to conceive of such mind boggling ideas, precisely because they are mind-boggling! When you experience a profound sense of wonder, you are at the very limit of your mind. All you can do is surrender. Do not try to understand Infinity, it will defy your mind and imagination. Do not struggle with words to express it, for it is indescribable. Infinity is limitless and thus overwhelming, while you are only mortal. 

When you have touched the edge of Infinity, you have had a glimpse of God. Before God, you can only surrender. When your mind spontaneously surrenders you will have experienced Samadhi.

Book Recommendation

Shakti Sadhana: Steps to Samadhi

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