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 samadhi-like moments. 

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

Birth of Stars (Hubble Images) NASA

 

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 surrenders spontaneously and completely you will have experienced Samadhi.

Note: Events such as birth of a child or the first sight of the sea are not experiences of Samadhi! They are samadhi-like and are used here to give us an idea what the real experience might be feel like.

Book Recommendation

Shakti Sadhana: Steps to Samadhi

Comments:

shibu Bhaskaran from Dubai:
Really wonderful article. While reading itself a joy arise.we are experience samadhi in our day today life but lack of awarness we are not knowing it.
Thank you for remembering importance of awarness in day today life.

Choi Yan yau from Melbourne:
Thank you.
My most treasured moments are those samadhi moments that appear somewhat unforgettable. The mind always comes back in a state of 'what just happened?'... And cannot let go of the incident. A strong sense of longing grows and that is hard to let go of. It seems to start the greatest search of one's life... The search for God.

Krishna from Darmstadt:
Thanks a lot for this article. There was a time a few years ago when I was a bit naive, I had so many such "awe" moments for the universe both scientifically, and relationship wise. I was in constant gratitude. But now, I have become too cluttered with "life". I dont regret the maturity I have gained. But I fear I have lost my sense of wonder in the process. This article has inspired me to make sure I put an effort to contemplate on the vastness, to create moments of surrender where I allow my mind to let go off trying to comprehend the limited things, to wonder and be grateful.

Linda from Oslo, Norway:
Thankyou for this article. The greatest samadhi moments for me was to give birth to my daughters. Time seamed to subside and pure bliss and unconditional
love filled my whole being. I have also helped many women give birth and its increadible to witness. To surrender to the pain and let go, expand and open for the birth of a child, has changed me. When I look back I think these samadhi moments activated the dormant seed in me of awakening and caused it to germinate. Now I long to go deep within, past the pysical body, senses, mind and intellect~ to realize the source of love and bliss thats hidden within me and everyone. To be able to dwell in unity and be in a state of calm and pure love.

Aleksandra from Macedonia:
This is really good picture in words of what Samadhi is.
When I was reading this article I tried to remember a Samadhi moment in my life.
It happened when I saw for the first time in my life how the sun sets into the sea. It was amazing, i wanted that moment to last forever.
After few years i was working in the restaurant on the beach looking the sunset. Everyday was a different experience but nothing close to the first time.

Meeta from bangalore:
What a beautiful article, thank you so much Radhika ji for this one.After reading this i started going back in my life, where I had experienced such beautiful moments like holding my children after birth for the first time, i still remember when i held them, i was totally lost though it was a small moment but it was so beautiful and something shifted with in my heart and i felt i was complete within myself. This article has further motivated me to be more aware in my day to day life and experience such moments.

Manisha from USA:
There is much that I could relate to in this article. Some years ago, a thought came to me that there appeared to be three types of situations in which there was suspension of thought: where one sense is overwhelmed, where all senses are overwhelmed, and where an emergency situation presents itself. Now that I think about it, it seems that they are all shades of the same ... it is possible that it starts with one sense, but then all the senses are flooded and it leads to clarity and/or bliss. One example of a situation in which one sense was being overwhelmed was when listening to the sounding of certain musical gongs ... my whole being was filled with the vibrations...filled with awe and freedom! It was as if the cup of the auditory sense was filled to the brim and flowed over so that all the senses were flooded. However, there was a beginning and an end to the experience. So the prospect of an everlasting 'aha moment' is enticing!

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