Stages of Samādhi


Stages of Samādhi

i.17-18 There are varying degrees of samādhic attention

1.17 (Samprajnata Samadhi) distinguishing objective-meditative stimuli via four cognitive tools: through form (gross level); through discriminative participation on more subtle levels; through inspirational means leading to a state of bliss; through direct sublimational identification, I-AM-NESS.

The beginning of this series established Yoga as Samādhi; now we have arrived at a junction wherein the stages of samādhi are broken down. In Yoga Sutras of Patañjali with the Exposition of Vyāsa, Pandit Usharbudh Arya, D. Litt, breaks-down the centuries-old renowned commentary by Vyāsa and relays in this particular section:

Now, when one’s vrttis of the mind-field have been brought under control (niruddha) through the two means (abhyāsa and vairāgya), in what ways is samprajñāta Samadhi said (to ensue)?

[Sūtra:] Samprajñāta, the samādhi of wisdom, occurs through the accompaniment of the appearances of gross thought (vitarka), subtle thought (vichāra), ecstasy ( ānanda), and I-Am-Ness (asmitā).

The definitions of samprajñāta in general are based on the derivations of the word from:

sam: well, proper, deep, harmonized, balanced, holistic

pra: forth, expansive, perfect, complete

jñā: knowing

Reference has been made time and time again in these blogs of the Lankavatarian adage: What the mind focuses on determines its [body] of reality. There’s also a parallel saying in Proverbs (Prov. 23:7) stating “as a man thinks so he becomes”. The Dhammapada also begins with the assertion that “what one thinks, one will bring into reality”. Hence, this particular sutra of Patañjali breaks-down the four cognitive-variables that make up this process. Ultimately, though, this whole endeavor is mere mental gymnastics and is inadequate to the Supreme Yogic thrust, one that bypasses the whole cognitive mechanism and emphasizes its cessation in order to Recollect THAT which is prior to it all. The following sutra drives this point home.

1.18 The Supreme Stage of Samādhi (Asamprajnata) is activated through one-pointedness of Mind wherein all outside vexations of the lesser clouded-mind are quieted and eventually cessated.

In this stage there is no further objective or lesser-subjective phenomena that are sustainable, hence all former cognitive associations are now imperceptible. When engaged in this state literally whatever used to keep the Mind preoccupied is disengaged, and there is as it were no longer any form of image (form, imagination, sensations, and relationships) to cling to for illusional support of any kind. It’s like one is hanging naked in the depths of spacelessness. This is a stage that mystics like John of the Cross refer to as “The Dark Night of the Senses”; John would say that nada, nada, nada is left to lend any sensorial support. The beauty is that when all of this former mind-stuff is disengaged, the Reality of the Unborn Dharmadhatu is revealed in all of Its imageless splendor.

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6 Responses to Stages of Samādhi

  1. Neti-Neti Yeti says:

    I have a question.

    Is it possible to recognize or measure the stage of samadhi during meditation without exiting the samadhi and/or inviting “mind monkeys” into the meditation?

    • Vajragoni says:

      Hi Neti-Neti-Yeti

      In context of this post, the variables within 1.17 can be discerned during a session. In 1.18 there is no longer any need for recognition, recognition of what and by whom?

  2. Neti-Neti Yeti says:

    I can see this.

  3. Neti-Neti Yeti says:

    In the spirit of like-minded seeking, I would observe from my study of sanskrit (somewhat brief during college) in the definition of:


    the root “sam” (which is also found in the term “sanskrt” itself) is very complex and also carries the sense of “sacred”.

    This root has always fascinated me because from it, we derive such words in English as “same” and “song”. To engage in a bit of poetics, it could be said that samadhi is the sacred song of perfect being.

    The addition of the prefix “a” generally is negational, meaning “not” or “un”, or in this case, as I understand it, it would have the sense of “absence”. Most meditators realize soon enough that what falls away in meditation is abundantly significant.

    And in a sense, to explore this poetic nuance of “sacred harmony” or of “song”, all vibrations of consciousness, as it were, which are not in tune are brought in tune.

    So perhaps it is not there is nothing to be perceived in mind of samadhi; in this sense of “absence”, it could be fruitful to say there is nothing which is perceptible in discord. One might say it is the process of tuning the mind, or of becoming “attune” to mind.

    Ultimately, when there is no more discord with the music of Buddha nature, it is:


    If so, it could be said that engagement at the level of asamprajnata is if the song of mind is in perfect symphony with the song of the Buddhas. When we no longer perceive the discord is when we hear the music of reality freed from all delusion.

  4. Neti-Neti Yeti says:

    No, my friend, thank you!

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