iii. 3. First-range Samadhi

3.3 Total Mind Absorption

Swami Venkatesananda translates this sutra as:

When the field of observation and the observing intelligence merges as if their own form is abolished and the total intelligence shines as the sole substance or reality, there is pure choiceless awareness without the divided identity of the observer and the observed – that is illumination.

While this type of Samadhi is not the top-class seedless or “nirbija samadhi” that we discussed at the end of Book I, it is the next meditation range when, as Patañjali says, “meditation illumines the object alone, as if the subject were devoid of its own identity.” We will be exploring the former in great detail in Book IV since it is also referred to as the “essential-cloud”, or “dharma-megha Samadhi”—something that a Lankavatarian is most attuned to. This present-samadhi illuminates phenomena in the sense that the first glimpse of the Dharmadhatu is revealed, as layers of defilement are peeled back to disclose the True Deathless Face of Reality. It’s like the yogin develops keen night-vision wherein he/she becomes like a ray of Unborn Light that illumines everything in its path. There is no longer a sense of separateness. All is merged-together as One, One Substance that is arrayed like a Cosmic Hologram that appears to take on characteristics of what constitutes the fullest expression of the Unborn Absolute.

Mircea Eliade effectively sums up the dynamic relationship between these first three sutras:

We are, then, confronted with two sharply differentiated classes of “states”. The first class is acquired through the yogic technique of concentration (dhāranā) and meditation (dhyāna); the second class comprises only a single “state”—that is, unprovoked enstasis, “raptus”. No doubt, even this asamprajñāta samādhi is always owing to the prolonged efforts on the yogin’s part. It is not a gift or state of grace (emphasis mine). One can hardly reach it before having sufficiently experienced the kinds of samādhi  included in the first class. It is the crown of innumerable “concentrations” and “meditations” that have preceded it. But it comes without being summoned, without being provoked, without special preparation for it. That is why it can be called a “raptus”.  (Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, pg. 80)

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