Samadhi (Bliss or Enlightenment): The Eighth Limb of Yoga Explained

Samadhi, Bliss, the union with the Whole and oneness with the Universe, is something that cannot be explained in words. It’s something each individual must try to experience on his own.

Many of us know the word samadhi as meaning ‘bliss’ or ‘enlightenment’, and this is the final step of the journey of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  When you have traveled through the seven limbs of yoga, when you have found ways to deal with yourself and the world, moved your body and your breath, when you have removed external stimuli, focused your mind and meditated, you are getting ready for the highest state of consciousness.Samadhi, Bliss, the union with the Whole and oneness with the Universe, is something that cannot be explained in words. It’s something each individual must try to experience on his own.

What is Samadhi?
Yoga is a spiritual practice, and Samadhi is the 8th and final stage on the eightfold path of yoga. It is a state of consciousness where individual awareness dissolves into the great Whole.

There are different levels of Samadhi, or different stages of connection with the Divine, but when the word Samadhi is used alone, it usually refers to the state of enlightenment, which is the highest form of Samadhi.

When we look at the word samadhi though, we find out that ‘enlightenment’ or ‘realisation’ does not refer to floating away on a cloud in a state of happiness and ecstasy…. Sorry.  Breaking the word in half, we see that this final stage is made up of two words; ‘sama’ meaning ‘same’ or ‘equal’, and ‘dhi’ meaning ‘to see’. There’s a reason it’s called realisation – and it’s because reaching Samadhi is not about escapism, floating away or being abundantly joyful; it’s about realising the very life that lies in front of us.

The ability to ‘see equally’ and without disturbance from the mind, without our experience being conditioned by likes, dislikes or habits, without a need to judge or become attached to any particular aspect; that is bliss.

There’s just one catch though – Samadhi isn’t a permanent state. Patajali’s Yoga Sutras importantly tell us that unless we are completely ready, without ‘impressions’ such as attachment, aversion, desires and habits, and with a completely pure mind, we will not be able to maintain the state of Samadhi for long. And like the stages before it (Dharana and Dhyana), Samadhi does not come upon anyone by accident. It takes dedication and effort, and a person must be willing to train the mind and go deep inside.

Sutra 1:46 (translated by Swami Satchidananda)
“Even after acquiring all these states, you can come back as an ordinary person because the impressions are still there. All your desires are still in the seed form, not completely freed, because you have not completely purified the mind. That is why you should make the mind pure before you practice deep meditation. It is all well and good to learn the different methods of meditation and the experiences that could come to you. But if you are really serious about this business and really want to go deep into meditation, take care to have a clean mind. Otherwise, you are not going to get it.”

Once the mind is pure and we truly do experience a state of Samadhi we can keep hold of, we attain moksha, also known as mukti, meaning a permanent state of being liberated, released and free.

State of Connection

We are spiritual beings, or souls, who have a body. We have a spirit that is connected with the Source, with the whole Universe. This is a state where material possessions lose their meaning; where we can come to realize that we don’t actually own anything, not even our bodies.

Everything physical will dissolve, everything in our physical world will eventually disappear, or at the very end we will lose them when we leave this physical world. But the spirit is eternal and it knows this. We just need to reconnect with this inner knowledge.  Just as Meister Ekhart used the word isticheit meaning ‘is-ness’ as referring to the pure knowledge of seeing and realising just ‘what is’, this stage is not about attaching to happiness or a sensation of ‘bliss’, but instead it’s about seeing life and reality for exactly what it is, without our thoughts, emotions, likes, dislikes, pleasure and pain fluctuating and governing it. Not necessarily a state of feeling or being, or a fixed way of thinking; just pure ‘I – am – ness’.

How does Samadhi fit in your daily life?

At first it may seem like this is something too far to even try to bring into our daily life. But traveling towards Samadhi does not mean you have to permanently move to a far-away Ashram.

You can live your life as it unfolds, and start to recognize this pure spirit in yourself, and in everyone and everything around you. If you are a divine light, a soul that is part of the Universe, then so are others. The people you love and the people you don’t like. The animals around you and the nature.

When we can move past the mind and the ego which wants to judge, possess and compare, and when we can see that others are divine as well, we are moving closer to a state of connection.

Every moment can become an opportunity to practice this great journey towards Samadhi. To feel the connection, to try to be intensely present, and to feel the love that comes with it. According to the great yogis, connection like Samadhi is something that every soul knows in its core.

In our essence we are it, therefore we don’t need to learn it as something new, instead we’ll need to take off layers, un-learn and find our way back.


Leave a Reply