The Seven Stages of Samadhi
The Seven Stages of Samadhi
There are supposed to be seven stages of the attainment of samadhi, and what I described yesterday is the lowest type, though even that initial stage might have appeared to you as very hard indeed. However, to the extent you have understood what was said, you have taken a very bold step in the right direction. These stages mentioned are just the processes of the disentanglement of consciousness from involvement in the various levels of the manifestation of the universe. In deep meditation, bordering upon samadhi, you are contemplating the whole universe in front of you.
The accepted categories of the descent of consciousness in the process of evolution and involution are elaborately described both in the Sankhya and the Vedanta doctrines. The lowest manifestation in the process of creation, or evolution, is earthly existence. We are now in the lowest category of life, involved in material associations. Not merely that, but things are utterly differentiated from one another. Diversification goes to the utmost extent when we reach the earth plane. Nothing has any connection with anything else; everything stands by itself. You can see for yourself that in this world, nothing seems to have any connection with anything else. “Each one for oneself and let the devil take the hindmost” is the kind of doctrine that prevails in the lowest category of manifestation. We call it worldly existence, earthly existence.
There are cosmic levels corresponding to the levels in our own psychophysical personality because the individual and the universe are co-relatives of each other, and act and react in a comprehensive manner. We may say an individual is a cross section of the whole universe. We will find in each individual entity a miniature universe. In traditional language, these stages, or levels of manifestation, are called Bhuloka, the earthly level, and beyond that is Bhuvarloka, the astral world, which is somewhat comparable to our vital layer of individual personality. These levels cannot be seen with the eyes, just as we cannot see our own subtle body. They are higher levels, one above the other. There is another level, which is more subtle, called Svarloka. In the Puranas it is regarded as the heaven of the gods, the abode of resplendent beings with shining bodies of fire who are not materially encumbered in any way. The gods are supposed to be capable of penetrating even hard rock because their bodies are the fine substance of the fire principle. These are the heavens of the religious scriptures.
Higher than that is Maharloka, a level where even the fire-like individuality gradually tends to evaporate into a larger and wider comprehensiveness. In the Puranas there are fantastic descriptions of the residents, or the denizens, of this realm. They tend to touch each other just as flames of fire can touch each other, wherein we cannot know whether there are two flames or they are actually commingling into a single flame. A complete merger does not take place, but the flame of the rarefied personality has a tendency to move towards immersing itself in another flame that is also like itself. Inconceivable are all these to our minds. Beyond Maharloka is Janaloka, another subtle realm where only Masters live, and not ordinary mortals. Great potentials of cosmic power are imbedded in every denizen of that wonderful, magnificent realm which is unthinkable, inexpressible, and totally transcendent to our understanding.
These names may be difficult to comprehend, and only indicate the subtlety of the manifestation of being—so subtle that the winds of individual existence blow into the location, as it were, of individuals of a similar type. Winds blow over winds, we may say. When winds blow, we do not know what is blowing. Winds blow from all sides and collide from one side to another. A gale can rush from one direction and come in contact with a similar gale from another direction. Wonderful! That is the only word we can use to describe this state.
Beyond Janaloka is Tapoloka, where the austerity of individuality reaches such a pinnacle that the consciousness of individual selfhood tends towards evaporating, like burnt camphor. When camphor is inflamed with heat, it melts into a vaporous ubiquitous substance, and it is said that such is the experience of these Masters, these austere individuals. We need not call them individuals at all. They are super-individuals; we cannot use a better word. They are the meeting point of the cosmic and the subtle individual substance, one shaking hands with the other.
An illustration of this kind of experience is mentioned in the Chhandogya Upanishad. When the seeking consciousness rises gradually in the process of the samadhis mentioned, it reaches a particular stage where it has no individual or personal motive. In the lower levels, there is motivation. The seeker feels that something has to be done; meditation is to be carried on, and concentration is to be directed in this fashion. But that is only up to a level where there is self-consciousness of the seeking spirit. A stage is reached where it is about to reach the sea of existence. When the river moves towards the waves of the ocean, we cannot say whether the river exists or does not exist. It is both there and not there.
How will the spirit move further, higher up, when there is no individual motivation? Self-effort is not possible there because... (read more HERE)