3 Insights into Samadhi

ashtanga Dec 20, 2017

The word ‘Samadhi’ first appears in an ancient text called Maitrayani Upanishad, more than 2000 years ago. Unlike the English language where every word has a direct meaning, Sanskrit is a poetic language where sounds express concepts rather than singular connotation. Reflecting on the two primary sounds that comprise our word of choice we can get our 1st insight into this beautiful concept. ‘Samadhi’ can be divided into the two sounds ‘Sama’ and ‘Dhi.’

The sound ‘Sama’ has the following meaning: ‘same,’ ‘equal,’ ‘even,’ ‘neutral.’ While the sound ‘Dhi’ is a root sound for the English verb ‘to see.’ ‘Samadhi’ can thus be considered as ‘neutral vision.’

In a poem about a thousand years ago, the poet Jelluladin Rumi, provides us with our 2nd insight into the concept of ‘neutral vision’ –

Beyond ideas of Right doing or Wrong doing
There is a field.
One day I will meet you there.” (Rumi – translated by Coleman Barks)
‘Neutral vision’, is thus an ability to rise above judgment, which causes conflict, and experience the connection that exists. ‘Neutral vision’ allows us to build communities, relate to others, and connect with our own fragmented sense of self. ‘Neutral vision’ gives us a clearer idea of the meaning behind the word ‘Yoga’ which means ‘union.’

Think of ‘Neutral vision’ as an action, one we can participate in. An action both on and off the mat.  Am I judging the moment as positive or negative? Do I hate the traffic jam, or do I simply accept the situation and enjoy the magic of being alive, despite the slow moving commute?

Outside the philosophical perspective, Yoga is a tangible reality. Connecting to your own breath changes your posture, enhances your presence, establishes a sense of confidence and transforms the way others relate to you.

Let us look at the rest of Rumi’s poem as we conclude with our 3rd insight and the connection between ‘Samadhi’ and ‘Namaste.’

Beyond ideas of Right doing or Wrong doing
There is a field.
One day I will meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
The world will become too small to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other”
Will make sense no more.” (Rumi – translated by Coleman Barks).
Rumi’s poem ends with a sense of unification beyond the sense of separation we feel. Yoga’s strengths is in bridging our human experience, with something as simple as the word utilized at the end of class: ‘Namaste.’

Where ‘Samadhi’ is a call to action, ‘Namaste’ is a reflection of the result achieved through practicing ‘neutral vision.’ ‘Namaste’ has a simple message, yet requires a full English paragraph to translate:
‘There is a place of light, love, peace and truth (recall Rumi talking about a field beyond judgment). When you are in that place in yourself (Rumi will meet you there), and I am in that place in myself, then there is only one of us (Rumi’s echo again: “even the phrase ‘each other’ will make sense no more”).’

Our 1st insight into ‘neutral vision’, the 2nd insight sharing a practice of letting go of judgments, culminating in the 3rd insight of seeing the connection that lies all around us:

…step out into your day and get fully aware of your inhale and exhale

…feel of the ground beneath your feet, the air surrounding your head

…allow these insights to guide your daily experience.

You will be surprised at the shifts you encounter.