Religious Knowledge, Spiritual Vision
Julian C. Lee Mickunas



Introduction |  The YS: Path To God-Knowledge  |  The Summary Verses
Western Confusion About Yoga  |  On Brahmacharya
The Essence of Yoga |  The Problem  |  On Preparation
On Meditation  |   On Meditation Objects |  On Inner Divine Light
On Aum  |   On the 4th Pranayama
 |   On Samadhi  |  On Siddhis |  The State Of The Sage  |  Yoga-Sutra Metaphysics  |  APPENDIXES


Then pratyahara, in which the senses finally imitate and follow the mind, likewise withdrawing themselves from their objects.


From pratyahara, supreme mastery over the senses.

Pratyahara is reversal of the life force up the spine instead of down; away from the senses instead of down through the senses and towards their world-projections. With the onset of pratyahara, the breath is taken away, the heart stops, and the first stage of samadhi unavoidably dawns. 


Sabija samadhi is accompanied by gross thought, subtle thought, bliss, and the sense of "I am."


In sabija samadhi exists thought, knowledge related to words, and based on further sense perception, plus divine knowledge in mixed states and the mind alternates between them.

Now the Yoga-Sutra lays out two general kinds of samadhi. The first is sabija which means "with seed." Then it lists four categories of mind contents found in sabija samadhi. Another word for sabija samadhi is samprajnata samadhi. "Seed" refers to three things:

-- The meditator may retain a meditation object that he continues to focus on.

-- The meditator is experiencing things, dualistic things, including the highest things up to and including bliss itself and the barest sense of "I exist." 

-- The meditator is left with impressions or samskaras -- dualistic impressions albeit very high and pleasant ones -- of these dualistic experiences. In the context of higher samadhi even bliss is a dualistic experience, leaving bliss impressions.

In sabija samadhi the yogi may remain aware of his meditation object or alambra -- his mantra, the guru, divine light -- or he may perceive and grasp hold of new ones as he enters in. He may hold onto these. One of these can be bliss itself or the bare "sense of I." Have you ever started to faint or black out? One of the tricks for getting through that experience without losing consciousness is to start thinking "I am, I exist, I am, I exist." You will find that will often keep you from losing consciousness. You can lose hold of everything else, but if you hang onto that alambra, you can often remain standing. That is because "I exist" is the last thing that has to go before mergence in God.

In sabija samadhi the religious person is experiencing something, including the very highest and satvic things that can be experienced. In sabija samadhi there remains a thinker and the thought; the experiencer and the experience, the Seer and the seen. 

Sabija samadhi with vitarka

The Sutra lists five things that can be present in sabija samadhi. The first is vitarka, sometimes rendered as "reason," "argumentation" or analysis but best rendered as gross thought about grosser objects. These are not the grossest material objects of waking consciousness such as stones, cars, weather or women -- but grosser objects such as we experience in dream. There is an object or experience of some kind; the object is being pondered, contemplated, analyzed, with verbal associations present. An "I" also remains who is experiencing. 

We might think this is the form of contemplation that all people engage in whenever they are concentrating on a problem. However, the verse refers to a form of samadhi, which is not the normal state of consciousness that all experience when concentrating or contemplating a thing in the waking state, but a degree of inwardness-while-conscious than most never experience in their lives. We can understand it easily however when we think of the dream state and especially more "lucid" dreams. In sabija samadhi the religious person literally breaks his way into the dream state while wide awake.

In a lucid dream you are not aware of the world, but you are aware of things. You see and experience things. You respond to them, you may reason about them, explore them, and seek them. During the dream state you find yourself perceiving objects and thinking about them. However, this is samadhi, so it refers to a state like sleep but you are not asleep. Indeed, acquiring samadhi is the process of learning to go into the sleep state while still conscious. 

Pandit Usharbudh defines vitarka as "gross thought." Leggett renders vitarka as "verbal associations." If you are in a dream state and can think in English (or your worldly language) about what you are experiencing -- you are in the realm of gross thought about grosser things. They are more subtle than the things of the normal waking experience, but in the range of samadhi these astral objects are gross objects.

Sabija samadhi with vichara

Pandit Usharbudh renders vichara as "subtle thought." This is the form of "thought" that most of us experience in lucid dream states. We experience objects, and may examine or interact with them, but find it difficult to think about them in words, or to even bring back words for these objects into the waking state. This is increasingly true as the objects we are experiencing become higher and higher such as Causal objects. We are experiencing subtle objects of the astral planes, many of these objects being the astral counterparts of things we experience in the gross conscious state. The difference now is that the things we are experiencing are beyond the description of our earthly lexicon or our rational waking mind though we may come back with vivid memory about them.

Sabija samadhi with ananda

Ananda means bliss and it is also translated as ecstasy. We have blissful experiences in the dream states and in religious worship. In sabija samadhi we experience this bliss more directly and consciously. It is a "seed" because he may concentrate on that bliss, and because an "I" is experiencing it as something different than himself, and because it is leaving him with an impression or samskara of bliss. The yogi is then developing deep bliss-experience and bliss  samskaras which make it continually easier for him to slip back into those bliss grooves and states, just as a skip in a record easily makes the needle go there again. Likewise, experience of wealth will make wealthy future lives inevitable; the experience of fame will make future famous lives repeat, etc. The grooves of human samskaras, for the religious person, finally deepen unto bliss and finally Pure Consciousness. This happens most powerfully through the religious experience of samadhi.

Swami Hariharananda in his "Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali" has perhaps the best commentary on the above sutra. He states that each preceding level gives way to the next level and is supplanted by it. Thus, once subtle thought (vichara) arises, gross thought (vitarka) gives way to that and has been passed. Once concentration on ananda arises, there is no more gross or subtle thought. He writes: "Concentration on bliss is free from Vitarka or Vichara." This is basically like divine drunkenness. When one is drunk he cannot carry on much of a coherent conversation or even think coherent thoughts.

However, I do not think it is all as neat and orderly as that. Note verse 1:42 (above) and what it says about samadhi-with-seed:

"In sabija samadhi exists thought, knowledge related to words, and based on further sense perception, plus divine knowledge in mixed states and the mind alternates between them."

The samadhi-lands can be as messy as your dreams and as wild as conscious out-of-body states. In fact, realize that the mastery of conscious astral-projection and conscious dreaming states is synonymous with the development of the first two stages of sabija samadhi -- involving the perception of gross and subtle objects. The difference with the samadhi yogin is that he can enter that subtle planes at will and begin to develop a systematic approach to it and relationship with those planes. Also, through the mastery of pranayama in the form of kevali kumbhaka (discussed later), his entry into it is more complete, decided, and conscious than the average semi-conscious astral projection student.

Sabija samadhi with asmita

The last seed listed in samadhi-with-seed is asmita, which means the "sense of I-ness" or "I exist." Hariharanda writes lucidly about this last reach of samadhi-with-seed:

"Concentration with Vitarka and Vichara is dependent on and relates to knowable objects. Concentration based on a feeling of felicity relates to the organs of cognition [the organ being the mind], while that based on pure I-sense relates to the knower. As the latter relates only to the cognizer, i.e. to conceptions like "I am the cognizer of the bliss,' and thus concerns only the 'I', it is free from the touch of bliss. This implies a state beyond the feeling of bliss and not the lack of it."

"Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali," Swami Hariharananda Aranya, p. 44

The samadhi experience bestowed upon me by the Indian siddha Karunamayi fit the description of sabija samadhi with asmita. It was the higher reach of sabija samadhi since I retained the "I am" alone, while experiencing the ananda layer briefly on the way through up and down.

The question now arises: Where do the forms of samadhi called savikalpa and nirvikalpa fall along this spectrum? Yogananda define savikalpa samadhi as a samadhi in which consciousness of the world is lost, as in sleep, with the cessation of breathing and heartbeat. The yogi cannot function in the world. He said that nirvikalpa samadhi was a higher attainment, and that it's distinguishing feature was the ability to still perceive the gross material world and function in it. This is perhaps the most powerful position in terms of the power of thought, but lacking the overwhelming feature of the lower bliss.

From this it is clear that nirvikalpa samadhi refers to the higher asmita (I am) stage of samadhi-with-seed, along with the seedless variety, about to be discussed in the next sutra. The unconscious savikalpa samadhi refers to the three prior stages of perception of gross and subtle astral objects, and absorption in bliss. In both savikalpa and nirvikalpa samadhi the heart does not beat and there is no need to breathe. That is to say, both the state that is non-functional in the world and trance turned, and the state of worldly functionality feature no heartbeat and no breath. Before going on to the seedless samadhi, it would be well to discuss sabija samadhi a bit longer, as it is the form of samadhi that makes up the bulwark of  yogi tales and the accounts of God-seekers of both Hinduism and Christianity. You may say, indeed, that savikalpa samadhi-with-seed is the "fun part" of religious life. It is also the realm in which siddhis, or miraculous powers, necessarily begin to develop. One commentator on the Yoga-Sutra states 'Now the yogi will sport and play in the field of siddhis for a long time.'

Samadhi is not a state of daydream, absent-mindedness or even mere keen concentration although success in keen concentration is what brings it. Contrary to what some modernes think, yogic samadhi is something distinct beyond these everyday things. In all states of sabija samadhi the yogi becomes able to consciously leave the body and play in this gross material realm (if he cares to keep it erected) or other astral realms. This is a blissful state and the devotee will have grateful tears upon leaving it. In this samadhi is the experience of the blissful God Isvara, God of creation. This is His nearer realm. This samadhi is called sananda, or joyous. In this samadhi the ahamkara, or ego, still exists just as you may have experienced yourself performing actions and thinking as yourself during so-called "lucid dreaming." In the three lower forms of sabija samadhi the religious person plays in the kingdoms of God and has a closer interaction with Isvara, the Lord of Creation, as a devotee to his King.

Reference to the state of dreams in sleep continues to have utility in explaining the lower samadhi states. We have a dreaming or astral self that is much more knowing and has richer experiences nightly than the little ego-self called "Julian" or "Martha" or "Mr. Smith" who lives in this world. Normally Mr. Smith is carried on the back of astral self, during dream adventures, as if a younger brother is carried on the back of his big brother, but he normally naps. Occasionally as we spiritually develop the little brother awakens during his older brother's astral adventures. At that time he will be generally be wide-eyed, flabbergasted, and both awed and shocked by what he sees. Usually he will go right back to sleep as if in a feint, overwhelmed by it all and unable to take in very much. However with the development of vairagya (dispassion) and fearlessness in the waking life of the little brother, he becomes able to cope with these experiences and stay "awake" to them for longer periods. Further, with his facility in entering that state without going to sleep at all -- while conscious -- his experience of the realm grows and he becomes braver. Then he becomes more capable of doing things that have a relationship with his waking life and the world he has "left behind," which still exists in him as a mere blueprint of that world in an unmanifested state -- a set of samskaras -- during his astrally awake state. 

Gradually through the little brother's waking experiences on the back of big brother, the two brothers merge into one.

Without detachment, a sense of deep faith in God, and some gradual experience the astral plane is full of surprises and confusions that are upsetting to the inexperienced "little brother." He may even develop, through premature or forced entry into that realm, grave fears of that realm and of things and creatures encountered there. This will hamper his development. Thus it is best that entry into the astral planes be accomplished gradually in combination with a developing earthly faith and fearlessness, combined with the technical skill brought by meditation, pratyahara, and sabija samadhi. With constant practice plus faith in God these developments will come of their own. If you are developing rightly as a yogi, you will not care about any things, persons, creatures, or places in the astral world even tough they are far more interesting and attractive than anything in the outer material world. If you are developing rightly, you will prefer bliss, Aum, jyoti -- and even the very thought of God -- to any of these experiences. Upon finding yourself conscious in astral planes you will say to yourself: 'This bores me. I have no interest in it whatsoever.' This attitude is, itself, a part of the path of the yogi laid out in the Yoga Sutra. However, conscious experience of astral planes gives impressions (samskaras) and further such experiences will naturally unfold through familiarity with them. This is inevitable. These experiences then give special abilities that flower during the waking state. One reason for this is that the planes above the gross physical world are more real, and the things found here are based and rooted there. The astral plane has control over the gross physical plane. A yogic adept gradually learns this. However, the true yogic adept will not care, but rather continue his purification and God-quest with a deepening God-love, letting Purusha plus his own purification take care of the messes and conundrums of this world. However, the flowering of siddhis are inevitable on the religious path, as Jesus indicated.

"With seed" has a third important meaning. In sabija samadhi the yogi is receiving impressions (samskaras) of experience. They are no longer the impressions of the gross waking world as it was, but impressions of the higher worlds or, as it happens, this world from that state. It is samadhi-with-seed because he is having experiences. 


The other variety is Nirbija samadhi which contains only the subtle impressions (samskaras) of the first.

In this state pure satva and the "idea of stopping" from the first samadhi is the focus. There is only a consciousness of being. It is like the state of deep, dreamless sleep, yet ineffably blissful because conscious.


In one whose citta-vrittis are almost annihilated, fusion and entire absorption in one another of the cogniser, the cognition and the cognised occurs, as a transparent jewel placed near an object takes on that object's colors.


In Nirbija samadhi, all forms have vanished, memory is purified,  the essence of the object alone shines forth.


By what has been said, the same two experiences, in the cases of meditation on subtle objects have also been revealed.


The province of subtle objects extends all the way up to the indissoluble level of prakriti.


The purity of Nirbija samadhi being attained, one knows pure light and prasad.


He has direct knowledge of things, different from knowledge based on testimony, inference.


His consciousness is truth- and right-bearing.


The samskaras produced by nirvikalpa samadhi overwrite other samskaras.


With the suppression of even the samskaras of sabija samadhi, one becomes established in Nirbija samadhi.


His yogic mastery extends from the finest atom to infinity.

Introduction |  The YS: Path To God-Knowledge  |  The Summary Verses
Western Confusion About Yoga  |  On Brahmacharya
The Essence of Yoga |  The Problem  |  On Preparation
On Meditation  |   On Meditation Objects |  On Inner Divine Light
On Aum  |   On the 4th Pranayama
 |   On Samadhi  |  On Siddhis |  The State Of The Sage  |  Yoga-Sutra Metaphysics  |  APPENDIXES

COPYRIGHT 2011 Julian Lee.
All RightsReserved.

The Chidakasha Gita
Of Nityananda and Commentary


The Yoga-Sutra On Kumbhaka and The Breathless State
Julian C. Lee Mickunas



Devotion, love of God, emotional feeling directed to God.
The Yoga-Sutra's word for God or Saguna Brahman, the Supreme Soul, original Person, all-powerful creator of the manifest universes.
Individualized consciousness, all the separate "I"s other than God, like the Christian idea of soul.

Affliction, impurity, taint

Nirguna Brahman
God as pure consciousness, with the only attributes being sat-chit-ananda or being, consciousness, and bliss. Human beings merge with Nirguna Brahman nightly in dreamless sleep, covered by a film of nescience or unconsciousness. Often when "Brahman" us used alone it refers to Nirguna Brahman.

rishi or rsi
Yogic sage, holy man of India, literally "forest sage."

Saguna Brahman
God in a manifested form with other attributes, such as creatorship, etc. Conceptualizations of Saguna Brahman include Vishnu, Shiva, the all western ideas of God, Isvara, etc.
Complete stoppage  of thoughts and absorption in one of the levels of consciousness above waking, while in the waking state. Samadhi can be savikalpa or nirvikalpa. The first is awareness of the dream state while awake. The 2nd is awareness of the bliss of the dreamless state while awake. Mergence in God. Saguna Brahman or Isvara is considered to pertain to the dreaming state; Nirguna Brahman to deep dreamlessness or pure consciousness.

"Impression." A mark on consciousness "This happened, I was this." Similar to memory.

Miraculous power.
Austerities, penances, practices of bodily mortification and renunciation.

The inner energy or  potency that is gained by celibacy. Similar to the concept of ojas built up by chastity. Fundamental inner virtue from celibacy.

Women's American Body Yoguh



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