If we look at Hindu or Buddhist scriptures, where the term samadhi originates from, its meaning is not really clear; it can mean many things. Additionally, neither tradition draws a proper distinction between samadhi and awakening; these terms are used more or less interchangeably and without any real insight into the direction of evolution which they are pointing to. However, drawing the distinction between awakening and samadhi is essential to comprehend the internal dynamics of our evolution into our true self and transcendence. These terms need to be clarified and their intricate relationship thereby understood.
Awakening and samadhi represent different dimensions of enlightenment. Awakening is more horizontal in nature: it is the turning of the light of consciousness and our heart back into itself so that we can realize who we really are. Samadhi refers to the process of surrender of our personal self into the soul, and the surrender of our soul into the light of the universal self. Though the deeper levels of samadhi are vertical in nature, there is also a horizontal samadhi. Horizontal samadhi refers, for instance, to the absorption of pure me in consciousness, which happens behind the back of the headspace. We call this the horizontal samadhi of consciousness with eyes open.
There are usually two aspects within any awakening: one is self-realization, which is meeting the light of our pure subjectivity, the second is an energetic expansion into the impersonal energy of I am. In samadhi there is less emphasis on expansion and more on disappearance or merging. Expansion can only take place in the horizontal plane. In the vertical reality, the quality of spaciousness is transformed into the unity of absence and bliss.
Awakening takes place in the dimension of presence, samadhi in the dimension of absence. Awakening is more about the realization of who we are; samadhi is more about reaching unity with universal existence. As there are several centers of awakening, so there are several portals to samadhi, which has a fundamentally vertical direction. The soul awakens through the three centers of I am, which are located in the head, heart and belly, and these three centers also serve as doorways to the beyond, portals into the inner dimension, to the beyond. The doorway to absence in the human body is the tan t’ien, which is the center of the vital force in the lower belly. Reaching the absolute state (unity with the source on the level of being) is our first entry into true samadhi, a perfect absorption in the beyond. After that, the other awakened aspects of the soul and me gradually gravitate into integration with samadhi in the absolute.
The horizontal dimension of samadhi refers to the merging of me with I am, which means that me cannot enter vertical samadhi before it has been merged with the soul. That merging is a function of the horizontal surrender of me into I am, the result of which allows us to embody our soul and become our integrated higher self.
So there are basically three dimensions of our internal evolution that are fully interconnected with the intricate process of returning to our pure nature: awakening, horizontal surrender of me, and vertical samadhi which manifests through the vertical surrender of our soul (the unity of me and I am) into the source. Awakening and samadhi are fully interdependent. There is no samadhi without awakening – there are only false states of suspension coming from an intoxication with imbalanced practices. It is possible to experience awakening without samadhi, but one must at least be in horizontal samadhi in order for that awakening to be real. If me is split from I am, one is not really awakened; one merely has an access to the space beyond the mind.
We can see here a direct relationship between awakening and horizontal samadhi, but there is also a profound interdependence between awakening and vertical samadhi. Awakening usually does not by itself manifest vertical states of samadhi. Because reaching the absolute state has a purely vertical direction, it represents a slightly different case: here awakening to the pure me of being and entering the realm of absence should ideally be realized as one; these processes are naturally more integrated. If one reaches the absolute state without having awakened the pure me of being, that state cannot be embodied and, due to the lack of the strength of identity in being, usually remains very weak. Reaching the absolute state without awakening is to be in the right place without having become the true subject to that realization. Simply speaking, one still does not know who is in the absolute, who has entered the beyond, who has been absorbed in the source. One is in the kind of samadhi in which one does not have a real sense of self – samadhi and ignorance combined.
As a rule, awakening should be followed by the cultivation of vertical surrender, by which we develop an awakened relationship with the source of our existence. That process is complex because each of the awakened centers of the soul must surrender and be merged. In addition to this, through vertical surrender, the centers of the soul merge with each other in their movement to merge with the beyond so that she can fully experience herself as one being.
The depth of our awakening is in direct relationship to the depth of our samadhi. Samadhi is not only the absorption of the awakened state in the absolute, it also allows that state to awaken more deeply. One can indeed be awakened, can realize one’s soul, without samadhi but that realization remains incomplete. Why? Because in order to become her complete and pure self, the soul must be re-absorbed into the state of absence: she must be one with the source. We need to understand that any awakening is a realization within the confines of the dimension of presence, within the waking state of this universe. Samadhi transports us to the other side, into the divine realm. When our soul is in samadhi, in the state of surrender, she becomes fully relieved from her presence so to speak. This should not be confused with the dissolution of our individuality. In samadhi she reaches her pure universal presence and her impersonal individuality: she becomes a divine being, one with the light of creation, one with the heart of god.
The last subject to understand is the necessity for the integration of any of the awakened states and states of samadhi with our ordinary waking consciousness. Those who are not integrated become addicted to sitting in meditation or having their eyes closed. They refrain from interaction with the world because the moment their normal mind is activated, they lose their inner state. Sometimes it is fully lost, and sometimes the experience is simply very weak. In the natural samadhi, there is no difference between sitting in meditation or being engaged in activity; our pure nature and level of absorption in the source remain intact. Beings who are in the natural samadhi continue to sit in meditation from time to time, not because they are practicing but because sitting in meditation allows us to direct the totality of our attention into our relationship with the inner realm. In activity, our attention is naturally distributed between cognition of our pure nature and the external. Sitting in meditation is a natural expression of our love and devotion to the beloved, to the creator of our soul; it is the true and only prayer.
Reaching natural samadhi is not the end of our evolution into the inner. In truth, there is no such a thing as the end of evolution. To reach unity with the inner realm is a new beginning, a new journey of the soul into the mystery of the divine, the never-ending journey of the light of our individual existence into the love and consciousness of the supreme reality.
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