Samadhi is the last limb in Patanjali's eight branches of yoga. It means "that which is placed together." We have covered the other seven limbs to better understand how we even contemplate getting here: yamas, niyamas, asanas, pranayama, pratyhara, dharana and dhyana...to samadhi. Each branch divides into its own myriad of twigs and all together they show us the path to self knowledge and wisdom.
Judith Lasater uses the example of a grid when describing samadhi. She says to imagine there is a mesh grid in front of you that is made out of your beliefs and your gender and your history and so it filters your perceptions based on these biases and labels.
"The grid is the sum total of our beliefs—conscious and unconscious—about reality. Samadhi is the state in which we no longer experience reality through a grid; instead, we experience reality directly... Samadhi is the state in which you are aware on a cellular level of the underlying oneness of the universe." Judith Lasater
When asked, "Do you teach your disciples any specific technique for attaining samadhi?", Sri Chinmoy responds, "No. Samadhi is a very high state of consciousness. If the beginner comes to kindergarten and asks the teacher how he can study for his Master's degree, the teacher will simply laugh. He will say, "How can I tell you?" Before we are ready to try to attain samadhi, we have to go through many, many, many inner spiritual experiences."
There seem to be different levels of samadhi as well as different types. In savikalpa samadhi, one can lose track of time in a state where the meditator and object transcend being separate and, instead, become as one. As for nirvikalpa samadhi, Sri Chinmoy writes, "you see the universe as a tiny dot inside your vast heart."
Specifically, the Yoga Sutras state the following concerning samadhi, as best as one can translate the Sanskrit into English:
"Sutra 3.3: “Samadhi is deep absorption on the object without thought of the self. Then, the essential nature of the object shines forth.”
Sutra 3.4: “The practice of these three (dharana, dhyana and samadhi) when applied to an object is called samyama (perfectly controlled).”
Sutra 3.5: “Through mastery of samyamah, knowledge born of intuitive insight shines forth.”
The following poem is considered a gifted revelation by Swami Kriyananda, that its author, Yogananada, was able to be in a state of cosmic consciousness and then actually verbalize it for others to read.
by Paramhansa Yogananda
Vanished the veils of light and shade,
Lifted every vapor of sorrow,
Sailed away all dawns of fleeting joy,
Gone the dim sensory mirage.
Love, hate, health) disease, life, death,
Perished these false shadows on the screen of duality.
Waves of laughter, scyllas of sarcasm, melancholic whirlpools,
Melting in the vast sea of bliss.
The storm of maya stilled
By magic wand of intuition deep.
The universe, forgotten dream, subconsciously lurks,
Ready to invade my newly wakened memory divine.
I live without the cosmic shadow,
But it is not, bereft of me;
As the sea exists without the waves,
But they breathe not without the sea.
Dreams, wakings, states of deep turiya sleep,
Present, past, future, no more for me,
But ever-present, all-flowing I, I, everywhere.
Planets, stars, stardust, earth,
Volcanic bursts of doomsday cataclysms,
Creation’s molding furnace,
Glaciers of silent x-rays, burning electron floods,
Thoughts of all men, past, present, to come,
Every blade of grass, myself, mankind,
Each particle of universal dust,
Anger, greed, good, bad, salvation, lust,
I swallowed, transmuted all
Into a vast ocean of blood of my own one Being!
Smoldering joy, oft-puffed by meditation
Blinding my tearful eyes,
Burst into immortal flames of bliss,
Consumed my tears, my frame, my all.
Thou art I, I am Thou,
Knowing, Knower, Known, as One!
Tranquilled, unbroken thrill, eternally living, ever new peace!
Enjoyable beyond imagination of expectancy, samadhi bliss!
Not a mental chloroform
Or unconscious state without willful return,
Samadhi but extends my conscious realm
Beyond the limits of the mortal frame
To farthest boundary of eternity
Where I, the Cosmic Sea,
Watch the little ego floating in me.
The sparrow, each grain of sand, fall not without my sight.
All space like an iceberg floats within my mental sea.
Colossal Container, I, of all things made.
By deeper, longer, thirsty, guru-given meditation
Comes this celestial samadhi
Mobile murmurs of atoms are heard,
The dark earth, mountains, vales, lo! molten liquid!
Flowing seas change into vapors of nebulae!
Aum blows upon the vapors, opening wondrously their veils,
Oceans stand revealed, shining electrons,
Till, at last sound of the cosmic drum,**
Vanish the grosser lights into eternal rays
Of all-pervading bliss.
From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt.
Ocean of mind, I drink all creation’s waves.
Four veils of solid, liquid, vapor, light,
Myself, in everything, enters the Great Myself.
Gone forever, fitful, flickering shadows of mortal memory.
Spotless is my mental sky, below, ahead, and high above.
Eternity and I, one united ray.
A tiny bubble of laughter, I
Am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.