Stages of Samadhi According to the Ashtanga Yoga Tradition

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Eric B, modified 5 Years ago.

Stages of Samadhi According to the Ashtanga Yoga Tradition

Posts: 186 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
I came across this article about the stages of samadhi according to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and found it very interseting.  I though I'd share it, since I'm sure the other fellow map fans here would like it as well.

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-stages-of-samadhi-according-to-the-ashtanga-yoga-tradition
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Stages of Samadhi According to the Ashtanga Yoga Tradition

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy eric,
interesting.  looks like a shamata breakdown although i couldn't read an exact jhana correlation out of it.  patanjali is a mysterious charachter, coming many generations after gotama but remaining historically vague.

its pretty notable in the article that the concept of anatta is absent, which one would expect but nevertheless it lends a flavor to the commentary that is distinctly non-buddhist.

the concept of samadhi in patanjali's lexicon and view has often been seen as the goal and that comes across in this article even if not stated explicitly whereas the buddhist perspective sees the jhanic states as conditioned and not the goal....but thats stating the obvious..

thanks for the good read
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Chris J Macie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Stages of Samadhi According to the Ashtanga Yoga Tradition

Posts: 863 Join Date: 8/17/14 Recent Posts
tom moylan:
... patanjali is a mysterious charachter, coming many generations after gotama but remaining historically vague.
...
the concept of samadhi in patanjali's lexicon and view has often been seen as the goal and that comes across in this article even if not stated explicitly whereas the buddhist perspective sees the jhanic states as conditioned and not the goal....but thats stating the obvious..


Patanjali's 'Kriya Yoga' I've run into in Parmahansa Yogananda derived practice. It's definitely Brahmanic, though said to be heavily influenced by Buddhism -- it has an '8-limbed path', that in outline resembles the Buddhist 8NP. The idea of samadhi I found practiced there was a sort of blissed-out piti / rapture, and some consider that a sort of nirvana.

According to the scholar Alexander Wynne (The Origins of Buddhist Meditation), the Buddha was schooled in Vedic practice that used jhana meditation as a sort of blissing-out, or hiding from dukkha, so to speak, during life, and then at death finding liberation in merging with Brahma. But he thought something better was possible, and figured out a path infusing the older idea of meditation / dhyana with mindfulness / insight cultivation so as to arrive at release during life -- using samadhi and vipassana together.

(As Ayya Khema, and other Theravadans, put it: samadhi is necessary but not sufficient for unbinding.
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Ian And, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Stages of Samadhi According to the Ashtanga Yoga Tradition

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
People, you have to be careful when you venture off the reservation (i.e. the Dhamma) and find yourself in unknown or uncharted territory (i.e. the Yoga Sutras). Despite their obvious similarities, these two are not fully describing the same territory. You have to pay attention to detail if you wish to be able to distinguish between the two territories. In this same way, you also have to be able to pay attention to the details in the discourses of Gotama in order to discern what he was endeavoring to bring to your attention. Otherwise, it flies over your head and you do not see it! emoticon

How am I able to say this? Because I am familiar with the territory that these two disciplines describe. I have studied them both in depth and have been able to see their differences. And the reason how I am able to make this statement is because I have practiced them both and know whereof I speak. In other words, I know the territory and have witnessed the results of each practice. But this is only applicable to me and not to anyone else who has not taken the time to explore these disciplines within their own practice.

In the interest of saving others time in learning about this, you can read all you wish about the ways that Patanjali's Yoga Sutras define meditation, and if it helps to deepen your understanding of the term in terms of how that term is used in the Dhamma, then fine. There is an interesting write up of the Yoga Sutras distinction of meditation, dhyana, and samadhi at the following link:

http://ocoy.org/soham-yoga-the-yoga-of-the-self/dharana-dhyana-samadhi-and-meditation/ 

However, be very careful what you buy into when reading through that link. There are many descriptions that do refer to the same things between the two systems of practice, but not all. As soon as you begin seeing terms like "unity mastery" and "permanent state" and the like, that alone should provide you with a red flag about what is being discussed. Consider yourselves as having been warned should you venture over to that link.

Chris J Macie:

According to the scholar Alexander Wynne (The Origins of Buddhist Meditation), the Buddha was schooled in Vedic practice that used jhana meditation as a sort of blissing-out, or hiding from dukkha, so to speak, during life, and then at death finding liberation in merging with Brahma. But he thought something better was possible, and figured out a path infusing the older idea of meditation / dhyana with mindfulness / insight cultivation so as to arrive at release during life -- using samadhi and vipassana together.

(As Ayya Khema, and other Theravadans, put it: samadhi is necessary but not sufficient for unbinding.)

Yes, I would agree with the explanation provided here by Chris. And I would also posit that the devil is in the details, and how well one can discern those details.
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Stages of Samadhi According to the Ashtanga Yoga Tradition

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy guys,
i love reading your (pl) thoughtful posts VERY much.  in this case i believe, though, that we are all saying the same thing in different ways.  :-)
Small Steps, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Stages of Samadhi According to the Ashtanga Yoga Tradition

Posts: 248 Join Date: 2/12/14 Recent Posts
Earlier in the year, I read a translation and commentary of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra by Chip Hartranft. He has made his translation from Sanskrit available here.

I found his commentary very relatable. Not surprisingly, the translator has a background in Buddhism and probably his understanding is thus inspired. This book motivated me to look at yoga a little more seriously as a practice for awakening and not for the myriad other reasons Westerners (North Americans in general, and Americans in particular, maybe) glom to it.

It's clear though that the use of the word samadhi is very different between Buddhism and some Hindu traditions. When I asked one of my yoga instructors directly how she was using it, she referenced "union with the divine," and implied some state of realization, which is not typically how any of us would think to use it.

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