Samadhi is a Sanskrit term to denote a state of intense concentration or absorption of consciousness induced by complete meditation. This term is used by both the Hindus and the Buddhists to describe a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the experiences of the subject as well as object becomes one. The etymological meaning is derived from the root “sam” (together or integrated), “a” (towards), and “dha” (to get, to hold). Thus, the literal meaning can be derived as acquiring integrity, or wholeness, or truth.
Samadhi means that a person is in ecstasy, in bliss, tranquility and light. The Hindus use Yoga as a means to achieve Samadhi; the consciousness is absorbed in the object of meditation. In Buddhism, Samadhi is the outcome of the development of mind through insight developed from meditation, and is attainable by Buddhists as well as non-Buddhists. In this stage, the mind is believed to become still (one-pointed or concentrated); but the person remains conscious at the same time.
Samadhi in Buddhism
Samadhi, or concentration of the mind, is the part of the Noble Eightfold Path, “Right Concentration”. And, it is the second of the three parts of the Buddha’s teaching: Sila or Conduct, Samadhi or Samatha (Concentration), and Panna (Wisdom). It was taught by the Buddha using forty different methods of meditation, such as “mindfulness of breathing” (Anapanasati) and “loving kindness” (Metta).
Upon development of samadhi, a person’s mind is believed to become pure from defilement, calm, tranquil, and luminous. Once the person achieves a strong and powerful concentration, his mind is at the threshold of seeing the ultimate nature of reality, eventually obtaining release from all suffering.
Two Kinds of Samadhi
There are two kinds of Samadhi. One is after one leaves this world; the sate of mind of the person is forever in ecstasy and in heavenly bliss. The other type is a milder state of ecstasy that one can experience every day through meditation, or any other type of ritual.
In the stage of deeper ecstasy, one may feel as if the body does not exist, even though one is aware that he or she exists. Instead, one may see light and feel peace, bliss and ecstasy.
Shamatha is the art of making the mind still through the method of “letting go” of consciousness. In Buddhist usage, it is also considered synonymous to the term “samadhi”.
The nature of concentration involved in this form of art is detachment through meditation. One simply rests the mind on an object and then proceeds to let go of everything else around. Since Samatha has the dual nature of “letting go” and “one-pointedness”, a person is either to allow the emotional and conceptual content of the mind to settle of its own weight, or to rest the attention on a specific object and gently return it there each time it wanders off to experience ecstacy.