“Samprajnata samadhi is accompanied by reasoning, reflecting, and pure I-am-ness.”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Vitarka Vicaranandasmitanugamat samprajnatah

Vitarka: reasoning | Vicara: reflecting | Ananda: rejoicing | Asmita: pure I-am-ness | Anugamat: due to the following, from accompaniment | Samprajnatah: distinguishing, discerning; [samadhi: contemplation]


“There is a danger [in attaining Samadhi]…but we have to face the danger of it. That is why you have to prepare yourself with purity…[The danger is the selfishness of ego, itself, so] your new-found powers…should [, therefore,] not be used for selfish purposes.”

-Sri Swami Satchidananda

Going beyond practicing Yoga for personal attainment, to using your personal attainment to serve others by holding and/or creating the space for their healing, growth, and transformation is, I feel, the highest honor, and goal, of your inner work if (because it is not required) you are inspired to “make a positive contribution” in others’ lives by spreading “light” in the world. It is also, I would go on to suggest, the highest function of Samadhi (Self-Realization/enlightenment) when you have the ability, or “calling,” to be a healer, a teacher, or a person in service to a higher cause than your own personal agenda, extending your blessings out from only serving your individual body-mind ego to serving the greater existence that encompasses all as one without pretense, agenda, or expectation.

If called to serve a greater purpose than your own personal salvation, first, you purify yourself from your own attachment to pain and other ego-satisfying clingings, such as the empty pursuit of desires, and then you build your capacity to hold a safe transformative space for others to do the same, without running away from their sadness, pleasure-seeking behaviors, pain, suffering, or light, in the same way that you did not run away for your own sufferings or desires, but instead gained mastery and control over them by facing them head-on, nor did you run from your own light, but, instead, fully opened up to all that you are through/in it.

Why Selflessness Is Required In Spiritual “Work”

When you are no longer running from your own pain, or clinging to your own desires for comfort, no longer hiding away in your illusory “oasis” of avoidance or ego denial/delusion, but simply creating more sacred openings in and around you through your sheer presence (because you are whole and strongly grounded in the Truth of your pure-“I-am-ness” regardless of whether anyone else around you is also grounded in their Truth/light/higher-Self expression, etc.), you can then truly be of service to those who look to you for education, guidance, and/or support, which is the highest honor for any healer, or teacher, on this path.

This journey requires exposing yourself to a wide range of difficult witnessing, however, so in order to get to a point where you are of maximum service to your Self, your students, clients, and communities, you must first build the capacity to be non-attached and non-judgmental–even to your understanding of the causes of suffering that you will clearly be able to observe from your studies and work (but particularly to those that you can only speculate about if egoic projections/distortions are still present within you). To be of greatest/true service in the world, you must have a strong foundation of personal ethics from practicing your Yamas and Niyamas, have obtained the skill of discernment to make the best choices in any given moment, and must have already purified yourself from conditioned ignorance to the point where selfish interests truly (and not just because your ego claims so) no longer guide your work or your life (and please note that selflessness, which involves letting go of ego attachments, does not mean self-abandonment or martyrdom either, since, being a biological being expressed in the world, you need to be honest about your own body-mind needs for wellness, and care for your physical manifestation, in order to do your best work).

This embodied purity is the only way that you can then hold a truthful and useful space for the benefit and healing of those you serve without stealing/wasting their time, energy, or resources.

Always remember that, in your work of using your gifts, understandings, talents, abilities, and pure spirit, in service to the benefit of others and the “greater good,” no one is there for “you.” Remember, please, that everyone is at different points on their journey, and sincere seekers of spiritual support and/or knowledge only truly seek connection with, or insight on how to more effectively channel, or teach others who they serve to channel, the light of the Absolute that is in everyone.

If you are engaged in ego role-plays, of “dominant leader” helping “poor, weak/subservient followers” with the people who you serve, for example, then you are simply engaged in cultish and disrespectful follies that will keep you and others karmically trapped/bound together in inevitable suffering, which, obviously, does not serve anyone.

As a teacher, healer, and someone in service to Spirit, many people come to you to talk about “The Light” because they may already have insights that they just need to communicate or to clarify with someone who understands “their language.” Others come to you to learn more, if they are still seeking information/understanding. And some seek your guidance to develop useful strategies to get back to “The Light” when they are suffering, etc.

Your only “job” is to connect to, and to shine, your (“part of” the) light without agenda, and to provide those who come to you for your specific guidance with understanding and/or alignment with “their light” (if/when they ask for your help to begin with, since you should avoid, even in your purely shining your light and knowing that it is of value, imposing your ego-will on others). You are best served never giving those who do not “understand” what you have to offer things that they neither ask for, feel they need, nor want. In other words, your task is to simply cultivate your skills, purify yourself, shine your light, and do your divinely inspired work, without expectations, and with the utmost integrity, sincerity, and quality because you are called to do so above all else.

You are to serve those who seek your help fully without watering down your purpose by overextending yourself (due to ego grasping) to push what you have to offer on everyone in the world. Everyone may very well be able to benefit from what you do, but, not everyone is ready to benefit from what you have to offer, and you should, therefore, concentrate your energy on those who will be supported by you in this lifetime. Those who are not ready for, or “needing,” what you have to offer do not need to be marketed to, and convinced that they need or want what you have to offer, when you work for something greater than money, fame, and other worldly gains. Focusing your energy on the entire world is a waste of time, or, like Jesus is said to have once said, “throwing pearls…”

When called by Spirit to do anything, you serve that call above all else, you do not need to understand why or convince anyone else’s ego of why (since that will become clear eventually), and you do not need to get your ego involved in strategizing to reach those you are meant to serve, since, as long as you make your services available, the right people will find you. Trust the higher process.

You are simply tasked with having the clarity and skill to assist every individual who comes to you personally based on what your students/clients specifically need, providing those who you serve with guidance on how to go within to find, or better hear and integrate, answers for themselves, using the wisdoms, techniques, and understandings that you have honed, acquired, and developed from/through, and because of, your calling to do your “work” in the first place. And this is especially true if you are a teacher of teachers, where you must understand that you are amongst colleagues who are simply asking you, because you offered to do so, to share any knowledge or techniques that you may know and they may or may not know, to support them to be the best that they can be with their students/in their work. If your ego is in the way, then the Absolute light is not clearly, if at all, coming through, and those who are seriously on this inner path are seeking/needing only the light of the Absolute and clearer knowledge of it/connection to it, not more of your, or anyone else’s personality, talking, convincing, etc.

This is why Samadhi, and spiritual work in general (that aims to go beyond one’s personal self to serve others) should be pursued and maintained from a place of selflessness (again, not self-abandonment, but absence of a false-sense-of-self tied to attachments to external objects or motives) in order to be your best and to do your best work, in the world. When you are selfless (having no attachment to an ego self), you can then fully experience the first stage of “pure I-am-ness” that makes you more clear and impactful in your work, understanding, and interactions with others.


Types Of Samadhi

According to Patanjali, there are two types of Samadhi that can be experienced after concentration (Dharana) and meditation (Dhyana) on the True Self are achieved: Samprajnata Samadhi, which is Distinguished Samadhi, and Asamprajnata Samadhi, which is Undistinguished Samadhi.

Samprajnata Samadhi can be attained through contemplation on objects/the four different forms of Prakriti (elemental creative force/energy, even down to its original “form” beyond perception) and is distinguished by the observer reflecting on the object being observed so that knowledge of that which is observed becomes a part of the observer. Asamprajnata Samadhi (which we will discuss next week) is a state where no object of observation exists and one rests in the direct experience of simply being the pure Self (one with all that is, without separation). As you rise in consciousness, you must move from contemplation on the very tangible and concrete expressions of Prakriti, to the very subtle and elemental forms of it, in order to attain your goal of distinction (“pure I-am-ness”) and then move to no distinction which makes you indistinguishable from the “object” of observation (more on this in our next lesson).

IMPORTANT NOTE! Please, as we move forward, remember, that these expressions are scientific, and experiential, not symbolic.

Remember please that Patanjali is a scientist and that Yoga is the study of the body-mind and consciousness that works in the realm of thinking, focus, concentration, and contemplation in order to understand and reflect upon the different states of existence, and awareness available to us. Our bodies and minds are literally our ground for understanding, so we will always be exploring different types, forms, ways, shapes, limits, and expressions of thought and understanding, as well as the different types, forms, ways, shapes, limits, and expressions of the body. None of these states are symbolic in any way.

With this in mind, the different focuses of Samprajnata Samadhi (or distinguished Samadhi) are on:

  • Gross object form: Savitarka Samadhi – Focused on gross objects (such as a candle, or even an atom).
  • Subtle elemental form/Tanmatras: Savicara Samadhi – Focused on subtler elements such as abstract form like symbolism, or concepts like beauty and love.
  • “Concrete” Joy manifested from emptiness: Sa-Ananda Samadhi (also called blissful Samadhi) – No reflection or reasoning, just contemplation on Joy that composes the Sattvic mind (“devoid of any objects” including citta vrittis or mind-modifications/distortions/thoughts).
  • Ego/individuality: Sa-Asmita (Ego-ism) Samadhi – Focused on awareness and the “I” feeling.

This list assumes that you will first work from contemplating and understanding the concrete expressions in existence before understanding the very subtle. It also assumes that this focused, single-minded contemplation from concrete to subtle understanding, will only come after internal purity has been obtained, allowing true and full knowledge to be revealed to the practitioner. In this way, you work from understanding nature to understanding yourself and your place/connection in nature and can contribute to creating more harmony, joy, and balance from this place naturally (and before then, if you are inspired to do so).

Through totally absorbed contemplation that sees/knows the greater Self/Reality, or Samadhi, you study how Prakrti, or un-manifest primal potential, is manifested into physical form using prana (or force) that can be divided into Gunas (or the three constituents of this primal force distinguished by sattva [tranquility], rajas [activity] and tamas [inertia]). You observe how these Gunas create everything that “you are,” see, and interact with in the tangible world, and you come to understand the imbalanced expressions of your pure primal potential as you work your way back to your purest expression beyond form, and therefore, to your understanding of your True Self.

You, therefore, work with these four stages of Samadhi in order to gain understanding of your Prakrti, or your primal nature of existence, and this understanding empowers you to better serve within your tangible manifested world from a place of full awareness.

Selflessness, which most who serve already inherently possess, is the key to unlocking the boons of Samadhi.

By first taking care of the basic foundations of purity of your mind, you can rise higher and higher in your levels of understanding and empathy in order to do your work in the world at your greatest capacity. This, for those who serve and find joy through service, is the ultimate gift that you give to yourself and to the world.


Journal Prompt

This week, truly look at your intentions.

What is your purpose for seeking enlightenment? Is it to be rich, better than other people, to become someone who is admired, to be at peace so that you can be peaceful in the world, to be informed so that you can educate others…

What is your true reason behind your why (as we have explored previously, in past weeks on our journey)?

Check to ensure that your practice is not for selfish (egoic) reasons, or you run the risk of creating more distortion in the world, and in yourself, as opposed to the balance that you claim to seek.

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