potential and samadhi states
In the last section, we provided a quote from William James’ The Varieties
of Religious Experience , in which he indicated the universality
of the unitive experience. But James goes on to make the point that, despite
its universality, there are clearly many different kinds of unitive
But even this
presumption from the unanimity of mystics is far from being strong.
In characterizing mystic states as pantheistic, optimistic, etc.,
I am afraid I over-simplified the truth. I did so for expository
reasons, and to keep the closer to the classic mystical tradition.
The classic religious mysticism, it now must be confessed, is only
a ‘privileged case’. It is an extract, kept true to type by the
selection of the fittest specimens and their preservation in ‘schools’.
It is carved out from a much larger mass; and if we take the larger
mass as seriously as religious mysticism has historically taken
itself, we find that the supposed unanimity largely disappears.
To begin with, even religious mysticism itself, the kind that accumulates
traditions and makes schools, is much less unanimous than I have
allowed. It has been both ascetic and antinomianly self-indulgent
within the Christian church. It is dualistic in Sankhya, and monistic
in Vedanta philosophy, I called it pantheistic; but the great Spanish
mystics are anything but pantheists. They are with few exceptions
non-metaphysical minds, for whom ‘the category of personality’ [i.e.,
a personal God] is absolute. The ‘union’ of man with God is for
them much more like an occasional miracle than like an original
identity. How different again, apart from the happiness common to
all, is the mysticism of Walt Whitman, Edward Carpenter, Richard
Jefferies, and other naturalistic pantheists, from the more distinctively
Christian sort. The fact is that the mystical feeling of enlargement,
union, and emancipation has no specific intellectual content whatever
of its own. It is capable of forming matrimonial alliances with
material furnished by the most diverse philosophies and theologies,
provided only they can find a place in their framework for its peculiar
James, The Varieties of Religious Experience 
The Hindu tradition
contributes a taxonomy for classifying some of the various unitive experiences.
In this tradition, such unitive experiences are given the name, samadhis.
Samadhis are traditionally understood to be states of absorption
in the Greater Reality:
‘enstasis’, is the final result of the crown of all the ascetic’s
spiritual efforts and exercises. The meanings of the term Samadhi
are union, totality; absorption in, complete concentration of mind;
conjunction. The usual translation is ‘concentration’, but this
embarks the risk of confusion with dharana. Hence we have preferred
to translate it ‘enstasis’, ‘stasis’, and conjunction.
Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom 
are classified into various categories. For example, savikalpa samadhi,
nirvikalpa samadhi, and jnana samadhi, are three distinct
samadhi states, whose distinguishing features we will explore in Books
10 and 11. We shall distinguish those which are states of absorption in
the Greater Reality (e.g., savikalpa samadhi and nirvikalpa
samadhi) from those which are states of identification with the Subjective
Substratum (e.g., jnana samadhi).
The emphasis on (many)
samadhi states as states of absorption is useful, because it allows
us to arrange along a single continuum both our conventional states, and
these extraordinary samadhi states. That continuum is defined by the search
for perfect unity and absorption through some object; only the object
varies along the spectrum.
You cannot be
silly, egoically “self-possessed” householders and still Realize
everything. You talk about things that console you in the most mundane
sense, as if they are great Samadhis. They are samadhis of a kind,
states of absorption, bizarre ecstasies of egoic “self-possession”
and utter distraction in which nothing else is noticed, like hormonally
induced obsessions – “All I want to do is to have sex and fool around.”
That is samadhi, but it is an absurd samadhi. It is not Great Samadhi.
There is nothing Divine about it. It is the samadhi of distractedness
by all kinds of emotional-sexual objects, patterning, and adaptation.
Everything is excluded except the object of obsession, and you feel,
“This is it, this is good, this is what life is all about, and what
I should devote myself to. It feels perfectly good – why should
I not just do it? What has anything else got to do with anything?
I do not even know about anything else. All I know about is genitals!”
Or household security – whatever your obsession may be. You are
in a kind of samadhi! You are not yet involved in the advanced and
the ultimate stages of life [and the greater samadhis] because you
are involved in a lesser samadhi.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, “The Samadhis of Egoity”, in Ishta 
NEXT: The multi-dimensional Greater