Samadhi, Satori & Nirvana

There seem to be experts everywhere on the subject of meditation these days, you can pay big money for a technique, get initiated, grab a white or ochre outfit, a string of 108 beads, picture of Guru, incense, prayer book, Ganesha or Hanuman statue, throw in a weekend intensive workshop and you’re all set to go. Some people are just running a business to support their dream lifestyle but other teachers are wonderful and a short encounter and simple introduction to a meditation practice with them may be life changing and help maintain quality of life.
The sound of David Byrne from Talking Heads singing, ‘We’re on the Road to Nowhere’ briefly passes through the playlist in my head, it popped up between the Mantras and the floating thoughts about multi-dimensional-beings and other worlds; my referencing the song lyrics here is not a negative statement in any way, quite the opposite, taken out of context that line is more potent than anyone would at first realise.  NOWHERE is a place I like and am comfortable with.
Entering the River
I had the greatest of meditation teachers in my early twenties; however I was 18 was when I had my first attempt at disintegrating the Universe (although there have been attempts to escape it the Universe is actually quite a nice place to wander in and as the days unfold it’s become clear that there are many other Multiverses). There I was, blissed out on a sunny Saturday sitting under a tree in a park trying to go inside myself, to leave the world behind Not much happened on that fine day but I felt gooooood and it was a milestone in my life, I had taken a step into foreverness. My long hair, baggy clothes, Indian sandals, I fitted comfortably into the tail end of the hippy generation, Vietnam war had finished some years before, a lot of Peace signs around, an overuse of cheap patchouli odours orbiting people in the flea market, most teenagers I knew were smoking hash and what was at that time called dope but is now called weed.  I’d heard about gurus at 14, seen the Hari’s dancing in the street, read the Gita and was well on my Vegetarian life path by then… during those times whenever you mentioned ‘no meat’ people would look at you strangely and make a joke, after about ten years I gave up being offended and dropped most of  my reasons for being a veg-head.  A Vegan was someone from a bright star out in the Milky Way past Arcturus.  I’d heard Jesus had lived in and passed through India, studied in Tibet, he was my hero so it was only a matter of time before I went over to the supposed holy-land Bharat, the place where Gods, Sages and the Kumaras had incarnated, palak paneer, the Ganges, gulab jamun, beggars, dosas, temples, burfi, rickshaws, samosas and a certain amount of filth and chaos; the land of contradictions; hate it love it, it gets under your skin and changes your Being forever.
Back to the Future
It’s 2017 almost Christmas, the word Yoga is oh so common now, ‘everybody‘ is a yoga teacher, no longer is it just for those overly arrogant people supposedly ‘in the know’ who remind us that one day karma will get people back for their misdeeds, Yoga is also for some of the wise and healthy or the many sincere seekers. Young women wander through Fitzroy (Melbourne) with mats rolled up under their arms, as they pass, the smell of aroma-therapy-oils wafts up my nose, a far cry from the smelly arm pits from years back; my peace is being disrupted, people making business calls doing work-stuff in cafes clearly define how much the world has changed ON the SURFACE. A passing reflection reminds me of the first time I saw a guy on skateboard in the early 90’s with a mobile phone, I considered it far more confusing than when I had sighted my first UFO.
The Crazy Mixed Up World
We live in a time of great stress, the noise of the city rattles and there’s a continuous hum, the lights never go out; I get a little perplexed and reach for my phone regularly, I can’t tell the ringtones from the tunes floating out from the cafes; tension, road rage, violence on my street every second day, a lot of people on the edge, commercial and real beggars with their hands out asking for cash clearly showing us how corrupt the systems are, traumatised beings who haven’t recovered and take their pain out to the streets as a reminder that things aren’t okay in the land of milk and honey. Such is the pressure of this civilisation, even the wise seem to get anxious, Kali Yuga blues; endless lies in the media are spewed out to create fear and uncertainty, something is brewing. What to do?  How to Be Here Now, filter out the nonsense and get away?
Road to Nowhere
I remember the first time I went into Samadhi (loose translation = a far state deeper than every day waking consciousness) I realised something rather monumental had gone on, I had’t reached the goal but my toes had dipped into the Ocean of Consciousness; some Buddhists would more commonly define it as Emptiness; beyond all doubt I had drunk from the cup and tasted the Divine Elixir. The Deep Silence felt comfortable, very familiar, it seemed like I had never been away from it … it had moreish-ness about it like chocolate mint biscuits, you eat one then could gobble up the whole packet. Post Samadhi I still had my anxieties and everyday probs but I could tell it was the real thing.
The Great Void
Being a natural born meditator (which is really no great feat) it had confused me what the fuss was all about, it was quite difficult for me to understand why others couldn’t go into deep states of consciousness, people always complained of head noise and the endless chattering of thought, eventually after many years it made a lot more sense why, (I won’t go there now).  Samadhi is always present, in the same way that when we look at a painting we see the paint, we forget about the canvas, it has no meaning apart from creating the parameters/dimensions around the artwork, so we don’t notice its contribution to the art piece.  Although it is difficult to describe the relationship, I will loosely say that all the Universes sit on top of Emptiness, it’s always closer than a breath or heartbeat away, it’s easy so to miss. Another example is we see the objects in a room we don’t give attention to the space, we feel it, we sense it, when we look carefully at the objects in a space we can see the importance of spatial relationships.  I worked out early on that thoughts, our whole Being, EVERYTHING is dependant on Emptiness. Thoughts and civilisations rise and fall but the constant is Silence, Emptiness, Nothingness, the Great Void, call it what you like.  The road that we take when we meditate is ‘to nowhere’.  Samadhi is NOWHERE.

Satori is something very different to Samadhi.  Satori experiences come in stages , at various intervals throughout life, at least they did for me. I will generally only discuss what I have experienced myself, at other times I cross reference the experiences of others who have had similar events happen or relate teachings because they make absolute sense and are relative to what I have seen, felt or experienced. Satori is an awakening to a clarity of mind or clear perception where all doubts about certain aspects regarding the nature of things, old limited conditioned thoughts no longer hold the individual COMPLETELY in prison when the newer awareness steps in. To some degree the underlying idea of separateness departs and at times the view is more like looking at a room with a number of slightly transparent partitions, it’s the same room and the divisions are there so there is no spillage and everyone goes about their own business with cloaked memories and awareness; there is always a choice of jumping from the individual to the totality.
Degrees of Awakening
The RESPONSE to Satori/Awakenings are things that require caution to navigate, they USUALLY are NOT the END GOAL.  Many problems arise from people who have had an Awakening and consider that they are THERE, there is an assumption that what was sought has been fully found. Often they have reached a TYPE of Enlightened Mind or transformation, an inner knowing has presented itself within their consciousness, unfortunately often when it settles they go out and gather followers. Due to the euphoria that permeates their thinking and subtle changes in body sensations and awareness there is a tendency to want to share this joy with others.  This is not always the case, the great sage Ramana Maharshi had an early awakening and what unfolded for him was far greater than most of the others in the modern era that are on the world stage. Nisagadatta Maharaj, Neem Karoli Baba had a slower unfolding process, whereas the great Indian saint Shirdi Sai came into the world completely ‘open’, this is unusual and falls outside the area of what I would refer to as Satori, it was a similar situation with Kabir the great weaver poet; of interest Shirdi Sai stated he had been or more specifically ‘WAS Kabir’.  As I am unfamiliar with the various contemporary teachers from Japan I will only reference the great teachers from India but still use the Japanese term, ‘Satori’ is often translated as ‘seeing into ones true nature’ or even Buddhahood.  I am confident that the word is a variable and although the process can in some cases may be Earth shattering and a disintegration of the known, there are variations that depend on the individual experiencer.
The word Nirvana is a little more encompassing and generally deals with the bigger picture relating to transformation, some may call it Buddhist heaven, this description is a little vague and misleading. Heaven in a Western sense relates to an end goal beyond death and is future based whereas in the Eastern spiritual traditions there is generally an emphasis on freedom NOW, it is not something that is in the distance beyond the dropping of the body, the only real similarity is that both Nirvana and Heaven are semi –permanent states that are desired by the seeker, the religious faithful or spiritual aspirant. The idea that Nirvana is the final resting place is not quite correct although it would be very easy for someone to formulate an argument that it was.  Considering the layers of multi-dimensional consciousness beyond the Empty state that is way outside the limited 3D form, it is impossible that what is referred to as Nirvana is the final resting place, there are many people who have gone into what is often referred to as the Nirvana state who are still at the elementary stages of consciousness and are unaware of what is beyond it.  The only real constant is the Emptiness and all the points of Awareness that emerged out of it.  In essence the polarities are like a binary situation, 1 or 0, true or false, is or not is.
Whereas Samadhi relates to a state that is accessed either through a meditative process or an unexpected interruption of normal consciousness into another state of ‘natural’ awareness, Nirvana is descriptive of a more permanent state. However in truth that state is always present, it is just that the thoughts that fill the mind-space are filtering out what is constant, and that is Emptiness.  Nirvana is a term used in relation to liberation but a reminder that 3D human experience is at the bottom of of the food/consciousness chain and it is an accidental misconception for anyone to think that jumping out of the human state into Nirvana is the end of the road, it is more like the leaving platform at an airport.
Chasing the Tail to Return to Oneself
The whole of humanity is seeking freedom from itself, whether it knows it or not there is an inbuilt longing to get out of the mental prison, to be more, find happiness and ride off into the sunset of foreverness and wake to greener or more stable desirable pastures. I think it is important to point out that often people use Spirituality to run from life.
We have a dilemma, how to get our toes wet, swim safely and not drown in the ocean of life. Life with its suffering, those giant ‘ouches’ that interrupt our intermittent peacefulness and sense of imaginary orderliness?
Becoming comfortable with the world and the interplay of life and learning to accept what emerges plus being able to let go of things without a fuss as natural as possible is a desirable place to be, without struggling too hard.  And learning to be Empty and enter the Silence without worrying too much about the ACHIEVING.  Experience takes care of itself, the skins of the onion naturally peel when they are ready, the flowers bloom when their time is ripe.

I’m on the road to nowhere
Tilopa 2.0

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