Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.18


Iyengar translation:

The void arising in these experiences is another samādhi. Hidden impressions lie dormant but spring up during moments of awareness, creating fluctuations and disturbing the purity of the consciousness.

Other translations:

The other kind of samadhi is asamprajnata samadhi, and has no object in which attention is absorbed, wherein only latent impressions remain; attainment of this state is preceded by the constant practice of allowing all of the gross and subtle fluctuations of mind to recede back into the field from which they arose.

The highest state of samadhi (spiritual absorption) is that where, due to the practice, all modifications of mind, including subtle impressions of all previous actions, have come to an end.

The previous sutra described the ‘lower level of samadhi, this sutra describes the higher level. This sutra describes the highest form of samadhi, rather than focussed attention with an object, it is concentration without any object. Pandit Rajmani Tigunait describes it as the perfect stillness of the mind. Even the senses are still.

Swamiji in his blog, says that to attain this ‘objectless’ samadhi, there is a balance between intentionality and letting go. This is very reminiscent of the Zen buddhist practice of zazen – just sitting, seeing what arises, observing it, and letting it go. The intention to meditate must be there, otherwise the ‘monkey mind’ becomes noisy. With a light touch, we can remind ourselves that we have noticed we are thinking, and let the thoughts go. Iyengar’s use of the word ‘void’ gels very well with my understanding of zazen:

The void is about the way we reconstruct the world, we are continually what we see and experience. In meditation we start to break through that reconstruction to what could be called the void, because it is beyond or behind the reconstruction, it is not possible to name this because once it is named it is no longer the void. This void is not empty but full of life, intelligence and meaning.

Quote from Ray Menezes

This sunyata, this void, is therefore the end result of our spiritual practice.




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