Ch. 4, vv. 3-4, samādhi, liberation-while-living,

Ch. 4, vv. 3-4,            Haṭhayogapradīpika             samādhi, liberation-while-living,

 “The [terms] ‘royal yoga’ (rājayoga) and ‘absorption’ (samādhi), ‘beyond mind’ (unmanī) and ‘mind and beyond mind’ (manounmanī), ‘immortality’ (amaratva), ‘dissolution and reality’ (laya tattva), ‘emptiness and non-emptiness’ (śūnya aśūnya), ‘ultimate state’ (paraṁ padam), the ‘state devoid of mind’ (amanaska), as well as ‘non-dualism’ (advaita), ‘the state without support’ (nirālamba), ‘the pure state’ (nirañjana) and ‘liberation while living’ (jīvanmukti), ‘the natural state’ (sahajā) and ‘fourth’ (turyā): these are synonyms (eka vācakāḥ).”

राजयोगः समाधिश्च उन्मनी च मनोन्मनी ।

अमरत्वं लयस्तत्त्वं शून्याशून्यं परं पदम् ॥ ३ ॥

अमनस्कं तथाद्वैतं निरालम्बं निरञ्जनम् ।

जीवन्मुक्तिश्च सहजा तुर्या चेत्येकवाचकाः ॥ ४ ॥

rājayogaḥ samādhiśca unmanī ca manonmanī |

amaratvaṁ layastattvaṁ śūnyāśūnyaṁ paraṁ padam || 3 ||

amanaskaṁ tathādvaitaṁ nirālambaṁ nirañjanam |

jīvanmuktiśca sahajā turyā cetyekavācakāḥ || 4 ||

Rev. Dr John Dupuche, is a Catholic priest, and Yogi Matsyendranath is from the Nath Yoga tradition. Father John and Yogi present teachings from their contrasting traditions, using as their starting point verses from the Haṭha-Yoga-Pradīpika.

samādhi (absorption)

This term can be derived from sam-ādhiḥ, means ‘full awareness’, or sama-ādhiḥ, which means ‘same awareness’. The two possibilities are complementary, for there is only full awareness when all forms of awareness are identified. There is then no ‘mine’ versus ‘yours’, or ‘your thoughts are irrelevant to me’, or ‘I keep my knowledge to myself’. The experience of samādhi is without limitation and contrariness or individualism. In the Tantrāloka 29 Jayaratha quotes a useful verse, which states: “The yogī who enters into the [object] by virtue of an attentiveness to the self becomes that [object].” If I study fire, as some object ‘out there’, and something opposed to me whose characteristics I study but do not share, I have imperfect knowledge. One can only truly know fire by becoming fire. Or more importantly, friends draw close together when they become of one mind and one heart.

This is found in the Christian tradition in the teaching on the incarnation, where the Second Person, the Word, becomes flesh and takes on the entire condition of humanity. He enters into this world in every way and identities with it in every respect, in its sin and folly as well as in its goodness and sanctity.

Those who follow in footsteps of Jesus likewise incarnate themselves into the joys and sorrows of others. They are compassionate. They join the poor in their suffering, and while they also join the poor in their struggle, their first wish is to be one with them in their difficulty, to wish to be in samādhi with them, so that they are not alone and receive encouragement and energy and inspiration and hope.

In the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, the fifth ‘limb’ is focusing (dhāraṇa) where the yogī focuses on one object to the exclusion of others, for example on a flame or the tip of the nose or on the breath. This focus frees the mind from its vacillation such that an underlying tranquility becomes predominant. This moves naturally to the absence of focus on anything in particular, which is dhyāna. This state of awareness without any object of awareness leads naturally to the ability to be aware of every awareness, which is samādhi. All knowledge is known; all experiences are experienced.

In Kashmir Shaivism the distinction is made been the ‘knowing subject’ (pramātṛ), the ‘means of knowledge’ (pramāṇa), and the ‘objet of knowledge’ (prameya). So in the phrase ‘I see the mountain’, there is the subject (‘I’), the means (‘see’), and the object (‘the mountain’). These three are normally separated from each if I am not in fact the mountain. But there is a higher form of knowledge, which is termed pramiti, where there is no separation of subject, means and object. There is perfect identity. It is the non-dual state where the Self sees the Self by means of the Self, since all is the Self. This concept is found in the teaching of Gregory Palamas (1296–1359) on light;

“If it sees itself, it sees light; if it beholds the object of its vision, that too is light, and if it looks at the means by which it sees, again it is light. For such is the character of the union, that all is one, so that he who sees can distinguish neither the means nor the object nor its nature, but simply has the awareness of being light …. (Palamas, Triads, Jean Meyendorff (ed.) pp.65-66.)

This occurs supremely in the higher stages of consciousness, of which love is the highest.

St Paul distinguishes between childhood and adulthood.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13:11-13)

There is then no opposition between knower and known; the knowing and making known are one. There is one state.

The moment of death for great individuals is called mahāsamādhī. This means that they do not need to be reborn, for their knowledge has become complete. They have been identified with the Self, without limitation or opposition; they become ‘all in all’. When all is known, when one has become everything that can be known, there is no separation; all is one. In Christian terms, “God is all in all”. (I Cor 15:28)

jīvanmuktiḥ (liberation while living)

In this Hindu tradition there are four purposes in life. These are ‘right conduct’ (dharma), ‘wealth’ (artha) in all its senses; pleasure (kāma) in all its forms; and liberation (mokṣa). The last, ‘liberation’, is contrasted with the first three, for they are all limited in scope and time. While a person is living (jīvan) they are essentially limited. Only with death or more precisely with the liberation from the cycle of rebirths, is there freedom from limitation and suffering. The experience of jīvanmuktiḥ by contrast breaks down this opposition, and in fact identifies all four purposes. This is the natural consequence of the doctrine of advaita where all is seen as non-dual, indeed where all consists of all, each is found in each (sarvamsarvātmakam).

It means being involved in life but not caught up in it; detached but not unconcerned; committed to reality but not dependent; enjoying life but not tied to living; dissolving all things but not disliking them; rising above all reality and at the same time being immersed in it.

The same idea is found in the short but telling phrase Jesus says at the Last Supper, with reference to his disciples: “they are in the world, … they do not belong to the world” (Jn 17:11, 14) They are not of this world, for they cannot be defined or limited by it; they are liberated. However, they are also ‘in it’, they are immersed in this world, enjoying it, taking part in all its variety.

This teaching has important consequences. The jīvanmukta are aware of their essential freedom and even though those who are not ‘liberated while alive’ may categorise people according to their conduct, wealth or pleasures – or their lack of these – the jīvanmukta are not defined by such limited views. The jīvanmukta transcend all definitions and categories. They are free and inspire freedom. They enjoy the experience of freedom, which is seen in others.

These points are made also by St Paul:

”Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’But we have the mind of Christ. (I Cor 2.14-16)

Jesus, the supreme jīvanmukta
According to the Christian tradition Jesus saves: he is free in his own being and so he frees others. He shows his supreme freedom in choosing the cross: he is condemned as unrighteous, without dharma; he is stripped of absolutely anything, he is completely without artha; he endures atrocious suffering, he is utterly without kāma. He can do this because he is totally free. Yet he has enjoyed the company of friends, he has acted rightly and allows himself to be anointed with the most expensive perfume, pure nard. (Jn 12:3)

The jīvanmukta is free also of all rituals and words. These have their place but lead to the state beyond them. The jīvanmukta is free of all rituals not because he disapproves of them but because he is avadhūta. It means that every word he or she says is mantra, and every act he or she performs is ritual. There are no divisions into times of ritual and times of non-ritual, between the sacred and the profane. All is holy; all is a manifestation of supreme freedom.

That is why at the end of the Gospel of John there is the sentence:

“But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.“(Jn 21:25)

His every action no matter how ordinary was extraordinary because of the quality that inhabited it.


The word sahaja means ‘born’, literally ‘born with’, ‘innate’, ‘natural’. It can also mean ‘originating with’, which can refer to the union of Śiva and Śakti. It can also mean ‘spontaneous’, ‘uncontrived’. It is opposite to ‘unnatural’, ‘calculating’, ‘contrived’.

We live in a world, which organized and controlling, with plans and projects and budgets and timetables and checklists. It is a successful world, but at the same time a little unnatural. We have avoided chaos by organizing everything. Yet we admire someone whose beauty is natural, whose skills are innate. It is a state we all want to achieve and which we experience from time to time, when everything seems to fall into place, without effort.

We are also inhibited by our own karmic experiences, namely the effects of past mistakes, whether own mistakes or those of past generations. We inherit gifts but also disabilities. We can also be governed by desires and unresolved tensions and issues, which prevent us from being natural and spontaneous.

There is a great wish these days to return to nature, to eat natural foods not processed foods. We wish also to rediscover our real nature, to go beyond the masks and the pretenses we put on to survive. We want all things to come together easily and harmoniously, where our thoughts and acts coincide, where our state beyond all thinking coincides with our thinking and our actions. We want the state of purity (nirañjana) where will and knowledge and action are all one.

Spontaneity is not the same as self-will, which can be simply the outcome of myopic views and unresolved issues.

The sahaja state is tranquil, harmonious, peaceful, entire, full and joyful. How is this achieved? It means letting go; it involves an immense trust, a perception of the sincerest impulses, a clarity of vision. Knowledge of the truth, right conduct of life, the gift of grace, these return us to our nature. We wish to return to paradise. It involves trust in nature itself, a belief that this world is good despite all that seems to the contrary, a belief in the fundamental goodness of human beings even when so much evil is present. It means knowing that nature began well and will end up well, even if the path is tortuous.

The prologue of the Gospel of Saint John sets this out clearly:

“Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him. All that came to be had life in him.” (Jn 1:3-4)

Thus, according to the Christian tradition, the divine Word, which is light and truth, is at the basis of reality. Knowing this, the world takes on a different appearance. It is known that all leads to the good. St Paul puts it well,

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Rm 8:22-23)

This world, Mother Nature, may seem to be in distress, indeed does cry out in anguish like a woman in labour, but according to the Christian tradition something wonderful is happening.

Nature is not opposed to grace. Nature itself is a grace and in it arises more grace, indeed grace upon grace. For Christians, it is a question of coming into union with the Christ who is the source of all. The dynamism of nature takes them to the heights, where they rediscover our real nature, which has become obscured; and their real nature is that of Christ whose nature is that of God himself. When they are entirely natural, there is no opposition between them and the whole of nature in all its variety. They are in a state of samādhi where all is one. There is one knowledge, one will, one being. All act in concert. It is a state of jīvanmukti also, since the essential self transcends all that is. Christian feel liberated, and also in touch with everything that is. They are living jīvanmukti in the fullest way, not just a semblance of living, a busyness of living, but truly alive. When they are in union with the God who is the source of everything and who is in everything, God who is all in all, then all flows, all their actions and words, thoughts and feelings flow naturally, invincible. Then they rediscover love, for only in love is samādhi complete. The jīvanmukta lives by love alone, God is love and all hat occurs in love occurs naturally and spontaneously. Love is a spontaneous reality. The Haṭhayogapradīpika seeks to find the way of love.

About interfaithashram

Rev. Dr. John Dupuche is a Roman Catholic Priest, a senior lecturer at MCD University of Divinity, and Honorary Fellow at Australian Catholic University. His doctorate is in Sanskrit in the field of Kashmir Shaivism. He is chair of the Catholic Interfaith Committee of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and has established a pastoral relationship with the parishes of Lilydale and Healesville. He is the author of 'Abhinavagupta: the Kula Ritual as elaborated in chapter 29 of the Tantraloka', 2003; 'Jesus, the Mantra of God', 2005; 'Vers un tantra chrétien' in 2009; translated as 'Towards a Christian Tantra' in 2009. He has written many articles. He travels to India each year. He lives in an interfaith ashram.
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