More rubbish has been written about Samadhi than enough; we must endeavour to avoid adding to the heap. Even Patanjali, who is extraordinarily clear and practical in most things, begins to rave when he talks of it. Even if what he said were true he should not have mentioned it; because it does not sound true, and we should make no statement that is à priori improbable without being prepared to back it up with the fullest proofs. But it is more than likely that his commentators have misunderstood him.
The most reasonable statement, of any acknowledged authority, is that of Vajna Valkya, who says: "By Pranayama impurities of the body are thrown out; by Dharana the impurities of the mind; by Pratyahara the impurities of attachment; and by Samadhi is taken off everything that hides the lordship of the soul." There is a modest statement in good literary form. If we can only do as well as that!
In the first place, what is the meaning of the term? Etymologically, "Sam" is the Greek ??? — the English prefix "syn-" meaning "together with". Adhi" means "Lord," and a reasonable translation of the whole word would be "Union with God," the exact term used by Christian mystics to describe their attainment.
Now there is great confusion, because the Buddhists use the word Samadhi to mean something entirely different, the mere faculty of attention. Thus, with them, to think of a cat is to "make Samadhi" on that cat. They use the word Jhana to describe mystic states. This is excessively misleading, for as we saw in the last section, Dhyana is a preliminary of Samadhi, and of course Jhana is merely the wretched plebeian Pali corruption of it.
There are many kinds of Samadhi.
"Some authors consider Atmadarshana, the Universe as a single phenomenon without conditions, to be the first real Samadhi." If we accept this, we must relegate many less exalted states to the class of Dhyana. Patanjali enumerates a number of these states: to perform these on different things gives different magical powers; or so he says. These need not be debated here. Any one who wants magic powers can get them in dozens of different ways.
Power grows faster than desire. The boy who wants money to buy lead soldiers sets to work to obtain it, and by the time he has got it wants something else instead -- in all probability something just beyond his means.
Such is the splendid history of all spiritual advance! One never stops to take the reward.
We shall therefore not trouble at all about what any Samadhi may or may not bring as far as its results in our lives are concerned. We began this book, it will be remembered, with considerations of death. Death has now lost all meaning. The idea of death depends on those of the ego, and of time; these ideas have been destroyed; and so "Death is swallowed up in victory." We shall now only be interested in what Samadhi is in itself, and in the conditions which cause it.
Let us try a final definition. Dhyana resembles Samadhi in many respects. There is a union of the ego and the non-ego, and a loss of the senses of time and space and causality. Duality in any form is abolished. The idea of time involves that of two consecutive things, that of space two non-coincident things, that of causality two connected things.
These Dhyanic conditions contradict those of normal thought; but in Samadhi they are very much more marked than in Dhyana. And while in the latter it seems like a simple union of two things, in the former it appears as if all things rushed together and united. One might say that in Dhyana there was still this quality latent, that the One existing was opposed to the Many non-existing; in Samadhi the Many and the One are united in a union of Existence with non-Existence. This definition is not made from reflection, but from memory.
Further, it is easy to master the "trick" or "knack" of Dhyana. After a while one can get into that state without preliminary practice; and, looking at it from this point, one seems able to reconcile the two meanings of the word which we debated in the last section. From below Dhyana seems like a trance, an experience so tremendous that one cannot think of anything bigger, while from above it seems merely a state of mind as natural as any other. Frater P., before he had Samadhi, wrote of Dhyana: "Perhaps as a result of the intense control a nervous storm breaks: this we call Dhyana. Samadhi is but an expansion of this, so far as I can see."
Five years later he would not take this view. He would say perhaps that Dhyana was "a flowing of the mind in one unbroken current from the ego to the non-ego without consciousness of either, accompanied by a crescent wonder and bliss." He can understand how that is the natural result of Dhyana, but he cannot call Dhyana in the same way the precursor of Samadhi. Perhaps he does not really know the conditions which induce Samadhi. He can produce Dhyana at will in the course of a few minutes’ work; and it often happens with apparent spontaneity: with Samadhi this is unfortunately not the case. He probably can get it at will, but could not say exactly how, or tell how long it might take him; and he could not be "sure" of getting it at all.
One feels "sure" that one can walk a mile along a level road. One knows the conditions, and it would have to be a very extraordinary set of circumstances that would stop one. But though it would be equally fair to say: "I have climbed the Matterhorn and I know I can climb it again," yet there are all sorts of more or less probable circumstances any one of which would prevent success.
Now we do know this, that if thought is kept single and steady, Dhyana results. We do not know whether an intensification of this is sufficient to cause Samadhi, or whether some other circumstances are required. One is science, the other empiricism.
One author says (unless memory deceives) that twelve seconds' steadiness is Dharana, a hundred and forty-four Dhyana, and seventeen hundred and twenty-eight Samadhi. And Vivekananda, commenting on Patanjali, makes Dhyana a mere prolongation of Dharana; but says further: "Suppose I were meditating on a book, and I gradually succeeded in concentrating the mind on it , and perceiving only the internal sensation, the meaning unexpressed in any form, that state of Dhyana is called Samadhi."
Other authors are inclined to suggest that Samadhi results from meditating on subjects that are in themselves worthy. For example, Vivekananda says: "Think of any holy subject:" and explains this as follows: "This does not mean any wicked subject."(!)
Frater P. would not like to say definitely whether he ever got Dhyana from common objects. He gave up the practice after a few months, and meditated on the Cakkras, etc. Also his Dhyana became so common that he gave up recording it. But if he wished to do it this minute he would choose something to excite his "godly fear," or "holy awe," or "wonderment."
There is no apparent reason why Dhyana should not occur when thinking of any common object of the sea-shore, such as a blue pig; but Frater P.’s constant reference to this as the usual object of his meditation need not be taken au pied de la lettre. His records of meditation contain no reference to this remarkable animal.
It will be a good thing when organized research has determined the conditions of Samadhi; but in the meantime there seems no particular objection to our following tradition, and using the same objects of meditation as our predecessors, with the single exception which we shall note in due course.
The first class of objects for serious meditation (as opposed to preliminary practice, in which one should keep to simple recognizable objects, whose definiteness is easy to maintain) is various parts of the body
. The Hindus have an elaborate system of anatomy and physiology which has apparently no reference to the facts of the dissecting-room. Prominent in this class are the seven Cakkras, which will be described in Part II. There are also various "nerves", equally mythical.
The second class is objects of devotion, such as the idea or form of the Deity, or the heart or body of your Teacher, or of some man whom you respect profoundly. This practice is not to be commended, because it implies a bias of the mind.
You can also meditate on "your dreams." This sounds superstitious; but the idea is that you have already a tendency, independent of your conscious will, to think of those things, which will consequently be easier to think of than others. That this is the explanation is evident from the nature of the preceding and subsequent classes.
You can also meditate on anything that especially appeals to you.
But in all this one feels inclined to suggest that it will be better and more convincing if the meditation is directed to an object which in itself is apparently unimportant. One does not want the mind to be excited in any way, even by adoration. See the three meditative methods in Liber HHH (Equinox VI).
At the same time, one would not like to deny positively that it is very much "easier" to take some idea towards which the mind would naturally flow.
The Hindus assert that the nature of the object determines the Samadhi; that is, the nature of those lower Samadhis which confer so-called "magic powers". For example, there are the Yogapravritti. Meditating on the tip of the nose, one obtains what may be called the "ideal smell"; that is, a smell which is not any particular smell, but is the archetypal smell, of which all actual smells are modifications. It is "the smell which is not a smell." This is the only reasonable description; for the experience being contrary to reason, it is only reasonable that the words describing it should be contrary to reason too.:FnCh(7,Hence the Athanasian Creed. Compare the precise parallel in the Zohar: 'The Head which is above all heads; the Head which is not a Head.');
Similarly, concentration on the tip of the tongue gives the "ideal taste"; on the dorsum of the tongue, "ideal contact." "Every atom of the body comes into contact with every atom in the Universe all at once," is the description Bhikku Ananda Metteya gives of it. The root of the tongue gives the "ideal sound"; and the pharynx the "ideal sight".
The Samadhi par excellence, however, is Atmadarshana, which for some, and those not the least instructed, is the first real Samadhi; for even the visions of "God" and of the "Self" are tainted by form. In Atmadarshana the All is manifested as the One: it is the Universe freed from its conditions. Not only are all forms and ideas destroyed, but also those conceptions which are implicit in our ideas of those ideas.
Each part of the Universe has become the whole, and phenomena and noumena are no longer opposed.
But it is quite impossible to describe this state of mind. One can only specify some of the characteristics, and that in language which forms no image in mind. It is impossible for anyone who experiences it to bring back any adequate memory, nor can we conceive a state transcending this.
There is, however, a very much higher state called Shivadarshana, of which it is only necessary to say that it is the destruction of the previous state, its annihilation; and to understand this blotting-out, one must not imagine "Nothingness" (the only name for it) as negative, but as positive.
The normal mind is a candle in a darkened room. Throw open the shutters, and the sunlight makes the flame invisible. That is a fair image of Dhyana.
But the mind refuses to find a simile for Atmadarshana. It seems merely ineffective to say that the rushing together of all the host of heaven would similarly blot out the sunlight. But if we do say so, and wish to form a further image of Shivadarshana, we must imagine ourselves as suddenly recognizing that this universal blaze is darkness; not a light extremely dim compared with some other light, but darkness itself. It is not the change from the minute to the vast, or even from the finite to the infinite. It is the recognition that the positive is merely the negative. The ultimate truth is perceived not only as false, but as the logical contradictory of truth. It is quite useless to elaborate this theme, which has baffled all other minds hitherto. We have tried to say as little as possible rather than as much as possible.
Still further from our present purpose would it be to criticise the innumerable discussions which have taken place as to whether this is the ultimate attainment, or what it confers. It is enough if we say that even the first and most transitory Dhyana repays a thousandfold the pains we may have taken to attain it.
And there is this anchor for the beginner, that his work is cumulative: every act directed towards attainment builds up a destiny which must some day come to fruition. May all attain!
Q. What is genius, and how is it produced?
A. Let us take several specimens of the species, and try to find some one thing common to all which is not found in other species.
Q. Is there any such thing?
A. Yes: all geniuses have the habit of concentration of thought, and usually need long periods of solitude to acquire this habit. In particular the greatest religious geniuses have all retired from the world at one time or another in their lives, and begun to preach immediately on their return.
Q. Of what advantage is such a retirement? One would expect that a man who so acted would find himself on his return out of touch with his civilization, and in every way less capable than when he left.
A. But each claims, though in different language, to have gained in his absence some superhuman power.
Q. Do you believe this?
A. It becomes us ill to reject the assertions of those who are admittedly the greatest of mankind until we can refute them by proof, or at least explain how they may have been mistaken. In this case each teacher left instructions for us to follow. The only scientific method is for us to repeat their experiments, and so confirm or disprove their results.
Q. But their instructions differ widely!
A. Only in so far as each was bound by conditions of time, race, climate and language. There is essential identity in the method.
A. It was the great work of the life of Frater Perdurabo to prove this. Studying each religious practice of each great religion on the spot, he was able to show the Identity-in-diversity of all, and to formulate a method free from all dogmatic bias, and based only on the ascertained facts of anatomy, physiology, and psychology.
Q. Can you give me a brief abstract of this method?
A. The main idea is that the Infinite, the Absolute, God, the Over-soul, or whatever you may prefer to call it, is always present; but veiled or masked by the thoughts of the mind, just as one cannot hear a heart-beat in a noisy city.
A. Then to obtain knowledge of That, it is only necessary to still all thoughts.
Q. But in sleep thought is stilled?
A. True, perhaps, roughly speaking; but the perceiving function is stilled also.
Q. Then you wish to obtain a perfect vigilance and attention of the mind, uninterrupted by the rise of thoughts?
Q. And how do you proceed?
A. Firstly, we still the body by the practice called Asana, and secure its ease and the regularity of its functions by Pranayama. Thus no messages from the body will disturb the mind.Secondly, by Yama and Niyama, we still the emotions and passions, and thus prevent them arising to disturb the mind.Thirdly, by Pratyahara we analyse the mind yet more deeply, and begin to control and suppress thought in general of whatever nature.Fourthly, we suppress all other thoughts by a direct concentration upon a single thought. This process, which leads to the highest results, consists of three parts, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, grouped under the single term Samyama.
Q. How can I obtain further knowledge and experience of this?
A. The A?A? is an organization whose heads have obtained by personal experience to the summit of this science. They have founded a system by which every one can equally attain, and that with an ease and speed which was previously impossible.
The first grade in Their system is that of
A Student must possess the following books:
- The Equinox,
- Konx Om Pax.
- Collected Works of A. Crowley; Tannhauser, The Sword of Song, Time, Eleusis. 3 vols.
- Raja Yoga, by Swami Vivekananda.
- The Shiva Sanhita, or the Hathayoga Pradipika.
- The Tao Teh King and the writings of Kwang Tze: S.B.E. xxxix, xl.
- The Spiritual Guide, by Miguel de Molinos.
- Rituel et Dogme de la Haute Magie, by Eliphas Levi, or its translation by A. E. Waite.
- The Goetia of the Lemegeton of Solomon the King.
These books should be well studied in any case in conjunction with the second part ? Magick ? of this Book IV.
Study of these books will give a thorough grounding in the intellectual side of Their system.
After three months the Student is examined in these books, and if his knowledge of them is found satisfactory, he may become a Probationer, receiving Liber LXI and the secret holy book, Liber LXV. The principal point of this grade is that the Probationer has a master appointed, whose experience can guide him in his work.
He may select any practices that he prefers, but in any case must keep an exact record, so that he may discover the relation of cause and effect in his working, and so that the A?A? may judge of his progress, and direct his further studies.
After a year of probation he may be admitted a Neophyte of the A?A?, and receive the secret holy book Liber VII.
These are the principal instructions for practice which every probationer should follow out:
Libri E, A, O, III, XXX, CLXXV, CC, CCVI, CMXIII.
 The vulgarism and provincialism of the Buddhist canon is infinitely repulsive to all nice minds; and the attempt to use the terms of an ego-centric philosophy to explain the details of a psychology whose principal doctrine is the denial of the ego, was the work of a mischievous idiot. Let us unhesitatingly reject these abominations, these nastinesses of the beggars dressed in rags that they have snatched from corpses, and follow the etymological signification of the word as given above!
 Apparently. That is, the obvious results are different. Possibly the cause is only one, refracted through diverse media.
 It is rather a breach of the scepticism which is the basis of our system to admit that anything can be in any way better than another. Do it thus: "A., is a thing that B. thinks ‘holy.’ It is natural therefore for B. to meditate on it." Get rid of the ego, observe all your actions as if they were another’s, and you will avoid ninety-nine percent. of the troubles that await you.
 [WEH footnote] Not quite correct. Western anatomical knowledge has advanced since Crowley wrote this!
 These are the complements of the three methods of Enthusiasm (A?A? instruction not yet issued up to March 1912.)
 Similarly Patanjali tells us that by making Samyama on the strength of an elephant or a tiger, the student acquires that strength. Conquer "the nerve Udana," and you can walk on the water; "Samana," and you begin to flash with light; the "elements" fire, air, earth, and water, and you can do whatever in natural life they prevent you from doing. For instance, by conquering earth, one could take a short cut to Australia; or by conquering water, one can live at the bottom of the Ganges. They say there is a holy man at Benares who does this, coming up only once a year to comfort and instruct his disciples. But nobody need believe this unless he wants to; and you are even advised to conquer that desire should it arise. It will be interesting when science really determines the variables and constants of these equations.
 This is so complete that not only "Black is White," but "The Whiteness of Black is the essential of its Blackness." "Naught = One = Infinity"; but this is only true because of this threefold arrangement, a trinity or "triangle of contradictories."
 Here the dictation was interrupted by very prolonged thought due to the difficulty of making the image clear. Virakam.
 Yet all this has come of our desire to be as modest as Yajna Valkya!