How do you describe something that has no earthly words? Create words and ideas not from this earth of course! It has been a long standing belief of mine and a few of my friends that George Lucas must have practiced yoga and been very versed in the ideas behind it, because many of the themes, and ideas, and characters in the Star Wars movies resemble yogic concepts very closely. This being said, I was recently asked if I could describe Samadhi in a simple way that anyone could understand it, and I was stumped. After lots and lots of research I realized that there is no way of explaining, or describing Samadhi to anyone, 1 because we have no words for it, and 2 because it is a state in which those who experience it can’t remember, at lest not enough to be able to explain it.
But, what if we were in a world where there were words to describe it?
A science fiction world depicted in Star Wars; where Jedis, and padawans, and the force are words we can use to describe things we cant really describe here in our world.
So here I give you a break down of Samadhi using Star Wars as a reference point.
***(disclaimer, for those of you who don’t know Start Wars this wont make any sense, but you need to get to watching, because after watching, Samadhi will make perfect sense to you.)***
So when focusing on Samadhi, Shiva would be The Force. Shiva is described by Swami Muktibodhananda (2014), as “existence and non-existence, manifest, and unmanifest. ‘eternal ad ever omnipresent without change, immutable.’ (Srimad Devi Bhagavatam)” (p.463). The Force is a metaphysical, spiritual, binding, and ubiquitous power. As Obi-Wan Kenobi (1977) described it, “It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together."
Shiva cannot exist alone though, it must be accompanied by Shakti, which is the action. Shiva is the psychological side, while Shakti is the physical side. Shakti can be described as any life form. Now between our thoughts and actions are the Bindu.
Bindu can be easily described as the midi-chlorians. The same way the midi-chlorians make up everything in the universe in Star Wars, the Bindu are described as being “both the macrocosmic and microcosmic” (Swami Muktibodhananda, 2014, p. 464). The Bindu are what allow the Shiva (psychological) and the Shakti (physical) to merge creating the Shiva-Shakti, same as the midi-chlorians allow the life forms in Star Wars to connect to The Force creating the Jedi.
Is this making any sense? Let me break it down really quick so I can bring this all together for you:
Shiva -The Force
Shakti - Life Form
Bindu - Midi-chlorian
Shiva-Shakti - Jedi
Is it starting to make sense now? Ok good, because we have barely scratched the surface of this all; I’ve only given you the setting and characters… now lets get to the plot!
This next half is much harder for me to write about since I don't fully understand each of the levels, but after a lot of research, this is how I best understand things.
Swami Muktibodhananda (2014) tells us that “The evolution of the individual consciousness means bringing the ‘stress’ or the tension between the two polarities of Shiva and Shakti, time and space, or consciousness and prana, close together. When they meet in the nucleus or Bindu, the total potential of consciousness and Shakti explodes. Only then can the true experience of Shiva be attained.” So this process is what I like to call the finding of the Padawans. This is simply the realization that the life form is force sensitive, and may be brought forth to begin their training.
Now an average yogi, practicing their form of yoga whatever it may be is like the Jedi youngling training in a classroom full of other Jedi younglings. These lessons are demonstrated in Revenge of the Sith (2005) when Yoda is teaching the Jedi younglings As the yogi begins to learn about meditation and the philosophy behind yoga, they advance in their padawan training.
Samadhi is often thought of as a trance or ecstasy, but it is not, it is “a field of awareness compromising supraconciousness” (Swami Muktibodhananda, 2014, p. 467), which sounds an awful lot like the Jedi if you ask me. Now there are many stages to Samadhi, just as there are many stages to becoming a Jedi Master. To break down these levels into three groups there is Sabija Samadhi, Nirbija Samadhi, and then the final stage of Samadhi, Nirvikalpa, Moksha. The 7 Sabija Samadhi levels could be seen as the lessons that a padawan and an apprentice would learn. As illustrated in Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2014) they include:
1. Dharana: Object as formulated pattern of consciousness
2. Dhyana: concentrated pattern of consciousness
3. Samadhi: Satyam-relative truth
4. Vitarka- Nirvitarka vs Savitarka: Oneness with gross form of object
5. Vichara - Nirvichara vs Savichara: Oneness with subtle form of object
6. Ananda: Awareness of object as bliss
7. Asmita: Trace of ego in form of Samskara
The last two steps in the process are the lessons that I believe troubled Anakin Skywalker. Ananda is where and when the Jedi would learn that his power, the force he has learned to manipulate can come from within or from without. “Ananda becomes Asmita when there is no differentiation between the object of consciousness and the conscious.“(Swami Muktibodhananda, 2014, p. 471) Basically this means that during Ananda, a person experiences a lack of self. A person is only aware that there is an existence, however their ability to be fully aware that it is them fades. This is the ego fading. For a Jedi this is their ability to realize that while they can manipulate the force, they themselves are nothing. If the Jedi does not realize this, then they succumb to the dark side. In yoga we call that feeding the ego. In Anakins case this is what happened to him when the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious influenced him to turn his back on his teachings and cross to the dark side in Revenge of the Sith (2005).
The 2 Nirbija Samadhi could be seen as the lessons that a Jedi master would learn. As illustrated in Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2014) they include:
1. Nirbija: Ritam – changeless truth
2. Dharmamegha: Cloud of Virtue, complete viaragya
The final level of Samadhi is known as Nirvikalpa, Moksha: Liberation – continual realization of pure consciousness. This is like the Jedi council.
So does Samadhi make sense now or are we all still as lost as before?
Kurtz, G. and McCallum, R. & Lucas, G. (1977). Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. America: Lucasfilm.
McCallum, R. & Lucas, G. (2005). Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. America: Lucasfilm.
Swami Muktibodhananda and Swami Satyananda Saraswati. (2014). Hatha Yoga Pradipika. New Delhi: Yoga Publications Trust