Nick Roach facing the camera with a lake behind
Nick Roach facing the camera with a lake behind
Nick Roach - Living Without Problems
Nick Roach - Living Without Problems

What is Samadhi?

People occasionally contact me to ask about other teachings and philosophies. One word that pops up occasionally is 'Samadhi'. I have no knowledge of this, or related words, as have only ever followed the teachings of a western teacher who used western words, but a good friend of mine, Dr Nitin Trasi, author of 'The Science of Enlightenment', kindly responded to a question from a visitor to this site about the meaning of the word.

Dear Nick,

"...Where does traditional samadhi/ananda/bliss fit in for you, as that was something I aspired to long before I came across advaita, and somehow believe the two are different ways in to the same place, however different the philosophy?..."




(paragraph above is from an email forwarded to Dr Nitin Trasi, who replied, see below)

Dear David,

The word samadhi, as I wrote earlier, can be used with many different meanings.


Relevant to your question, I think we are dealing with 2 different states. One is a state of temporary bliss such as you have described, which is reached through a form of 'sitting' meditation. If you are interested, the technical terms "kevala savikalpa samadhi" and "kevala nirvikalpa samadhi" have been used in Sanskrit to denote its 2 successive stages. This is a temporary, blissful state achieved through a form of meditation.


However, the state of the awakened person has also been referred to as samadhi, and this is a different state altogether, the actual technical term being "sahaja samadhi" (sahaja meaning "natural, spontaneous"). This is the natural, spontaneous state in which the awakened one finds himself, and is permanent or rather his "default" state. This is a state whose basic feature is contentment.


Your query therefore relates to this basic difference between bliss and contentment. Bliss is a temporary, pleasurable state and the opposite of misery. On the other hand, contentment here is taken to mean not the opposite of any unhappy state, but rather the basic nature of our essential awareness (of "who" we really essentially are, beneath the layers of who we think we are) which is said to be contentment (you might have heard of the Sanskrit description Sat-cit-ananda). It is difficult to describe, but to give a very rough example, picture a newborn baby at rest or a dog at rest. Their essential nature can be said to be contentment. It does not need anything from outside to achieve it. It is already always there. Only the child/dog is content without consciously knowing this, whereas the awakened one can knowingly bask in its glory.


Overlaying this basic contentment, the awakened one may experience other modes of mind, including bliss (which may be more frequent, more easily induced, and more lasting in his case, whatever brings it on, and whenever, but even here the bliss itself will still be temporary). It can also include sadness or disappointment. This sounds strange, for how can anyone be contented and sad at the same time? But remember that sadness here is a superficial emotion (and is recognized by him as such). Again to give a rough example, imagine a happily married man fully content with his family and job etc. He roots for his favorite soccer team which loses. He feels disappointed - for a time, but he still remains basically a contented individual throughout. That does not change.


Another way to understand this is by the concept of Consciousness and its content (for which I am indebted to Gary Schouborg of USA). What we really are, is Consciousness, which is "what is doing the thinking" (as St Augustine put it). What we think of, including what we think we are, is the content of Consciousness. Now, bliss is a state which is within Consciousness, that is, it is a content of Consciousness and it appears on the fulfilling of certain requirements. Contentment, on the other hand, is the very nature or property of the Consciousness itself. To the inexperienced, it is therefore only fully apparent when the Consciousness is devoid of content, or nearly so (like when overwhelmed by a beautiful sunset). But basically it is always already there and does not need anything to bring it "on." This is so in ALL people, including you, right here, right now.


As for your opting not to go for enlightenment if it is not going to be blissful, I can say 2 things:


1) As I said earlier, occasions of bliss may be more frequent, more easily induced, and more lasting after awakening and in fact may not even need formal sitting meditation to induce them. They could be induced by something as trivial as seeing a falling leaf, for example.


2) I do not think there is a real choice. I do not see Enlightenment as something resulting from conscious efforts on our part. Rather I see it as a form of psycho-spiritual evolution of our nature, which happens (to some) just as adulthood happens to us, regardless of whether we want to grow up or not. If it is to happen, it will, whether you want it or not.


Please let me know how far I have answered your queries.

Best wishes,

Yours truly,

Nitin Trasi

Link to articles by Nitin Trasi

What is Enlightenment?
What Is Enlightenment.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [55.1 KB]
What is Enlightenment? - expanded
What is Enlightenment.exp.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [81.1 KB]
The Man Who Wasn't There - (or The Seeker's Dilemma)
Published on the internet advaita website at
Man who.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [27.2 KB]
Who Am I?
Who am I-SciMed.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [104.7 KB]
Advaita and Science
Adobe Acrobat document [74.4 KB]
Advaita and Science - German translation
Advaita und Wissenschaft.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [66.3 KB]
Enlightenment and Liberation - A SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE
(Published in The Chitrapur Sunbeam, Vol.No.VI, Nov '99, Issue No.11, pp.28-31).
Adobe Acrobat document [36.4 KB]
INTRODUCTION to Changdev Pasashti
Journey's end - 65 minutes to moksha (65 verses to Liberation)
Adobe Acrobat document [190.4 KB]
Adobe Acrobat document [41.2 KB]

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