Samādhi sūtras

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Samādhi sūtras are a genre of Mahāyāna sūtras that have the term samādhi in their title, and in which the term samādhi refers to a diverse set of attitudes and practices.[1]

Texts in this group include:[1]

The first four texts in the above list:

...appear to have been referred to as “samādhis” by Asaṅga as early as the fourth century CE in his Mahāyānasaṃgraha.[1]

Within these texts, the term samādhi refers to a wide-ranging set of behaviors and practices. The Dharmachakra Translation Committee states:

The meditative absorption (samādhi) in question [...] is not so much the kind of concentrated state of mind that is often designated by the term samādhi, but more a wide-ranging ensemble of attitudes, behaviors, and practices. In all their diversity, what these elements have in common is that they are all based on the defining quality of bodhisattvas, the mind set on awakening for the sake of all beings.[1]

The Dharmachakra Translation Committee also states:

Their Tibetan translations in many Kangyurs are mostly grouped together on the basis that their titles all contain the term samādhi (Tib. ting nge ’dzin), but among texts with such titles a particular subset is formed by those containing long lists ... of features attributed to a named samādhi, clearly referring to a diverse set of practices and attitudes that are not states of meditation, concentration, or visionary experience of the kind more usually designated by the term samādhi.[1]

Similarly, in discussing the title of the Samādhirāja, Peter Alan Roberts states:

The samādhi of the title does not simply refer to meditation, but is used to designate both the sūtra itself and an entire range of Buddhist practices for conduct, meditation, motivation, and realization. The sūtra enumerates over three hundred of the samādhi’s qualities. One of the samādhi’s main descriptive epithets is given in the long form of the title itself as “the revealed equality of the nature of all phenomena.”[2][3]

The attention of Western scholars was drawn to this group of sūtras in a comprehensive study by Andrew Skilton (see Skilton 2002).[1]

According the the Dharmachakra Translation Committee, the presentation of samādhi in the Bhadrakalpikasūtra is similar to the presentation in the group of "samādhi sūtras."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 84000.png Dharmachakra Translation Committee (2023), The Good Eon, "Introduction", 84000 Reading Room
  2. 84000.png Roberts, Peter Alan (2022), The King of Samādhis Sūtra , 84000 Reading Room, Introduction
  3. Silk and Gomez (1989; pp. 15-16) make a similar point.