Samadhi (Skt. samādhi) is often translated as meditative absorption or concentration.
The term samadhi derives from the root sam-a-dha, which means 'to collect' or 'bring together', and thus it is often translated as 'concentration'.
Samma samādhi (right concentration)
The Buddha identified right concentration (samma samādhi) as the eight element in the Noble Eightfold Path.
In this context, samādhi refers here to the jhanas, levels of gradual deepening of meditation.
Within Buddhist traditions
Buddhagosa defines samadhi as "the centering of consciousness and consciousness concomitants evenly and rightly on a single object...the state in virtue of which consciousness and its concomitants remain evenly and rightly on a single object, undistracted and unscattered" (Vism.84-85; PP.85).
The Theravada Pali texts mention four kinds of samadhi:
- Momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi): A mental stabilization which arises during vipassana.
- Preliminary concentration (parikammasamadhi): Arises out of the meditator's initial attempts to focus on a meditation object.
- Access concentration (upacarasamadhi): Arises when the five hindrances are dispelled, when jhana is present, and with the appearance the 'counterpart sign' (patibhaganimitta).
- Absorption concentration (appanasamadhi): The total immersion of the mind on its meditation of object and stabilization of all four jhanas.
The earliest extant Indian Mahayana texts emphasize ascetic practices and forest dwelling, and absorption in states of meditative oneness. These practices seem to have occupied a central place in early Mahayana, also because they "may have given access to fresh revelations and inspiration."
In the Indian Mahayana traditions the term is also to refer to forms of "samadhi" other than dhyana. Section 21 of the Mahavyutpatti records even 118 samadhi. The Samadhiraja Sutra for example has as its main theme a samādhi called 'the samadhi that is manifested as the sameness of the essential nature of all dharmas' (sarva-dharma-svabhavā-samatā-vipañcita-samādhi).[note 1]
Indian dhyana was translated as chán in Chinese, and zen in Japanese. Ideologically the Zen-tradition emphasizes prajna and sudden insight, but in the actual practice prajna and samādhi, or sudden insight and gradual cultivation, are paired to each other. Especially some lineages in the Rinzai school of Zen stress sudden insight, while the Sōtō school of Zen lays more emphasis on shikantaza, training awareness of the stream of thoughts, allowing them to arise and pass away without interference.
- Gomez & Silk: "This samadhi is at the same time the cognitive experience of emptiness, the attainment of the attributes of buddhahood, and the performance of a variety of practices or daily activities of a bodhisattva—including service and adoration at the feet of all buddhas. The word samadhi is also used to mean the sūtra itself. Consequently, we can speak of an equation, sūtra = samādhi = śūnyatā, underlying the text. In this sense the title Samadhiraja expresses accurately the content of the sūtra."
- Buddhaghosa; Bhikkhu Nanamoli (1999), The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga, Buddhist Publication Society, ISBN 1-928706-00-2
- Cousins, L. S. (1996), "The origins of insight meditation", in Skorupski, T., The Buddhist Forum IV, seminar papers 1994–1996 (pp. 35–58) (PDF), London, UK: School of Oriental and African Studies
- Gombrich, Richard F. (1997), How Buddhism Began, Munshiram Manoharlal
- Gomez, Luis O.; Silk, Jonathan A. (1989), Studies in the Literature of the Great Vehicle: Three Mahayana Buddhist Texts, Ann Arbor
- Hui-Neng (n.d.), The Sutra of Hui-Neng (PDF), T.Cleary
- McRae, John (2003), Seeing Through Zen. Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism, The University Press Group Ltd, ISBN 9780520237988
- Skilton, Andrew (2002), "State or Statement?: Samādhi in Some Early Mahāyāna Sūtras", The Eastern Buddhist, 34 (2)
- Thurman, Robert (1984), The Central Philosophy of Tibet, Princeton University Press
- Williams, Paul (2000), Buddhist Thought. A complete introduction to the Indian tradition, Routledge
- Williams, Paul (2008), Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations, Routledge
- Vetter, Tilmann (1988), The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism, BRILL
- Bronkhorst, Johannes (1993), The Two Traditions Of Meditation In Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass Publ.
- Shankman, Richard (2008), The Experience of Samadhi. An In-depth Exploration of Buddhist Meditation, Shambhala
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- Theravada Buddhism
- Sīla and Samādhi, Surendranath Dasgupta, 1940
- Samma Samadhi - by Ajahn Chah
- Samadhi for Liberation - by Ajahn Anand Akincano
- Wisdom Develops Samadhi - by Maha Boowa
- Lessons in Samadhi by Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo
- Tibetan Buddhism
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