Old traditions have gone on at length about Jhanas and Samadhi. It is good territory to explore these descriptions and try to match your experience with that of other more experienced practitioners. This is, however, an unnecessary diversion from practice because Samadhi achieves itself in meditation practice and, beyond sitting and focusing on the breath, no additional effort is needed to eventually attain absorption.
When we sit in meditation we allow thoughts, emotions and feelings to come and go without attachment. When we do this for long enough we uncover the consciousness behind these thoughts, emotions and feelings. When we do it for much longer we begin to clearly see the whole mechanism we used to call “me” functioning quite on its own and, in some respects, lacking agency altogether. This transitions to a feeling of abiding beyond the small self, abiding in equanimity, and we can begin to follow that “pure consciousness” sensation until we no longer are aware of a self perceiving things. This is a kind of smooth, natural abidance that feels like you have burnt out all of the things that used to pop up.
Really, it is just awareness itself which is curative. It’s like a fire that burns up the rest of the jhanas or stages of samadhi because all of these earlier stages take effort – they are not natural. The natural baseline is really uncovered out of a sort of fatigue with everything that stands in its way. Somehow, inexplicably, abiding in this samadhi brings about shifts, insights and awakening, which are really just words for the same thing.
Our body/mind is like an instrument which is wildly out of tune at adulthood because of false information and false interpretations. Oceanic connectedness is not possible until our instrument is in tune. The instrument cannot be tuned by religion or reading or “good thoughts” or vitamins or gurus or old books. Meditation or dhyana is really the only way to become aware of the condition of our instrument, and this awareness alone, because of its inherent purity, suddenly and gradually tunes our instrument over time. It is that simple – when we sit in meditation with our bodies and our minds, the process unfolds naturally.
Insights may come suddenly. Strings may tune suddenly. Siddhis or powers of perception or whatever else may arise. These are nothing but our strings becoming tuned. They are only mistakes that you corrected in yourself and really have no meaning once they have been corrected. This is why everyone’s journey could be said to be a unique but necessary journey to nowhere. A “cleaving to God,” as found in Kabbalah.
Samadhi is really the baseline of our being, the natural state and we should have been in it all of the time. It is uncovered as the mind and body are tuned through meditation. This instrument of ours is really supposed to have ‘super-connectedness,’ it’s only that we have not tuned it. Once it is tuned we continue practicing until the very shape of our instrument changes to hold tune naturally. The deeper and longer our meditation goes the deeper and longer we tune the roots of our being. The good news is that this is simple, if not easy. The act of meditation is tuning.