Over the years, I have heard various sannyasins saying that they experienced a satori. What exactly is a satori, and how does it come about?
Satori is a glimpse of the ultimate… as if you are seeing the Himalayan peaks. But you are far away, you are not on the peaks, and you have not become the peaks. It is a beautiful experience, very enchanting, exciting, challenging. Perhaps it may lead you towards samadhi. Satori is a glimpse of samadhi.
Samadhi is the fulfillment of satori. What was a glimpse has become now an eternal reality to you. Satori is like opening a window – a little breeze comes in, a little light. You can see a little sky, but it is framed. Your window becomes a frame to the sky, which has no frame.
And if you always live in the room and you have never been out of it, the natural conclusion will be that the sky is framed.
It is only in this decade that a few modern painters have started painting without frames.
It was a shock to all art lovers, who could not conceive it: what is the meaning of a painting without a frame?
But these modern painters said, “In existence nothing is framed, so to make a beautiful, natural scenery with a frame is a lie. The frame is the lie – it is added by you. It is not there outside, so we have dropped the frames.”
Satori is just a glimpse, from the window, of the beautiful sky full of stars. If it can invite you to come out to see the unframed vastness of the whole sky full of millions of stars, it is samadhi.
The word samadhi is very beautiful. Sam means equilibrium; adhi, the other part of samadhi, means all the tensions, all the turmoil, all disturbances have disappeared. There is only a silent equilibrium… as if time has stopped, all movement has frozen. Even to feel it for a single moment is enough: you cannot lose it again.
Satori can be lost because it was only a glimpse. Samadhi cannot be lost because it is a realization. Satori is on the way to samadhi, but it can become either a help or a hindrance – a help if you understand this is just the beginning of something far greater, a hindrance if you think you have come to the end.
In meditation, first you will come to satori – just here and there glimpses of light, blissfulness, ecstasy. They come and go. But remember, howsoever beautiful, because they come and go, you have not yet come home – where you come and never go again.
Taken from The Path of the Mystic, Chapter 37