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Chapter 16: The Difference between Satori & Samadhi

What is the difference in experience between satori - in zen, a glimpse of enlightenment - and samadhi, cosmic consciousness?

Samadhi begins as a gap, but it never ends. A gap always begins and ends - it has boundaries: a beginning and an end - but samadhi begins as a gap and then is everlasting. There is no end to it. So if the happening comes as a gap and there is no end, it is samadhi, but if it is a complete gap - with a beginning and an end - then it is satori, and that is different. If it is just a glimpse, just a gap, and the gap is again lost, if something is bracketed and the bracket is complete - you peep into it and come back, you jump into it and come back - if something happens and it is again lost, it is satori. It is a glimpse, a glimpse of samadhi, but not samadhi.

Samadhi means the beginning of knowing, without any end.

In India we have no word that corresponds to satori, so sometimes, when the gap is great, one can misunderstand satori as samadhi. But it never is; it is just a glimpse. You have come to the cosmic and looked into it, and then everything is gone again. Of course, you will not be the same; now you will never be the same again. Something has penetrated into you, something has been added to you, you can never be the same again. But still, that which has changed you is not with you. It is just a remembrance, a memory. It is only a glimpse.

If you can remember it - if you can say, “I have known the moment” - it is only a glimpse, because the moment samadhi has happened, you will not be there to remember it. Then you can never say, “I have known it,” because with the knowing the knower is lost. Only with the glimpse the knower remains.

So the knower can keep this glimpse as a memory - he can cherish it, long for it, desire it, again endeavor to experience it - but he is still there. The one who has had a glimpse, the one who has looked is there. It has become a memory; and now this memory will haunt you, will follow you, and will demand the phenomenon again and again.

The moment samadhi has happened, you are not there to remember it. Samadhi never becomes a part of memory because the one who was is no more. As they say in zen, “The old man is no more and the new one has come.” and these two have never met, so there is no possibility of there being any memory. The old has gone and the new has come, and there has been no meeting between the two, because the new can come only when the old has gone. Then it is not a memory; there is no haunting and no hankering after it, there is no longing for it. Then, as you are, you are at ease and there is nothing to desire.

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