- The Sanskrit samādhi means to hold things together.
- The Tibetan ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་, tingédzin means to hold firmly and unwaveringly from the depths so that there is no movement.
Kumarajiva's translations typically use sanmei (三昧), while the translations of Xuanzang tend to use ding (定 "fixity"). The Chinese Buddhist Canon includes these as well as other translations and transliterations of the term.
Lists of topics
- In the Noble Eightfold Path, "Right concentration" (samma-Samādhi, S. samyak-Samādhi) is the eighth path factor. Right concentration (Pāli: sammā-Samādhi; Skt.: samyak-Samādhi) involves attainment of the successively higher Meditative states known as the four jhānas.
- Similarly, Samādhi is the second part of The Buddha's threefold training: Sīla (Morality or Virtue), Samādhi, and Pañña (Wisdom; S. prajña).
- In the development of the four jhānas, the second Jhāna (S. Dhyāna) is "born" from Samādhi (samādhija).
Four types of samadhi
- A pleasant abiding in this current Life — achieved through concentrative development of the four jhānas
- Knowledge and the divine eye — achieved by Concentration on Light
- Mindfulness and clear comprehension — achieved through concentrative Mindfulness of the rise and fall of feelings, perceptions and thoughts.
- The destruction of the taints — achieved through concentrative Mindfulness of the rise and fall of The five aggregates.
The Buddhist suttas mention that Samādhi practitioners may develop supernormal powers (Abhijna, cf. Siddhis), and list several that The Buddha developed, but warn that these should not be allowed to distract the practitioner from the larger goal of complete freedom from Suffering.
According to the Visuddhimagga, Samādhi is the "proximate cause" to the obtainment of Wisdom. In the Buddhist tradition, Samādhi is traditionally developed by contemplating one of 40 different objects, which are mentioned throughout the Pali canon, but explicitly enumerated in the Visuddhimagga, such as Mindfulness of breathing (Anapanasati) and loving Kindness (Metta).
- There also appear in Mahayana literature references to a number of specific samadhi, each with a name and associated benefits, and a number of which are associated with specific Sutras [...] one notes the appearance of lengthy lists of samadhi names, which one suspects have acquired their own aura of magical potency.
Thus we can find samadhi-name lists, some of considerable length, in the Akṣayavamatinirdeśa, Bodhisattvapiṭaka, Daśabhhūmīśvara, Gaṇḍavyūha, Kāraṇḍavyūha, Mahāvyutpatti, and various Prajñā pāramitā texts. Section 21 of the Mahāvyutpatti records some 118 Samādhi.
This is reflected in The Heart Sutra, a famous Mahāyāna discourse, in which Avalokiteśvara gives a teaching in the presence of The Buddha after The Buddha enters "the Samādhi which expresses the Dharma called Profound Illumination," which provides the context for the teaching.
Likewise, the Samādhirāja Sūtra
- ... declares its main theme to be a particular Samādhi that is supposed to be the key to all elements in the path and to all the virtues and merits of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
This Samādhi 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 Samādhi 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 Samādhirāja expresses accurately the content of the Sūtra.
This softening is reflected in The Platform Sutra, a text ascribed to Hui Neng, but composed by later writers of various schools. In chapter 4 Huineng, the renowned [[Sixth Ancestor of Chinese }} Chan (Zen), teaches that Samādhi and prajñā are not different:
But do not be under the wrong impression that these two are independent of each other, for they are inseparably united and are not two entities. Samadhi is the quintessence of Prajna, while Prajna is the activity of Samadhi.
A Disciple should not think that there is a distinction between 'Samadhi begets Prajna' and 'Prajna begets Samadhi'. To hold such an opinion would imply that there are two characteristics in the Dharma.
Wallace also maintains that Buddhist psychology suggests that Concentration may be a factor in the emergence of extraordinary intelligence.