What is the difference between Laya, Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Sahaja Samadhi?

Question: Thank you for this post on Laya and Samadhi. What is the difference between ‘Laya’ and Samadhi? And what is the difference between Nirvakalpa Samadhi, and Nirvakalpa Sahaja Samadhi? Thank you. 🙏

Tom: There are several different definitions of each term, depending on the scripture and school (eg. yoga, vedanta, etc). However, in essence, when the mind has been made still but I-thought (ie. ego) has NOT been removed, that is laya, so the ego remains latent and does not end up being destroyed. Instead, once the samadhi is over, the ego sprouts up again and causes suffering. This ‘Laya’ is sometimes known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

Abiding as the self is to remain as the Self without the I-thought. This is called Mauna (Silence), and naturally, over time, leads to Moksha once the vasanas (egoic tendencies) are rooted out. This is because the root cause of suffering, namely ignorance or the ‘I thought’ is directly attacked in this practice. Moksha is also called Sahaja Samadhi (which roughly translated means ‘the natural state’), as it is unforced and natural, but there is no sense of egotism/I-thought.

Confusingly, these terms are often used in different ways, even within a single philosophical school such as Advaita Vedanta. Sometimes the word Laya is used to mean Moksha, for example, and Mauna, Self-Abidance and Nirvikalpa Samadhi are also equated at times. At these times it will be said that Nirvikalpa Samadhi does lead to Moksha.

Best wishes!

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