Devotee: “Bhagavan’s Grace is needed in order that meditation should become effortless.”
Bhagavan replied: “Practice is necessary, there is Grace.”
Guru Ramana p. 76
On the States of Samadhi and the Signs of a Sadhaka
explained by Sri Anandamayi Ma in
"Mother as Revealed to Me", by Bhaiji
When Mother was approached with a prayer to let us know the various stages of sadhana, She indicated four levels:
(i) Concentration of intellectual powers on a focal point. It is like setting fire to dry fuel. When wet wood has been dried by the heat of fire, the flames blaze up brightly, Similarly when by the force of contemplation of the Divine, our mind is released from the mist and moisture of desires and passions it becomes light. It is a condition of mental purity which induces in certain cases a state of silent merging into a particular mood or into an excess of emotion and agitation beyond one’s power of control. All these moods emanate from one supreme existence but only in special directions.
(ii) Concentration of one’s emotional powers. It brings in a state of bodily inertness, of absorption in one holy sentiment arising out of one, indivisible supra-mental state. At this level the body may be likened to a burnt charcoal with the fire apparently gone out. In this state the devotee passes hours together in a state of outer inertness; but in the core of his heart surges up an unceasing current of sublime emotion. When this state matures the sentiment draws mighty powers from the All-Soul, and just as a vessel overflows when too much water is poured into it, it spreads out over the wide world in a mighty sweep under the intense pressure of expansiveness.
(iii) Fusion of the inner and outer life. This state is just like that of a burning coal. Fire pervades every atom of the inner and outer sheaths; —all are aglow with one Divine Light. The devotee lives, moves and has his being in one blissful ocean of Light.
(iv) Full concentration, when the devotee loses all consciousness of duality—of the functioning of the three gunas [trigunas] . It is like the state of coal burnt to ashes. There is no distinction. of the inner and the outer, of here and there, it is a state of absorption in the Supreme, of All-Oneness. Vibrations of thought, feeling or willing vanish altogether. It resembles the perfect tranquility of a sleeping lake under a blue sky.
On one occasion, I asked Mother,—”What are the signs of a sadhaka ? (one who strives hard for spiritual uplift) Mother said, “When a devotee reaches a certain level of mental purity, he may behave like a child, or become unresponsive to worldly stimuli like a clot of inert matter, or violate all canons of social life like one insane, or at times be swayed by flashes of higher thought or emotion and pass for a saint. But through all these varying modes of life his aim remains fixed upon his central target. If at this stage he forgets his final aim his progress is arrested there."
“But if with intense effort he strives on and on towards his goal, all his activities will center round his supreme objective. You will always find that even though he looks like a mass of inert matter, quite indifferent to external stimuli, he is full of cheerfulness and bliss as soon as he regains physical consciousness. Gradually as this joyous mood settles down in him all his relationship with men and things becomes imbued with a spirit of joy and happiness, so as to make him lovable and adorable to all. His inner and outer life becomes an expression of the One Supreme Bliss.