The following excerpt was taken from “The Summits of God-Life: Samadhi and Siddhi” by Sri Chinmoy.
There are three main states of consciousness: jagriti, swapna and sushupti. Jagriti is the waking state, swapna is the dream state and sushupti is the state of deep sleep. When we are in the waking state, our consciousness is focused outward; when we are in the dream state, our consciousness is turned inward; when we are in the state of deep sleep, our consciousness is roaming in the Beyond.
When we are in the waking state, the identification that we make with anything or anyone is vaishwanara, that which is common to all men. When we are in the dream state, we identify with tejasa, which is our inner brilliant capacity, our inner vigour. And when we enter into deep sleep, there we identify with and experience the subtle. In this third state it is not the mental consciousness, not the intellectual consciousness, but the inner, intuitive consciousness that we deal with. In sushupti there is no collective form; everything is indefinite. It is all infinite mass. In this state we get an experience of a very high order.
There is also a fourth state, turiya, which means the transcendental consciousness. This consciousness is neither outward nor inward; at the same time, it is both outward and inward. It is and it is not. It has the capacity to identify itself with anything and everything in the world and, again, it has the capacity to transcend anything and everything on earth. Furthermore, it constantly transcends itself. Turiya is the highest state of consciousness, but there is no end, no fixed limit, to the turiya consciousness. It is constantly transcending, transcending its own beyond.
The turiya state is like being at the top of a tree. When we are at the foot of a tree, with great difficulty we see a little bit of what is around us; but when we are at the top of the tree, we see everything around and below. So when we enter into the turiya state, we have to feel that we have entered into the highest plane of consciousness. From there we can observe everything.
In order to enter into the turiya state, for at least five or ten minutes every day we have to consciously separate our body from our soul. We have to say and feel, ‘I am not the body; I am the soul.’ When we say, ‘I am the soul,’ immediately the qualities of the soul come to the fore. When we are one with the soul, that state is a kind of samadhi. We can function in that particular state safely and effectively.
Nirvikalpa samadhi is also a state of the soul. When we have become one with the soul and are enjoying the eternal Peace, Bliss and Light of the soul, this is called nirvikalpa samadhi. In this state there is no thought. The cosmic play has ended; there is absolute Peace and Bliss.
In sahaja samadhi, while we are meditating, thoughts may be taking form in us, but we are not disturbed by them. In ordinary life we are disturbed by thoughts, but when we are in sahaja samadhi with the waking consciousness, although the earth sends a variety of thoughts from various angles, we are not disturbed by them.