What Does it Mean to “Fall from Grace”?


What does it mean to "fall" from sabikalpa samadhi? I've heard Swamiji's talks on this subject, so I want to know what happens to some yogis who, unfortunately, become very egotistical on reaching this state.

Thank you!

—Truthseeker, Saudi Arabia


Dear Friend,

I suspect a “fall” from sabikalpa samadhi is not precepitous, necessarily. It can be subtle – at first. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the story from the New Testament, what he was tempted to do was somewhat innocuous and might have seemed to have been for the glory of God: converting stones into bread, having dominion over earth (perhaps to bring to peace to earth), etc.

The ego’s taking to itself in pride the glory of the experience of samadhi may creep up, so to speak, and begin to create a veil that at first might not even be noticed. Such a one might say that by use of these powers good can be accomplished. But the sense of I as the Doer is enough of a thorn or blemish upon the soul as to spread like a spot of ink on a shirt left unattended.

Thus such a soul might not necessarily fall very far or very fast, but fall indeed. One might catch himself for being foolish and then re-assert his efforts to offer himself into God. Or, maybe he would fall into delusion further and take one or two, or even many, lifetimes to recover, depending on how far back into egoism he descends.

I suspect that there have been no small number of popular or powerful spiritual teachers down through history (some known, some unknown) who have had to go through this. In fact, I’d go further and say I suspect all had to deal with this final temptation. Heck, why not admit it. Imagine, after all, the glory and power at one’s feet, so to speak.

We must therefore be wary and compassionate: for ourselves and for those on the spiritual path, even those seemingly ahead of us. Paramhansa Yogananda said “You are not safe until you reach nirbikalpa samadhi.”

Blessings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman