Ramakrishna described it in this way: if you put a stick on the surface of water, it will appear to divide the water; actually speaking, the water is not divided. Similarly, in that state a little self-consciousness remains on the part of the individual soul; he has become one with God except for a slight semblance of distinction. What are the external signs of that samadhil Of course, the person has no outward consciousness. You speak to him, he does not hear; you touch him, he does not feel. Even if you put a burning coal on his body he will not be aware of it. But because there has remained a little individuality, he still breathes long breaths; there may be a heartbeat, but very slow, everything very slow.
When he goes still deeper, even his breath and heartbeat stop. His body becomes, medically speaking, completely dead except that his face is luminous. That is the highest kind of samddhi. It is a curious thing that even after actual death the face of a highly spiritual person becomes very luminous; what makes the face so luminous after the soul has departed is a fascinating question, but it is a noticeable fact. Similarly, in this highest kind of samddhi, where there is no sign of life in the body, when everything is completely extinct, the face is very luminous. Then the person comes down and slowly begins to breathe again. At first there are one or two long irregular breaths. Then slowly regular breathing begins. His hands might tremble a little; signs of life begin to come; his body becomes, as it were, again conscious. Then he is able to talk a little, very indistinctly. Slowly, slowly he comes down.
These are outward signs I am speaking of. Inside, because of complete absorption in God, anything that was a bar to the highest knowledge has been removed. What is knowledge? To know does not constitute knowledge. To know presupposes that the thing we are knowing is outside of us. When the subject knows’ an object, he does not really know it, because he is outside of it. His knowledge is very superficial; it is knowledge only by courtesy. True knowledge is complete identification between the knower and the object to be known. Complete identification! If I am to know you, I must become you; I must make myself one with your soul, so that what you feel in your heart, in your mind, becomes known to me. That is true knowledge. A mother knows her child that way; because she is so close to the child she can feel the child from within the child at least partly. Love gives that intimate knowledge, if it is a deep and pure love. Any kind of intervening agency which obstructs even in the slightest the thing to be known has gone. That is called the highest illumination, because the knower and the known have become one.
That state cannot be spoken of. Whatever name you give it, it is nameless, indescribable. In his lecture at Harvard University on Vedanta, Swami Vivekananda was asked, Isn’t it a state of selfhypnosis?’ You think and think and think about