Darshan in sanscrit means “viewing.” A mortal beholds the spirit of a deity in everyday life, thus receives a blessing. This is likened in Catholicism to the idea of the “beatific vision.”
I once heard a story of a holy person from India giving darshan to a spiritual seeker. The Hindu saint spent years in a cave, exercising the mind, body, spirit calisthenics that creates a world class guru. When his time arrived to go into the world, he spent the rest of his life imparting his wisdom. The teacher dedicated himself to giving darshan to help individuals change their consciousness, so they could behold more in life – to be the best souls they could be and freed from the fetters of doubt.
The master, looking into the eyes of someone so profoundly imparted a blessing. The person felt the holy presence and “the clouds of misunderstanding rolled away and a profound light of clarity shone in his heart.” The individual said, there was no uncertainty, no feeling of being lost, just a pure reason for being and presence of mind. It was a moment of sanctity held in the calm of a radiance. There was a connection to a part of himself he’d never seen. It was that blanket of certainty that keeps you warm in sleep.
These visions happen to us and we sometimes get lost in the experience. Sometimes it happens so fast we need to check ourselves to see if we really experienced it. Sometimes the experience is relayed in the healing presence of a holy person, sometimes it comes in the forms of words or an image that takes the mind on a walk “to the ocean of God.”
Great writers like Eugene O’Neill impart it in their words. He looks into the heart of a reader and imparts a taste of reality that is not always recognized. The Noble Prize-winning author expressed it in Edmund’s speech in Long Day’s Journey Into the Night.”
Edmund said, “Here’s one. When I was on the Squarehead square rigger, bound for Buenos Aires. Full moon in the trades. The old hooker driving 14 knots. I lay on the bowsprit, facing astern, with the water foaming into spume under me. Every mast with sail white in the moonlight – towering high above me. I became drunk with the beauty and singing rhythm of it – and for a second I lost myself, actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved into the sea, became white sails and flying spray – became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the ship and the high dim-starred sky. I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, or the life of man, to Life itself! To God if you want to put it that way.”
Edmund talks about being connected to the something greater through the expression of this world “like a saint’s vision of beatitude. “Like the veil of things as they seem drawn back by an unseen hand. For a second you see – and seeing the secret, are the secret. For a second there is meaning! Then the hand lets the veil fall and you are alone, lost in the fog again, stumbling on toward no where, for no good reason!”
WB Yeats expresses it in his poem “Vacillation.”
“My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.”
Gabriel Marcel said, “We know we’ve learned to love someone when we’ve glimpsed something in them that is too beautiful to die.”
It can be said that we behold something that has been consummated with the Holy Spirit and that holds open the door for more expressions of mystery. We’ve glimpsed something pure and that “pure” expression is a transcendent experience. Holy people hold this in their hearts and connect that with the beholder. It cannot be explained and it cannot be interpreted. It is an experience that is beyond comprehension. “When we change our consciousness, we change the world.”
In the act of blessing you become the blessing — so we bless to be a blessing. We accept our darkest doubt and a light of understanding will click if we attune to something more. We are ticked into a new dimension when we love unconditionally. We behold love and we are loved. When we look into the depths of being the lover, we become the loving expression.
When one has experienced darshan once, he spends his whole life attempting to express and identify with it again. We view the unseen in measures not fully understood.