Poems are not words.
Poems are where words go to die;
then to resurrect into
"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled."
(--from An Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday)
Darshan is the intimate process of seeing and being seen by a deity. Hindus describe darshan not as the detached, passive sight of aesthetic observance but with the active transitive verbs of taking (in Hindi, darshan lena) and giving darshan (darshan dena). In modern usage, the term darshan signifies the moment when humans view the supernatural, whether through an icon of a deity (murti), a sacred site (tīrtha), or a living embodiment of the divine (avatār). Through darshan, the deity and the devotee engage in a mutual seeing in “a moment of dramatic spiritual interaction.”7 This interactive process symbolizes the “desire for fusion— for the subject/object dissolution of the ‘double sensation.’ ”8 As Isabelle Nabokov/Clark-Decès explains, “The act of darshan . . . also becomes a form of absorbing, so that any objectification of a supernatural is always a form of assimilation as well.”9 It is in such moments of Hindu devotional ritual that the individual both recognizes divinity and is recognized as divinity.10 In Hindu practice, it is through darshan that humanity gains the opportunity to experience the divine on earth. Ideally the darshan experience dissolves the individual ego into cosmic unity with divinity. When interpreted through the advaita vedantic theological ideal of nonduality, the moment of darshan between guru and devotee provides the opportunity for the dissolution of the individuated ego, the symbolic union with divinity, and the intense physical expression of metaphysical cosmic oneness that eradicates duality. Ideally, darshan transforms the individual through these temporary suspensions of the sense of self and individuated difference that incite the recognition of the ultimate similitude between the self and divinity.
Through darshan, devotees not only see the image of the deity but infuse themselves within it in an active process of becoming. Devotees aim to absorb the gaze of the deity and in the process be transformed. As Lawrence Babb suggests, there is a parallel between the impulse be- hind eating blessed food (prasad), wherein “you become what you eat,” and the process of darshan, in which “you somehow become what you see.”11 Thus darshan should not be explained in terms of being merely an aesthetic experience—something that one passively witnesses—but, rather, as an agentive interaction—something in which one actively engages, a transformative and participatory process. A devotee of Mother Meera understands her unique method of silent visual darshan in highly active terms of transformation. She says, “Along with the gaze from Mother Meera’s eyes comes an infusion of light, light designed to heal wounds within the psyche and give a person sufficient power to move from the perspective of the personality to a divine perspective. . . . This is not one woman staring as the other stares back. Instead, one offers the gift of her soft, penetrative gaze, and the other offers the gift of acceptance.”12 In the Radhasoami tradition the compassionate gaze of the guru during darshan is believed to assist devotees in their spiritual de- velopment: “the drishṭi, the ‘seeing’ or ‘glance,’ of the guru aids the devotee in achieving deliverance.”13 Devotees of Sathya Sai Baba experience darshan as “a moment of ultimate self-transformation by which they are ‘captured’ spiritually and experience a ‘complete immersion in Sai Baba’s love.’ ”14
Amma’s devotees relate similar experiences of the dissolution of indi- vidual boundaries, immersion in divine love, and cosmic awakenings. Shanti relayed a particularly powerful experience of her darshan during one Devī Bhāva night: “As we knelt in front of Amma, she put our heads together, cheek to cheek, and looked straight into our eyes, the right eye on me and the left eye on Caleb. I remember thinking, Oh no! here we go!!! I lost all track of where I was . . . there was no sense of time, the universe was swirling to life in her eye, and then I was in the universe and I sort of felt, for lack of a better word, everything that has ever been and every thing that will ever be in one second. She pulled back and it was over. I totally lost track of where I was for a second. But as soon as she disengaged I was back with no confusion.” Devotees long for the darshan experience because of the potential for this type of transformative experience, the possibility of experiencing a glimpse into the cosmic reality of the divine, and the efficacy of darshan for catalyzing spiritual awakening.
(--from Chapter 1, A Darshan Embrace, Experiencing Authenticity and Feeling Witnessed, in Reflections of Amma, Devotees in a Global Embrace, Amanda J. Lucia (Author) http://www.ucpress.edu/content/chapters/12560.ch01.pdf)
Doing nothing is essential for thinking to occur. Many of the most important thoughts are unintentional—they can be neither solicited nor cajoled but have a rhythm of their own, creeping up, arriving, and leaving when we least expect them. It is important to cultivate the lassitude of mind that clears a place for the arrival of what cannot be anticipated. Idleness allows time for the mind to wander to places never before imagined and to return transformed.
(—Mark C. Taylor, "Idleness Waiting Grace")