What is Darshan?

Darshan is derived from the Sanskrit, darsana, meaning “sight,” “vision” or “appearance.” In Hinduism, darshan is the act of beholding a deity, divine person, sacred object or natural spectacle, especially in a physical image form.

The poet, Gary Snyder, has given a naturalistic meaning to darshan:

“It’s a gift; it’s like there’s a moment in which the thing is ready to let you see it. In India, this is called darshan. Darshan means getting a view, and if the clouds blow away, as they did once for me, and you get a view of the Himalayas from the foothills, an Indian person would say, ‘Ah, the Himalayas are giving you their darshan’; they’re letting you have their view. This comfortable, really deep way of getting a sense of something takes time. It doesn’t show itself to you right away. It isn’t even necessary to know the names of things the way a botanist would. It’s more important to be aware of the ‘suchness’ of the thing; it’s a reality. It’s also a source of a certain kind of inspiration for creativity. I see it in the work of Georgia O’Keefe.

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