Darshan. The experience of seeing and being seen.
We are born with a deep hunger to be seen. At our birth and infancy, our survival depends on it.
As we grow and evolve, we do so through risk, intuition, and vulnerability. Sometimes clumsily (our new born deer legs may wobble). Sometimes gracefully (we catch the wind under our wings).
As we explore this risk, we still hunger to be seen. We experience vulnerability when we’re not.
“Is it okay to grow?” “Will they still like me?” “Who will my friends be?”
On this journey, our courage and fortitude are stimulated by moments of being genuinely seen.
While we may rely on others for doing this (which leaves us vulnerable in a potentially deflating way), there is a larger grace on which we can rely (which makes us vulnerable in a potentially expansive way).
It is the vision an awakened teacher or mystic: they see us clearly.
They see that in us which cannot not be (and never has been) broken, diminished, flawed, or unworthy.
They see that in us which is already radiant, already whole, already wise and contented.
When we can internalize their clear seeing of us, when we can embody the love they exude, or when we welcome the wisdom in their expression to be something we can grow toward, our courage and fortitude get bigger.
We feel bigger than fear.
Assured by those awakened beings, we shine.
Affirmed by the courage of others who came before us on the paths of awakening from suffering, or doubt, or self-pity, or anxiety, we risk.
Like the sun that shines equally on all, or the shade tree that welcomes anyone to take refuge in its coolness, awakened teachers and mystics are not seeing us exclusively. They are seeing us Inclusively.
With this recognition, we don’t need to be afraid of how others will see us.
Rather, we need to be courageous, and to raise up others to realize they too are included. They too are already radiant, whole, wise. (They may just be blocked by mental conditioning. Towards which we can be very tender – since we’ve struggled with our own darkness in this regard.)
My own journey relied on inspiration from many sources: mystics, poets, teachers (in real time, like Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield), companions who were willing to be vulnerable while they were suffering, and friends who welcomed me when my suffering was huge. They welcomed me without judgment, fear, or rejection. They must have seen that I was in process, evolving through my pain. They must have known that underneath my temporary messiness was a grace trying to emerge. Often, sitting in the grace of their kindness, I had to allow the happening. I had to welcome the dissolving of my sense of separateness and exclusion. I had to relax into the possibility of inclusion in grace, inner peace, love and belonging.
One of my frequent inspirations was the poetry of Rumi.
Today, this one inspires me as I gaze back at my history, feel the power of this week’s eclipse, and look forward at our shared horizons as we join together again this fall for yoga practices, trainings, and retreats.
The Light Is the Same
Concentrate on the essence,
concentrate on the Light.
In lucid bliss,
calmly smoking off its own holy fire,
the Light streams towards you from
all possible permutations
The lamps are different,
but the Light is the same.
One matter, one energy, one Light, one Light-mind,
endlessly emanating all things.
One turning and burning diamond,
one, one, one.
Burn yourself, strip yourself down,
to blind loving silence.
Stay there, until you see
that you are gazing at the Light
with its own ageless eyes.