Is there a Vedic term for seeing the essence of a person beneath or beyond the merely human? Like, you’re looking at someone in an entirely normal setting, much as you have done many times, when suddenly you see that person as they really are as an immortal being. It is as if a veil has been lifted and you see their aspect as a resplendent being. Is there such a term? or tradition? or teaching? Or to put it in a Western context it is as if you are looking at the Platonic ideal of that being.
Yes, there is: the term is darshan, often translated as “vision”, but translated by Yogananda as “seeing the Infinite”. When one has darshan with a saint, it doesn’t mean seeing his physical form, but perceiving his/her divine essence, his/her immortal being.
This darshan you can also have while reading a Scripture. Or you can have it while looking at a tree, or a person.
We should even train train ourselves in it, Yogananda teaches. In the West he used another wording, calling it “other-mindedness.” He explains it in the book Essence of Self-Realization:
“A good rule to follow in life is to be ‘other’-minded. Here is what I mean: No matter what you behold, try to be conscious of that ‘other,’ greater reality behind what you are beholding. No matter with whom you are speaking, imagine that ‘other’ One, communicating with you through that person’s words and gestures. Whatever work you are doing, feel that ‘other’ Presence nearby, watching you, guiding you, giving you strength. When looking into people’s eyes, see God there, touching you through their consciousness. With every event in your life, watch it as it unfolds. Ask yourself, ‘What is God trying to teach me through this experience?'”
Once in India an Ananda pilgimage visited a great Kriya Yoga saint, Rani Ma. She asked us after a while: “Who of you has had darshan with me?” Nobody answered. Then she said: “But I am having darshan with everyone of you right now. I am seeing the Infinite in everyone of you.”
So, that is darshan, a very Vedic concept, and a very practical teaching for our spiritual life.
All the best in your practice of darshan,