chapter  1
13 Pages

On Wearing Good Lenses

How clearly can you see? This is an apt question as one begins an attempt to understand the religious heritage of India. It is apt because metaphors of vision spiral their way throughout Indian religion and thought: the term, dars´an, for example, “seeing” (the deity) is the highpoint of Hindu ritual. Dars´an is also the viewpoint from which one sees something of the truth. Another term, vidya¯ – “knowledge” – is derived from the Sanskrit term vid – “to perceive or know”; avidya¯ (“not seeing/knowing”) is perceived to be the fundamental human problem. Buddhi (enlightenment or awaking) is a matter of understanding, of seeing correctly. Indian religions ask again and again: “How well do you see?”