The View(ing)

In preparing for our visit to Pura Tirtha Empul at Tampak Siring yesterday, I had to decide whether I was going to enter the holy spring waters or not. “Can I just take darshan from looking at the waters?” I asked.

Not familiar with darshan? Here’s how it is understood in Hinduism: “Darshan, (Sanskrit: “viewing”) also spelled darshana, in Indian philosophy and religion, particularly in Hinduism, the beholding of a deity (especially in image form), revered person, or sacred object. The experience is considered to be reciprocal and results in the human viewer’s receiving a blessing.” (That’s what Google said.)

At a somewhat deeper level, there is the sense that viewing something/ someone sacred or powerful results in real contact. Even westerners sometimes talk about “laying eyes on” a person or thing. With darshan, it’s as if there’s a kind of energy that passes between the two participants in the viewing, with agency on both sides.

All of this led me to wonder something else: Can I take a blessing away with me in the form of photonic patterns inside my iPhone? Can darshan happen again when I look at such images as they come up on Facebook memories five years from now?

In the final analysis, I spent some time gazing at the waters of Tirtha Empul, quietly contemplating amid the splash and hubbub of my fellow  blessing seekers. Then I walked to the edge of the water, dipped my hands into the flow and sprinkled some water on my head. I also took pictures.

 

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Where is my French?!

As soon as I crossed the frontier from Spain into France yesterday, I started trying to get my brain wrapped around all the signs and conversations in French.  I took 3 years of French at university, for heaven’s sake!  Where had all of that gone?

Buried.  Covered in the dust and debris of disuse.

I had been having so much fun in Spanish!  I could carry on casual conversations and eavesdrop in cafes.  I was even beginning to throw in the local expression “Vale!”  It translates roughly as “okay… yeah… sure… got it!”  I was looking for opportunities to use the question form (“Vale?”) or the doubled form (“Vale, vale!”).

And now I am in France struggling to excavate a language I once thought I would be pretty good at.  When I hear the words, I get it.  But when I try to speak…  I am just hoping this will get a little better during my few days here.