When we hear the word “clairvoyance,” we often think of the ability to perceive objects and entities on planes of existence other than the physical. To Theosophists, the word may conjure images of thought forms, of the human aura, of devas and elementals, all of which surround us at every moment, invisible to most—save for those who possess the ability to see them. The ability is considered to be a form of “extra-sensory perception.” Extra as a prefix probably comes from the Latin exterus, meaning “outward” or “outside.” Thus the term “extra-sensory perception,” implying a phenomenon that is outside that of sensation, seems misleading if by it we are referring to the ability to see auras or thought forms—after all, when someone who has this gift sees such things, is that experience not an aspect of their sense of vision, however attuned that sense may be to things not normally seen? Theosophy teaches that all humans will one day reach a point of development at which this faculty blooms; in other words, it is a perfectly natural and normal aspect of our sense of sight, albeit one that is currently dormant in most people.
The word “clairvoyant” is derived from French: Clair– (“clear”) + voyant (“seeing.”) In Theosophy, it is said that the faculty of clairvoyance is linked with the opening of the “third eye” center, located in between and just above our physical eyes. It is cautioned that the student should not become preoccupied with the development of such abilities, that such development will occur naturally in due course, and that to pursue the development of psychic abilities for their own sake is to take a misstep on the Path—one that is potentially dangerous to true spiritual progress.
What does it mean to “see clearly?” Is the term strictly limited to the ability to clearly see objects on the astral or some other plane? From day to day, how clearly do we see that which lays before us? In our lives, can we view each situation from a wholesome, impersonal and balanced perspective? Or is our vision clouded by our personal goals, prejudices, and beliefs? When we make decisions, are we motivated by our perception of what is best according to our individual preferences, or are we acting in the best interests of all involved? Even if we do intend to act in the service of another, how do we know that our intention is truly in alignment with what is best for that person? Can we see the needs of others clearly? Can we see the world clearly? Even if one can see a person’s aura, does that ability automatically confer the power to clearly see the meaning in that dance of color? Is there a whole level of clairvoyance that is truly “extra-sensory,” or outside the realm of mere sensation?