In the spiritual sense a seer is a person with an alleged gift of inner sight. He or she apparently “sees” the past and future, possibly across great distances and through different spiritual realms. At least, that’s one aspect of the seer.
Another aspect is found in some non-Christian spiritual figures like Da Free John, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Chinmoy and Paramahansa Yogananda. These individuals apparently receive other people’s thoughts, feelings and experiences, and say they use these abilities to assess their disciples’ degree of spiritual development—that is, to “know where they’re at,” spiritually speaking.
Mystical Hinduism, particularly the guru ideal, highlights the importance of the seer. And his or her abilities are often believed to contribute to spiritual wisdom. Sometimes the guru is described as a kind of heroic figure who has scaled the inner reaches. Other times, a more humble approach speaks to spiritual “gifts” instead of emphasizing the guru’s great “achievements.” The idea of the gift connotes the notion that God bestows paranormal abilities for some good reason, often unknown at the time of receiving. The idea of the achievement may pay lip service to this, but may exalt the seer as if they were equal to God, or God on Earth (e.g. an avatar).
In traditional Catholicism the seer adheres to the rules and regulations of his or her religious order, as we find in monasticism. Spiritual abilities are entirely viewed as gifts or charisms from God and are usually played down out of humility. There is no desire to exalt oneself as a big holy person, this being an unsavory approach (which Jungians, incidentally, call inflation or self-aggrandizement).
In fact, in Catholicism, the true saint detests any kind of special attention because that would interfere with their spiritual development. This seems to represent a huge difference between the Catholic saint and some non-Catholic gurus, self-proclaimed prophets and so-called “spiritual leaders.”
Catholic seers apparently have the gift of “reading hearts,” which usually involves knowing and feeling another person’s thoughts, inclinations and overall spiritual condition. For some saints, coming into contact with another person not in a state of grace can be excruciatingly painful.¹
Some folks entertain the notion that a seer may possess unconventional abilities but question the source of these abilities, along with the ethical application in daily life.
But not all are so accepting. Skeptics like James Randi remain unconvinced about everything paranormal, to include the notion of “seeing” at a distance.
In Greek myth Tiresias was a blind seer.
¹ See, for instance, Faustina Kowalska’s Divine Mercy Diary. Sri Ramakrishna and other Hindus tend to talk about this phenomenon within their own religious framework. So instead of the “transfer of sin” (Christianity), Hindu mystics speak of “karma transfer.” I find it interesting how similar experiential phenomena get fitted into very different religious theories. In my view, this partly due to the human element at work—Mankind, the theory maker.