The pineal gland has long been surrounded with an aura of mysticism and speculation as to its origin and function. According to Theosophical writings, the pituitary gland is the remnant of the Third Eye, which degenerated into the pineal gland. Rene Descartes, a well-known philosopher referred in his writings to the pineal gland as the “seat of the soul” and the place where thoughts are formed. The pineal gland has been the subject of much research and interest, by scientists, doctors, philosophers, occultists and spiritual practitioners. What is the truth about this mysterious gland?
The historical third eye
Both science and occult writings agree that our pineal gland was quite likely to have been a functional eye that has now atrophied. This may have functioned as a single eye, prior to our other two eyes forming and becoming dominant. An interesting concept, which may be seen, echoed in the myths of one-eyed giants. According to Theosophical writings, in an earlier race of man, this eye functioned not only as a source of physical vision; it enabled us to “see” with psychic and spiritual vision.
The pineal gland and its functions
The pineal gland is a small gland located in the centre of the head, in close proximity to the pituitary gland. It is surrounded by brain tissue, but not actually part of the brain. Early speculations about the function of the pineal gland are found in the writings of the famous Greek physician Galen, who described it as resembling the nuts found in a pine cone and serving a function similar to other glands in the body. Modern medicine considers its main function to be the secretion of melatonin, which governs the biological clock and circadian rhythms, as well as affecting ageing, the immune system, sleep and the reproductive system and organs.
The ajna centre
Further understanding of the pineal gland can be gleaned by looking into the ancient system of yoga. In yoga, the pineal gland, in conjunction with the pituitary gland, is often equated with the functions of the spiritual energy centre located between the brows, known as the ajna centre. This is considered an important centre that relates to psychic powers, such as inner vision and telepathy and also spiritual awakening and wisdom. Shiva a Hindu deity is often pictured with a third eye at the centre of his brow. According to yogic thought, the pineal gland is the receiver and transmitter of vibrational waves, which carry thought and psychic wave forms through the cosmos. The practice of meditation is thought to awaken the Ajna centre into its full functioning capacity, including all of these abilities. However, the aim of yoga is not to awaken psychic powers, which are seen as a potential distraction, but to achieve spiritual illumination and understand the true nature of reality.
Science, consciousness and the third eye
The latest scientific research confirms the relationship between consciousness and the pineal gland that yoga has understood for thousands of years. It has been found that the pineal gland produces a substance called pinoline, which is linked with altered states of consciousness. This evidence shows a neurochemical basis for the pineal glands ability to effect changes in consciousness such as dreaming, hypnosis and altered states.
How we can assist the regeneration of the pineal gland
There are several things we can do to assist the full functioning of the pineal gland and the expansion of our consciousness. Recent findings have shown that fluoride is detrimental to its functioning. Drinking fluoride free water and getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine can assist with regeneration of the pineal gland.
Meditation and the third eye
In conclusion, both modern consciousness research and the ancient science of yoga show that the activation of the pineal gland plays a part in the awakening of consciousness. This can be brought about through the practice of meditation which has been found to effect pineal activity. Specific practice for opening the third eye centre, involves breathing into this centre while in a relaxed, meditative state, so as the pineal and pituitary begin to work in unison. This practice cultivates the “inner light” of spiritual illumination. Focusing on the feeling of love during practice can assist the opening of this centre and the transition into a state of cosmic consciousness.
Roney-Dougal, S.M., PhD, Psi Research Centre, Article – On A Possible Psychophysiology of the Yogic Chakra System, http://www.psi-researchcentre.co.uk/article_2.html
Nityabodhananda Saraswati, Swami, disciple of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, The Bihar School of Yoga, (1973) Ajna Chakra, Chapter 2 PSYCHO-PHYSIOLOGICAL ASPECTE, http://www.beezone.com/AjnaChakra/ajna_chakra.htm
Van Mate, John, The Third Eye and Human Evolution: Ancient Clue to Spiritual Man, Jr. (From Sunrise magazine, February/March 2003; copyright © 2003 Theosophical University Press)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Descartes and the Pineal Gland (First published Apr 25, 2005; substantive revision Wed Nov 5, 2008).
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