After writing several articles on reincarnation and enlightenment, many readers asked me why I never mentioned the significance of the pineal gland — a small structure about the size of a pea, located in the middle of the brain. For centuries this gland has been thought of by occultists and spiritual masters as the “seat of the soul” — a phrase made popular by Descartes (1662 AD).
Descartes was obsessed with understanding who we are. He questioned everything — even the notion that we can know ourselves. He observed that the senses can be fooled, that most of what we think we know is really illusion and finally struggled with the possibility that our own identity as individuals was also not real. But in the end he concluded that if it was possible to doubt our own existence, there had to be some “thing” that was capable of experiencing this doubt. And that thing was our true self.
His famous statement endures: Cogno ergo sum — I think, therefore I am.
“Although the soul is joined with the entire body, there is one part of the body [the pineal] in which it exercises its function more than elsewhere… [The pineal] is so suspended between the passages containing the animal spirits [guiding reason and carrying sensation and movement] that it can be moved by them…; and it carries this motion on to the soul … Then conversely, the body machine is so constituted that whenever the gland is moved in one way or another by the soul, or for that matter by any other cause, it pushes the animal spirits which surround it to the pores of the brain.” — Descartes
Today, with an understanding of computers, we might take issue with Descartes. That “thinking” process could be part of the circuitry of neurons, synapses and neurotransmitters that exist in our material brains. The real self is much deeper. It uses the thinking process but it remains apart from it, observing the process. The real self is, in fact, consciousness itself.
Obviously the two phenomena are connected: consciousness interfaces with the thinking process. So the question really is about how this interface of material mind and spiritual consciousness happens. If we can understand how consciousness interprets our thinking self then hopefully we can reverse the process and become aware of our consciousness — our true self. That is enlightenment.
As usual, in the process of doing research about the pineal gland, some amazing facts were revealed. Not only does this incredibly small gland seem to be associated with psi activity and paranormal abilities, but it is extremely vulnerable to the environment in ways that reveal our apparent materialism and pandemic depression.
The Pineal Gland in History
Although commonly attributed to Descartes, the idea that the pineal gland was the interfacing organ where the spirit of man gained access and animated the human body was the idea of a Greek physician named Herophilus. Three hundred years before Christ, Herophilus [right] was dissecting corpses and documenting what he observed. His specialties were the reproductive system and the brain.
Prior to Herophilus, people believed the “executive office” of human consciousness was the heart. Egyptian mummies had their hearts carefully embalmed and preserved while their brains were removed through their nasal passages and unceremoniously discarded. But Herophilus knew that the brain was the controlling center and he went on to discriminate between the various parts of the brain and assess the different behaviors associated with them.
Herophilus noticed that the small pineal structure was singular, unlike other brain features that are mirrored in the left and right hemispheres. It is the first gland to be formed in the foetus and is distinguishable at 3 weeks. It is also highly nourished. The pineal gland has been supplied with the best blood, oxygen and nutrient mix available in the human anatomy, second only to that of our kidneys (whose function is to filter the blood of impurities). Because of this unique and special anatomical configuration, Herophilus rightly concluded it had a major role in consciousness and was the gateway to our real self.
Herophilus is credited with the “invention” of the scientific method, the dogma of just about every scientific inquiry today, which consists of postulating theories and conducting experiments to prove or disprove them. It is ironic then that scientific inquiry of the pineal gland has been vigorously avoided because of its association with “spiritual” phenomena — incapable of empirical scrutiny. Only recently have scientists become interested in knowing more about this mysterious gland.
Herophilus wrote many volumes about anatomy and illustrated them, much as Leonardo Da Vinci did centuries later, but sadly his work did not survive the destruction of the great library in Alexandria where they were stored.
The Third Eye
By 1884, the field of comparative anatomy was revealing evidence that human organs could be traced back to lower vertebrates. F. Ahlborn recognized that pineal gland was originally a photoreactive organ in fish and amphibians and was sometimes located outside the skull, just under the skin. Its function as a trigger for reproduction was noted some 70 years later. The pineal gland was responsible for evaluating the length of day and night, calculating the correct season to mate and turning up the sex drive.
By 1958, Aaron Lerner discovered melatonin, a vital molecule produced in the pineal gland from another common neurotransmitter, serotonin. He also validated the fact that the production of melatonin varied, stopping during the daylight and ramping up shortly after darkness. Melatonin, it was learned, was responsible for making us relaxed and putting us to sleep.
For a while it was not known how this small gland, buried deep in the middle of human brain, could sense light or darkness. But it was later discovered that there was a link to the pineal gland from the retinas which, oddly enough, also contained melatonin. In no time the pineal gland was being called “the third eye” and, because of its location at one of the seven chakras, it was reputed to be the center of spiritual and psychic energy.
As hallucinogens became popular in the late 1960s, interest in altered states of consciousness, as a means to spirituality, peaked. Researchers discovered that LSD became highly concentrated in the pineal and pituitary glands. The altered state was produced by LSD’s ability to imitate serotonin at the synapse (where the neurons communicate with each other). Since both serotonin and melatonin are also concentrated in the pineal gland, this “third eye” was considered a portal to consciousness — what author Alduos Huxley called “the door of perception.”
Sites That Link to this Post
- 100 Ways To Elevate Your Consciousness | Information Awareness | January 23, 2012