As children, we develop our vocabularies by repeating what we hear our parents say. We play games in which we identify colors and body parts, our parents shaking with excitement when we do so correctly. We quickly learn that, for the most part as humans, we are born with doubles: two arms and two legs, two ears and two eyes. However, there are often more intricate scientific findings that we don’t discover until we delve deeper into the wonders of science ourselves. This is it. This is where you discover that you’ve had a third eye this entire time.
The pineal gland, also known as the conarium, is an endocrine organ found in vertebrates and is a vital source of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important role in the regulation of the circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour biological schedule that your body, or more specifically your brain, follows between light and dark surroundings to determine your wake-sleep schedule. Now, you might be a little bit annoyed as you read this, wondering what the big deal is about a tiny gland located exactly between the two hemispheres of your brain. Well, there’s a reason it’s known as the third eye, and it isn’t simply due to its striking resemblance to the ones you’re using to read this article.
However, before we get into the metaphysical enigma, it’s important to note that scientists, philosophers, and theologists are not in complete agreement over the extent of the gland’s abilities. Cultures dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and the foundations of Hinduism and Buddhism have studied the gland and believed it to hold special ties to deeper consciousness. In fact, 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes, who developed a theory on the dualism of the mind and our physical bodies, studied and called the pineal gland the “seat of the soul” during the Renaissance. He believed the mind functioned separately from the body, but it took over the functions through the pineal gland.
“It must necessarily be the case that the impressions which enter by the two eyes or by the two ears, and so on, unite with each other in some part of the body before being considered by the soul. Now it is impossible to find any such place in the whole head except this gland; moreover, it is situated in the most suitable possible place for this purpose, in the middle of all the concavities.” -René Descartes
When he says this, he refers to the gland being exactly centered and conveniently located just between our actual eyes and slightly above them on our foreheads.
Ring a bell? Hindu deities have been seen with a third eye imprinted on their foreheads to represent the third eye chakra (one of seven chakras), which in Hinduism, is associated with enlightenment and higher consciousness. While there isn’t much evidence to support the concept that secretions from the pineal gland have a direct role in cognition, the gland has been informally associated with the production of neurosteroids like Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a hallucinogenic compound chemically similar to melatonin and serotonin. However, its powers aren’t necessarily completely hallucinogenic. Simple intuition and perception beyond our physical prowess (as demonstrated in various cases where children trained by a shaman in India were able to see beyond blindfolds) have been said to be due to the hidden lens of the pineal gland.
There are a multitude of sources attempting to get people to open their third eye, which may range from meditation and yoga to more extreme measures. However, whether or not you are convinced of its abilities, a common tip for those seeking higher consciousness is to eat a well-balanced, plant-based diet to allow the flow of energy and prevent the calcification of the gland. This is great advice for a strong body and mind regardless of your spiritual beliefs. The science says it all. As for the pineal gland, it’s a mystery to us all.
Edited by: Karen Yung, Daryn Dever, and Shreya Singireddy