For thousands of years, the pineal gland was recognized as the human body’s connection to deeper realms of thought — a window into other dimensions. While this notion has faded with the passing of time, science has begun to focus its efforts toward understanding the secret functions of the “hidden eye.”
In my youth, chats with my father embraced both the scientifically observable and the paranormal. One of the most exciting topics I can remember was the phenomenon of near-death experiences, in which patients report temporary excursions outside their physical body while exhibiting clinical death. My father used to stress that over his years of study in medical school, he learned that organs permitting humans to observe scenes from outside their bodies do no exist beyond the physical eyes.
Twenty years later when I found myself in the corridors of the same university, an anatomy professor revealed a mysterious fact that my father had failed to mention during our discussions. He talked of a secret sheltered in a network of cells so small and hidden, yet still able to control vital metabolic processes. It was a hidden eye.
The third eye
Imagine a visual organ able to peer into spaces beyond our physical world. What strange creature possesses such curious abilities? Humankind. The pineal body, a tiny glandular treasure nestled in the center of the head, is not only capable of perceiving external light much like our pair of lateral eyes, but its actual structure is also similar to the common eye in a more primitive state.
The pineal gland performs a host of important bodily functions, such as sexual development, metabolism, and the production of melatonin. Yet scientists have found features present in the pineal gland that elude a simple explanation. Because of the unique structure of this organ, scientists have concluded that it must have once served some now latent functions. Modern medicine has revealed that this gland buried deep within the center of the brain contains photoreceptor cells. Yet the predominant opinion is that these features merely describe latent abilities from an earlier age in our evolution.
According to science’s evolutionary understanding of the pineal body, this organ once existed as a disordered system of nerve fibers located outside the surface of the skull. It specialized in capturing changes in light, providing its owner with more escape possibilities in the event of a predator’s attack. This understanding sees the pineal gland performing functions similar to the eyes, the only difference being in its curious insistence on receding inside the skull.
A recent hypothesis proposed by David Klein, head of Neuroendocrinology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), suggests that primitive retinas had exercised the dual function of both capturing the image and producing melatonin. He believes that over time, this latter function had migrated to the pineal gland, an emancipated organ, while the degeneration of the retina as a product of melatonin in mammals continues without coherent explanation.
Even though nowadays the pineal gland is recognized as being good for secreting endogens, it’s certain that it still contains an important photosensorial capacity, a bodily process that is scientifically recognized.
Surprisingly, if both eyes were removed and the anatomical path from the frontal area of this gland was exposed to light, this organ could still respond to stimulus in a similar manner as the lateral eyes. This fact has some researchers considering whether the pineal gland is more than a degenerated eye. What if many of the still misunderstood processes of the brain reside in this small conical space?
A window to heightened awareness
According to Dr. Sérgio Felipe de Oliveira, Master of Science at the University of São Paulo’s medical school and director of the Pineal Mind Clinic, an increase in pineal activity is intimately related with psychic activity, such as visions or meditation.
Furthermore, besides the multiple endogenous functions of the pineal gland (control of the hypothalamus and biological rhythms, and protection from free radicals), it is also responsible for emitting N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), known by some as the “spirit molecule.” The liberation of this molecule is considered to be one of the most powerful hallucinogenic neurotransmitters known to man. It increases during sleep, in certain meditative states, during near-death experiences, as well as with the ingestion of hallucinogenic plants.
Skeptics question the validity of these supposed episodes of heightened awareness into other dimensional planes, preferring instead to believe such experiences to be merely chemically induced phenomena limited to the brain. But they have trouble offering a reasonable explanation for the relationship of the liberation of DMT (and the consequent formation of images in the pineal gland) with near-death experiences.
Such is recognized by Dr. Rick Strassman, who has conducted exhaustive studies of the effects of DMT in humans. Research of this kind begins to approach the pineal gland as more than a vestigial eye relegated to producing hormones, but as an inborn window into other planes of existence.
This view of the pineal gland is not new. It represents the sixth chakra of ajna spoken of in the Vedic tradition; the window of Brahma, as it is known in Hinduism; the Celestial Eye, as the ancient Chinese call it; the Niwan Palace, as it is known by Taoists; or the “Seat of the Soul,” according to Descartes. Could this tiny cone hidden at the center of the brain embody the potential to peer into realms that science is simply unable to grasp?