The pineal gland or epiphysis has always been the focus of attention on the part of Western spiritualism, oriented to Indian ascetic disciplines. Descartes (criticized on this by Spinoza) was believed to be the meeting point and interaction between res cogitans and res extensa. To the ancients, this endocrine gland, belonging to the hypothalamus, was the third eye, variously interpreted as the seat (or eye) of the soul.
The philosophical and spiritual context in which this concept had the most development is that of India, as it has found expression in the Hatha-Yoga, in Tantrism (a western term that does not exist in Hindu culture) and Buddhist meditation. The pineal gland, in the very complex sacred Indian physiology, would coincide with the sixth of the seven major energy centers (Chakras, in Sanskrit: wheel). Chakra joined together by a central channel (susumna), the sides of which there are two helical currents (īḍạ̣̣̄ e piṇgạ̣̣̄lạ̣̣̄) which relate to male and female polarity. Inside the human body is then displayed a mystic organism, “thin” and immaterial, (sādhaka) in which flows a network of veins (nadi), the number of which is incalculable, and varies depending on the school, from 72,000 to 300,000.
The pineal gland, according to medical science, produces melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Its internal secretions seem to inhibit in the individual, the early development of the sex glands. Moreover, it is a fact that the pineal tends to calcify into adulthood, while some studies suggest that this phenomenon contributes even the onset of Alzheimer 's disease.
It must be said that such scenario is not based on what is called today “Evidence Based Medicine” (EBM), a medicine which only counts on what is ascertained by experimentation. On the operation of the 'epiphysis or pineal (the opposite of' pituitary glands, or pituitary, on which knowledge is more secure), there are some gray areas which feed a now thousands of years mystery, encouraging mystical interpretations.
We have mentioned in the beginning, that the doctrine of the Chakras has spread in the West at the beginning of the twentieth century, principally by John Woodroffe (aka Arthur Avalon).
The British orientalist scholar, existentially very involved in these issues, wrote The Serpent Power, which dealt with the theme of the awakening of the divine sleeper energy (Kuṇḍalini) -“divine”, of course, in 'Hinduism - located in the first Chackra, (mūlādhāra) corresponding to the area of the perineum (other sources identify the sacrum).
The serpent power, according to the Hindu doctrine, is an ambivalent energy, dangerous, but by the extraordinary effects. His rise through the six Chackra, is culminating in the 7th Chackra, on top of the head (in a way, external to the other six). On top of the crown, called thousand-petalled lotus, is then carried out the union between the two poles: the male (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) in their highest form. The mystic marriage coincides with the liberation and bliss.
A further contribution to the studies came from C. W. Leadbeater with the book The Chakras (1927). Something worth is that in this vein, the interest is first transversely (unwisely in my opinion) is Rudolf Steiner, founder of anthroposophy. He recognized the Indian doctrine in question, and stressed the importance of developing Chakras through very intense, daily, asceticism. In more recent times Tommaso Palamidessi, founder of Archeosophy, in his book: Initiatory Awakening Techniques (1975), attempted to reinterpret the Judeo-Christian themes into a tantric perspective. In practice, the author has replaced the mantra with the names of God in the Bible. On the level of prayer and meditation, the archeosofist strongly iconized spiritual experience, focusing on real images or purely mental.
Chakras and Kundalini also interested Carl Gustav Jung who held a seminar on the theme: The Psychology of Kundalini yoga. (1932). However, the Swiss psychologist saw in eastern techniques the danger of an invasion of the overwhelming chaotic unconscious, far from orderly and guided in a conscious way. Hence, he literally turned the path of life energy, identifying the first and the last Chakra, in the head and in the lower abdomen.
In the past, these concepts and experiences in the West have been relegated to very restricted circles of followers. Today, networks such as Youtube, have made available to everyone initiatory - do it yourself - techniques, which we consider to say the least, problematic.
Among the most famous guru ( Sanskrit word that means one who dispels the darkness ) that operate worldwide, Jaggi Vasudev (1957) known as Sadhguru, deserves to be mentioned (He is a consistent and serious yogi). Our spiritual world does not have many connections with him , but his volunteer organization of humanitarian rescue (Ishafoundation), which he founded and directed, is appreciated. The guru has consecrated and opened to the public (1999), the temple of Dhyanalinga, which is a focal point of his mission. It was inspired by his guru ( Malladihalli Sri Raghavendra Swamiji ).
His yoga classes (called: inner engineering) are consistent in the Hindu. The guru, exaggerates in our opinion though, when he claims that yoga is nothing but an objective psychophysical technique, (spiritual process) that he opposes, not without irony, to the religious systems of the world which are according to the guru, based on a blind fideism and dogmas. As Osho Rajneesh (1931-1990), is neither theistic nor atheistic, imagining the 'Supreme Being, as an impersonal entity, also present in the individual as inalienable divine spark. The individual, thus conceived, coincides with the classical Hata Yoga conception of a “god-man”, a vision that is set on the opposite side with respect to the anthropological and ontological biblical conception. This presents the person as a single entity, created in the image and likeness of God, but clearly defined and limited to the creaturely condition.
The study of world religions implies a paramount respect and a sincere curiosity, marked by the quest of what the Spirit has sown in the hearts of all men. However, for the sake of those who look at the spiritual life of joy and security, we can not forget the scriptural warning:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. (1 Timothy 4:1)
On a more practical-banal level, many spiritualist videos on the web are found, offering for example, meditation exercises (which I highly do not recommend, being basically non-scientific and spiritually suspect) that use sounds at various frequencies (HZ 936, HZ 741, HZ, 851).
The purpose of these stimulations would be the decalcification of the pineal gland, in order to open the third eye and allow various transcendental experiences (lucid dreaming, astral travel, perception of the aura, wider awareness of the cosmic energies).
If the dangers are great, the Gospel will inspire you even more:
"..and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:23-24).
"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:2-3)
Spirituality and Christian meditation opens to the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, not to dictate a sacred map of our body by manipulating the divine power, but to see restored our image and likeness of God. In fact, the communication with God, intimate and profound, still remains, for us, shrouded in a mystery object of faith.
We do not understand the mechanisms of the spiritual life, and we do not figure it out as a spiritual technology. Certainly, a Christian psychology might help the church to describe the mental condition of an individual, even to understand something more about the processes of spiritual regeneration. An eventual study will be, to further explain the extension of our Christian experience of prayer and meditation, but this is not the subject of this article. For the moment we will say that the specific mission of the church in these last times, is to protect and indicate a spiritual horizon, free from unknown influences, that may create illusions of power and freedom, while conducting out of the re-creating influence of the Spirit of God.