Is the Pineal Gland Really the “Seat of the Soul”?
Some spiritual teachers and philosophers have focused on the importance of the pineal gland, and many people have written a lot of things about the spiritual relevance of the pineal gland and it is also believed to be the third eye by a lot of people.
Renee Descartes has known to have called this particular gland the seat of the soul whereas many people believe that the activation of the pineal gland using some techniques can help a person to achieve certain qualities. In this post, I will be talking about this subject from my perspective which has formed from the knowledge I have gained from various sources.
It will not be fair to discard the significance of the pineal gland in one’s mental health because this gland produces melatonin which is a hormone that plays a vital role in regulating the sleep cycles of an individual. Apart from the production of melatonin and the importance of this gland in regulating sleep cycles, all other claims are based on speculations.
Descartes’ Thoughts on the Pineal Gland
According to Descartes, the pineal gland is a lot more than what people believe it to be and he called it the seat of the soul because he believed it to be the gland that connects the soul of a person to their body. He has claimed that this specific center of the brain is where thoughts are formed.
It was later discovered that many of Descartes’ assumptions regarding this gland were inaccurate, including its location. Descartes believed that Pineal Gland played an important role in many cerebral activities like memory storage, imagination, etc.
If you have been familiar with the philosophies of Descartes then you might be already knowing that he considered that the universe exists in two parts i.e mind and matter, and this made him think about the relationship between the matter and the mind, more importantly, the influence of the one on the other. Descartes was a firm believer in mind-body dualism, in fact, he was the one to develop the theory that claims that only the mind is immaterial whereas everything else is matter which is also called the Cartesian dualism in his honor. The pineal gland, as he mentions in his book “the passions of the soul” joins both realms by connecting the body with the soul.
Pineal Gland and the Third Eye Chakra
It is quite uncertain if the theories proposed by Descartes are responsible for various concepts that are very widespread about the significance of the pineal gland in the spiritual aspects of an individual but nowadays it can be seen that many schools of spirituality have made an association of the pineal gland with the third eye chakra.
Based on this association many people have started believing that the activation of the pineal gland will help them with their spiritual awakening.
Although, in yoga, the third eye chakra is a very important chakra that is believed to control various qualities of the energy body of a person and there are meditations that are considered in yoga to be effective for activating the third eye chakra but in no way can it be deduced that a hormone-producing gland can actually have a role to play in the spiritual well-being of a person.
We know that the pineal gland produces the hormone melatonin that regulates the sleep cycle but around a decade ago a rumor got very widespread that this particular gland can produce DMT, a psychedelic that can help a person to have some very strange and ecstatic spiritual experiences. From there on a lot of people got obsessed with the mystery of this gland and they began to find out various ways to stimulate it so that they can experience certain states of mind, unfortunately, this also led to the wide use of many psychedelics because people started to believe that by doing all this they can activate their pineal gland.
In yoga, the opening of the third eye chakra actually means that the energy starts flowing freely through this particular energy center which helps a person to have a clear perception of reality. This implies the freeing of an individual from the conditionings that causes the distorted perception of the world so that they can have a deeper understanding of life. When a person gains higher self-awareness, the improvement of intuition follows but yoga or true spiritual knowledge never encourages a person to strive for altered states of consciousness.
Undoubtedly Descartes was one of the great thinkers who made some unforgettable contributions to various areas of philosophy, mathematics, and science but many of his theories are outdated in today’s scenario because science has made a lot of advancement now in comparison to his era. Although I don’t believe that science can ever answer the spiritual questions of mankind, still when it comes to things that can be practically investigated, we can say that science does answer a lot of questions.
Whether you think scientifically or spiritually, it is not justified to think that spiritual experiences can be achieved using some physical means like by stimulating a gland or by taking psychedelics because it defeats the very purpose of seeking spiritual awakening, how can we think that an experience is spiritual if it is caused by something physical? If you experience a state because of something that is caused by any change in your system by external means then that experience is entirely physical in nature and giving a spiritual label to it is delusional. So the bottom line is that the pineal gland is a part of our endocrine system which secretes melatonin and it has nothing to do with the spiritual aspect of our life.
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