What awakens the "third eye"?

Man's inner life has captured people's interest for thousands of years. Whole religions and philosophies have been built up around this quest to find true meaning in life. In his eager search for the truth man quite literally delved inwards, carving up the human body to find answers to this strange enigma called man.

Eastern cultures reference what is called the "third eye". The Egyptians had the "eye of Horus", a symbol that bears a striking resemblance to the hypothalamus. It doesn't take much of a leap to imagine that even the ancient Egyptians could appreciate that a blow to the head affected one's eyesight, so there must be something in there that connects with vision. Couple this with man's insatiable need to know how things work (the inner mechanics), and pretty soon someone's head is being sliced in two, and the brain is being peeled apart like a piece of fresh fruit.

It gives me a curious joie de vivre to imagine Jesus borrowing this mythology when he said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light." It was as if he was carrying on the great Israelite tradition of pilfering beliefs from the Egyptians. The ten plagues stamp disdainfully all over several Egyptian gods; the story of Moses bears remarkable similarity to an Egyptian prophecy; they had probably nicked the ark of the Covenant (at the very least the idea). It was as if Jesus was saying, "Look, if you're going to steal from them, at least take something which might have a grain of truth to it."

The third eye - aka, the inner eye - is the eye that can see what is going on below, that understands that there is more to life than what is taking place on the surface. It speaks to the inner person. It isn't just that - it understands that everything that takes place in public can be described as an illusion because it all springs from man's ego, man's need to defend himself, to conquer, to prove that he is better. All these things arise from a false concept of self. They are built upon lies we tell ourselves, gathered from the wrong interpretation we have put on events that have taken place in our lives from birth onwards. Because they have come from birth onwards means that they are woven into our subconscious (or, the unconscious). With every man's ego vying against one another it has created this world as we know it. And, it's a mess.

I like this approach to "keep it simple" or singular. As Gandhi said, “You must first be the change you want to see in this world”. There is no need to get bogged down in the volumes of terminologies that are found in eastern philosophies. Once we begin to sort ourselves out a large percentage of these things take care of themselves. Terminologies are of interest in that they show how many different cultures have drawn similar conclusions about the nature of man. But they can also complicate matters. Vast arrays of names can serve to alienate people. I tend to agree with Dr Susan Blackmore when she says, "I fear that the memes of Buddhism can be as pernicious as those of any religion." Suffice to say that this experience can happen to anyone regardless of their persuasion. It is non-denominational, and doesn't care for culture or background.

The question is, What awakens this inner eye, this "secret person of the heart"?

Nobody knows. It is part of the mystery. It happens to very few people. Another quote attributed to Jesus alludes to this mystery:
And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."
(Mark 4:26-29)
Paul was convinced that from childbirth he was destined to have a spiritual awakening. At Galatians 1:15 he says, "But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvellous grace." This might be just because Paul was an extravert, and the possibility that he might have wasted half his life didn't sit at all comfortably with him; it might also be that Paul's was not really a spiritual awakening at all, but merely a shift from one form of Judaism to another. However, there could very well be some truth to his claim. Events and experiences in our formative years may well put us in a more favourable position to be receptive to the call of the inner life.

Who knows what triggers it, but when it is triggered there is something from within that begins to operate. The open eye will begin to see and read things that begin to make sense, and serve to accelerate the awakening process. Although the "all-seeing eye" has been co-opted by the State - and various other seemingly nefarious institutes - its mythology is also connected to the inner eye. Once this inner person is awakened all things begin to be clear.

Okay, so why? Why does it happen with some but not with others? Who knows, maybe there is no reason. Maybe it's the start of something big. It's not really necessary to know. It is enough to know that it is a massive relief to see things as they really are. It is enough to finally understand ourselves, what makes us tick, and the freedom that comes with throwing off the ego. That's not to say that it doesn't come tinged with a measure of melancholy. A sense of not being part of this world, of seeing it from the outside. There is a sense of alone-ness. There is not a fear of the future or an anxiety of not knowing the way out, it is more a vague melancholia attached to a yearning that things can be better. This is coupled with an optimism based on the belief/feeling that things can't continue this way indefinitely. It is unsustainable. Nature will find a way of rectifying this aberration. Life survives - we will survive and thrive, not through man's efforts, but just "because..." Nature is not at war with itself. This is man's interpretation in order to justify his own intense efforts to dominate over everything that stands in his way. Of course, these could be hindrances for people in wanting to awaken their "inner eye."

Another hindrance is that the mind has been hijacked by both science and the medical profession, and the spiritual has been engulfed by the religious and the mystical. So, when it comes to the inner person, or our spiritual need, one is either looked upon as mentally ill, or a New Age weirdo. The truth is neither of those things, nor anything else remotely connected.

However, just because it is sheer (bad?) luck that one is jolted awake, does not mean that we can't do things that might put us in a better position: Review your life; let go of all rock-solid beliefs you hold on to - let them all go. Pray/meditate - call it what you will - just call it sitting quietly without distraction.

The first, the life review, is most essential. The ego is man fleeing from himself. You know this is true because whenever a man is asked to recall his infancy, he automatically shuts down. Autopilot takes over. The police come out, it's still a crime scene, "Move along, please. Nothing to see here." It is fight or flight. He springs to the defence of his parents because he cannot conceive of anything else but their undying love - they take on the appearance of fantasy figures in a fairytale - or he blocks any further attempt to find out more. It is a Pandora’s box, a can of worms, a coffin full of bones. But here's the thing: If we have not yet done this, if we have not reviewed our life, past events and our interpretation of them, if we have not uncovered the source of our shame - that event which has uncoupled something deep within us, squeezing the inner eye tight shut because it feels so much safer in the dark - then we are still living life with our ego in the driver' seat.