The possession of a physical third eye...was enjoyed by the men of the Third Root-Race down to nearly the middle period of the Third SUB-race of the Fourth Root-Race, when the consolidation and perfection of the human frame made it disappear from the outward anatomy of man. Psychically and spiritually, however, its mental and visual perceptions lasted till nearly the end of the Fourth Race, when its functions, owing to the materiality and depraved condition of mankind, died out altogether before the submersion of the bulk of the Atlantean continent.

The Secret Doctrine, ii 306

 The ancient atrophy of the Third Eye, together with the possibility of its reawakening, is integral to the Teachings of Gupta Vidya. The elusive nature of that eye lies veiled in many myths and legends about the idyllic childhood of humanity and its paradisaic innocence. This lost and largely forgotten Elysium was not some sheltered sanctuary, but rather a pervasive state of consciousness. Within a triple scheme of human evolution, comprising spiritual, intellectual and physiological modes of development, the whole of humanity, at the dawn of evolution, enjoyed a foretaste of the glorious fullness of human potential, to be unfolded towards the close of the Seventh Round. During the enormous cycles of human evolution upon earth, there has been an alternation of longer and shorter periods of relative obscuration of the spiritual faculties of humanity. Some of these phases were intensified by human errors and avoidable tragedies. These became overlapping factors in succeeding cycles of obscuration and clarity in the human vestures, resulting from the centrifugal and centripetal forces behind evolution. The actual condition and constitution of human vestures in any epoch is the product of complex causes.

 Mature wisdom calls for a strong sense of moral responsibility for the collective consequences of past conduct as well as active cooperation with the inexorable cycles of Nature. These include the familiar cycle of birth and death, the slow succession of the Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron Ages, the emergence and disappearance of continents and also the myriad vicissitudes in the alteration and refinement of human vestures. The original awakening, subsequent atrophy and future recovery of the Third Eye is a moral saga illustrating the interweaving of cyclic necessity and moral responsibility. Even conscientious students of Gupta Vidya find it very difficult to preserve a proper balance in relation to the poignant theme of the atrophy of the Third Eye. It is upsetting to think of the vast majority of human beings as spiritually marred by the appalling consequences of the flagrant misuse of the higher faculties during earlier races. The inherent inability of most people even to consider the hidden Third Eye as the active organ of spiritual vision is the karmic heirloom of all humanity. And yet, the need to arouse the latent power of spiritual vision poses a profound and inescapable challenge to all aspirants on the path of spiritual enlightenment. We need to ask what was natural and what was unnatural about the early evolution and eventual petrification of the Third Eye.

 Myths, legends and folklore indicate that, in archaic periods of prehistory, human beings were gigantic in stature and possessed a "Cyclopean" eye located in the forehead. Gupta Vidya assigns these distant epochs to the Third and early Fourth Root Races. According to arcane wisdom, the placement of this eye in the forehead is a poetic licence: the true locus was at the back of the head. What we now call the Third Eye was then the dominant organ of vision. To understand this, one must appreciate the primacy of the astral and inner vestures in relation to the organs of action and sensory faculties of the physical body.

 The First Race is shown in Occult sciences as spiritual within and ethereal without; the second, psycho-spiritual mentally, and ethero-physical bodily; the third, still bereft of intellect in its beginning, is astro-physical in its body, and lives an inner life, in which the psycho-spiritual element is in no way interfered with as yet by the hardly nascent physiological senses. Its two front eyes look before them without seeing either past or future. But the "third eye" "embraces ETERNITY".

Ibid., 298-299

 As an organ, the "Cyclopean" eye belongs to the subtler vestures which antedate the emergence of the physical form with its familiar organs. The physical body, together with its complex and delicate physiological structure, constitutes a "coat of skin" which evolved from within outward, covering the astral vesture. This development took place at that point in cyclic evolution when there was a maximum involvement of Spirit in matter, correlative with the maximum differentiation of objective substance. The complete involvement of human souls in physical matter took place simultaneously with the infusion of the self-conscious Manasic ray into a set of developing human vestures. Once Manas was awakened, the Third Eye – which in reality is the first eye – served as the organ of spiritual sight, untrammelled in its activity by the nascent physiological vesture. Its mirror in the physical body is the pineal gland, intuitively identified by Descartes as the seat of the soul. In the animal kingdom, whose vestures were formed from the residues of human evolution, a similar physiological structure served as the organ of vision.

 Therefore, while the "Cyclopean" eye was, and still is, in man the organ of spiritual sight, in the animal it was that of objective vision. And this eye, having performed its function, was replaced, in the course of physical evolution from the simple to the complex, by two eyes, and thus was stored and laid aside by nature for further use in Aeons to come. This explains why the pineal gland reached its highest development proportionately with the lowest physical development. It is the vertebrata in which it is the most prominent and objective and in man it is most carefully hidden and inaccessible, except to the anatomist.

Ibid., 299-300

 These developments, encompassing millions of years and vast cycles of racial evolution, are all part of what may be called the programme of Nature. They marked the momentous intersection of the activity of the Barhishad or Lunar Pitris and the Agnishwatha or Solar Pitris. These two groups of ancestors endowed humanity with, respectively, its differentiated material vestures on several planes and its inward spiritual principles, especially Manas or self-conscious moral intelligence. The natural exercise of spiritual vision guided by self-conscious intelligence constituted the foundation of the Golden Age at the dawn of humanity. As the inevitable tide of physiological evolution gradually caused the "Cyclopean" eye to recede, human beings experienced a painful sense of loss. With much greater dependence upon the two front eyes during the early Fourth Root Race or Atlantean civilization, there were desperate physiological attempts to recover what had been lost. Many Atlanteans could not comprehend that their loss had to do with consciousness and not with form. They became enormously preoccupied with forms and externals, and thereby brought about a diminution in the power and scope of consciousness itself at its most autonomous level. None of the repeated efforts to tinker with the physiological organs or to create substitutes by whatever means could quicken or reawaken the spiritual function of the Third Eye. Atlanteans became increasingly involved in something fundamentally unnatural which could only produce a consolidated concretization of consciousness. Eventually, quite apart from the loss of the Third Eye in the physical organism, there was an obscuration of spiritual perception associated with the Third Eye. This became a tremendous handicap to human evolution.

 It was not necessary then, nor is it now, that all human beings remain spiritually blind, regardless of physiological evolution or the widespread atrophy of the pineal gland. The deliberate awakening of spiritual vision is integral to the exacting discipline of initiation into the Mysteries. Such preparatory training is based upon a truly philosophic understanding of human nature and incarnation, and upon a systematic ethical and psychological development which excludes short-cuts and adventitious aids. Mahatmas and Initiates who have guided and guarded the spiritual progress of humanity for over eighteen million years have continually made accessible the time-honoured path that leads to inward enlightenment. The Commentaries on the Stanzas of Dzyan convey the need for magnetic purity and proper guidance:

There were four-armed human creatures in those early days of the male-females (hermaphrodites); with one head, yet three eyes. They could see before them and behind them. A KALPA later (after the separation of the sexes) men having fallen into matter, their spiritual vision became dim; and coordinately the third eye commenced to lose its power.... When the Fourth (Race) arrived at its middle age, the inner vision had to be awakened, and acquired by artificial stimuli.... The third eye, likewise, getting gradually PETRIFIED, soon disappeared. The double-faced became the one-faced, and the eye was drawn deep into the head and is now buried under the hair. During the activity of the inner man (during trances and spiritual visions) the eye swells and expands. The Arhat sees and feels it, and regulates his action accordingly.... The undefiled Lanoo (disciple, chela) need fear no danger; he who keeps himself not in purity (who is not chaste) will receive no help from the "deva eye".

Ibid., 294-295

 During the descent of Spirit into matter, the spiritual and physiological processes are strictly coordinate. For example, if there is a loss in the inward power of seeing, the organ of sight is also commensurately weakened. This is equally true of all human faculties and their physical centres. Various atrophied organs survive in the human constitution, and these are hardly understood by contemporary physiology or medicine. They are virtually irrelevant to the vast majority of human beings. Sages of old knew that the disciplines which can truly help to reawaken inner vision are radically different from the artificial stimuli avidly sought during the latter Atlantean age. Yet, the appeal of these poor substitutes points to the pervasiveness and inevitability of the eclipse of the inner senses by overdeveloped outer senses. Most human beings shared in this psycho-physical heredity that was caused by the gross abuse of faculties and powers during the Atlantean period.

 If there is an excessive development of the physiological eyes at the expense of the Third Eye during a particular phase of evolution, and if all human beings are involuntary participants in this process, then as later phases of evolution are reached human beings could awaken flashes of that original interior perception. As the balance of evolution shifts from the phase of involution of Spirit into matter to the evolution of Spirit out of matter, there is a corresponding lightening of the vestures and a quickening of the veiled organs of inner vision. Human beings could have flashes of perception, even though they might not be able to recover that perception fully, let alone quickly. In meditation they might experience a certain swelling and expansion, an agitation or heating up, connected with the intensity of activity in the pineal gland. No known physiological function may be assigned to the pineal gland, and however much medical practitioners study the human corpse, they will never discover its real importance during life. Some do recognize that the pineal gland indirectly regulates hormone-producing glands, and it is now known that in animals it is sensitive to light. In fact, human beings can during deep contemplation or during some states of ecstatic trance have flashes of the expansion and contraction that affect the pineal gland and pituitary body. These in turn affect their perception of images and sounds. Even though there was an inescapable element in the loss of its original function, the Third Eye itself was not wholly lost. It is still dormant and remains intact in the subtle vestures. The problem for present humanity is the proper coordination between the functioning of the Third Eye in the subtle vestures and the physical body with its two eyes and the atrophied pineal organ.

 If the natural veiling of spiritual sight through the inordinate development of the physiological vesture was the whole story, then humanity would not have melancholy recollections of the Golden Age, nor such a strong propensity towards gloom and doom, externalization and salvationism. In fact, the persisting dominance of entire theologies based upon guilt and sin at this particular point in human evolution is itself indicative of the perfidious moral history connected with the loss of the Third Eye. No matter how much contrasting theories of guilt and sin claim to account for the present human predicament, they can only gain credence through vulnerabilities in the human psyche. These revolve around a morbid sense of failure, pretence and pride, which are the unnatural result of past misuse of spiritual powers. Human beings may identify evil with violence and separativeness, with everything that is inimical and arises out of blindness and greed, stupidity and self-deception. Nonetheless, all these represent secondary effects. At the causal level, evil pertains to the perverse misuse of the very highest spiritual gifts. Such misuse induced religions to fall victim to priestcraft and lose touch with the Mysteries. Spiritual evil made human beings, who innately have extraordinary powers such as Kriyashakti and Itchashakti, lose all of them. Spiritual evil and deliberate misuse were a violation of the evolutionary programme of Nature.

 When spirituality and all the divine powers and attributes of the deva-man of the Third had been made the hand-maidens of the newly-awakened physiological and psychic passions of the physical man, instead of the reverse, the eye lost its powers. But such was the law of Evolution, and it was, in strict accuracy, no FALL. The sin was not in using those newly-developed powers, but in misusing them; in making of the tabernacle, designed to contain a god, the fane of every spiritual iniquity.

Ibid., 302

 The deleterious consequences of this profanation cannot be blamed upon the logic of descent of Spirit into matter. They are the terrible karma of those who, far from merely becoming enslaved by carnal desire and sensory indulgence, in fact became proficient in treachery, blasphemy, profanation and betrayal of the sacred, especially in sacrificing the welfare of others for the sake of self. This has nothing to do with any passing weakness owing to a natural obscuration of faculties. Whatever the "ills" that mortal flesh may be heir to, the physical body is not the source of spiritual iniquity. As H.P. Blavatsky indicated,

the reader who would feel perplexed at the use of the term "spiritual" instead of "physical" iniquity, is reminded of the fact that there can be no physical iniquity. The body is simply the irresponsible organ, the tool of the psychic, if not of the "Spiritual man". While in the case of the Atlanteans, it was precisely the Spiritual being which sinned, the Spirit element being still the "Master" principle in man in those days. Thus it is in those days that the heaviest Karma of the Fifth Race was generated by our Monads.

Ibid., 302

 One must calmly contemplate how this spiritual sin arose and how it engendered enormous ruthlessness and extreme selfishness as well as an overpowering obsession with external dominance and a deeply entrenched resistance to admitting any fault, acknowledging any responsibility or making any amends. Through the perverse misuse of the highest powers with which they were entrusted, vast numbers of sick souls were trapped in a tragic condition wherein they were unable and unwilling to come to terms with their own karma and virtually incapable of finding or even seeking their proper place in the moral order of the cosmos and of society. Owing to this diseased perversion and compulsive inversion, an appalling corruption of consciousness resulted, which cannot be suddenly remedied at some future point in evolution, even when the interconnection between the subtle centres and physiological organs is radically altered. It is indeed imperative for the spiritually corrupt to begin now to reverse the karma of past misuse if they would at all reawaken spiritual vision and continue to participate in self-conscious human evolution in future races.

 Certainly, it would be of great help to seek, and show true humility, amidst the company of stronger souls whose karma is untainted by ingratitude and perfidy in former lives. It is always salutary for everyone to admire and emulate freedom from a sense of separativeness wherever one sees it in others. This is ever preferable to the contagion of abject selfishness, stark ingratitude, rancour and envy. Anyone can attempt to make real for oneself the latent spiritual goodness, purity and innocence that one can re-cognize in any others around. Authentic admiration and emulation can be powerful purifiers for any human being, let alone for those who come into the magnetic orbit of a spiritual Teacher. It can bring one in closer touch with one's own spiritual heritage from the Third Root Race, which is even now recapitulated in childhood and infancy. Nonetheless, the root causes of spiritual and moral blindness must be faced. Until they are confronted, the, proper awakening of spiritual vision is impossible. This brings up the ultimate question of authentically accommodating the idea of universal compassion and enlightenment.

 Can one develop sufficient self-transcendence and such a profound concern for the spiritual welfare of all human souls that one's entire conception of desire is revolutionized? When this becomes possible, one can be so creative and so saturated with universal compassion that one simply does not have any craving, let alone a compulsive need, to consider any other human being as a mere object for one's own sensuous gratification. There is a radical change in one's level of consciousness, and this has a decisive effect on the tropism and texture of elements and life-atoms in the subtle vestures and in the physical body. The flow of energy within the spinal cord is transformed, affecting the interaction between the pineal gland and the pituitary body, together with the medulla oblongata and the multiple centres of the brain.

 It is only if one apprehends the necessity of these fundamental transformations in human nature that one can recognize that the essential logic of human evolution did not envisage such damage to spiritual vision. To grasp this is to be ready to engage in an examination of one's motives, one's potentials, one's capacities and the hindrances that obstruct one's consciousness. Through tapas and daily meditation one may appreciate the feasibility of increasing continuity of consciousness between waking and sleeping, between life and death, bridging all the pairs of opposites and transcending the succession of time. One may then come to comprehend that the Third Eye has retreated from without inwardly because an earlier phase of the logic of evolution extruded it from within without. The withdrawal inward of the organ of the Third Eye corresponds to a greater withdrawal of consciousness from concretization, which is indeed crucial in the current phase of human growth and maturation. Concretization of consciousness does not refer only to the amount of stimuli on the physical or sensory plane; it also takes place through limiting concepts and mental ossification, through craving for certainty, through harsh judgementalism and an addiction to self-pity and even nihilism. The inability to restore the fluidity of ideation on metaphysical abstractions, spiritual ideas and moral ideals is the sad consequence of concretization and externalization.

 Whatever corruption of consciousness originally occurred has been compounded many times over through repeated failures to come to terms with the propensity to prolong spiritual iniquity and accelerate self-destruction. This cannot be put right instantly, and to imagine otherwise is only a symptom of the basic problem. One must resolve to try, to try and try again. In order to strengthen this resolve, the Teachers of Gupta Vidya have sought to share relevant portions of arcane knowledge about the history of the Third and Fourth Root Races. Some understanding of past evolution is essential if one seeks to grasp the logic and significance of systematic self-training and self-testing. In order to rejoin the forward movement of humanity, one must realize that all human beings are fallen gods, disinherited from their divine estate through the loss of the eye of wisdom. As a result, they have become almost exclusively dependent upon sensory perception. And yet, the actual range of the physical sense-organs has become narrower and narrower over time. Since the energy of spiritual life is independent of physical form and matter, the more preoccupied one is with the physical form and with sense-perceptions, the more one is alienated from the true source of strength, volition and self-direction.

 When individuals initially confront this problem, they run the risk of entangling themselves in what might be called a meta-problem. Contacting the Teachings of Gupta Vidya and reading about the earlier races of humanity, the karma of Atlantis and the loss of the Third Eye release latent forces within one's nature. The processes which originally held one back can repeat themselves in one's apprehension and use of arcane wisdom. If one's basic loyalty is to the world and to one's self-image on the personal plane, then whatever vows and resolves one adopts can only operate and have force on that plane. One may maintain a sanctimonious charade reminiscent of hypocritical religion and monkish fa9ades. One may even manage to conceal the persistent play-acting from oneself for a long time. Inevitably, the time comes when one recoils from the sham with self-loathing and a mixture of indignation and despair. This is a tragic and pitiable condition for any human soul. The danger of becoming trapped in this meta-problem must be coolly confronted, since the restoration of spiritual vision cannot occur without unleashing the very tendencies that originally led to spiritual blindness. Typically, this problem shows itself in a grasping attitude towards the Teachings of Gupta Vidya. Instead of putting oneself in the position of a postulant who is wide awake, who absorbs through osmosis and calmly assimilates the Teachings, seeking to apply them to daily duties and encounters, one becomes addicted to over-analysis and judgementalism. Through one's continuing contact with the Teachings, there is a powerful quickening of the energies available to the restless lower mind and the attendant risk that these energies will be appropriated by the ahankaric and acquisitive self. When the individual receives more spiritual food than he or she is able to assimilate on a higher plane, then kama manas becomes hyperactive, destructive and harsh. Fascinated with its own weaknesses and faults, it ceaselessly looks for vulnerabilities in others and even becomes adroit in self-serving rationalizations and endless excuses. As a result there arises a powerful blockage to the release of intuitive insight.

 It is through the power of Buddhic intuition that individuals are initially drawn to the Teachings of Gupta Vidya. In learning a language, one must try to speak, making mistakes, correcting them, and thereby gradually gaining facility. If this is true of ordinary language, it is much more so with the language of the soul. Spiritual intuition is like fire. It is only through the use of real fire that fuel can be kindled, and wherever real fire is used, there is the risk that it will be misused. This is paradigmatically true with regard to the Promethean fire of mind given to humanity over eighteen million years ago. Every neophyte who would approach the Mystery-fires must be prepared to assume full responsibility for the right use of the fire of knowledge. The more one has the proper qualifications to become a chela, the more one is able to assimilate and reflect deeply and patiently upon the Teachings, endowing them with vivid relevance to daily life. The fire of Buddhi can become quickened through the study, contemplation and practice of Gupta Vidya. As Krishna affirmed in the Bhagavad Gita, in the course of time spiritual knowledge will spring up spontaneously within oneself.

 In order to release soul-memory and activate one's higher faculties, one must be fortunate enough to have come consciously and voluntarily to the spiritual life, not out of any compensatory motives but out of love and reverence for Divine Wisdom and with a deep longing to benefit humanity. Only those who live and breathe benevolently can avoid the awful consequences of misappropriating the higher energies in the service of the lower, thereby forfeiting the great opportunity gained under karma of coming closer to the immemorial Teachings and to authentic spiritual Teachers. For such seekers who are suffused with a profound humility and a deep desire for learning for the sake of others, there will be a natural protection. True shravakas or learners will be able to use the archetypal method from the first, proceeding from above below and from within without and emphasizing at each stage the steady assimilation of mental and spiritual food through moral practice. There need be no partiality and imbalance, no one-sidedness or bias, in the apprehension and application of Gupta Vidya. As Mahatma M. pointed out,

 In our doctrine you will find necessary the synthetic method; you will have to embrace the whole – that is to say to blend the macrocosm and microcosm together – before you are enabled to study the parts separately or analyze them with profit to your understanding. Cosmology is the physiology of the universe spiritualized, for there is but one Law.

 In order to embrace the whole, one must grasp the fundamental continuity of cosmic and human evolution, establishing one's consciousness in a current of Buddhic compassion and unconditional love for all that lives. One must learn to move back and forth continuously between the macrocosmic and the microcosmic. One must strive to see the relevance of universal ideation to specific contexts. One must ever seek to bridge the universal and the particular in waking consciousness, maximizing the good even in highly imperfect situations. Tremendous aid can come through the Buddhic stream of Hermetic wisdom pouring forth from the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas. With a mind moistened by wisdom and compassion, one may return again and again in meditation and self-study to seek appropriate connections and correspondences between the macrocosm and the microcosm. Drawing upon the rich resources of Gupta Vidya, one must grasp its universal synthesis before attempting to study the parts separately or analytically. This means that one must engage in daily tapas or mental asceticism. In the Aquarian Age we need to relinquish the entrenched modes of the inductive and analytic mind, replacing them by cultivated skill in deep concentration, creative imagination and calm receptivity towards universal ideation. In this way one will come to comprehend the connections between the most primordial and abstract and the most dense and differentiated levels of manifestation of consciousness and matter. The continuity of consciousness which one seeks is, in fact, a mode of mirroring the metaphysical integrity of cosmic unity.

 If one can learn to let go of the rationalizing pseudo-intelligence of the personality, then one can begin to draw upon the natural strength of Manas. One must learn to take the simplest ideas and apply them universally. Action based upon spiritual insight has a moral simplicity that neither can be understood nor imitated by the lower mind. For a long time in the life of any disciple, it is wise to consider the spiritual vision of the Third Eye as equivalent to moral discrimination. This is eloquently illustrated in the life of Mohandas Gandhi, who was skilful in finding potent analogies between the circulation of blood and global economics or psychological health. Anyone who arouses Buddhi can take seriously the integrity of the cosmos and deduce practical wisdom. One can learn to perceive vital connections between the mental and spiritual health of individuals and society as a whole, and apply these perceptions to oneself.

 If one gains some proficiency in this daily use of Buddhic intuition, one will soon find that it becomes meaningful to use the myths and symbols of Gupta Vidya as a basis for meditation upon the structure and function of the human form. One must learn to contemplate the cosmic dimension of human existence and become capable of deriving from such contemplation a vital sense of sanctity, plasticity and potentiality in relation to the physical body. Great philosophers and mystics have done this, seeing in the human form the paradigmatic metaphor for all growth. They have used the analogy of sight when speaking of soul-knowledge and spiritual wisdom, referring to the eye of the soul and the mind's eye. But even to appreciate this analogy, one must to some degree awaken Buddhi. Just as one can hardly convey the operation of sight and vision to a person born blind, one cannot readily communicate the nature of spiritual vision to those in whom it is totally blocked. Similarly, one could hardly convey the thrills and challenges of mental perception to persons with undeveloped mental sight.

 As the ability to apprehend analogies is itself an essential element in soul-vision and also conducive to the awakening of the inward capacity for noetic insight, it is always wise to recognize and acknowledge the limits and levels of human experience. Without actually developing spiritual and mental insight and tasting the ineffable bliss of authentic mystical vision, one cannot comprehend or even appreciate the scope and range of possible peak experiences. Owing to the pervasive principle of continuity in the cosmic order and in human nature, there is the ever-present possibility of transcending the limits of known and shared experience. By using analogies and correspondences to move from the familiar and the bounded to the unfamiliar and the unbounded, one may gain sufficient skill in the dialectical art to subdue the mind and absorb it into the pulsating consciousness of the spiritual heart. In a mystical sense, one can make the mind whole, and enlist it into the service of the heart, while at the same time making the heart intelligent and strong.

 In order to attain a state of heightened spiritual awareness and effortless vigilance, compassion and receptivity, it is essential to recognize and remove persisting discontinuities in consciousness. The familiar gaps between sleeping and waking, between dreaming and deep sleep, between ephemeral fantasies and enduring commitments, are connected with lesions in the subtle vestures which induce a fragmentation and distortion of spiritual insights. One must patiently identify these deficiencies, seek out their root causes, and initiate an appropriate course of corrective exercises. In the meantime, it is meaningful to establish and strengthen a continuous current of deep ideation upon the highest conceivable ideals, principles and goals relevant to the future of humanity. The mind and heart may be fused through an ardent devotion to Bodhisattvic exemplars of continuity of consciousness in the ceaseless service of all humanity. Through this very attempt, even the sick may slowly heal themselves and seek satsang, the company of the wise, who can help to nurture the seed of bodhichitta, the potent resolve to awaken the Wisdom Eye for the sake of universal welfare.

Hermes, October 1984
by Raghavan Iyer