Namaste great soul! We have a marvelous topic this time, both highly important and highly practical: the spiritual eye. Swami Kriyananda touches on it in one of his Secrets of Meditation:
The Secret of Meditation is…
to focus your gaze and attention at the Christ Center between the eyebrows — the seat of ecstasy in the body.
The Seat of Bliss
Ask yourself simply: do I have the desire to attain the experience of inner ecstasy? If the answer is yes, then lets learn all we can about our spiritual eye, which is, as Swami Kriyananda points out, “the seat of ecstasy in the body.”
There are powerful pictures of the masters of Kriya Yoga — Yogananda, Sri Yukteswar, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Mahavatar Babaji — which show them with half open eyes, gazing intently at the spiritual eye. For this coming week, as you focus on this practice, you may find it helpful to find one of these photos in the internet, and place it where you meditate.
In classical Yoga Scriptures, the technique of gazing intently at the point between the eyebrows is of enormous importance. It is called Shambavi Mudra, the “Mudra of Shiva,” and is described as the highest and most important of all mudras (seals). It leads to the “inner sign,” which yogis are asked to contemplate, and to get absorbed in. What, then, is that “inner sign”? Yogananda describes it as a golden circle surrounding a blue field, with a white five-pointed star in the middle.
In the Autobiography of a Yogi Lahiri Mahasaya refers to Shambhavi Mudra in a handwritten letter, in Bengali script: “He who has attained a state of calmness wherein his eyelids do not blink, has achieved Sambhabi Mudra.” In the same book we read how Yogananda taught this technique even to the children in his school: “It is no novelty at Ranchi to see an appealing little figure, aged nine or ten years, sitting for an hour or more in unbroken poise, the unwinking gaze directed to the spiritual eye.”
He explains its essential importance for all of us: “The spiritual eye is as much a part of every human being as the brain. It is more a reality than the body parts, the loss or amputation of which cannot affect man essentially. The light of the spiritual eye can never be separated from our inner reality, for the simple reason that we are that reality. Even when we lose the body at death, we retain this inner light, for it is of the soul.”
Colors, Angels… But We Are Blind As a Bat
Yogananda continues to point out: “If you could see with your spiritual eye you would see a rainbow of colors. The color scheme is so beautiful in the astral world. This world is ugly here, and a million angels are passing here right now and you don’t see them. We are all as blind as a bat. Because our eyes have been spoiled by gross light.”
Yogis have taught for millennia (see the Bhagavad Gita) that daylight is darkness for the yogi, compared to the inner light, like a little candle compared to the bright sun. The Bible too mentions that intense inner brightness: “And they shall see his face; and his name shall in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev 22, 4 – 5)
Yogananda in fact points out: “This light you see is the darkness. The greatest thing is this, that our sixth sense is the spiritual eye. The seat of the spiritual eye is right here between the two eyes. That is the eye that has not been opened. When you develop you can keep that eye open. It is like a tunnel, you can see through it.”
The spiritual eye, he teaches, becomes a tunnel, which leads into the colorful astral world, then into the higher causal world, and finally into the blissful kingdom of God.
Enough of Being Human Chicks!
Here are some further colorful teachings of Yogananda:
The meaning of the spiritual eye is this: when a chick is in the egg shell, its whole world is the egg shell. It doesn’t know any other world. When it breaks through the shell it comes into another world. So we are human chicks! We don’t know what is beyond. But through the spiritual eye we see the astral world. There marvelous currents and lights are floating about. Through the two eyes we see the world and through the spiritual eye we can perceive the astral world. That is why Jesus said, “Seeing, ye see not.” The Gita says, “Concentrate on the center between the eyes.” You will notice pictures of Jesus and all saints show them looking up in that spiritual light.
All the above quotes are not meant to instruct and explain, but only to inspire our hearts, to get us enthusiastic about practicing with our spiritual eye, with a thirsty longing.
How to do that? Just gaze there? Yes, but there are also some practical methods to sharpen our inner gaze. Here you find three effective techniques to experiment with.
1. A Technique for Developing a Steady Gaze: Tratak
The first is a technique to develop an unblinking steady gaze. Yogananda in fact tells us: “Restless and constantly blinking eyes indicate a restless mind; quiet, unblinking eyes, a calm mind. God is not visible, not recognizable to the ordinary restless eyes of mortal man. By fixing the eyes at one point induces the mind to grow calm and concentrated.”
Fixing the eyes on one point is a classical yoga practice, called tratak. It consists in gazing at an object, often a candle, which is placed a little higher than the eyes, at a short distance. Fix that object, never looking away, remaining steady with your gaze, unblinking, even if the eyes start producing tears.
Yogananda taught a fun form of tratak. He invented a device, calling it the “Temple of Silence”: it was fixed on the head, like earmuffs. Attached there was a manufactured spiritual eye, which hang a short distance in front of the eyes, to be gazed at. A marvelous invention, training us in a creative way to enter the “seat of ecstasy” in the body, the “Christ Center” — the Kutastha, as they call it in India, which means “the unchangeable, the supreme soul.”
2. A Technique for Highest Concentration: Visualization
Yogananda teaches visualization as a powerful technique to develop inner concentration. It even leads to the siddhi (power) of materialization:
I can keep looking at this room and concentrating upon it until, when I close my eyes, I can still see the room exactly as it is. This is the first step in deep concentration, but most people haven’t the patience to practice it. I had the patience. As you continue to practice visualization you will find that your thoughts become materialized. The cosmic law will so arrange it that whatsoever you are thinking of will be produced in actuality, if you command it to be so. Suppose I am thinking of an apple, and the apple appears in my hand. That would be a demonstration of the highest power of concentration.
Try it. Experiment with it. Practice it: intensely look at an apple (or any object in your room) for some time. Imprint the image in your mind. Then close your eyes, looking at the point between the eyebrows. Inwardly try to see that object as clearly as you can.
3. A Technique for Gazing at the Spiritual Eye
Yogananda taught another technique to stimulate our vision of the spiritual eye, using an outer light, a lamp. He explains: “Look at a light and close your eyes. Forget the darkness around you and watch the blood red color within your eyelids. Try to look intently into that violet red color before you. Meditate on it and imagine that it is becoming bigger and bigger. Behold around you a dimly shining sea of violet light. You are a wave of light, a ripple of peace floating on the surface of the sea.”
During Meditation: When to Focus on the Spiritual Eye?
When you meditate, the intense gaze at the spiritual eye has its proper moment. During the time of practicing any technique, the eyes are upturned to the spiritual eye, yes, but our concentration is not on that point, but on the technique itself: while practicing Hong-Sau we concentrate on the breath and the mantra; during Kriya Yoga we concentrate on the inner currents; during the AUM technique we focus on the inner sounds.
The time for fully concentrating on the spiritual eye comes after the technique, during the last part of meditation. At that moment fully concentrate on the “Christ Center,” with devotion, looking toward God. Let nothing take your gaze away from your spiritual eye, which leads you to ecstasy.
Some Practical Guidelines
- Practice daily to gaze with concentration at the spiritual eye. Make it a priority during your sadhana.
- It’s better to meditate for a short time with intensity, than for a long time without concentration. Quality is more important than quantity.
- You need high inner energy to keep up this deep concentration. Remember however not to let intensity turn into tension. Remain relaxed.
- Practice in a dark room. Then the inner light is seen more easily.
- When you see the inner light, don’t get excited. Remain calm, and receive it with love.
- Try not to practice with the expectation to see the light. Expectation creates tension, and easily frustration. Whatever comes, let it come. If the light doesn’t come, know that just by concentrating on the spiritual eye you have stimulated higher consciousness, which will bear marvelous results in your life.
During the Day
All through the day, as often as you remember, look up to the spiritual eye. Yogananda called this the second most powerful technique for our inner spiritual evolution, right after Kriya Yoga. Go for it!
However, here is an important caveat. In Swami Kriyananda’s book, Conversations with Yogananda, we read:
The Master told us that when he first came to Sri Yukteswar’s ashram, he would keep his mind and gaze focused at the point between the eyebrows as much as possible. “If you want to make very rapid progress on the spiritual path,” he used to tell us, “keep your mind always centered there.” This practice must be joined to, however, and supported by the heart’s devotion. For concentration at the spiritual eye, which is known as the ajna chakra, develops great will power, but it can also make one ruthless if it isn’t combined with the heart’s love. When will power is combined with love, great joy is the consequence.
Are you “awake and ready” now to practice with fervor with your spiritual eye? If you enjoy guided meditations, you can find one here:
As you deepen your inner gaze, affirm with Yogananda: “I will leave my finite mansion for my Infinite Mansion through the tunnel of the Spiritual Eye and breathlessness.”
May your inner vision take you toward the eternal light of God.
With divine friendship,