The Pineal Gland

I had a teacher who once said, “We are all responsible for the dots we connect in our heads.” What does this mean?

To me it means that the universe is an infinitely complex and mysterious place. One person could have a brain so large and intelligent that it could contain all of the thoughts and all of the data ever generated by humankind, and still, that person would possess just a drop of water siphoned out of the great ocean of Existence.

Once in possession of all of this data, one may be tempted to form strings of thoughts. To connect data points in order to lead to the formulation of theories to explain things: the weather patterns, the allocation of resources on the planet, the behavior of presidents and paupers, sinners and saints.

My teacher, I believe, was pointing to the notion that stringing dots together may not be as Truth-Enhancing as it looks to be.

At great risk of feeding the intellectual, dot-connecting fire, I offer a necklace of data points, strung together by one of the many portions of my brain. I offer this necklace as an intellectual meeting of the material and the metaphysical, where perhaps the conflicting views of bipolar disorder can meet and interact in a peaceful way.

The focal point of this meeting is the pineal gland. This gland is a small reddish-gray structure that sits near the center of the brain. Western science has shown it is very likely that the pineal gland’s activities influence the course of bipolar disease. Both lithium and depakote (valproic acid) have been shown to effect the gland and its workings. Both of these drugs are used to treat bipolar. It is also known that the pineal is light sensitive: its production of melatonin is regulated by the presence or absence of light.

In an article entitled, “The Morning Battleground: Why Bipolar Kids Can’t Get Up and Get Going,” by Janice Papolos and Demitri F. Papolos, M.D., (on the web at, as of March 9, 2011), the doctors write:
”All vertebrates possess a pineal gland, and in certain reptiles and birds the gland is situated close enough to the top of the skull to monitor the intensity of sunlight. This “third eye” appears to help animals adjust to changes in the day-light cycles of the yearly seasons. Seventeenth-century philosopher Rene Descartes thought the human pineal to be the seat of the rational soul…”

Manly P. Hall, a theosopher extrordinaire, has penned a work entitled, “The Pineal Gland: The Eye of God.”

Here is this little gland, effecting behavior and circadian rhythms through a known biochemical process, and simultaneously referred to as an “eye” and as the seat of the soul. Perhaps the overlap of the physical and the metaphysical can be found within the many occurrences of one word: light.

Light suppresses the activity of the pineal gland, stopping the production of melatonin. Phototherapy (the application of light) is used to treat bipolars and others with sleep disorders. Dawn simulators are used for the same.

Light comes in many frequencies and wavelengths, not just spanning the visible palette of the rainbow, but moving beyond, into the ultraviolet and infrared spectra. (How far into the violets and reds does the seeing of the pineal go? What does television, that chaotic source of light we all know and love, do to the gland in question?)

Light equals energy. Solar cells translate light into electricity. Photosynthesis in plants translates light into chemical energy. When light passes through a car windshield, it slows down, becoming heat energy. Light equals energy, and one form of energy is chi, which martial artists learn to cultivate and preserve and direct. There are those — the breatharians — who say (with certain proof to back their claims) that they live solely on water and sunlight, and have done so for years.

Ah, the mysteries of life.

Perhaps the pineal gland is a key player in the dance of light, no matter what form it takes. Perhaps the “psychotic episodes” which some bipolars experience are in fact “precocious expansions of the eye of God.” Perhaps the difficulty that arises during such events has to do with the inability to process, integrate, and ground the varieties of light with which the pineal is being bombarded. Perhaps the person in question is simply a radio receiver which cannot tune to one station, and is receiving cacophonous content from many different signals.

Perhaps in some (not all) cases, the unusual life choices made by folks diagnosed with bipolar are being chosen by a person with (and thank Godliness for the gift) an extremely sensitive pineal gland, an “eye of God” open to, and looking for, the Master’s wisdom and guidance, even while the spectrum of light is clouded over by the noise of extraneous, non-godly sources of electromagnetic radiation too numerous to list.

Bodhidharma, a great sage of old, spent nine years of his life, day in and day out, sitting in a cave staring at a wall. This was his chosen meditation technique. He was so single-pointed he actually tore off his eye lids to keep from falling asleep. Eventually he became enlightened. What they leave out of the story is what was running through his head during year seven. Or what his sister was saying about him in the village market, as she bought the bread which she left for him at the entrance to his humble abode.

In our world, if he repeated his year-seven thoughts to a therapist, he would be locked up. A great mystic, a light in this dark world, would be lost. And his sister’s pain would be seen as collateral damage resulting from bipolar illness.

I repeat: to me the universe is an infinitely complex and mysterious place. One person could have a brain so large and intelligent that it could contain all of the thoughts and all of the data ever generated by humankind, and still, that person would possess just a drop of water siphoned out of the great ocean of Existence.

I’m prepared to keep to “don’t know” mind a little longer, uncomfortable though it may be. Are you?

About musingsofadisciple

What is essential to say? My name is Prahas. I have worked in the arts, in technology, and in business. I spent ten years in a school of meditation. Love.
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4 Responses to The Pineal Gland

  1. This is what I was interested in and why I chose to follow you. Namaste friend…-Amberly

  2. Thanks for reading my post, and following me. Good luck!

  3. anthony mckenzie says:

    I have had struggles with bi polar I was diagnosed at the age of 33. I started reading on the pineal gland and fell down a rabbit hole. I saw that flouride negatively effects the gland. Lithium is also a metal. So I found this. I just had an Epiphany. Thank you. Would like to read more of your work.

    • Hi Anthony. I’m glad to hear my writing was helpful to you. Most of my work is posted on this blog — see the righthand side of the page. Also, if you click “I’m in Print” (in the right-side list near the top) you can follow the links to my book, “Meditation Q&A.” In it I talk about how meditation can help people diagnosed with bipolar. Let me know if you have any more questions or comments and good luck! –Prahas

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