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  • How are the Third eye and the Mind's eye "defined" in Hinduism?
  • In particular, according to Hinduism, are these separate concepts or one?
  • According to Hinduism, do only particular individuals have the third eye open or does everyone?
  • If it is possible for it to be closed then, according to Hinduism, can it be opened by practice?
  • Are there different answers to these question within Hinduism?

Please avoid new-age related answers!

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The mind's eye and the third eye are sometimes used interchangeably but depending upon the author, it can mean the same thing or two different things. Sometimes the mind's eye simply means to use your mind's imagination to see something mentally. When it is used to denote the same thing it means the third eye between the eyebrows and this is known as the ajna cakra. It is where the spiritual eye opens in an advanced sadhaka. It is opened by spiritual practices. Google 'ajna chakra' and there are a lot of online references.

The Garba Upanishad says:

Darsanagni is [in] the eye itself and is the cause of of vijnana and enables one to see all objects and forms. It has three seats, the [spiritual] eye itself being the the [primary] seat and eyeballs being the accessory seats,...

and the Sandilya Upanishad says:

When the eye of consciousness (viz. the spiritual eye or third eye) becomes calm and clear so as to be able to distinctly see in the transparent akasa at a distance of twelve digits from the tip of his nose, then the fluctuations of prana are stopped...

Many depictions of various gods are shown with a third eye. It is this eye that allows one to see into the spiritual realms.

  • I googled ajna chakra in the past but a lot of it seemed like new-age style information, like how to open the third eye in five minutes, or a hundred words explanation, the quality of which I cannot determine, that someone puts on his yoga website together with a lot of colors and "inspiring" images, but I am interested in the so called traditional explanations. – nir Sep 21 '15 at 18:51
  • so, do most of us live with the third eye closed? what does it mean to have it closed? what kind of practice is said to open it? how many years of practice are required? is it like enlightenment that people seldom achieve even after a life time of practice? or is it like a title in philosophy, that you achieve after 2 or 3 years of practice? is the capacity to open it universal, or is it limited to certain kind of people? – nir Sep 21 '15 at 18:57
  • Yes it is closed in most people. It is open to all to try. It requires spiritual practice, meditation, japam, remembrance of the Lord, etc. The time it takes is up to the Lord as it is the Lord that opens it. It is not a machine that you put so many coins into to get a reward. Some get it after lifetimes, some after a short time. Read chapters 7 and 8 of the Gita. – Swami Vishwananda Sep 22 '15 at 11:05
  • thanks! these chapters of the Bhagavad Gita seem like an excellent pointer. – nir Sep 22 '15 at 16:14
  • Does being able to see the Atman, mean that the third eye is open? – nir Sep 22 '15 at 21:11
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The third-eye is related to the Ajna Chakra, intuition and awareness. These two answers might provide some insight:

Q: What is the meaning of the opening of the third eye and what do I feel when I experience this happening?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is intuition, don’t think there is an eye opening like this and something is popping up from your head. You get a bump or a hole in your forehead, no! You know you close your eyes still you feel some light; you may see or you may feel, it can be both ways. If someone says I am going to open your third eye and this and that, just don’t go into those things. I tell you, definitely not, it is simply hoax because I have seen so many people claiming to open the third eye and nothing happens really, people get a headache, an incurable headaches many times and you get into problems. You know many such cases come to us for repair, so if someone says I want to open your third eye tell them, thank you very much, I am happy with two eyes. The deeper you go in meditation your intuitive ability develops.

Q: Guruji, why is the opening of the third eye associated with the destruction of desires?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know the third eye is associated with alertness and awareness. When you are alert, awake, more into knowledge then naturally the energy has moved from the lowest chakra to the highest. The lower things no more interest you. You know when you are very alert and awake the sexual energy has transformed itself into a different quality of consciousness. The sexual energy is when the back portion of our brain, our head is activated. Alertness, perception and awareness happen when the front portion of the brain is activated; the pituitary and pineal glands are getting activated. In the brain also they are on the opposite sides of each other. So it is mythologically said when the third eye opens then the gross desires simply evaporate, not that it is bad but they simply don’t make much sense anymore. That is why the intellectuals and the highly spiritual oriented practitioners always put something on the forehead, some sandal wood paste because they are focusing; doing some yoga and meditation so they put some sandal wood to cool the forehead, to cool it a little bit. When the frontal lobe of the brain becomes more active, more alert, then thinking, intellectual work, creativity, memory they are all enhanced because all of these things are in the frontal lobe of the brain and sensory pleasures are all at the back of the brain.

http://wisdomfromsrisriravishankar.blogspot.in/2011/04/deeper-you-go-in-meditation-your.html

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    Is he speaking of a particular intuition — an intuition about something in particular — or about intuition in general, as for example in someone who tends to decide which actions to take intuitively? – nir Apr 30 '16 at 7:58
  • @nir: Um, good question, as far as my limited experience is concerned I see intuition in two ways: about people around, about the future. There might be more types of intuitions, who knows. He does say somewhere else that the Gurus (enlightened Masters) operate from the realm of intuition, i do not know what means. – Amit Saxena Apr 30 '16 at 12:49
  • as I understand the word intuition, there are many many kinds of intuitions, many of which are false btw. you may have an intuition that you have free will, or a substantial sense of self. you have an intuition about time, and space. when asked if robots can feel pain you may respond intuitively that they cannot, even if philosophical contemplation might later change your opinion. when faced with two options between which you cannot decide, you might finally decide intuitively. therefore, given all of these uses of the word, I find it hard to understand what shankar means. – nir Apr 30 '16 at 13:24
  • not to mention that experts in a field tend to make a lot of decisions based on their intuition. for example chess players, and even engineers. – nir Apr 30 '16 at 13:25
  • @nir: My understanding of intuition is more or less in sync with what you are saying. In my experience, if there is more to it, then it gets revealed as we meditate more. :) – Amit Saxena Apr 30 '16 at 13:37

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