THEOSOPHY, Vol. 25, No. 6, April, 1937
(Pages 255-258; Size: 13K)
(Number 70 of a 103-part series)


Such is the mystery of the human eye that, in their vain endeavors to explain and account for all the difficulties surrounding its action, some scientists have been forced to resort to occult explanations. The development of the Human eye gives more support to the occult anthropology than to that of the materialistic physiologists. "The eyes in the human embryo grow from within without" out of the brain, instead of being part of the skin, as in the insects and cuttlefish. Professor Lankester, thinking the brain a queer place for the eye, and attempting to explain the phenomenon on Darwinian lines, suggests the curious view that "our" earliest vertebrate ancestor was a transparent creature and hence did not mind where the eye was! And so was man "a transparent creature" once upon a time, we are taught, hence our theory holds good. But how does the Lankester hypothesis square with the Hæckelian view that the vertebrate eye originated by changes in the epidermis? If it started inside, the theory goes into the waste-basket. This seems to be proved by embryology.... Occultism with its teaching as to the gradual development of senses "FROM WITHIN WITHOUT," from astral prototypes, is far more satisfactory: The third eye retreated inwards when its course was run -- another point in favour of Occultism. (The Secret Doctrine, 1888, II, 295.)
ACCORDING to Theosophy, the Third Eye degenerated into the pineal gland. During the days of the activity of this Eye, the race had not yet evolved its present bodily form. The latter was developed coincident with the loss of the visual function of the pineal gland. There is no great mystery involved in the fact that the vestigial third eye now has functions, some of a glandular nature, which appear to have no connection with vision. Various cases are found in nature where some organ has quite changed its function in the course of evolution. The New Standard Encyclopedia (1931), among others, admits the gland to be the remnant of a third eye. The visual power of the pineal gland is not wholly lacking in all cases, but has been transformed to planes not ordinarily objective. Also, some of its known physiological functions are metaphysical correlates with the power of vision as manifested on other planes. The fact that atrophy of the pineal gland is correlated in criminology with an abnormal development of certain passions should have deep significance for Theosophical students.

The very practical discoveries of W. H. Bates, M.D.,(1) have opened up an amazing field of proof as to the connection of the physical functions with mental states, especially with respect to sight. Upon reading Dr. Bates' book one might leap to the conclusion that imperfect sight should, by now, under his simple principles of treatment, have vanished from literate mankind. That it has not, and that Dr. Bates' system is so little practiced, is a curious illustration of Karma. It bears out the fact that every ill has a mental and moral origin, whatever its physical manifestation; and that such ills are infinitely harder to cure than their mere physical symptoms. It shows, further, the immense power of suggestion upon physical conditions.

Dr. Bates demonstrates that defects of vision are due in almost all cases to imperfect action of the controlling muscles of the eye, and that the orthodox theory of shortened, elongated, or hardened eyeball has no real standing. He then goes on to show that such imperfection of action arises whenever there is a strain to see: whenever sight becomes anything but purely passive. Since sight is the physical correlate of pure unconditioned perception, a power which, upon whatever plane employed, is absolutely passive by nature and necessity, the lesson is clear. As he shows, the very attempt to overcome a defect of vision intensifies it by the strain set up. His conclusions from experiments along this line appear incontrovertible. Such a strain would be created merely by the idea of the difficulty of seeing. Dr. Bates goes further and shows that every such strain is the reflex of a mental strain, whether it be worry, moral conflict, or some similar difficulty. His treatment, on the physical side, consists of practices tending toward relaxation. According to him, seeing should not only be purely passive, but should be as completely one-pointed as possible. The greater the area seen with uniform clearness, the greater the strain on the eye and the less the clarity of detail. Seeing should not be done by an extended, comprehensive gaze, but by the very rapid movement of the eye over the field of vision, seeing each particle fleetingly but intensively. If this be the case, an immediate explanation is at hand for the rapid increase of eye troubles in civilization; not only are all kinds of mental strain on the increase in scope and intensity, but the physical habits of modern life complicate the problem. Quick reading by whole lines and paragraphs, the visual requirements of motion pictures, the use of the eyes in fast-moving automobiles and other vehicles -- all are particularly conducive to decentralization of vision and the consequent strain causing defective sight.

For the attainment of relaxation, Dr. Bates' treatment consists in part of producing as complete blackness of vision as possible, for which he has a series of exercises, as he has for centralization. Black, on the cosmic plane, is the symbol of non-manifestation or complete rest; the passive aspect of Nirvana! Here, again, the correlation is clear. There is still another consideration: physical vision being the correlate and physical channel of mental and spiritual vision, another sort of strain necessarily affects superphysical perception; in other words, that which produces defective mental and moral vision. It should be clear that attachment by desire or aversion to ideas and conclusions must produce a warping of mental perception which distorts the truth. Can a man achieve the pure truth about any idea or doctrine for which he feels either a personal attraction or repulsion? Common observation shows that he cannot -- that only complete mental detachment brings clear perception of the thought under consideration, exactly as lack of physical eye strain makes possible clear physical vision.

Thus, as physical, astral, and mental vision are various channels of the spiritual power of perception, so the distortions and strains affecting a lower channel must be present, or have been present, in higher ones. Dr. Bates furnishes us with a curious development of Mr. Judge's familiar statements that "curing" diseases by mental healing is merely "replanting them for future use," that a physical disease is an astral affliction "on its way down and out," which in time will be worked off unless the process is interfered with by illegitimate means or the original complaint added to by further wrong thinking. The fact that the causative aspect of a disease can vanish from higher planes, and yet for some time still persist on lower ones until exhausted, is illuminated by Dr. Bates. He shows that even in complete mental abstraction from physical sight, i.e., in sleep, "automatic" eye strains persist. Thus only conscious exercise and control of the eye in waking life can bring the necessary relaxation. This "automatic" persistence of strain is clear enough to a theosophist, who knows that every particle of his body is living -- "conscious" according to its degree -- and is therefore capable in itself of receiving impressions and forming habits. The stress imposed upon the "lives" of the eye by a misguided force is thus continued instinctively. This is obviously the reason for the slow working out of all physical maladjustments, even after the metaphysical cause has been eradicated. Similarly, physical means for the cure of defective vision -- even the effective treatments indicated by Dr. Bates -- can have only temporary effect if the inner strain remains. Its physical effect will inevitably return, in either the same or some other form. Observant medical men are becoming more and more aware of the fact that no "cure" is effective unless supported by self-discipline on the part of the patient.

All this throws clear light on the evil effects of "faith healing" and "mental healing." Both require deliberate mental effort, and this effort is itself the producer of a new strain which may exhibit itself either as another physical trouble or as a mental or moral disaster. The worst kind of mental strain comes from deliberate distortion of truth. Much of practical criminology relies upon the fact that far greater mental effort is necessary for the sustentation of a lie, however simple, than for telling the truth, however complex. The man who affirms, "there is no evil," or, "I am not in pain," when his tortured nerves assert the opposite, is obviously producing a most virulent form of mental stress within himself. Moreover, all such "affirmations" are self-centered and thus stress-producing in another way -- out of harmony with universal law and fact.

It would seem clear why Dr. Bates' methods have made so little public headway: their requirements of self-discipline are so stiff that people prefer the disease to the remedy. It is difficult, in the kind of life we live, to attain complete physical and nervous relaxation -- difficult to re-educate oneself to read properly, especially in the face of educational methods which seem designed to produce diffusion of attention rather than concentration. But basically, the trouble lies in our failure or unwillingness to stop being self-centered weather-vanes to the gusts of passion -- hag-ridden by fear and greed. Well nigh impossible it seems for most of us to stop lying, either to ourselves or to others. Yet it is just such stern moral self-reform that every serious theosophist undertakes.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


It is a fundamental law in Occultism, that there is no rest or cessation of motion in Nature. That which seems rest is only the change of one form into another. 


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(1) The Cure of Imperfect Sight Without Glasses, 1920, Central Fixation Publishing Co., New York.
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