Many people in India wear a colorful dot on their foreheads. This location, between the eyebrows, is known by various names such as the ajna charka, third eye or the Eye of Wisdom. The vivid mark, called a tilak, is a daily decoration or religious gesture for some. Often at special ceremonies and rituals it is a custom to place a red kumkum or beige sandalwood tilak on guests as they arrive or depart. While this may sound mystifying to those in the West, it is a beautiful sign indicating a person’s intention to honor and open the Eye of Wisdom.
Physical eyes make contact with the physical world. When our two physical eyes are open, we see a rich world of color, forms and shapes. If they grow dim or weak, we cannot perceive the physical world clearly. In the same way, if the Eye of Wisdom is not cultivated or opened, we are unable to perceive spiritual dimensions. "Opening" the third eye means unification of our consciousness with Divine consciousness.
The book of Wisdom from the Hebrew Scriptures describes wisdom as "an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty." To see the world through the Eye of Wisdom means to see the world as God does, without the intrusion of the ego. The Eye of Wisdom is freedom, for wisdom sees and knows things as they are. The Eye of Wisdom perceives beyond the world of duality – good vs. bad – to embrace all fields of experience equally. "She reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well."
Those who move along the spiritual path come to realize that the third eye matters more than the two physical eyes. Of course, good eyesight is enormously important and advantageous in the conventional world. Yet when the Eye of Wisdom is opened through spiritual practices such as meditation, a person becomes conscious of a radiant realm which was previously inaccessible. With the Eye of Wisdom one can perceive what Pharisees in the Gospel missed: the Kingdom of God in our midst.
Fr. Joe Mitchell, CP is the director of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville, KY.
Please visit his website: www.earthandspiritcenter.org.