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What is “the third eye” and did Jesus teach it?

Most yoga practitioners believe in seven invisible energy centers in the body called chakras. Interestingly—a little note here at the beginning—the guru I studied under in 1969-70 taught that the chakras were just “imaginary and nothing else.”1 Apparently, he considered them just an aid to meditation, but actually non-existent. Of course, many proponents of this concept consider them to be real.

These chakras begin at the base of the spine and are positioned at various points up the spine to the top of the head (called the “crown chakra”). Those who believe in the chakras usually assert that the sixth energy center is in the middle of the forehead, that it is called “the third eye,” and that it is one of the main exits out of the body into the “astral realm” (considered to be a spiritual dimension just above this natural plane).

Hindu women and girls often adorn themselves with something called a “bindi” on their foreheads (the area thought to be the location of the third eye). Married women wear a red dot and widows, a black dot. Young unmarried girls wear different colors. This cosmetic emblem has symbolic value on a higher, spiritual level also: it represents a desire to walk continuously in an enlightened state of mind.

In Hinduism, the “third eye” is called “Ajna” or “Agya.” It represents the part of the brain which they believe can be made more effective and more powerful through meditation, yoga and other spiritual practices. In Hindu tradition, it signifies the subconscious mind, and it provides a direct link to the higher self which is said to be one with Brahman, the impersonal cosmic consciousness or universal mind that is labeled “ultimate reality.”

The two eyes in our physical body enable human beings to see into the physical world, but those who believe in chakras teach the third eye enables enlightened human beings to see into the spiritual world, to be sensitive to clairvoyant gifts and to possess insightful knowledge about the past and the future. An activated third eye is, therefore, the sign of an awakened person.

Now let me take you into some of the even deeper details of Hindu belief. In that worldview, the third eye or “Ajna” is depicted as a transparent lotus flower with two white petals which represent the nadis (psychic channels). These blend together in the middle called the Sushumna nadi before rising to the crown chakra at the top of the head. The left petal represents Shiva (the god of destruction), while the right petal represents Shakti (the female goddess who is his cohort). These merge in the middle and in some systems of thought, are represented as a hermaphrodite deity that is both male and female. In other words, when enlightenment is achieved, duality ceases and oneness with universal consciousness is achieved.

Very strange ideas, right? Yes, I agree! Yet, millions of Hindus and New Agers subscribe to them. Many propose that these concepts are also hidden in the teachings of Jesus. When I was a yoga teacher over five decades ago, I often referenced the following statement Jesus made during His “Sermon on the Mount” to support the blending of these worldviews. The King James Version of Matthew 6:22-23 records the Son of God saying:

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Wow! That sounds like a confirmation, doesn’t it? Maybe Jesus was an initiate into the mystery religions, an avatar who came to show us how to awaken our own divinity. No, absolutely not! I repeat—Absolutely not! When subjected to proper methods of interpretation, this one isolated passage is not sufficient evidence that Jesus believed in chakras or specifically, in the third eye.

First, we must look at this passage within the surrounding text (contextual interpretation). This is necessary for proper exegesis—the right method of interpreting a biblical passage. Listen to what Jesus says immediately prior:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV)

Now listen to what Jesus said immediately after our emphasized verse:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:24-25 NKJV)

Jesus was talking about the way we ‘see’ or ‘perceive’ what is important in life, how we set our priorities. The two verses about the eye being “single” are sandwiched between passages dealing with materialism versus spirituality. Jesus started by saying, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” and he concluded by saying, “You cannot serve God and mammon” (material riches). (Matthew 6:19, 24).

In light of this, the correct interpretation is plain and simple. Jesus was encouraging his disciples to stay focused on that which is spiritual and eternal, even though we have to function in a natural and temporal world. Let me sum it up in one statement what the Son of God was revealing: that no one can be a slave to material possessions and enjoy the abundant spiritual life that God promises in His Word.

The New King James translation of Matthew 6:22-23 changes the archaic English of the King James Version to say, “If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22–23 NKJV) Other Bible versions use words like, “sound,” “healthy,” “clear” or “unclouded” for the word “single” in the King James Version. The exact meaning becomes more obvious in these newer renditions. Combining them all into one statement: if you ‘look’ at life with a good attitude—if your values are sound and healthy, and your perceptions, clear and unclouded—the light of truth radiates in you and through you. Your body becomes a lamp-like vessel through which the light of the Word and the Spirit can shine, illuminating a very dark world.

Let’s continue developing this thought, how Jesus said: “If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.” The word translated “light” is luchnos (pronounced lookh’-nos). It can also be rendered “lamp.” Once again, your body becomes like a lamp. This is a source of light that must be lit. There are five parts to a lamp: the vessel, the oil, the wick, the fire and the light.

We are all described as “vessels” (Romans 9:23). We are also depicted as “lamps.” Churches are represented corporately as lamps (Revelation 1:20) and individuals believers fill this role as well. For instance, Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV) says:

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the inner depths of his heart.

However, a lamp sits in darkness until the wick is lit with fire. So also, the hearts of fallen human beings are in darkness until they are lit with the fire of the presence of God. Only then can we search out the inner depths of His heart and our own hearts—through the Word of God and by the Spirit of God. That empowerment comes when a person is born again. Jesus said He came to “send fire on the earth” (Luke 12:49). In other words, He came to set hearts on fire with intense love for God and burning passion to discover His truth and proclaim it to others—in other words, to shine like lamps in this dark world.

In Mark 4:21, Jesus warned again putting a lamp under a basket (which represents commerce) or under a bed (which represents laziness or complacency). Both situations can result in something very bad taking place (a destructive fire). In the Sermon on the Mount that contains our emphasized passage, Jesus showed His disciples their importance by using this “lamp” analogy. He said:

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Jesus was simply talking about focusing on eternal things and shining the light of truth in this world. It was never about some weird, mystical, esoteric unveiling of hidden mysteries of the universe. It was never about the awakening of some internal psychic energy centers. If Jesus were attempting to enlighten his disciples concerning these things, He surely would not have been so vague. He also would have developed this concept to a much greater degree than just one verse out of the entire New Testament.

So, what about you? Did you read this article because you’re a seeker and you’re examining this concept to see if you believe in it, hoping to somehow awaken your third eye that you might be sensitive to higher supernatural planes? If your answer is “Yes,” I urge you to abandon those ideas that seem so mystical, mechanical, and magical, and instead, turn your heart toward the Savior of the world who gave His life on Calvary that you might be cleansed of your sin and receive the gift of the indwelling of the Spirit of God. Ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you. Encountering His love is the greatest supernatural experience you could ever have. He promised later on in this same mountaintop message, “Ask, and you wil receive. Seek, and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). 

[1] Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa, Kundalini Yoga, The Flow of Eternal Power (New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 1996) p. 61.ov

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  • Excellent. During these days scripture you shared has been our prayer for those causing havoc, destruction, lawlessness, & denying God, because of the darkness they live in. “However, a lamp sits in darkness until the wick is lit with fire. So also, the hearts of fallen human beings are in darkness until they are lit with the fire of the presence of God”. We pray our living God will bring revival & many will transition from darkness to the Light of Christ Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit.
    Thank you,
    Christine & many intercessors.

    • Thank you very much for your comment Christine. Keep praying for us please that we will be able to reach the millions of sincere seekers worldwide who are embracing these ideas and practices.

  • This is a great teaching. Thank you! Fun story. About 30 years ago, I attended a bible study in Miami. There was a young woman there who had just gotten saved. She was a self-proclaimed witch and the President of the local chapter of NOW.

    When the time came for prayer, the Holy Spirit told me to go pray with the new Christian. As I approached her, I suddenly knew what to do. I laid my hand on her forehead, commanded the third eye to be sealed in Jesus’s name and rebuked the Spirit of witchcraft.

    The young woman was powerfully affected by this simple prayer. The next week, however, she was quite angry and told the wife of the man who led her to Christ that she wanted to confront me because she could no longer see into the Spirit realm nor communicate with her spiritual “guides.” My friend was given the opportunity to acquaint her with the true guidance offered by the Holy Spirit.

    I thank God for His authority in this world and for permitting me to help this young woman along the path to growth in her relationship with the true spiritual guide, and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Written by Mike Shreve