The curse of sanpaku eyes?

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 20 Mar, 2024 07:00 | 4 mins read
The late Brian Chira. PHOTO/Brian Chira(@chirabrian)Instagram
The late Brian Chira. PHOTO/Brian Chira(@chirabrian)Instagram

From TikTok theories to YouTube videos, the sanpaku eye superstition seems to be all over the internet, especially after the death of TikToker Brian Chira through a tragic road accident.

Literally translated, sanpaku, which originates from Japanese face reading, means “three whites,” which refers to how you can divide up an eye into pieces, with the whites taking up three of the four segments. Sanpaku is when you can see the white of somebody’s eye either above or below the iris.

Former US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy. PHOTO/Biography
Former US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy. PHOTO/Biography

Normally, that’s a pretty unremarkable thing that you might not even be able to pick up on. But according to one Japanese superstition, sanpaku might be a good indicator of your fate.

This superstition really took off in the west during the 60s when Japanese author George Ohsawa began predicting the deaths of famous American figures (Marilyn Monroe, John F Kennedy) based on their eyes. Since then, people have speculated about the connection between sanpaku and one’s fate.

In his 1965 book titled You Are All Sanpaku (published under his pen name Sakurazawa Nyoiti), Ohsawa introduces sanpaku as “a condition of the human eye which presents three white sides or areas around the iris.”

According to Ohsawa, the concept of sanpaku has existed in the realm of Eastern philosophy for millennia and is a sign of physical, spiritual, or physiological imbalance.

People with sanpaku eyes typically fall into one of two categories: yin sanpaku and yang sanpaku. Yin sanpaku eyes is where white sclera can be seen beneath the iris. If you have white visible at the bottom of your eyes, then look out — the world is out to get you.

This condition, supposedly means that you are in danger from the outside world. These people are more likely to run into some sort of danger, either at someone else’s hands or their own. People with this type of sanpaku are supposedly more likely to get involved with drugs or alcohol or otherwise face a tragic death.Celebrities such as Princess Diana, John F Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, and Audrey Hepburn are infamously known for having yin sanpaku eyes.

Those with yang sanpaku have sclera that’s visible above the iris. While whites below the eyes supposedly means that the outside world is a danger to you, above the eyes means that the inside world is a danger to you — that is you’re unable to control your emotions and it leads you to do terrible, terrible things.

People with yang sanpaku are more likely to be perpetrators of tragedy and violence. As far as superstition goes, people with visible white above their eyes are often violent towards others. Murderous cult leader Charles Manson is an infamous example of yang sanpaku eyes.

The science side

While most people view the white under-eye as a common physical trait, there may be more to it than mere superstition. Many who work in alternative medicine believe that white under or above the iris is actually indicative of a physical or mental illness that is causing the body to be out of balance.

These, practitioners believe, indicate that the spirit, mind, and body are not at one. As a matter of science, this notion may not be totally incorrect.

Many individuals who struggle with substance abuse or various mental health concerns exhibit some degree of the sanpaku eye. Their eyes often have white above or below the iris and this is supported by some scientific evidence.

For example, extreme exhaustion, chronic or exorbitant stress, and the influence of drugs and alcohol all affect the optic nerve. Often, this results in a contraction that pulls the iris upward and exposes white below the iris.

“Sanpaku eyes” isn’t actually an official medical term or condition (a more medically accepted term in the West is “scleral show”). Some people’s eyelids just develop to show more of the sclera—it doesn’t have anything to do with a person’s health, personality, or fate.

A scleral show can also happen naturally as you age, depending on your eye size and cheek structure. You can also “give” yourself sanpaku by widening your eyes and/or tilting your head a certain way.

Sanpaku can also happen due to medical reasons such as a physical trauma or ectropion, which causes a person’s lower eyelid to rotate outward, which makes more of the lower sclera visible. After a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), some patients experience a scleral show and ectropion around their eyelids.

You have control

In his book, Ohsawa advocates for the macrobiotic diet, which he claims can cure those who are sanpaku.
The macrobiotic diet, originally created by Ohsawa, is a combination of dietary suggestions (like making your diet 40-60 per cent whole grains, 20-30 per cent produce, and 10-25 per cent bean products) and lifestyle practices (not using microwaves, staying away from caffeine and alcohol, and more).

Modern health experts warn that diets like this one aren’t always the healthiest, and can lead to nutrient deficiencies (like vitamins, iron, protein, and calcium).

Diana, Princess of Wales, was a member of the British royal family. PHOTO/Print
Diana, Princess of Wales, was a member of the British royal family. PHOTO/Smithsonia

However, psychologists say Sanpaku eyes don’t signify an early death or violent future. Psychology Today states, “All of those TikTok conspiracy theory videos can seem really convincing, especially when they show tons of celebrities who are apparent “victims” of the sanpaku curse.

Truthfully, the deaths of these people are all just sad coincidences—plenty of famous people without sanpaku eyes have died in tragic ways (or perpetuated violence against others). At the end of the day, superstitions are only as powerful as you allow them to be. Once you recognise the control and independence you have within your own life, the sanpaku “curse” doesn’t seem so scary.

-Additional reporting from WikiHow, YahooLife, Discover Magazine

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