As astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, completed his Apollo 14 mission and returned home toward our big blue earth, he experienced a sudden and radical epiphany. Trained in all the disciplines appropriate for space exploration -- physics, engineering, orbital mechanics -- nothing could have prepared him for this life-changing experience:
"On the way home from the moon, looking out at the heavens, this insight - which I now call a transcendent experience - happened. I realized that the molecules of my body had been created or prototyped in an ancient generation of stars - along with the molecules of the spacecraft and my partners and everything else we could see including the Earth out in front of us. Suddenly, it was all very personal. Those were my molecules.
It was an experience of interconnectedness. It was an experience of bliss, of ecstasy...it was so profound. I realized that the story of ourselves as told by science - our cosmology, our religion - was incomplete and likely flawed. I recognized that the Newtonian idea of separate, independent, discreet things in the universe wasn't a fully accurate description."*
Upon his return from space, Edgar founded a research institute called the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) which was born out of his profound unity experience, and his desire to bring scientific inquiry to the frontiers of human consciousness.
I've just spent the weekend with Edgar and a handful of colleagues on the IONS board who inspired me to write this post, although this article is not really about any single individual. It is about our interconnectedness. It is about unity. Oneness. The direct experience of being non-different from all that is.(MORE)