Astronaut Edgar Mitchell’s experience of viewing the Earth from space was so moving – and so different from anything he’d learned growing up in west Texas and New Mexico – that he became curious. He wanted to know how the brain could re-organize information to produce such a fantastic experience.
After the Apollo 14 mission was over he began to search for answers. He did not find any in the scientific literature and turned to written accounts of similar experiences in the mystical writings of Eastern and Western religions. He found that although all religions have their roots in mystical experiences, some of the original accounts were taken and distorted by ego-bound thinking into something concrete. Across the world we’ve ended up fighting about whose God is the best God and what began with experiences of unity and wholeness has become a source of hostility and destruction.
WINN is as interested in what we learn from our own experiences as it is in the discoveries of traditional science. Here is a wonderful statement by Dr. Mitchell about the equal value of both subjective and objective research:
“As I studied the beliefs of mystics and also became interested in psychic phenomena, it became absolutely clear to me that first-person experience, the subjective, with all its potential for misinterpretation was just as important to understanding reality as the third-person observations of science.” In 1972 Dr Mitchell gave a speech at Notre Dame in which he also said, “It is this fusion of reason and intuition, of subjective experience and objective knowledge, which I see returning to us and restoring health in the body of mankind.”
He himself used both subjective and objective ways of discovering what’s real in the years that followed the moon mission. Once, when his mother was attending a conference with him, he had the chance to explore the claims of a healer and at the same time, perhaps, to help his mother. Norbu Chen, an American trained in the earliest form of Tibetan Buddhism and shamanistic practice, agreed to see if he could heal her troubled eyesight. Norbu went into a meditative trance and used a kind of therapeutic touch (energetic but not physical touch) that Mrs. Mitchell accepted trustingly.
The next morning she rushed into her son’s room exclaiming that that she could see! She dropped her glasses with coke-bottle thick lenses on the floor and crushed them under her heels.
But Edgar Mitchell’s mother was a devout fundamentalist Christian who believed that healing came either from the hand of God or was the work of Satan. A few days later she asked her son if Norbu Chen was a Christian and when he reluctantly answered, “No” she was unshakeable in her belief that then this was the work of the devil. Within hours most of the work of the healing was undone.
I had the chance to ask Dr. Mitchell about what had happened with her eyesight in later years. His answer was:
“That was not the end of the story although I did not include it in my book. My mother was a very intelligent woman, and since her glaucoma did not come back even though she had to resume wearing her thick-lensed glasses, she realized that since she had been the one to reject part of the healing, she would be able to get it back. And she did. Before she died about ten years later, she was able to see well with much weaker glasses.”
Edgar Mitchell’s own words are so eloquent and so much to the point that I will quote him again,
“Through my search for understanding what had happened on my way home from the moon, I came to know that believing is seeing, not the other way around. Too much of our human thought is tantamount to snow on the television screeen. For life to be sustainable, we have to clear our minds of that snow.”
And, here’s his profound call to action:
“We need to understand ourselves and to see creation with the greatest awareness possible. Only as a substantial segment of society recognizes that other conscious states and other paradigms are not only possible but desirable, will the movement toward new social realities take place.”
Edgar Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, please visit their website to learn more about his work.