On January 31, 1971, Navy Captain Dr. Edgar Mitchell embarked on a journey into outer space, resulting in his becoming the sixth man to walk on the Moon. The Apollo 14 mission was NASA’s third manned lunar landing. This historic journey ended safely nine days later on February 9, 1971. It was an audacious time in the history of mankind. For Mitchell, however, the most extraordinary journey was yet to come. As he hurtled earthward through the abyss between the two worlds, Mitchell became engulfed by a profound sensation—a sense of universal connectedness. He intuitively sensed that his presence, that of his fellow astronauts, and that of the planet in the window were all part of a deliberate universal process—and that the glittering cosmos itself was in some sense conscious. The experience was so overwhelming, that Mitchell knew his life would never be the same: “You don’t look at our little planet from that perspective without its having a profound impact on your thinking.” And while Mitchell regarded his experience, his education, and his lunar endeavors as invaluable milestones, they would become mere stepping stones to what would eventually become his true life passion—exploring the power of the conscious mind. It is a subject he embraces passionately once one gets past the predictable discussions of his spaceflight experience. The palpable presence of collective mind, ever present and ever at work in the universe, is something he is sure of and something he feels bears examination, not only in the euphoric musings of mystics, zealots, and dreamers, but in the harsh light of science. When Mitchell left NASA, it was to devote his life to the area he believed society had overlooked—man’s potential, particularly the power of the mind. In 1973 Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, an organization dedicated to exploring the underlying principles of consciousness in nature and how to apply this knowledge to the sustainability of our fragile spinning planet, spaceship Earth. When Mitchell talks about these things, he loses the shyness and stiffness he takes on with strangers. He is not an easy person to get to know. Still, start Mitchell talking about planet Earth and the role of its inhabitants, and there is passion in his voice and the thoughts come tumbling out. He likes this role of maverick, explorer, forger of new frontiers. This is what Mitchell wants to be remembered for. Yes, it’s nice to be known as one of the twelve men who stood on the moon and looked back at Earth. But what Edgar Mitchell considers his major contribution is helping to transform the whole way we think about ourselves and our capabilities. And he’s not finished yet.
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