Passing: Astronaut & consciousness pioneer Edgar Mitchell (1930-2016)

Dr. Mitchell was the sixth person to walk on the moon. His post-NASA career included the founding of INS (Institute of Noetic Sciences). Photo courtesy of NASA.
Dr. Mitchell was the sixth person to walk on the moon. His post-NASA career included the founding of IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences). Photo courtesy of NASA.

Ever since he came back from the moon in 1972, Edgar Mitchell has stood out among the world’s spacemen in his outspoken sense that more was going on out there (and down here) than moon rocks & jet fuel. As late as last August, he was in the news because of his studies and belief (he answered a badly written British story here), but throughout his life he sought to keep his eyes, and mind, open.

I like the way the IONS site describes him:

Edgar Mitchell. Photo courtesy of NASA.
Edgar Mitchell. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Traveling back to Earth, having just walked on the moon, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell had an experience for which nothing in his life had prepared him.

As he approached the planet we know as home, he was filled with an inner conviction as certain as any mathematical equation he’d ever solved. He knew that the beautiful blue world to which he was returning is part of a living system, harmonious and whole—and that we all participate, as he expressed it later, “in a universe of consciousness.”

Trained as an engineer and scientist, Captain Mitchell was most comfortable in the world of rationality and physical precision. Yet the understanding that came to him as he journeyed back from space felt just as trustworthy—it represented another way of knowing.

This experience radically altered his worldview: Despite science’s superb technological achievements, he realized that we had barely begun to probe the deepest mystery of the universe—the fact of consciousness itself. He became convinced that the uncharted territory of the human mind was the next frontier to explore, and that it contained possibilities we had hardly begun to imagine.

(For more about the work IONS is doing, click & explore here.)

Dr. Mitchell’s passing last week will be mourned by seekers & explorers worldwide. He went to the moon & back, and throughout his life looked for more.

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