An Apollo Samadhi
Edgar Mitchell, Ph.D.
(March 8, 2009)
Edgar Mitchell (1930- ) became the sixth man to walk on the moon. Recipient of four honorary doctorates, he earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Industrial Management and Aeronautics, followed by a Doctorate in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The first part of his career was as a military officer, test pilot, engineer, and astronaut; the second has been as a student, researcher, and teacher exploring the inner experience with both subjective and objective methods.
T. J. Streicher: What was it like for you to visit another world?
Edgar: Well, what more could an explorer want than to go where humans have never been? Look around, gather data, come back to tell the people what you saw? That’s what explorers do, and that in itself is pleasurable, a highlight in an explorer’s life, so that’s my answer. What more can I ask than to do that?
T.J.S.: So it sounds like you look at that as a privilege?
Edgar: Yes, for sure.
T.J.S.: Can you clarify where this other world was?
Edgar: It was our moon. I think our explorations were the beginnings of Earth Beings becoming extraterrestrial citizens--the beginning of our exploration of the larger universe.
T.J.S.: What kinds of changes have occurred with you since the exploration?
Edgar: The changes are the result of the big picture effect. You see things differently, and of course there is the epiphany in coming home. The epiphany is, “Wow, I am seeing things in a different way,” and then trying to put that together into a story as to what it is. I still don’t have an answer from a cosmological sense as to what causes humans to have a peak experience. In the ancient Sanskrit it is called a samadhi experience, and in the Buddhist tradition it is called a satori. What causes a peak experience, I cannot say. Even after having studied a lot of physics, biology, and psychology on this subject, I still can’t answer what is the physical process that nature allows to take place; I only know it shifts your perspective.
T.J.S.: Yes, that’s what I am interested in, that shift in perspective. How has your perspective changed from the time you left until the time you returned?
Edgar: I can tell you that I feel differently. I appreciate the complexities of the universe. I appreciate now--from our modern Hubble telescope data--that the universe is much larger, much grander, and much more complex than we ever thought it was in the past. We are still ignorant. We think we are a pretty smart species, but I usually say we are just barely out of the trees. We have learned a lot, but we haven’t learned nearly as much as we like to think we have, and there is still a long way to go. It’s amazing and inspiring. Even though I went off to war because of the draft that we had in place when I graduated from college, I did my duty as a pilot and I learned to appreciate that war is a fallacy. Killing people is not what we are supposed to be doing. I believe we have to evolve past that, but we have not. Our destiny, if we are to be citizens of the universe, is to be peaceful citizens of the universe.
The real question pertains to both the “trans” experience and the epiphany that I had in space. The question is, what is it in nature that causes that shift, that type of shift that spills over into an entire value system? Why is war no longer acceptable to me? And it is not acceptable that we humans are warlike and are threatening our own species and our very own existence on this planet by multiplying the way we are.
We are not on a sustainable path. It is disturbing that the population continues unabated and refuses to sincerely adapt a consciousness that embraces renewable resources as a solution. Sustainability remains as a major thrust and focus of my thinking at this point. What is it in nature that allows us to have transcendental and transformational experiences like I have had? I don’t know the answer to that yet.
T.J.S.: Are you searching for that?
Edgar: That is a part of what my Noetic Foundation is about, trying to understand consciousness and transcendental type experiences. They are recorded throughout history, and the great mystics of all times have talked about them and we humans know about them, yet we continue to spend our time killing each other and arguing over whose God is the best God.
T.J.S.: But you’re not doing that--your consciousness has been raised?
Edgar: To me raising consciousness means shifting the ethical structure of our thought, to be more concerned for the greater good, for the whole. And to accept our individual role in doing that.
T.J.S.: That’s a start.
Edgar: Yes, it’s a start.
T.J.S.: Would you talk a little about your newfound cosmology? Do you think, for instance, that there is life on other planets?
Edgar: Oh, I have no doubt about it--we have been visited. There are a lot of people who have more experience with that than I do. I have no firsthand experience with visiting aliens, except for the Roswell experience where I grew up. I grew up near Roswell, New Mexico. I was in high school in 1947, when the Roswell incident took place.
T.J.S.: Did you get some firsthand information about that?
Edgar: Oh, yes, during that period it was hushed up right after it was announced. One day it was announced; the next day it was hushed in the newspapers.