I discovered this morning that a man whose life touched countless others, not merely by virtue of being shot up into outer space in Apollo 14 and land on the moon, but even more importantly, became an explorer of inner space, had died on February 4, 2016 at the age of 85. That was one day shy of the 45th anniversary of his moonwalk. Dr. Edgar Mitchell was one of a few astronauts who were outspoken about their experiences of having an epiphany; a spiritual awakening as a result of viewing the planet from space.
In 1992, while living in South Florida, my family and I had the opportunity to visit him in his home. My husband and I arrived earlier than anticipated and when we knocked on the door, accompanied by our five year old son, the esteemed Dr. Mitchell was vacuuming his living room floor, comfortable in Bermuda shorts. We thought he would be thrilled to meet a real live astronaut and shake his hand. Adam was more impressed with the fact that Dr. Mitchell had been a pilot, since at that time, our little guy was fascinated with planes. We lived near the Homestead Air Force Base at the time, so he got to see them daily. The other thing that had little impact on him was that we pointed out that even astronauts had to do their own house cleaning.
I interviewed him for the July, 1992 issue of our publication: Visions Magazine. Here are a few excerpts.
“Imagine anticipating an interview with a person who has done what a select few individuals on the entire planet have been chosen to do.On the day I interviewed Dr. Edgar Mitchell, I found myself in the presence of a man who has seen and done a lot, but is an average family man and South Florida suburban homeowner with several cute terriers. The only evidence of his lunar stroll are pictures of him in uniform on the moon, with the lunar module in the background. As impressive is his considerable collection of books ranging in subject from philosophy to psychology, from quantum physics to ecology. Edgar Mitchell is a true Renaissance Man.”
When asked how it felt to be part of that elite group whose footsteps traversed the surface of the moon, he responded, “It was wonderful, but it was a planned career move in my case. I made the choice in 1957 when Sputnik was launched. I was a test pilot in California for the Navy. I was 27 years old at that point. I was too young for the astronaut program; they weren’t taking people until they were 30. I set my goal on additional education, ending up with a Ph.D. from MIT. I needed additional jet time to quality, so I spent the next nine years getting the flight time, education and management experience, so while I was still in the age zone, I was selected. My choice was to become a specialist in the lunar module, because it would enhance my chances of going to the moon. It was circumstances, accompanied by a helluva lotta hard work that positioned me.”
From the perspective of the man who gazed at our big blue marble of a planet from from space, he had this profound description, “That’s the big story and in my mind, the most powerful experience of our flight. I can’t speak for anybody but myself, but the consensus seems to be that looking at Earth from space is the overwhelming psychological issue of the entire flight. We are explorers; I particularly am an explorer. That’s what I am, that’s what I do. I try new things, see new places, understand what they are all about. We went into space as technicians. We came back as humanitarians. It was instant global consciousness to see the Earth that way. for me it happened on the way back. after the mission was completed and the heavy work was done. and there was time to be reflective. As I looked at Earth with the back drop of billions of stars and galactic clusters, which is 10 times more than you can see from Earth, I had a sense of being one with the universe, knowing that I was a part of the process, knowing that it’s an intelligent universe. Shortly after the flight, British scientist Jim Lovelock came up with the concept of Gaia; Earth as an organismic concept.”
He expressed being proud of founding The Institute For Noetic Sciences , “which was set up to do research into the nature of consciousness. It has pursued that goal for 20 years. It’s very strong and forward looking. The idea has always been to sponsor new thought. We did work into the nature of healing. We did some of the first work in acupuncture.. We gave Carl and Stephanie Simonton their first research grant on the relationship between attitude and cancer.”
Mitchell added that they were working on the concept of causality, which he defined as “what makes things happen,” and continued, “Scientific causality means everything builds from the bottom up; from atomic structure, subatomic particles and that’s the cause of things. Theological causality is from the top down; the Will of God. So what is the nature of causality? Science has not been interested until recent years.”
Toward the end of our time together, he sealed the conversation with thoughts that remain with me all these years later. He spoke about the famous concept espoused by fellow scientist Albert Einstein, “Almost to his dying day and only near his deathbed did Einstein accept the concept that quantum mechanics was real, saying God didn’t play dice with the universe. Turns out that God does play dice with the universe. Where this all brings us,very simply is that instead of being physical beings looking for spiritual experience, we are eternal conscious beings creating physical experience. The consciousness that is us is the consciousness that is God.
Soar high into the wild blue yonder, Starman.