Photography by Alan Briskin




Encounter With Higher Consciousness




A group of us, working on what became the Collective Wisdom Initiative, stayed at the Institute of Noetic Science’s campus in Petaluma, CA, when the Institute’s Board of Directors, including its founder, Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, were also meeting.   Curious about what we were up to, Dr. Mitchell wandered over to our dormitory.  We, in turn, were interested in him and, specifically, how going to the moon influenced his decision to establish the non-profit Institute.


He told us how he was originally slated to be part of the Apollo 13 lunar mission but events unfolded that changed those plans.  Of course, Apollo 13 was aborted when an oxygen tank exploded during the flight and the crew had to return to earth.  In the wake of that near disaster, Apollo 14 was a closely watched global event.


Mitchell was the Lunar Module Pilot, and with Commander Alan Shepard, spent over 33 hours on the moon’s surface.  Returning to earth, Mitchell recounted, he had fewer responsibilities and fell into a meditative state, gazing out the cockpit window at the earth and then the cosmos.  He told us it was under these conditions he had an epiphany – an ecstasy.  He said he realized that the molecules of his own body and the molecules of his fellow crew and the molecules of the spacecraft and the molecules of space around him had all been born from a common origin, the workings of an ancient furnace.  And as he told this story, tears welled up in his eyes.  I had the distinct impression standing next to him that he was re-experiencing this extraordinary moment.  He told us that on returning to earth, he searched for a word that reflected his experience and finally found it in the Sanskrit term “Samadhi”.  “Samadhi” suggests a meditative absorption, a state of being wholly in the present moment from which one can tap into an infinite potential of possibilities.


Mitchell told us that the inspiration for starting the Institute of Noetic Sciences was a direct result of his epiphany.  When we see the world differently, it allows us to act in the world differently.  Each person’s perception of wholeness is unique, but the inspiration that arises shares a common source and follows a predictable direction.  Mitchell would later write about how it is possible, under certain circumstances, to develop an “instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it”. 


His words and example live on through many individuals and networks now operating around the world that are seeking to join a state of global consciousness with service to the world.





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