interview by Douglas Eby
In 1971 the Apollo 14 mission took Alan Shepard and Dr. Edgar Mitchell for a walk on the moon. On the return flight - contemplating the "blue jewel-like home planet suspended in the velvety blackness" - Dr. Mitchell experienced a life-changing sense of profound connectedness and the universality of consciousness.
Leaving NASA, he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, whose name derives from the Greek word "nous", meaning mind, intelligence or ways of knowing. In a 1981 statement he said "The vision of the institute is becoming a reality.. humans are creative beings, more spirit and mind than body, limited in our ability to create a satisfying future only by the limitations we accept for ourselves."
In this new book ("The Way of the Explorer" written with Dwight Williams, Putnam, 1996) he talks of how we need to revise our notions of truth to open up those limitations, and writes: "Most of us have accumulated this body of ideas that make up our belief systems through external authorities rather than through our own quest and original insight."
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Q. In 1981 in the Institute of Noetic Sciences newsletter you spoke of times really changing and major shifts going on; do you see those shifts accelerating, and in what specific ways?
A. "Most everything is accelerating. I think in terms of systems theory, and civilization is simply a system, that we're far from equilibrium, and the further you are from equilibrium, according to [Nobel-winning physicist Ilya] Prigogine, the more traumatic, the more accelerated, the more non-linear is the behavior of the systems. And that's exactly what I think we're experiencing. We're approaching what might be called a bifurcation point or a paradigm shift that is likely to become quite noticeable in the not too distant future."
Q. One of the global, it seems, responses of people to this kind of chaos, if you will, seems to be increased interest in entities, angels, channeling and other New Age material; you seem to be calling in your book for a new look at our internal resources, away from those areas.
A. "People are looking for solutions for what they perceive as a problem, and they're perceiving at what I call a non-local, intuitive level, and they're perceiving this viscerally, as something quite serious. And naturally we have traditionally, because of our belief systems, looked external to ourselves for answers: to the father figure, the grandfather figure, the deity. That is our tradition. If we want to change things, we supplicate deity or external authority. And what we're suggesting here is that's not appropriate; we have all the capabilities within ourselves. We're creating the problem, we can solve it, and we have the capabilities to solve it vertically."
Q. Do you feel there is any more effective technology or approach to getting those solutions, to accessing our internal resources, or is it individual for each person?
A. "It's individual, of course. I mean nobody can do it for you. But the meditative techniques are very very powerful; people have been using them for hundreds of years, and they work. But by and large our populace has not taken really seriously what the mystics or the religious leaders have said; we've used the exoteric, but not the esoteric forms, which are worldwide. When I commit to my personal journey and to society at large to be the very best I can be, then we see this internal, esoteric starting to work, starting to take over. But it's requiring us to perceive that we can do that, as opposed to relying on external authority to accomplish what needs to be accomplished."
Q. Do you have a sense that some of this new technology such as mind machines is just a substitute of another kind of external authority?
A. "Yes, it sure is.
Q. What would you like people to most recognize or respond to from your book; what do you think is most helpful at this point in history?
A. "Well, that's a nice question. I'm not sure I have a soundbite answer for you. I guess I have been saying that the internal response, the personal response, the need to accept personal responsibility for self, for life, is fundamental, and I think that's probably what we have to emphasize, but many people are emphasizing it. What we're also saying is that the group called the postmoderns or the Cultural Creatives, who are leading this movement, who have increased from about two percent to over twenty four percent in the last twenty years, and that's pretty powerful. Since this movement is directed from the people, it is non-predictable, it is nonlinear, it will go where we take it. And that means we have to be in tune with our very deepest inner instincts, and our most powerful wisdom, if we're going to move in the right direction."
Q. And you're saying the meditative approach is the most powerful?
A. "Yes, and that's because that puts us directly in touch at the nonlocal level with each other. In the old ways of saying, that puts us in touch with the divine reality. In the modern way of saying it, or the way my model in my book would say it, that puts us in touch with each other, so we develop the collective will, the collective consensus to make the right decisions."
Q. What is your view of the increased attention on UFOs and related phenomena?
A. "My concern is there isn't any good information about extraterrestrials in the public domain - it's all conjecture. There is clearly an awful lot of disinformation and misinformation. I think this is terribly harmful, and I think we have an obligation to get good information out so people aren't fearful and aren't creating nonsense. It's one thing to create a cartoon and just enjoy it because it is a cartoon, but when you get it mixed up with reality, that's quite a serious thing, and I think that's what's happening.
"A survey done a couple of years ago indicated the number of people who had abduction experiences was well over two percent of the population; now, that's ridiculous. Those numbers make no sense from any physical point of view. But they might make sense from a totally different point of view, in, for example, the idea is in the collective unconscious and people are using this as an explanation for bad dreams or whatever. Those are things we as scientists and serious people need to make available and understand, and get to the public, because it's getting crazy out there.
"I have to take any film as pure entertainment, and I don't get my information from entertainment films. But I'm sure the naive, the young, the uninformed use them as a model and place credibility in them. I think our leadership has a responsibility to help us get to the bottom of what is true here, the difference between entertainment and real fact."
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book: Edgar Mitchell
Way of the Explorer
related Talent Development Resources pages:
achievement / personal development programs
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The Inner Entrepreneur
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