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commented on Dec. 27, 2013
You may recall from a previous post that I suggested that you enter the name of “Edgar Mitchell videos” into the search engine of this site. When you do that you will have access to a few short videos in which Edgar discusses his experience of an altered state of consciousness or awareness during his return from the moon as an astronaut.
Although he is highly educated in certain fields he could not find a clear definition of what it was that he experienced.
In one particular video he states that he contacted a group of Anthropologists and Archeologists at a local university to determine if they could help him understand what it was that he experienced. After a bit of researching, they contacted him and informed that in ancient Sanskrit, Buddhism and Hinduism it is referred to as Samadhi and Satori.
After a bit, we’ll discuss the nature of altered states of awareness or consciousness, but first I would like to tell you bit about how I met Edgar Mitchell and my impression of him.
Many years ago, before IONS was created, Edgar conducted a lecture in Los Angeles in which he discussed his experience in space and his intention to create an organization for the purpose of exploring the nature of consciousness.
After his lecture, we met in the hall and had a conversation about altered states of consciousness. He was the most remarkable person I had ever met. Looking into his eyes produced the experience some have described upon meeting the Dalai Lama.
It was only after many years that while surfing the net, I stumbled upon IONS and realized that it was the organization that Edgar had planned to create.
In the next part of this topic, I’ll post a few quotes from others who were not astronauts, but I believe that their quotes reveal that they may have experienced what Edgar experienced.
The first quote is the most poetic description of the experience I have ever encountered.
“Still there are moments when one feels free from one’s own identification with human limitations and inadequacies. At such moments, one imagines that one stands on some spot of a small planet, gazing in amazement at the cold yet profoundly moving beauty of the eternal, the unfathomable: life and death flow into one, and there is neither evolution nor destiny; only being.”
That quote is by Albert Einstein. Einstein was fond of conducting mind experiments. One that is often published is that he would imagine that he was on a beam, traveling through space at the speed of light. Einstein referred to his experiences as “Talks with the old one”.
What is worthy of consideration is that both Edgar and Einstein were detached from the unrelenting stream of thoughts that flow through awareness when the experience occurred.
This is why meditation and yoga can produce the altered state of consciousness we will be discussing. When done properly, one detaches from the constant flow of thoughts that pollute awareness and pure awareness, unpolluted by thoughts, may be experienced.
Have you noticed that much in the unrelenting flow of thoughts is involved with opinions about what should be, what was or what could be? Of course, there are occasions when thinking is necessary, such as when you are balancing your check book, doing your taxes, have a job that requires thinking or enjoy participating in Discussions.
In my opinion, habitual involvement with the thinking process is a distraction from pure awareness and should be used as an occasional tool rather than accepted simply as an aspect of human experience.
Here’s a quote from Zen.
“Cease to cherish opinions.”
Here’s a short quote from someone that reveals he had the experience of pure awareness.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is…..infinite.” [William Blake]
People who have had the experience of true pure awareness; occasionally speak of infinity, the infinite or detachment from the ego or human sense of self.
Blake is a somewhat recent appearance on the scene when compared with the author of next quote.
“You ask, how can I know the infinite? I answer, not by reason. It is the office of reason to distinguish and define. The infinite, therefore, cannot be ranked among its objects. You can only apprehend the infinite by a faculty superior to reason, by entering into a state in which you are your finite self no longer, in which the Divine Essence is communicated to you. This is Ecstasy. It is the liberation of your mind from its finite consciousness.” [Plotinus 204 AD- 270AD]
He says “you are you finite self no longer”. Do you think that he referring to the human ego or what some might refer to as their sense of self?
You may notice that the quotes above along with Edgar Mitchell’s description of his experience in space in the videos reflect or infer a departure from the thinking process, ego or human sense of self.
What follows is are two slightly edited paragraphs borrowed from another topic:
Pure awareness has been referred to as Cosmic Consciousness, Unity Consciousness, Universal Consciousness, Universal Mind, Buddha Consciousness, God Consciousness, The Great Awakening, Spiritual Enlightenment, Oneness with the Universe and of course, Samadhi and Satori.
In listening to the recorded lectures of respected teachers they have said that this state is never permanent. It can be experienced for a few minutes or hours. It can even be experienced during sleep. If it is experienced during sleep and not remembered, upon waking up, the individual may begin to experience an affinity with what is often referred to as spirituality.
I believe that the reason the state is never permanent is because to discuss anything with a separate self, requires a separate self. Of course, there may be exceptions to this such as someone living the solitude of a cave in Tibet or in monasteries where a vow of silence is taken.
An affinity with spirituality often causes individuals to have some degree of respect for causes that are dedicated to the greater good. Examples would be causes devoted to care for the poor, the ill, animals, peace, the environment or the earth itself. I feel sure that someone has been left out.
Oh yes, IONS was left out. Its fundamental purpose is to expand our sense of self by exploring the nature of consciousness or human subjective experience.
Through a better understanding of consciousness or psi we expand our ideas of what humans really are.
I think one of our major problems is accepting how traditional science defines humans. There is one source where humans are defined as a bipedal primate with an opposing thumb that suckles its young. This definition is so incredibly shallow that find it hilarious.
There is a more detailed definition of what we are by expanding on the previous definition. It states that humans are a bipedal primate with an opposing thumb that suckles its young and experiences conceptual thought.
There are other examples but most seem to contain the phrasing that these two definitions do and all I have encountered are grossly inadequate.
Other definitions may be suggested, but for now, I like the following:
Humans are a multidimensional entity that experiences the physical domain and conceptual thought, but on occasion it may experience pure awareness that is unpolluted by conceptual thought. When this occurs the individual may experience a sense of awe, caused by an intense awareness that existence is absolutely perfect, just the way it is.
The final quote seems like a good place to end this topic:
“Nothing is more hidden from us than the illusion which lives with us day by day, and our greatest illusion is to believe that we are what we think ourselves to be.” [Amiel 1821 –1881]
I have used a few terms or phrases that you may not be familiar with so any questions you have please ask them. I will attempt to answer any questions relating to this topic to the best of my ability. Of course, comments are always welcome.