On Friday, February 5, 1971, Captain Ed Mitchell piloted the Apollo 14 lunar module onto the surface of the Moon in the crater named after the Italian geographer Fra Mauro. Exactly 50 years later, in a public ConnectIONS Live program that concluded the six-month Edgar Mitchell Legacy Campaign, IONS celebrated the epiphany that Dr. Mitchell experienced on his way back to Earth, which he described as “seeing things in their separateness, but experiencing them in their unity.”
The video recording of this inspiring event is now available to the public to watch through February 15, 2021.
This epiphany was the inspiration for both the creation of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (which will itself celebrate 50 years in 2023), and for the enduring concept of the “Overview Effect,” a term coined by Frank White. (Frank was my guest on the June, 2020 Collective Consciousness and the Overview Effect program, along with Mae Jemison, former NASA astronaut and the first woman of color in space.)
The celebration centered on two panels. The first panelist was Edgar himself, describing his experience:
Next we heard from Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, a “founder astronaut” with Virgin Galactic and the author of The New Right Stuff. I asked Loretta what she thought were important qualities for optimizing the potential of the Overview Effect, since not everyone who sees Earth from space has a truly transformative experience. As Mae Jemison told me, “what an astronaut sees in space depends on who they are when they go up.”
Another panelist was Guy Reid, founder of Planetary Collective and filmmaker of The Overview Effect. Guy has interviewed over 40 astronauts for his media pieces, but it was Edgar’s experience that inspired his own journey. We discussed the importance of elevating culture (one of IONS strategic pillars) by generating greater awareness of our interconnectedness with each other, with the planet, and with the rest of the universe.
Kimberly Mitchell rounded out the first panel with her unique perspective, as Edgar’s daughter, on the impact of the Overview Effect on our everyday lives and sense of meaning and purpose. She provided the perfect segue to the second panel, consisting of IONS science team members Drs. Helané Wahbeh (Director of Research), Dean Radin (Chief Scientist), and Arnaud Delorme, moderated by CEO Claire Lachance.
Edgar was inspired to create IONS when he found no satisfactory explanation for his epiphany in the dominant materialist scientific paradigm; the closest thing he found to describing it was in spiritual literature. So he founded IONS to be to inner space what the Apollo program was to outer space. The second panel was a very special occasion to hear our scientists personally reflect on what they each believe to be the most significant scientific breakthroughs IONS has contributed through the last almost 50 years, as well as what inspires them the most regarding our potential for impact over the next 50. When we sufficiently penetrate global culture with our Overview-inspired science, how will the world be different?
At the close of the program, Loretta guided us in an Overview meditation. As she had us visualize strapping ourselves into our spacecraft and blasting off into space, we imagined gazing outside the window of our capsule at our beautiful Earth, practicing the “innerview” that provides infinite opportunities for personal and planetary transformation, no rocket required — whether we look outside or inside, an epiphany of Oneness is available. And I felt deep gratitude for her, our panelists, our organization, our community, and for Ed Mitchell, who transitioned from this planet on February 4, 2016 — the same day that in 1971 his spacecraft entered the Moon’s orbit — leaving behind a living legacy for IONS and our world.
While the Edgar Mitchell Legacy Campaign has concluded, the Edgar Mitchell Legacy Fund continues in order to support the IONS mission of revealing the true nature of reality through scientific exploration and personal discovery. I’ll also be leading more in-depth conversations with Loretta, Guy, Kimberly and others as part of a free Overview Perspective webinar series beginning later this year.
About the Author
Claudia Welss is a citizen scientist and Chairman of the IONS Board of Directors and the board Science Committee. She’s also on the boards of Space For Humanity and HeartMath Institute’s Global Coherence Initiative/Global Consciousness Project. At NEXUS Global, Claudia bridges practical consciousness research with innovations in philanthropy, impact investing, activism, and social entrepreneurship, and is helping form a new Space for All/UNSDG initiative for democratizing access to space.