In the fifty years since this article was first published, the dawn of a new space age has arrived, creating the possibility of an “overview effect” for more and more of humanity. The frontier study of human consciousness has increasingly supported alternative models of reality, of who we are and of who we’re capable of becoming. Today, IONS remains devoted to our legacy of advancing evolutionary milestones through scientific discovery and the “innerview” of personal experience, and grateful to the pioneering supporters who make it possible. — Claudia Welss
Perspective is an interesting word. It means not only the point of view from which we see ourselves and everything around us, but also it can mean how we observe relationships of objects and distance in space.
I would like to relate to you some new perspectives which have come to me and which seem to be shared by a growing number of thoughtful people. In order that I might express my feelings to you, may I ask you to take and imaginary trip with me to explore these meanings of perspective? Let your mind’s eyes and ears project these visions as we describe them:
We are together in the space capsule…we’ve just completed the long flight out from Earth and are making our first swing around the back of the moon. On one side of the spacecraft, away from the Earth and moon, the sun is a brilliant flare. In the other direction space is an endless blanket of black velvet studded with innumerable bright and steady points of star light.
The moon is sharp and clear below, brightly lighted by the full sun. As we complete our swing around the far side of the moon, we brace with anticipation. We’ve been out of radio contact, lost touch with home. Your heart makes itself known to you with a gentle pounding reminder of the awe and wonder of an immense universe.
Suddenly from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel…a light, delicate sky blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white…rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery.
It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth…home.
There have been very few of us privileged to experience the mystical and soul-rending feeling of floating through endless space and looking back to see home…the beautiful jewel of Earth. Those moments have had a profound effect on my life and my perspective.
After months and years of training and study – hours, days, months and years of perfecting and testing an immense system of man and machine which would place me there in space – all of that was but a foreshadowing of my realization of the place man has in the scheme of the universe.
I was trained as a scientist. Science has traditionally told us we must somehow separate ourselves from the universe and be the cool, objective observer of it. Having stood in the midst of its immensity and considered the effort to place me there, that view seems no longer possible. I am an inseparable part of all that is.
What is humankind?
Why do we imagine, plan, scheme, plot, think, analyze, dream, try to know and understand?
Recently the Nobel prize winners in physics and chemistry for 1972 were asked what the awards in their fields would be given for in the year 2000. They both answered simultaneously, uncoached. “For the study of man’s consciousness.” This is the new frontier.
We must come to study and know ourselves…our motivations…and our exceptional capacity to become what we dream we can become…our unlimited potential for future growth and understanding.
We are part of a universe of consciousness. I sensed this out in space. I devote my life to the discovery of what this means for me and for all humankind. Will you join me in this limitless adventure?
Edgar D. Mitchell, Sc.D.