Forty-five years ago today, Edgar Mitchell, one of the great explorers of our era, was piloting Antares, the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) for the Apollo 14 Mission, down to land in the hills of the Fra Mauro highlands on the Moon (February 5-6, 1971). His partner in the LEM was Alan Shepard, who, almost ten years earlier, had become the first American to visit outer space.
Today, this heroic explorer is venturing into an even more “undiscovered country,” as he has left the physical plane. Edgar Mitchell, who will go down in history as one of the truly great explorers of the ages, passed over on February 4, 2016. During the third successful moon landing mission, he had become the sixth man (of twelve total, to date) to walk on the moon.
I was fortunate to stay with Edgar during a trip to Florida July 10, 2012, as we connected our efforts to advance humankind (along with John Audette and Bob Staretz, both very crucial in this collaboration, and long-term friends of Ed’s) through the joining of Edgar’s Quantrek and Eternea (the brainchild of John Audette, which I also helped to found).
I enjoyed hearing about his childhood, growing up on a ranch in New Mexico next to one owned by Robert Goddard, the “father of American rocketry” (a fascinating synchronicity!), and how he, like me, had first soloed an aircraft at the young age of 14. To have such an extraordinary experience at that tender age of discovery weds one’s soul forever to the realms beyond earth.
Although I had followed his original journey in February 1971 as a teen-ager fascinated with space travel, hearing him tell of his grand epiphany, or savikalpa samadhi experience, an “ecstasy of unity,” while returning from his “sacred journey” to the moon, remains a true highlight of my life. Here is how I recall our conversation:
“I was basically unemployed,” he explained over breakfast in his home. “I had piloted Antares down to the Fra Mauro highlands, taken the longest walks ever taken on the moon, through those dusty lunar hills with Alan, then piloted the ascent module back up to rejoin Stu in Kitty Hawk. As we left lunar orbit to head home, my work was done. So I had three days to relax and enjoy the view.
“We were in barbecue mode, with the spacecraft rotating every couple of minutes to avoid any area overheating in the intense sunlight. I could see ten times as many stars as you can ever see from earth, so the view was spectacular. With the rotation, I would see the earth, moon, and sun pass by the window every few minutes. The immensity and serenity of the universe struck me in an entirely new way, out there suspended between the great blue jewel of earth and the dusky moon we were leaving behind. The setting was perfect – I suddenly sensed the profound consciousness of the universe – how it is completely interconnected and aware – an absolutely indescribable awareness. My life was changed forever.”
Thanks to his courage, vision, and keen intellect, the world was changed forever, too. His grand achievements as a scientist and moon-walking astronaut were only Phase 1 of his fascinating life journey. In many ways, it was the second phase of his remarkable life, in which he pursued with tireless enthusiasm a passionate interest in deepening our understanding of consciousness, the nature of reality, and of humanity’s place in it, that I believe history will truly revere.
In my opinion, his greatest quality was his love for others, and for all of humanity. His epiphany led him to courageously pursue the deep study of scientific aspects of consciousness, to found the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), and to help lead humanity towards metanoia, a far grander awareness of our spiritual nature and of the unity of conscious awareness and the universe. His intuition that science and religion greatly strengthen each other, that their natural synthesis is an inevitable aspect of human history, is one that I share deeply.
He wrote several wonderful books about his trip to the moon and resultant life journey, which I have personally found to be most inspiring. In particular: The Way of the Explorer (1996) is a beautifully written saga of his life building up to and including the Apollo 14 mission, and of the powerful consequences of his epiphany, and Psychic Exploration (1974) is an extraordinary compilation in which Dr Mitchell assembled some of the best scientific minds on earth in addressing the deep mystery of consciousness.
Godspeed, Edgar Mitchell! The world is a far better place for your having lived in it. Prayers and blessings of gratitude for your courageous achievements in this lifetime, to help awaken humanity to the true spirit of our destiny.
I offer my heartfelt condolences to Karlyn, Elizabeth, Kim, Mary Beth, Paul, and the rest of his family.
Eben Alexander III, MD
February 5, 2016