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Conversations with Edgar Dean Mitchell

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Cynthia Sue Larson and Dr. Edgar Mitchell at an IONS event in February 2010

One of my first and most influential mentors as an author and consciousness researcher has been Edgar Dean Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), and author of Psychic Exploration and The Way of the Explorer.

I felt blessed to be able to see Dr. Mitchell in person at an IONS event in California in February 2010, where he was the guest of honor. I loved chatting with Edgar that chilly evening at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland about the remarkable speed of technological advances over the past hundred years. He told me how amazing it is that his grandfather had crossed the United States of America in a covered wagon, his father was born soon after the Wright brothers made their historic first flight, and then Edgar walked on the moon and made it safely back home to Earth on Apollo 14. This was even more amazing, because Edgar’s Apollo 14 mission immediately followed the nerve-wrackingly problematic Apollo 13.

I first got to know Dr. Mitchell via email correspondence that began sixteen years ago, in March 2000. When we first began our correspondence, we commiserated about the challenges of the publishing world, and shared our ideas regarding the connection between consciousness and the physical world. Dr. Mitchell provided me with his honest assessment of my manuscripts, and helped me envision a positive future for humanity on our beautiful blue-green planet, Earth.

“We went to the moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians.” 

I was moved by the way that Dr. Mitchell had a positive vision for humanity that he shared through his commitment to creating an organization dedicated to exploring consciousness, at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He frequently referred to the epiphany he’d had while in space, returning in his Apollo capsule to the Earth from the moon, as he looked up in the sky to see a full Earth. He describes in The Way of the Explorer that at that moment he felt, “I am one of a growing handful of human beings to have seen the Earth from the point of view of an extraterrestrial. In the heavens there is no up and down, no east or west. Earth is but a beautiful blue speck in the midst of a vast emptiness marked by luminous celestial bodies. We inhabit but one of those celestial bodies; one of the most organized-for all we know.From the heavens, in 1971, the Earth looked peaceful and harmonious, but of course all was not as it appeared. Conflict that threatened our very survival lay below. Weapons were poised, ready to annihilate life as we knew it at a moment’s notice; environmental crises were lurking just beyond public awareness. The common root of these mushrooming dilemmas, I believe, has been conflicting, out-dated, flawed ideology and dogma, with roots in antiquity.”


On the Difference Between the Map and the Territory

While Dr. Mitchell and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye, we certainly shared a mutual love for exploring the nature of consciousness. We both had witnessed experiences of mind-matter interaction which we wrote books about, and Dr. Mitchell on occasion would remind me of the importance of always remembering that the map is not the territory. He describes what he means by that in The Way of the Explorer, where he says, “This leads to the point that our beliefs are our map of reality. We do not perceive reality directly, but only the information our senses present to the brain at any given moment, which is then compared with the existing remembered experiences to obtain meaning. Because this map is the only reality we humans know, we often make the mistake of thinking that our map is reality itself, when in fact it is just an incomplete portrait painted from memory.”

Dr. Mitchell viewed psychokinetic mind-matter effects to be a way of managing patterns of energy that we would consider to be information, and he considered epiphanies–such as the one he had in space, and the sort of experience that can transform skeptics and “non-believers” to suddenly become concerned with spirituality and the nature of consciousness–to be “an abrupt organization, or reorganization, of information in a way that produces new insight at the level of conscious awareness.”

Edgar and I shared a common view of the role of beliefs for humankind. He writes in The Way of the Explorer“This leads to the point that our beliefs are our map of reality. We do not perceive reality directly, but only the information our senses present to the brain at any given moment, which is then compared with the existing remembered experiences to obtain meaning. Because this map is the only reality we humans know, we often make the mistake of thinking that our map is reality itself, when in fact it is just an incomplete portrait painted from memory.”


On Consciousness and Healing

Within a couple of years after I got to know Edgar, he informed me that after receiving a medical diagnosis that he had cancer, he’d opted to go the natural/alternative healing route rather than standard “slash or burn.”  Edgar told me that the IONS board had surprised him in March 2002 with an offer to do a shamanic style healing ceremony for him, which he agreed to. He wrote to me, “I had been on the giving and observing end of such efforts many dozens of times, but never the recipient. What a wonderful experience. We did do some shape shifting!! Subsequent high definition ultra sound sonogram showed the malignancy was gone. I trust that by some diet and life style change, meditation and such wonderfully good thoughts from folk like you that we can keep it that way. Thank you again for your kindness, love and caring.”

I was immensely grateful to hear this good news that one of my heroes and mentors was able to walk his talk and experience for himself the healing power of positive shared intentions, energy, and consciousness.


On the Matter of UFO Disclosure

Dr. Mitchell grew up within 40 miles of Roswell, New Mexico, in a small town where the old-timers talked about what they’d observed. Though Edgar never mentioned to me any direct experience that he’d had with UFOs or extra-terrestrials, he did tell me that with regard to the matter of UFO disclosure, “Press has called me on couple of points, to which I have responded, but I >do concur this subject should be opened up and obfuscation stopped.”


On Consciousness & Reality

Dr. Mitchell was a marvelous mentor for me, through his creation of IONS, his excellent writing, and his willingness to converse with me about his thoughts on the topics of consciousness and reality. He was a proponent for quantum holography being the basis for consciousness and mind-matter effects. Here are a few highlights excerpted from my emails with Dr. Mitchell in which we share our thoughts about consciousness and quantum physics:

Edgar Mitchell (1 April 2000): The Bohmian approach that Sarfatti uses and calls post quantum mechanics has a lot of merit, but consciousness events only reach maturity in the complexities of group theory and Lie group algebras with macroscale objects, not theories of individual particle (although the phenomenon must find its antecedents at the particle levels).

The fact that “information” is now finding its rightful place in physics, on a par with energy, as I suggested in “Explorer”, is being anchored by the quantum hologram research which is an information mechanism that allows one to say that the quantum hologram is the wave side of the wave particle duality for macro scale objects–it is non local, geodesic form (3 dimensions) that carries the event history of the macro scale object in its phase relationships, and remains in phase conjugate adaptive resonance not only with its associated object but can be perceived nonlocally by other sensing objects that can create the phase resonance relationships.

If we begin to understand that “information” in form of the quantum hologram is nature’s answer to quantum nonlocality in the macroscale world, then we are getting close to why we have subjective experiences. Nonlocality is the key that no one really understands well,– yet. All these weird “realities” you are discussing have a nonlocal component.

Cynthia Sue Larson (4 April 2000): 

I just finished reading your excellent article titled, “Nature’s Mind: the Quantum Hologram.” This article is the most coherent and convincing case I’ve yet seen for the quantum holographic model, and one of the best papers I’ve ever read on the subject of consciousness. Your paper seems to effortlessly weave together current threads of thought from recent research, making for very easy reading. I am quite impressed with it, and very thankful to you for sharing it with me!

I am also pleased to see that you included reality shifts in your paper as the “more puzzling” case for creating remote physical effects in inanimate objects (and I presume you’d also acknowledge for animate beings as well). While we may not yet understand the
energy transfer mechanism for these shifts in macro reality, I am hoping that a better understanding of clusters of entangled quantum particles… and also a better understanding of string theory, with it’s many “curled” dimensions… will soon provide us with a better idea of what this mechanism might be.

I am feeling the greatest sense of optimism about the physics experiments being conducted to show how entangled pairs and clusters of quantum particles move simultaneously across great distances of space. Perhaps we’ll soon see that there are similar connections across time. The beauty of the quantum holographic model is that it provides us with a very clear visual analogy for how these unseen forces may be operating around us.

I also am very curious to know how we might expect reality to behave when we begin with the assumption that there are ten dimensions around us… most of which are tightly curled and for the most part, invisible to our normal senses. An uncurling of curled dimensions simultaneously in two locations may be at the heart of the mysterious mechanism behind reality shifts.

I also greatly enjoyed your shorter article, titled “Space Flight as an Anticipatory Computing System”. This article was wonderful, because of the powerful human interest component. It’s always a sheer delight to read about your experiences with the Apollo missions!

Edgar Mitchell (4 April 2000): 

Cynthia, thanks for the nice comments. You are right, there is still a lot of mystery going on at that level. But let me give you my slant on it.

1) the inanimate object case is even more tricky than the living systems case. Why?, Because it is easier to imagine (picture) resonance between two living objects, than between vastly dissimilar objects–humans and rocks, for example. With humans, for example, if resonance is established, information may automatically be transferred without significant energy exchange, and the energy of the recipient is used for healing (for example)–just like in the case of a musical sound causing a glass to break at a distance—–it is not the energy transfer that is important, but rather the frequency that causes the glass to resonate faster than the chemical bonding of the glass can tolerate.

So thought can create a resonance at a distance so that information is available. However, physically, displacing an macro object in 3 D space seems, (at first glance) a little more difficult because we are accustomed to thinking that it requires energy to move things around.

However, particle nonlocality, between similar particles, is also just resonance–but they are similar particles and it doesn’t matter which one is A or B, they are each equally causal and entangled with the other. How that same principle applies to objects of dissimilar scale size is still a bit murky.

Perhaps you are right that multidimensional strings may provide some answers. I will state strongly that I am not convinced about that, as I think multidimensional concepts, while exceedingly brilliant mathematics, elegant and satisfying, can’t really be validated. Even Einstein’s curvature of space is really more easily explained by a non-isotropic, non- homogeneous Zero Point Field. At least at the macro level, there is nothing to curve. I believe we are still in large measure confusing the map with the territory in physics. But you are completely correct, nonlocality, resonance and entanglements are clearly the subjects for the next few years of study.

Cynthia Sue Larson (7 April 2000): 

Thank you also for sharing your perspective on difference between inanimate and living systems reality shifts. I certainly feel much more affinity for people and animals and plants I love than for inanimate things, and the reality shifts I’ve managed to “perform” have so far been confined to this realm of those I love who are alive. On the other hand, I know of people who routinely shift reality with inanimate objects (such as spoons), so I’m still investigating both kinds of reality shifting.

I definitely agree with your sense that it’s important to not confuse the map with the territory being explored! That’s a great analogy, and so true. Very often it’s hard to notice when our own beliefs and assumptions are interfering with perceiving reality as it truly exists. The very words, ideas, and metaphors we use for comprehending the world can hamper our complete understanding by unnecessarily limiting our world view.

I’m intrigued by your sense that we may find it difficult to experimentally validate string theory. I’m feeling optimistic about that right now, since I’ve heard that there are currently a few possible ways that such experiments could be conducted. One idea, proposed by Giovanni Amelino-Camelia of the University of Oxford and the Institute of Physics in Neuchatel Switzerland, suggests that gamma-ray bursts can be used to check whether the speed of light in a vacuum depends on its wavelength. Special relativity theory states that light has the same speed in a vacuum regardless of wavelength… so if wavelength-dependent speed of light is observed, we would be witnessing a level of physical law more fundamental than relativity.

A second way to experimentally validate string theory would be to detect minute variations in gravity. We’d look for a time difference in the range of 10 microseconds for gamma rays that have traveled for some 10 billion years… which our current instruments may be able to detect.

Yet another way that string theory may be able to be proven is if we can use the Large Hadron Colliders at CERN to make strings… taking advantage of the lower unification scales which would be expected from the ten dimensions, since the new dimensions could lower both the Grand Unification scale (as shown recently by Keith R. Dienes, Emilian Dudas and Tony Gherghetta of CERN) and the Planck scale (according to Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos of Stanford University and Gia Dvali of the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste).

Perhaps these ideas for testing string theory won’t work out, but the fact that there are so many experiments being considered is quite heartening to me!

Edgar Mitchell (7 April 2000): 

I need to correct my self. I agree with what you said about the experiments to validate string theory through speed differential of different light wave lengths, etc. I do agree that strings may be the form of basic matter. I am only objecting to the “interpretation” of the mathematics as multiple physical dimensions, just as I object to the Copenhagen and Many worlds “interpretations” of the equations of classical quantum theory; and just as I (now) agree with Halton Arp is his dissent from the Big Bang interpretation of red shift as being the sole reason that we observe red shift.

Mathematics and certain basic theories can be and must be validated by experiments as “fact”. However, interpretation of what it all “means” usually is a map masquerading as a territory. And unfortunately, that happens continuously, and is communicated to the less knowledgable public which does not have the means to understand the errors.


At the time of Edgar’s death, we had just been planning for him soon to be a guest on my radio show, Living the Quantum Dream. I miss Edgar Mitchell tremendously, though I am grateful that his legacy of thoughts, ideas, and community of consciousness researchers lives on. Thanks to Edgar’s foresight in recognizing a continuing need to explore not just the far reaches of space–but also the far reaches of mind–our world is an immeasurably better place for having had him in it.


Cynthia Sue Larson is the best-selling author of six books, including Quantum Jumps. Cynthia has a degree in Physics from UC Berkeley, and discusses consciousness and quantum physics on numerous shows including the History Channel, Coast to Coast AM, the BBC and One World with Deepak Chopra. You can subscribe to Cynthia’s free monthly ezine at:


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