Intelligence Engineering Department

Space Age Satori 


Is Enlightenment the normal state for space-faring humans?
As we find our collective footing in the 21st century, humanity looks to the stars... poised at the edge of Earth’s gravity well... in contemplation of leaving the nest. Despite 20th century set-backs in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) ability to deliver human payloads into space (with the retirement of the shuttle program), human presence in space has never been more imminent. The jump from a terrestrial to extra-terrestrial species began with Galileo’s telescope. As our understanding of universe grew, so did our expectations... Before manifestation… imagination.

Over a century ago, in popular fiction, Flash Gordon, Buck Rodgers et al, were humanity’s first, fanciful space explorers. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ (USSR) spectacular launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957... marked humanity’s transition from fiction to fact. It marked humanity's serious entry into an era that was to become known as the space age. The 20th century space age was driven by the two competing, cold war super-powers, the USA v USSR. This nationalistic aggression was labeled the space race by 20th century media.

In the 21st century, the most compelling advancement in off-world activity comes from the development of a fledgling commercial space industry. Unlike the space race of the 1960’s, the new, space race 2.0 is being run between billionaires. NASA's Ansari X Prize competition was set up to help jump start private spaceflight, which was won by Space Ship One in 2004. In 2012, the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation's (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft made history when it became the first commercial spacecraft in history to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and safely return cargo to Earth, a feat previously achieved only by government space programs.

With the rise of billionaire-funded, commercial space programs, we appear to be witnessing the dawn of the Great Houses of Old Earth, as fictionally depicted in Frank Herbert's Dune universe. Sir Richard Branson's: Virgin Galactic, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ aerospace and sub-orbital spaceflight services company: Blue Origin, and last but not least, Elon Musk's SpaceX... make up the three, Oligarchic forerunners of our fledgling, commercial space fleet. These three American Archons, for better or worse, champion humanity as a space-faring civilization. 

Recently, Musk unveiled an ambitious plan to develop an interplanetary rocket and capsule designed to move roughly 100 people and their cargo to the planet Mars. This intriguing prospect of civilian space exploration, potentially opens up the experience of spaceflight to a broader world community. More importantly, the expansion of opportunity also effectively removes space exploration from the exclusive control of any single governmental program or agency.

As humanity takes the leap into the heavens... the ingenuity, diversity and creativity of a broader cross section of the human population, exponentially increases the evolutionary possibilities available to us as a space-faring species.

In contemplating the myriad implications of space flight, one intriguing evolutionary dynamic is the advancement of human consciousness. How will our awareness of self and universe evolve as we migrate (and mutate) off-world?

Clues can be found in our past, among the great light-bringers of humanity. Profound thinkers such as Lao Tzu and Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, who experienced and communicated enlightenment, can be considered the template or prototype for humanity’s future consciousness mode. The experiences of these precursors will become the operational consciousness of space-faring humanity. The triggering event for this consciousness shift is the transition from earth-bound existence to extra-terrestrial existence.

To illustrate this, consider the following…

The Overview Effect
In February, 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell (9/17/1930 to 2/45/2016) experienced the little understood phenomenon sometimes called the “Overview Effect”. He describes being completely engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness. Without warning, a feeing of bliss, timelessness, and connectedness began to overwhelm him. He describes becoming instantly and profoundly aware that each of his constituent atoms were connected to the fragile planet he saw in the window and to every other atom in the Universe. He described experiencing an intense awareness that Earth, with its humans, other animal species, and systems were all one synergistic whole. He says the feeling that rushed over him was a sense of interconnected euphoria. He was not the first - nor the last - to experience this strange “cosmic connection”.

Rusty Schweikart experienced it on March 6th 1969 during a spacewalk outside his Apollo 9 vehicle: “When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. That makes a change…it comes through to you so powerfully that you’re the sensing element for Man.” Schweikart, similar to what Mitchell experienced, describes intuitively sensing that everything is profoundly connected.

Their experiences, along with dozens of other similar experiences described by other astronauts, intrigue scientists who study the brain. This “Overview Effect”, or acute awareness of all matter as synergistically connected, sounds somewhat similar to certain religious experiences described by Buddhist monks, for example. Where does it come from and why?


Andy Newberg, a neuroscientist/physician with a background in space medicine, is learning how to identify the markers of someone who has experienced space travel. He says there is a palpable difference in someone who has been in space, and he wants to know why. Newberg specializes in finding the neurological markers of brains in states of altered consciousness: Praying nuns, transcendental mediators, and others in focused or "transcendent" states.

Newberg can actually pinpoint regions in subjects' gray matter that correlate to these circumstances, and now he plans to use his expertise to find how and why the Overview Effect occurs. He is setting up advanced neurological scanning instruments that can head into space to study--live--the brain functions of space travelers. If this Overview Effect is a real, physiological phenomenon—he wants to watch it unfold.

Newberg's first test subject will not be an astronaut, but rather a civilian. Reda Andersen will be leaving the planet with Rocketplane Kistler. She says, that as one of the world's first civilian space adventurers, she is more than happy to let Andy scan her brain if it can help unlock the mystery. Why do astronauts all seem to experience a profound alteration of their perceptions when entering space, and will it happen for Rita and the other civilian explorers as well?

After decades of study and contemplation about his experience, Ed Mitchell believes that the feeling of oneness with the Universe that he and others have experienced is a consequence of little understood quantum physics.

In a recent interview with writer Diana DeRegnier of American Chronicle, Mitchell explains how the event changed his life and his entire perspective on the world and how each of us fits into the grand scale of the cosmos...

“Four hundred years ago, the philosopher Rene Descartes came to the conclusion that physicality, spirituality, mind and body belonged to different realms of reality that didn't interact. Now, that served the purpose to get the Inquisition off the backs of the intellectuals so they could disagree on material things with the church and without the fear of being burned at the stake. So that ended that, but it did cause, for four hundred years, science to consider consciousness and mind a subject for philosophy and religion and not a subject for science.

Now, one of the things that happened, in the 1940s, was the mathematician, physicist, Norbert Wiener (MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for the first time really defined information as the negative of entropy, and entropy as the idea of the universe is running down and wastes energy. But, Wiener defined information as the negative of entropy, and that's wonderful but it didn't go far enough.”

Mitchell says that in an attempt to fill in some of the missing gap, the 2008 revised edition of his book The Way of the Explorer explores the largely ignored science of human consciousness. Using what he calls the dyadic model he outlines the two faces of energy. 'Instead of being two separate things, it's the energy as the basis of our existence in matter. And, it’s the basis of our knowing and information,' Mitchell explains.

'We had not had, in science, a definition of consciousness. The only definition of consciousness from the dictionary is that at its basic level it is awareness. Consciousness means to be aware, and then we have different levels of consciousness depending upon how complex the substance is. It has been demonstrated many times over in laboratories that basic awareness is demonstrable at the level of plants, at simple bacteria, at simple life forms.

This is done with Faraday cages. It's shown that this information at this deep level, at the quantum level, can transcend electromagnetic theory. And, now we're getting into quantum physics and we don't want to go there at this point. But it's a very fundamental notion that awareness is at the very basis of things.'

Mitchell believes that perhaps both the theologians and scientists have missed the mark.

'All I can suggest to the mystic and the theologian is that our gods have been too small; they fill the universe. And to the scientist all I can say is that the gods do exist; they are the eternal, connected, and aware… self-experienced by all intelligent beings.'

In response to DeRegnier questioning whether or not Mitchell believes in the idea of God, he responds that while he does not believe in the traditional “randfather figure version of God, 'we do have great mystery about what is the origin of the universe, how it came to be. There's a great deal of question as to whether the big bang is the correct answer to the way the universe arose, and under what auspices and conditions. I don't think we have the full answers to that yet. Hopefully in due course we'll be able to find a much better way to describe all this.'

But while Mitchell does not claim to know how to perfectly interpret his experience, he is certain that it was a glimpse into a largely ignored reality: People, places and things are all more closely connected than they sometimes appear. He also mentions the need for better stewardship of our precious planet."

- taken from a post at The Daily Galaxy by Rebecca Sato)

The great thinker Buckminster Fuller, philosopher, now deceased but for a goodly portion of the twentieth century, pointed out at the beginning of our space exploration that we are the crew of ‘space ship earth’. But we're a crew of mutiny and how can you run a space ship with a mutinous crew?

Satori… the new norm
As our transition from an earth-bound existence to an extra-terrestrial existence unfolds, our everyday consciousness takes on characteristics of the “Overview Effect”, as described in the above referenced article. In addition, as stated earlier, the forerunners of our consciousness shift have provided us with a template as to what to anticipate. Putting a more elegant name to our newly expanded consciousness capability, we turn to the Zen Buddhist expression: Satori. The word Satori defined literally means "understanding". Satori translates into a flash of sudden awareness, or individual Enlightenment. Satori can be thought of as an intuitive experience, as well.

Deepening awareness and intuition are at the core of what it means to be truly human. Satori, first experienced by the few extraordinary earthlings, increasingly becomes who we all are. The beauty of our expanded human capacity is that one doesn’t need to “live in space” in order to reap the benefit of Satori consciousness.

As more of humanity awakens, we approach a threshold of critical mass. That is to say, once we achieve a cosmic tipping point, the rest of us “go along for the ride.” What was once the enlightened few, now becomes the noö human norm.  

The transition to an extra-terrestrial existence will take time and may not proceed in a straight line of progress. As in all great endeavors, there may be setbacks and growing pains. We as a species must welcome the challenges and be patient with the set-backs. It is all part of our evolution. The seed of Satori consciousness, germinated by extraordinary individuals, incubated under earth’s atmosphere, triggered by the space age, is now ripe to grow within all of humanity. We don’t necessarily need to travel anywhere to participate, because… wherever you go… there you are.




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