The Institute of Noetic Sciences was founded by Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell after he had a mystical experience on the way back from being the sixth man to walk on the moon. After finding a description of his spiritual awakening experience as a “samadhi” within the ancient Vedas, he decided to start a science institution dedicated to studying the nature of consciousness. Consciousness is the “hard problem” in that there’s no widely accepted theory for how the mind is connected to the body, but IONS has been on the frontiers of researching this mind-body connection over the past 44 years.
They conducted a 10-year study researching the commonalities in different wisdom traditions that bring about a transformation of consciousness, and they published their findings in a book named Living Deeply. They’ve further refined a model of consciousness transformation, and are interested in applying virtual reality in invoking states of awe and exploring what types of latent human potentials might be unlocked.
I had a chance to catch up with Cassandra Vieten, the president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, to talk about how the vastness of awe leads to an experience that forces you to stretch your perspectives & accommodate new information. We also talk about how they’re starting to use virtual reality in their research, the impact on our environment and experiences in our lives, and the potential of unlocking latent human potentials through different contemplative practices & potentially mediated through technology.
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Here’s the model of consciousness transformation that IONS uses
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