Institute of Noetic Sciences
exploring how we know what we know
The Apollo 14 mission to the moon in 1971 provided astronaut Edgar Mitchell with the stimulus that led to the creation of the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
On the way back to this planet, Mitchell says he was "engulfed by a profound of universal connectedness" as he saw the Earth floating is the blackness of space. "The presence of divinity became almost palpable, and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes.... The knowledge came to me directly." In the years following his moon mission, Mitchell tried to convey this sense of wonder and knowing to others without much success. Ultimately, he decided to form an organization to further his investigations and research.
As the IONS website states, "the word 'noetic' comes from the ancient Greek nous, for which there is no exact equivalent in English. It refers to 'inner knowing,' a kind of intuitive consciousness — direct and immediate access to knowledge beyond what is available to our normal senses and the power of reason."
By looking at "the nature and potentials of consciousness using multiple ways of knowing — including intuition, feeling, reason, and the senses, the noetic sciences explore the 'inner cosmos' of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) and how it relates to the 'outer cosmos' of the physical world."
IONS' approach includes subjective (personal), intersubjective (dialogue, community, global), and objective (physiological, scientific) research into "transformative understanding" and "collective wisdom." At the website, you can read former IONS president Willis Harman's article, What are Noetic Sciences?, for a better understanding of these concepts.
IONS is a membership organization that provides a rich website; travel-and-learning opportunities; seminars, workshops, and retreats at its new 200-acre nature-focused campus near Petaluma, California; community groups based around the globe; regional, national, and international conferences on a variety of themes and issues; extensive scientific research projects; a quarterly journal, Shift; and many more online connections and in-person resources.