NASA Astronauts’ experiences
Type of spiritual experience
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?”
A description of the experience
Frank Borman was commander of the first space crew to travel beyond the Earth’s orbit. Looking down on the earth from 250,000 miles in space, Borman radioed back a message, reading from Genesis 1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
He later said “I had an enormous feeling that there had to be a power greater than any of us—that there was a God, that there was indeed a beginning.”
Edgar Mitchell was the sixth man on the moon as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 14. He reported a profound spiritual experience during the mission. Upon his return to Earth, he said,
“On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious. My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity… We went to the moon as technicians, we returned as humanitarians.”
Later on Mitchell said that it was an “explosion of awareness, an aha! A wow.” From his experience, Mithell came to believe that ‘God’ was real - where Mitchell’s ‘God’ is not the biblical God. Mitchell expained that “the universe is made of matter and spirit but that they are not separate. The bridge is consciousness. God is something like a universal consciousness, manifest in each individual, and the route to divine reality and to a more satisfying human material reality is through the human consciousness”.
James Irwin, who walked on the moon in 1971, described the lunar mission as ‘a revelation’. In his words, “I felt the power of God as I’d never felt it before.” Given that many of these astronauts were Christian, this explanation would be the most obvious one for them to use. It confirmed their beliefs of a ‘something’ besides the material world. But if we look at the evidence, - their descriptions - at no stage did they actually ‘see God’ or ‘see Jesus’, all they experienced was a profound taster of the spiritual world through their composer. Irwin said in his book More than Earthlings. “I am now more than an earthling, because I have walked on the moon. Being on the moon had a profound spiritual impact upon my life”.
No out of body experiences as far as I am aware, although Michael Collins, did experience something which looks suspiciously like an out of body experience, but was not described as one.
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, for example, experienced ‘being completely engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness’. Without warning, he said, ‘a feeing of bliss, timelessness, and connectedness began to me’. 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. Rusty Schweikart experienced the same sensation on March 6th 1969 during a spacewalk outside his Apollo 9 vehicle.
The documentary Shadow of the Moon also contains a number of references to the experiences the astronauts had. The DVD combines NASA photography, period newsreels, and interviews with the surviving Apollo astronauts, with the exception of Neil Armstrong [a left hander], for no other reason than Armstrong was at the time something of a recluse. Along with some quite detailed and very candid descriptions of their spiritual experiences, it also includes some very jolly and fun detail such as who was the first astronaut to pee on the moon, and describes the nervous moment when the moon land speed record was broken in the lunar buggy - at a breakneck speed of 18 kmh. There are some wonderful shots of earthrise and the surface of the moon and the film sets a pleasant unhurried pace that draws you through the events leading up to and during the landings. Highly recommended.
It is interesting that once the door to perception had been opened, the astronauts did not stop getting spiritual experiences, even though they no longer used any of the techniques on this website.
The source of the experience
Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image
References and further reading
In the Shadow of the Moon – with John Young, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins,
Director: David Sington