For centuries, the power of science has propelled us forward. It has unlocked the mysteries of the natural world and driven human innovation. Robust scientific inquiry serves as the basis for progress by providing a sturdy, objective foundation on which to build.
At the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), we are inspired by the power of science to explain phenomena not previously understood, harnessing the best of the rational mind to make advances that further our knowledge and enhance our human experience.
The mission of the Institute of Noetic Sciences is to reveal the interconnected nature of reality through scientific exploration and personal discovery.
As scientists focused on what are common but not often understood phenomena, we are also aware of the vast historical records of wisdom practices that also speak to the mysteries and possibilities which allow us to access more of our human capacities. At IONS, our scientists apply the rigors of their respective disciplines to explore such phenomena, with a focus on understanding humanity’s inherent interconnectedness and the inner wisdom common to us all. When we collectively embody our true interconnection and embrace our inner wisdom we envision the creation of a more compassionate and thriving world.
The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence
For most of us, this shared wisdom shows up in many forms–inspiration that leads us, intuition that protects us, awe that compels us, and awakening that transforms us. Whether it comes in a flash, a flicker, or a steady flow, this innate guidance system has allowed us to uncover deep insights about ourselves for generations.
This inner wisdom is inherent to our humanness and has been accessed for millennia through meditation, prayer, yogic practices, and other ancient methods. At IONS, we draw on the evidence of these age-old traditions to construct carefully-formulated hypotheses about the power of interconnection and its potential to help us thrive, both individually and as a collective. Through direct-experience research, we apply the lens of modern science to topics often perceived as mysterious or elusive, such as the power of belief to accelerate healing or the connection between intuition and invention.
Evidence from every domain–from medicine and technology, to education and business–demonstrates that when we access our innate knowing to gain clarity and discover deeper truths about ourselves, it fuels progress for everyone. Every day, the team at IONS is using the power of science to reveal the link between an individual’s inner wisdom, the interconnectedness which unites us all, and its power to enhance our lives.
Edgar Mitchell, co-founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences
Edgar Mitchell has reported that on his return to Earth, after the 1971 Apollo 14 Moon landing, he had an experience comparable to savikalpa samādhi. He also says that he conducted ESP experiments with earthbound friends during spaceflight. In 1973, along with investor Paul N. Temple and some others, Mitchell co-founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences.Willis Harman served as president from 1975 until his death in 1997.
The word noetic derives from the Greek nous, meaning "mind or ways of knowing." Writing in The Huffington Post, the Institute's director of research pointed to philosopher William James' 1902 definition of the word as:
... states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority. ...
The Institute figures prominently in The Lost Symbol, a 2009 work of fiction by best-selling author Dan Brown.Twitter postings on the day before the book's release led Institute director Marilyn Schlitz to purchase the book and read it in one sitting. She told NPR that she found ten experiments conducted by the real-world Institute referred to in Brown's fictional account. NPR reported that after its publication "traffic to [the institute's] website ... increased twelvefold", applications for membership increased and "journalists from places like Dateline NBC — not to mention NPR ..." were seeking interviews with Schlitz.
The Institute confers the Temple Award for Creative Altruism, biennially. The $25,000 award fund is divided among recipients selected by an independent jury.
According to The Roanoke Times, the Institute is "... devoted to exploring psychic phenomena and the role of consciousness in the cosmos."
The Roanoke Times also noted that co-founder Mitchell's assertions "... have often been criticized by skeptics." Told "your research goes into a number of territories that are regarded with skepticism in some circles", Mitchell replied:
That's what's fun about it. We're breaking down barriers and finding things. That's what science is all about: new discovery. ... There's nothing that we have done or have demonstrated that doesn't have good science behind it. Skeptics be damned.
^Truman, Sarah E., Samadhi in Space – an Interview with Apollo 14 Astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, ascent, Fall 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2015. "The experience in space was so powerful that when I got back to Earth I started digging into various literatures to try to understand what had happened. I found nothing in science literature but eventually discovered it in the Sanskrit of ancient India. The descriptions of samadhi, Savikalpa samadhi, were exactly what I felt: it is described as seeing things in their separateness, but experiencing them viscerally as a unity, as oneness, accompanied by ecstasy"
^Mitchell, Edgar, The Way of the Explorer, GP Putnam's Sons, 1996. "I wish to thank those who had faith in an idea that led to the founding of the Institute of Noetic Sciences: Henry Rolfs (deceased) and Zoe Rolfs, Richard Davis, Judith Skutch Whitson, Paul Temple, Phillip Lukin (deceased), and John White. And to those who came a bit later to carry the idea further: Osmond Crosby, Brendan O'Regan (deceased), Diane Brown Temple, and Willis Harman."
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