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"At this critical moment, our greatest need is for a global vision
of planetary unity and purpose for humanity as a whole."
The Overview Group
This short film by Planetary Collective documents astronauts’ life-changing
stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often called the 'Overview Effect'.
The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and humanity's place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.
Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell had a profound experience when the Apollo lunar module was coming back to earth.
As the capsule was rotating, every two minutes he was sequentially seeing a picture of the earth, the moon and sun, and a 360° panaroma of heaven appeared in the spacecraft window.
That gave him a profound experience of oneness:
"Hurling earthward at several miles per second ... I had time to relax in the weightlessness and contemplate that blue jewel-like home planet suspended in the velvety blackness from which we had come.
What I saw out the window was all I had ever known, all that I once thought had
ever been and ever would be. It was all there suspended in the cosmos and that fragile little sphere... The restraints and boundaries of flesh and bone fell away...
I not only saw the connectedness, I felt it."
After he came back he tried to understand what this experience was all about,
but couldn't find anything in science books or even religious literature.
He approached the local university and was later contacted by a librarian saying, “In ancient literature we found a description called ‘savikalpa samadhi’. That means you see things as you see them with your eyes, but you experience them emotionally and viscerally with ecstasy and a sense of total unity and oneness. I said that's exactly what the experience was.”
“Whereas mystics have believed the more startling insights to be a supernatural phenomenon, I was reasonably sure they were entirely natural, even normal—perhaps emergent characteristics of ongoing evolution. Everyone experiences that potent, ethereal sense of aha! and for a brief moment, they glimpse the larger structure of a problem in their life, resolve a conflict in the thinking, or glimpse the grand pattern of the universe itself.“
Because of his life-changing experience Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences and has dedicated his life to “supporting individual and collective transformation… through consciousness research, and engaging a global learning community in the realization of our human potential.”
Many wisdom traditions have pointed to what
we call the Overview Effect, which means they realized the unity of all life on earth and of consciousness.
Today, we operate from a feeling of separation. Yet this modern thinking is the exception. In other cultures from the past to present it has always been realized that the individual self, our species as a whole, and all of life on this planet, are completely inter-connected and that the self is a manifestation of the greater whole.
When you go within the mind, the sense of this living reality of the planet becomes obvious. This is akin to the direct perception that the astronauts have - a cognitive shift that often produces a mystical experience.
"It's an oasis against a backdrop of infinity."
ISS astronaut describing the Earth
"The Overview Effect is a message from the universe to humanity. The message is that the Earth, when seen from orbit or the moon, is a whole system, where borders and boundaries disappear, and everything is interconnected. Our planet is a tiny spaceship in an enormous universe, which is itself a whole system, of which we are an important part.
This declaration of our intention to found the Overview Institute is also a "Declaration of Interdependence" with the Earth and with the cosmos. For us, it represents an understanding that we must now become Overviewers, those who have heard the message, want to understand it fully, and manifest its implications
in our own lives."