Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Intelligence or aptitude in human beings manifests in many modes: verbal, mathematical, musical, athletic, social, and emotional, among others that researchers have recognized, including some more arcane, such as telepathic, telekinetic, and transcendental intelligence.

Telepathy and telekinesis—the abilities to sense information remotely or to exert physical force at a distance by thought alone—I leave to scientists to verify (as they have indeed, or so I read). What, though, would constitute transcendental intelligence or aptitude? Let me suppose.

I’ll say that some people experience what they would call a kind of knowing that stands beyond our ordinary knowing which can be confirmed communally (“Did you see that, too?”) or scientifically, by controlled observations.

Such extraordinary knowing or awareness is subjective rather than objective, personal rather than communal, numinous rather than phenomenal—and yet, to the perceiver, real: palpable, impressive and persuasive—not delusional, not hallucinatory.

Such was the experience of lunar astronaut Edgar Mitchell, a left-brained aeronautical engineer and rocket jockey, as he peered out of his spaceship window in 1971 while flying from the Moon to Earth: “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.”

So blown away by that impression was Mitchell that he later founded IONS, the Institute of Noetic Sciences (“noetic,” like gnosis, implying ways of knowing beyond the narrowly empirical kinds that science validates). IONS investigates such “noetic” intelligence as was expressed in Edgar Mitchell (and several other lunar astronauts), which, in traditional language might be called spiritual intelligence.

What more can we know than our conventional definition of knowledge and methods of verification permit? What wider or deeper intelligence does human consciousness harbor than convention sanctions? What latencies of transcendental knowing have yet to awaken in more than those few luminaries who light our dim way to insights yet unseen?

Inquiring minds want to know.