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One Thing: The Overview Effect?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series One Thing
NASA astronauts captured this famous Earth Rise photo while high above the Moon.

NASA astronauts captured this famous Earth Rise photo while high above the Moon.

Can a change of perspective be the “one thing” that shifts how we think and feel? This shift occurred for the astronauts who saw Earth from space. It’s called the Overview Effect. Does this effect have ancient roots in the human experience?

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available,” said British astronomer Fred Hoyle in 1948, “…a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” This quote begins “Overview,” a documentary by the Planetary Collective about how the view of our planet caused many astronauts and cosmonauts to have a “cognitive shift in awareness.” (You can watch the video at Upworthy.)

The Overview Effect was felt acutely by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell. He had free time to “earth gaze” on the return trip from the moon because his primary jobs—lunar module pilot and science on the moon—were over. Here’s how he described it: “After I came back and tried to understand what this experience was all about, I could find nothing in the science literature about it, and nothing in the religious literature that I looked at, so I turned to the local university and asked them to help me with what I saw. When they came back to me a few weeks later, and said, ‘Well, in the ancient literature we found a description called savikalpa samadhi.’ That means that you see things as you see them with your eyes, but you experience them emotionally and viscerally, as with ecstasy, and a sense of total unity and oneness. And I said, that’s exactly what the experience was.”

Here’s how Sri Chimnoy defines savikalpa samadhi: “For a short period of time you lose all human consciousness. In this state the conception of time and space is altogether different. For an hour or two hours you are completely in another world.”

Does the Overview Effect make sense to you?

Can a change of perspective change your life?

Is there a story or event that changed yours?

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