TWM

Willis Harman
President, Institute for Noetic Sciences
[Abridged]
Go to: Sitemap | Harman interview
Biography - I am in my eighth year of my eighth decade and I have had three careers really, I taught engineering systems at Stanford University for a good many years and then I became a futurist at Stanford Research Institute for 16 years and then I was invited to come up to the Institute for Noetic Sciences, and I have been here since 1977. I came to California after World War II, got acquainted with Stanford University and went there to finish graduate work.

My first question is, why do you think we are here on this earth?
Well the short answer is to learn. As nearly as I can tell, that is what life is really about. If you had asked me the question at earlier ages I am sure you would have gotten very different answers. I can't divorce that question from what kind of a universe we live in and how do we relate to it. I studied and taught self-applied science in my younger years so I took a scientific view of the world and that would answer the question one way. Then I had a series of experiences that resulted in concluding that we only seem to be separate in one level but that we are all connected and all part of the whole. We can learn some things about that whole by looking outward and we learn quite a different sort of thing by looking inward. To deal with a question like this, I am not sure that you learn very much by looking outward. When you look inward,it seems to me that the universal conclusion is that we are here to discover, to learn and to act in the service of that whole.

What are three rules that you try to live your life by?
I am not sure that I have three because it is too simple. It is basically to ask the question, "what is it that at the deepest part of myself I want?" and that seems to be to learn and to serve and to do the serving in a way that is uniquely appropriate to me. Everybody else would have a different way of service and so I think it is about as simple as that.

If you think of a person and you say to yourself, "that person has a lot of integrity or that person has a lot of character", what kind of characteristics does that person emulate in order for you to give them that title?
Well, to me integrity and the word integrated are similar in their roots. A person with integrity is a person whose choice at a conscious level and a choice a deep spiritual level are all the same, and you sense that somehow. You sense this is not a person who is divided, unsure. It is a person who is not necessarily a person who is following out some conventional values. A person with integrity is a person that you sense there is a oneness, there is a wholeness there. At all levels, clear down to the cell and up to the highest self, it is all in alignment, it is all headed in the same direction.

If you had the power, by some miracle, to instill one truth or one value that you know and instantaneously everyone would know that one truth or that one value as you know it, what would you choose?
I think it would be the value of knowing, the value of recognizing where the deepest knowledge is and valuing that knowledge above all else. It's knowing deeply and investing where that knowledge directs you.

What has been maybe the most life-altering or inspirational experience that you have had that has changed the way that you look at life?
Well, beginning in late July of 1954 I had a long succession of experiences. The nature of the experience was always discovering something deeper in myself that I didn't know was there. Then five years after that I would have another experience and my reaction would be "oh what I thought I knew, I didn't know anything, but now I am very grateful". These experiences varied and some were a relationship with another individual, some were some deep inner experiences that I tripped into. Some of them I have rather actively resisted because they seemed fearful. We are most terrified by what we really need most to know and once we come to some understanding of it, I, at least, look back and wonder, "why was it so fearful?".

What do you think happens after we leave this earth? After we die?
I think actually we know quite a bit about that if we wanted to look at all of the evidence. I can speak from my own experience but also experiences of other people and so I feel reasonably sure of things that I am saying here. When we die there is as great a diversity of experience as there is when we are living. Different people have different life experiences. Different people have different death experiences, and it depends a great deal on what they brought into this life and what they did with it.......... Of course where this all seems to end is that the farther you go the more you realize you are the whole.

Of your life experiences, the time that you have been here, what is your wisest piece of advice or the wisest thing that you know?
I think the wisest thing is being humble and listening. We live in a very arrogant society. Listening has to do not only suppose with listening to myself, but listening to nature and listening to very simple people. There are things that Native Americans have said to me in just a few words, that just summarize so much. I was talking with one Native American and he got a little tired of my questions and he said, "you know you white people, you have so much trouble understanding the way we Indians look at the world, it is very simple to understand how Native Americans view things, you only have to remember two things, one is, everything in the universe is alive, the other is, we are all relatives" and that is wisdom.

[See link below for complete version]
© Copyright 1997, LeAnn Thompson

BACK