Commusings: Swimming with Dolphins by Ram DassJan 06, 2023
Hello Commune Community,
Humans, like all animals, possess a biological imperative. At the most rudimentary level, we seek to fulfill our needs for survival and have evolved adaptive mechanisms that safeguard our existence. Our five senses, and science’s genius to enhance them, allow us to perceive the “external world” and respond to threat. When we see-hear-smell-taste-feel something menacing, we are programmed to react.
This design is, at times, an obvious blessing. However, we rarely acknowledge the limitations of our sensory instruments. As Blake wrote, “we see with and not through the eye.” We are so accustomed to our own special capabilities that our conceptual minds are convinced we have a grasp on objective reality. We don’t “see” what is possible beyond our limited range of the light spectrum. Further, our senses program us to label everything in the foreground of awareness — from the most innocuous phone charger to a charging rhinoceros. Inherent to the labeling of the world around us is a self-labeling that serves to individuate ourselves from the external world. And this subconscious process informs the ego, the symbol we give ourselves based on what we do and have and what others think of us.
But, every now and then, we stop feeling separate. Every blue moon, we have a mystical experience – a transformation in consciousness in which we transcend the limitations of our senses and our conceptual minds and feel as though we are inseparable from and interconnected with the universe. Every once in a while, we swim with dolphins.
Today’s essay by Ram Dass is part of a collaboration with the Be Here Now Network that also includes a new, 10-day meditation course — Pause, Breathe, Be Here Now with Ram Dass and Friends. Sign up here to join that program for free from January 16-25 and meditate with thousands of others around the world. What an incredible honor it is to carry the torch for one of my favorite teachers and authors.
In love, include me,
• • •
Swimming with Dolphins
By Ram Dass
I have some strange teachers. Let me tell you about two of my teachers that I just met recently. Because I'm open to teachings wherever I can get them.
I have these friends, John and Toni Lilly, who have been working with dolphins for many years, and they asked me if I'd like to swim with the dolphins. I said I'd love to. So I went with a friend of mine to these huge tanks where Joe and Rosie, these two dolphins, were. My friend went into the pool, and the dolphins were with my friend. I watched the whole thing for a little while, and then I got into the pool, and pushed off from the edge and started swimming. These dolphins went by me very fast. The first thing I was aware of was how big they were – I mean, these weren't little fish, these were big, big things. I was clearly in their territory; I didn't have my feet on the ground. They were in control of the scene.
Then Joe came up, and he opened his mouth and put it around my wrist – and all my shark fantasies came along. He wanted to pull me into the middle of the pool; very gently, he did that. Then very slowly Rosie was angling up, and they would sort of stay nearby so I could pat them, rub my hand over their skin – which was incredibly wonderful to feel.
I could feel something happening, and I very quickly realized that these beings were more inside of me than they were outside, and that I was not going to be able to relate to them through my conceptual mind; it was going to be irrelevant in that pool. So I flipped into intuitive – like going into overdrive; I just let go, just surrendered. Within about two minutes Rosie was straight up and down, pressed against my body; I was holding her and her fins were around me. I was in absolute ecstasy, kissing her on the mouth, saying, "Oh, Rosie! I love you so much! Oh, Rosie! Oh, God Rosie!" No mind-model I had would have allowed me to do that – I just leaped out of it. Rosie was just right there, and the way she was moving it was clear she was coming onto me – there was no doubt about it – and I started to get aroused. I started to think, is this legal?
It was a very cold day, dark and gray. I had been with an old colleague of mine, Tim Leary, a few weeks before, and Tim had said that he had gone swimming with the dolphins and I said, "Well, what was it like?" He said it was like making love. So everybody else was wearing a wetsuit, but I'd thought, gee, a wetsuit to make love is obscene. So I just went in my bathing trunks.
So I then held on to Rosie's fin. I didn't want to break the fin – it felt a little fragile, but it was really tough. We'd go down and dive, and swim around. Then I couldn't hold on – I'd lose my grip. So finally I grabbed her around the belly and held onto the fin with my left hand. We just went flying around under the water, on and on. And every time I'd think, "You know, she's a dolphin but I'm a human. I've got to come up for air," she would immediately come to the surface and wait for me to take a breath, and then go down again. Once I came up, and they were taking photographs and I got into my hammy-type thing of "me with the dolphins," you know? I was so busy with that that I forgot to get a breath. She started to go down again, and I hadn't gotten the breath, and I thought, "Uh-oh. I'm gonna have to let go. I didn't get a breath!" Immediately she came back up and waited for me to get a breath – within a second. I experienced that she had taken me out of my mind, into a place where she and I were hearing one another, we were tuned to one another.
After about forty minutes I was shaking, I was so cold. I'm fifty, and I'm cold, and I'm thinking I should get out, but I don't want to let go – this is ecstasy. At that moment, the minute I thought "Gee, I'm tired," she came right to the surface and pushed me away from her violently. She and Joe came around and put their noses against my stomach, and just pushed me right out of the pool. And they wouldn't let me back into the pool. They would play with me from the edge of the pool, but they wouldn't let me come in. They played with my friend but they wouldn't play with me anymore.
Now what I experienced was — here are John and his research crew trying to teach the dolphins the alphabet, you know? And I think that's great, it's admirable, I'm not knocking that research. But it just feels to me that the dolphins are great teachers. Because they were helping me get out of my rational mind and into my intuitive mind, and to allow the fact that we are inside of each other. Because the far out thing is that when you go outside of the identification with body, and with personality, and with thought – you don't stop any of it, it's all going, you take care of it – but when you go behind it, you come into a state of awareness which is no longer unique to you.
When Ram Dass first went to India in 1967, he was still Dr. Richard Alpert, a prominent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary. In India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, affectionately known as Maharajji, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” Everything changed then – his intense dharmic life started, and he became a pivotal influence on a culture that has reverberated with the words “Be Here Now” ever since. His unique skill in getting people to cut through and feel divine love without dogma is still a positive influence on many people all over the planet.
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