This article is inspired in part by the mission statement of Eros and Kosmos, the Russian online magazine founded by Eugene Pustoshkin, Victor Shiryaev and their colleagues. The magazine’s mission statement says,“We strive to reawaken what (the Russian novelist) Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1880 proclaimed as the universality and global humanity of the Russian spirit, a spirit that resonates with all processes unfolding in the world, and that forms a part of the family of peoples on our planet.” I share this vision of a global humanity attuned with spirit, with nature and with an awareness that we can love and care for one another in joy and in peace regardless of who we are and where we were born, if only we will open our minds and hearts and let go of fear enough to realize who and what we are to each other in our deepest Truth.
In late January of 1998, I encountered a pod of wild dolphins as I kayaked along the shore of the big island of Hawaii. With heart pounding excitement, I grab my snorkel gear and find myself in the ocean, surrounded by these magnificent creatures. Beneath and around me, I see families of dolphins gliding together in synchronized flow. Almost immediately, as I enter the water, the sound and sensation of the dolphins’ high-frequency sonar pierces through my entire physical and subtle bodies, instantaneously recalibrating my known reality. My whole body convulses. Pain shoots through what literally feels and sounds like my chest being torn or ripped open, and tears burst out of my eyes in a spasm of release. As this involuntary spasm runs through my body—my brain and mind seem to give way to a reception of direct revelation, telepathically and sensually through my entire being.
I feel and sense a shared awareness and subtle energy field that palpably seems to connect our individual and collective consciousness. I am overcome with the most pure, clear joy, and playful freedom that I have ever known, and I open up into a sense of timeless, infinite, all-inclusive ever-present bounty of spacious awareness that seems to leave nothing out. An indescribable peace, beyond what I ever have imagined permeates my entire awareness, revealing itself as a felt sense of sublime clear Truth. These beautiful creatures seemed to be expressing and transmitting the awareness that, “All of existence is free in and as spirit. Peace and joy pervade all. And life is a stunning display of unfathomable wonder.”
I feel and sense a shared awareness and subtle energy field that palpably seems to connect our individual and collective consciousness
Within seconds of our initial contact, I find myself impulsively and instinctively swimming towards them, grasping for that peace and liberated joy. I want to touch them and get nearer to them. But every time I reach for them, they disappear almost instantly. And I feel a sense of loss and disappointment, and then a sense of wild desperation, a hunger and desire for more. I look for them and swim frantically, trying to find them to no avail, and soon I realize that I have no control over our encounter. They are in their element, with the skills to swim, glide and appear when and as they wish. I am clumsy and slow in comparison. They are consciously choosing to approach me. We are in a direct and consensual relationship with one another, communicating on multiple levels. Very soon, I begin to notice that when I grasp for them or try to chase them they disappear, and whenever I let go without expectation or a hunger for contact, they show up and interact with me. This happens a number of times until I begin to understand the lesson:
Don’t grasp and try to possess. Let go to be free. Remain so present and so awake that you receive, through all of your being, the abundant beauty and miracle of existence that is everywhere. Fully and freely be and offer what Life is asking of you in each moment. Life is a joyful gift. This life is magical and amazing. Deep penetrating peace permeates your nature. You, we, and all of this are not separate. Collectively we are part of one stunning and continuous act of wonder!
From then on, I relax and just receive the generosity and blessing of this encounter, which continues until I am satiated. Finally, I start paddling back to shore along with another set of kayakers. A native woman appears in the water, singing what sounds like a beautiful Hawaiian love song of devotion…and all of a sudden we look around and realize that the dolphins have surrounded us. Evenly spaced, all facing in the same direction, they encircle us, leaping into the air, one after another, perfectly timed, while we all just float in silence, stunned and in awe of this incredible, synchronous miracle of beauty and grace.
Don’t grasp and try to possess. Let go to be free
That day the dolphins showed me some of what is possible in consciousness, regardless of species. I now live with the truth of that clear and direct communication in my being, informing what I see as our potential as a species, and pointing to potential across species, as sentient earthlings on this tiny spinning planet and beyond.
Opening to “Not Knowing”
What lessons can we apply from this experience to our human existence on this planet?
Let’s begin by considering the value of a willingness to receive, or to absorb an experience fully through one’s entire being. When I jumped into the water, I had no idea what would happen. The only preconception I had was that this would likely be an amazing experience and I wanted to absorb as much of it as I could. I was wide open and receptive. The transmission of experience and awareness did not require a common spoken language. Most of the learning did not take place with words or logic. The learning came directly through a visceral sense of changes and openings in my physical and subtle bodies, through my emotions, and through a larger sense of awareness that seemed to open up to an infinite vastness that permeated the boundaries of time and space. During that swim with the dolphins, “I” dissolved into the experience, and into a much larger all-inclusive Self. Only when I began to grasp and feel a sense of loss did I lose that experience of abundant joy and peace. I actually created my own sense of separation and loss by grasping for something that I took to be other than the all pervasive awareness and connection that is our true and common nature. But when I remained completely open to the present moment, prior to preconception, a whole new and incredible reality revealed itself to me. In his book No Boundary, philosopher Ken Wilber states:
“…the eternal present is this moment before you try to grasp it. It’s what you know before you know anything else, what you see before you see anything else, what you are before you are anything else….there are no longer two different feelings here, no longer an experiencer on the one hand having an experience on the other hand, but only one, single, all-pervasive feeling… The boundaries around this moment fall into this moment and then there is nothing but this moment, with nowhere else to go.”1
“The eternal present is what you see before you see anything else, what you are before you are anything else…” No matter where we live in this world and no matter what religion or belief system inspires us, we have access to this eternal present that Wilber mentions, the Self/no self that is prior to concrete and subtle personal awareness… prior to language, customs, beliefs, behaviors, skin color, sexual or gender orientation, species, matter or energy. Prior to thought, emotion, dreams, fantasy or imagination we are and share this clear, expansive Awareness. And that expansive Awareness that we are includes and lives through all of existence.
Prior to thought, emotion, dreams, fantasy or imagination we are and share this clear, expansive Awareness
As soon as I let go into a willingness not to know what would happen next—much more information was available to me, including multiple dimensions of reality, inter-species transmission and a completely different kind of “knowing”. As the Indian sage Nisargadatta instructs us: “A pinprick of knowingness has flashed against the background of my innate ‘not-knowingness’. In it appear all of the universes.”
In other words, there is a not-knowingness that takes us beyond our usual kinds of knowing, resulting in a more profound and vast seeing and perceiving that comes through our willingness “not to know”. Through our innate wisdom and innocence, we can open to this not-knowingness and perceive what to most people are extraordinary dimensions of reality, such as perception of the causal and a-causal relationships of existence throughout time and space; the ability to read others’ thoughts, pasts, futures, and feel or sense their feelings; and the ability to perceive and create new paradigmatic cognitive structures. This larger perception received through awake presence and “not-knowingness” also ironically allows us to see the potential results of our actions and the actions of others farther into the future.
In order to arrive at this greater perception, it is necessary to be willing to let go of unconscious addiction to habitual thoughts and emotions, which distract us from our ever-present Awareness
But in order to arrive at this greater perception, it is necessary to be willing to let go of unconscious addiction to habitual thoughts and emotions, which distract us from our ever-present Awareness. When we suspend all of our belief systems and pre-conceived ideas of reality, including the way we make sense of the world and even our own self-concept, consciousness opens up to a vast and awesome potentiality. We cultivate emptiness or beginners mind in order to find our way to a complete presence with fullness.
Without realizing that our belief systems are merely constructed out of the human mind and ultimately are empty of absolute truth or meaning, we become caught in our own limited belief systems and separate ourselves from those who believe differently. We become set in our fundamentalist and oppositional views, and through our lack of openness, we inhibit our capacity for greater realization, individually, cross-culturally and as a species.
We open to a tremendous storehouse of possibility that shows us that a different kind of life on earth is not only possible but is within reach
On the other hand, when we cultivate our awareness of the spacious present through “not-knowing” and through open, vulnerable receptivity, we are able to perceive more clearly things as they are. We receive nuances of information we had never even noticed before, a kind of Knowing that few people access and yet is available to everyone. We begin to feel the unadulterated purity of the creative force that is alive in all of us. We open to a tremendous storehouse of possibility that shows us that a different kind of life on earth is not only possible but is within reach.
From and through this spacious openness, we see, feel and know that we can bring forth our many collective resources as needed, in a concerted flow, unhindered by outdated and limited perception. We then collectively can create brand new futures, including new social structures, new belief systems and new cultural norms that support the free and healthy spirit of our global humanity.
To be continued…
- Wilber, K. (1981). No boundary: Eastern and Western approaches to personal growth. Boulder, Colo.: Shambhala.
- LATEST DIALOGUES Freedom From Imagination – Words of Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2015, from /http://www.scienceandnonduality.com/tag/nisargadatta-maharaj/
About the Author
Venita Ramirez has more than thirty years of experience in Transformative Learning, Integral Theory, coaching, psychotherapy and meditation. In addition to her private practice, she is a partner at Pacific Integral, where she has co-developed and taught transformative leadership programs in North America, the South Pacific and Africa. Over the past ten years, Venita also has been a research associate on the latest detailed stages of adult development and consciousness. She holds a special interest in global social and cultural change, and degrees in Business Administration and Psychology.