Eye to Eye with a Whale

You didn’t come into this world.

You came out of it.

Like a wave from the ocean,

you are not a stranger here. 

Alan Watts 

On a cold, dark, overcast afternoon thirty years ago, a ray of warmth and light shown into my world from a most unexpected source: the eye of a giant Humpback whale.

In my young twenties and already old with disillusionment at the state of the world, I was trying to escape my despair by spending an afternoon at sea on a small boat. Without much hope of success, I was asking “whoever might be listening” for a sign of something worth living for—some indication that there was light at the end of the tunnel in this struggle of a life I was barely enduring. That afternoon, my prayers were answered by none less than the largest living creature on the face of the Earth.

     Lying despondent on the deck of the boat, disappearing into my mental malaise, I suddenly found myself staring into the eye of a being the size of a large office building. My gaze was locked into the penetrating gaze of this mammoth animal who surfaced from the depths just enough to peer over the bow of my boat right into my face.

Our eyes were only three feet apart. There was no distance between our hearts. Our souls were already one. I immediately dissolved into the depths of this being’s essence—a vast inner sea of spacious emptiness, allowing anything and everything, embracing all that I was and so much more of life than I could ever intellectually comprehend. My mind went silent. My inner turmoil disappeared. I entered into a sanctuary of profound, gentle union with my own self in the form of a huge ocean creature.

       In a very real sense, I’ve never left that sanctuary. I’ve carried with me to this day the feeling of fathomless total acceptance I received from the whale. That taste of the spaciousness of my true, natural state has inspired me to search for ways to incorporate that sense of allowing into every aspect of my life and being.

My dream in life is to become like the whale—a vast safe haven for weary hearts, a refuge from the slings and arrows of life where people can come to rest, reconnect and recharge.

– Keith Varnum