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John C. Lilly

know.” I learned all the bullshit that’s put out in the academic world and I would bullshit too. This bullshit is an insurance that I don’t remember the bullshit that the professor says, except that which is really worthwhile and interesting.

RMN: What guidelines do you use when traveling through innerspace?

JOHN: My major guideline when I go in the tank is, for God’s sake don’t preprogram, don’t have a purpose, let it happen. With ketamine and LSD I did the same thing; I slowly let go of controlling the experience. You know some people lie in the tank for an hour trying to experience what I experienced. Finally I wrote an introduction to The Deep Self, and said, if you really want to experience what it is to be in the tank, don’t read any of my books, don’t listen to me, just go in there and be.

RMN: So you don’t ever try and go in with a mission or an idea of what you want to accomplish?

JOHN: Why should I? I’d only have gotten more ridiculous. Every time I took acid in the tank in St. Thomas it was entirely different. I think that I couldn’t even begin to describe it. I only got 1/10 of 1% of it and I wrote that in books. The universe prevents you from programming and when they take you out, they tear you wholly loose and you realize that these are massive intellects, far greater than any human. Then you really get humble. When you come back here you say, “Oh well, here I am, back in this damn body again, and I’m not as intelligent as when I was out there with them.”

I took an acid trip in the Carlisle Hotel in Washington, near the FBI building. I turned on the tape recorder and I just lay down on the bed. I was a tight person but it was an incredible trip. They look me out and showed me the luminous colossus, and then the Big Bang that they created three times. And they said, “Man appears here and disappears there.” And I said, “That’s awful. What happens to them’!” And they said, “That’s us.” I went into a deep depression because I didn’t identify with that. Then, about a week later, I suddenly realized they’re also talking about me. You see all this in the introduction to The Center of the Cyclone.

DJB: John, let me ask you, how did your earlier inter-species communication research with marine mammals influence your later work where you experienced contact with extra-terrestrial or inter-dimensional beings on your psychedelic travels?

JOHN: Let me say how I got to work with dolphins first. I was floating in the tank for a year and wondering, who floats around twenty-four hours a day’? I went to Pete Shoreliner and he says, “Dolphins. They’re available. Go down to the Marine Studios in Florida.” So I did, and I immediately fell in love with them. Then we killed a couple of dolphins to get the brains, and when we saw them we said, “Oh boy! This is it. This is a brain bigger than ours!” And I thought, this is what I want to do.

Well, I didn’t kill any more dolphins. I studied their behavior and interactions. I was working alone at Marine Studios and I had a brain electrode in one dolphin, which I regret immeasurably. Anyway, when I would stimulate the positive reinforcement system he would just quietly push the lever and work like mad, and if I stopped he would vocalize immediately. I knew monkeys wouldn’t do that. And if we stimulated the negative system he would push the lever, shut it off, and then he’d scold us. See? Then he broke the switch and just jabbered away.

So we then took the tape of this over to a friend of mine’s house and his tape machine ran at only half the speed of what we had recorded in. It was incredible. Dolphin making human sounds. We didn’t believe it at first. What he was trying to do was to say, “I can talk your language, let me talk to your leaders, then we can really get this straightened out about positive and negative reinforcement.”

So when I got my lab organized in Miami I turned to Ellsbrough and I said, “I’m going in there to try this with Elvar.” So I went and shouted at the dolphin we called Elvar, “Elvar! Squirt water!” He zoomed right back immediately, “Squouraarr rahher.” And I said, “No. Squirt water.” And finally after about ten times, he had it so we could understand it. It was just an amazing experience.

DJB: Do you think that he had an understanding of what he was saying, or do you think he was just mimicking the sounds?

JOHN: If you’re experiencing a foreign language, what do you do?

DJB: Well, the first thing you do is mimic.

JOHN: That’s right. And slowly but surely, your

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