Spiritual Lessons from the Whales 3: Harmony and Dharma

BY Parvati

This is the time of spring when all things burst into vibrancy. I feel like that in my music studio, as new tracks are being born. I show up with a deep intention to listen to nature’s guidance and serve it with heartfelt devotion, and sound arises. Creation is a humbling and awe-inspiring process, something we all experience in our own way. I can’t wait to share with you the new tracks that are coming into being this month!
We have been exploring here how whales are master karma yogis. Selfless and surrendered, their simple, natural rhythm effortlessly benefits the whole. Equally inspiring is how whales behave with each other and towards others.
If you go online to look for whale pictures, most of the images you will find are of the humpback whale. This massive creature, the size of five elephants, is a close relative of the blue whale and is known for its wide-ranging melodious song. It is also the most extravagant aerialist among the great whales, rising its entire body length out of the water in awe-inspiring breaches that land in thunderous splashes.
My jaw dropped recently when I found out that the rippling song of the humpback whale is a collective expression. All humpback whales, in a given region, sing the same song! The song evolves over time, but it evolves for all of the whales at the same time. Though each may sing a different part in the moment, all give voice to one collection of sounds like an oceanic choir.
Being part of several choirs as of a young age and into adulthood, I was always touched by the transcendent feeling of being part of a much greater body than my own that breathed and sang as one. There is something so beautifully potent in bringing our voices together to express something beyond our individual selves. I find that in the broad-hearted volunteers who make up, joined together to realize MAPS: the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. I have found that on various collaborative art projects, like the mesmerizing music video for my soon-to-be-released single Yoga In the Nightclub. In it, fellow volunteer and super talented artist Adam Nathan and I joined forces as co-directors to create something that would not have existed if one of us alone were at the directorial helm. When I read about the whales’ potent unity, I was reminded of this: the power of our interconnection and the choice we have to contribute to a collective resonance. In each moment, we have a choice. Are we contributing to greater harmony or dissonance in the world?
Sound waves are amplified and strengthened when more than one voice emits the same note. The wave loses strength and resonance when there is a discordant sound, like a voice out of tune. It is as though the energy gets scattered. The more in tune each instrument or voice is, the more potent the overall sound.
This is true not simply of a musical ensemble, but of all things, and the universe as a whole. As I share in my book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie: A Revolutionary Life Makeover for the Sincere Spiritual Seeker, “Every particle in the physical universe is formed by its particular sonic frequency. As such, it sings. Just as two waveforms pulsating in proximity will synchronize, the harmonic relationships between the planets and all that exists within our cosmos move toward greater unity. The phrase ‘harmony of the spheres’ is not a metaphor but an accurate expression of our universe. […] As part of this symphonic universe, we each express our own soul song in greater or lesser harmony with the whole. Through our spiritual evolution, we come to see ourselves within a wise multidimensional process returning us to unity with Om. As we truly understand the sacred beauty of our interconnection and the humbling power of who we are, we witness the release of our psyche’s discordant notes, so that they no longer amplify dissonance in the world.”
Our collective vibration is a song. What kind of song do we want it to be? The more we choose harmony and interconnection, the more we strengthen that note in the world and within ourselves. It helps us remember that we are part of a greater whole, and stay focused on love, kindness and forgiveness. It gives us the courage to do our dharma, that which is rightfully ours to do, even when we confront a situation that could be life-threatening. Here, again, whales show us the way.
The humpback whale is a baleen whale that eats krill and small fish. It has no sharp teeth to attack with. Yet, for the past half century, it has been documented to fiercely intervene to protect other species, especially from orcas.
When I first discovered this, I was moved by the humpbacks’ selflessness, but also deeply disturbed by the orcas’ behaviour. Why are the orcas acting in a way that would need to be stopped? Then I found out that for the past fifty years, a particularly toxic chemical called PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) has been in our environment. Even though it is no longer manufactured to any great extent since it is known to cause cancer and other problems, it tragically persists without breaking down. It is now present in every creature on the planet, including you and me. It gathers especially in fatty tissue. One of the animals in which PCBs are most prevalent on the planet is the orca whale. Just as you or I can be affected by exposure to chemicals, some of the orcas are now heartbreakingly deranged from the poisons in their system.
There are many videos online now of humpback whales intervening to stop orca whales from attacking seals or the calves of other whale species, especially the gray whale. Amazingly, you can even see a video of a humpback swimming on its back along the surface, with a seal nestled in the crook of its flipper.
The humpbacks do not hurt the orcas. They just try to stop them. They swim right at an orca that is lunging for prey. Then they put on fierce displays to discourage the orca from trying again. Scientists cannot understand why the humpbacks would do this. They are not in competition with the orcas for food. They have nothing to gain in intervening to protect the animals the orcas are attacking. The gray whale calf is not the humpback whale’s calf. The seal does nothing for the whale.
Yet, is this intervention not a natural expression of oneness and interconnection? The humpback sees that there is a problem, and intervenes in compassion to uphold balance that the orca, in its feverish intoxication, may have forgotten. Altruism is not the mystery that some scientists may think it to be. It is karma yoga. The whales know this. They sing the song of the whole.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, teaches that we should not stand passively by and allow someone to do something that is adharmic, that is, something that undermines the whole, such as stealing, lying, or at an extreme, murder. When we selflessly participate in preventing injury to others, we stop someone from incurring the karma of doing harm.
The whales show us that when we come together, we can do magnificent things, inspired by courage, love and interconnection. We are born with these bodies that are vehicles to co-create with Nature and with the Cosmic Intelligence for the good of all. They can be resonant amplifiers for the voice of our soul, or they can amplify jagged discord and pain. The choice is up to us.
Nature’s agitation and suffering have reached unimaginable levels. Humans are no longer the only beings on the planet who are becoming confused and straying from our soul purpose. But we can choose to redirect our consciousness to support harmony.
The whales show us that our own highest good, the song of our soul, is naturally interwoven with the highest good of all. We are all connected. Imagine the collective potency of humans who choose to embrace their true potential, and come together for a shared purpose! This is what the whales know. It is how we will establish MAPS: the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, and begin to heal our planet.
Please sign and share the MAPS petition at In advance, thank you! We are in this together! Today and everyday, may you courageously sing your soul song and amplify the harmony of the universe.
Love yourself.
Love others.
Love our world.
We are one Earth family.