A wonderfully transformational testimonial on "Dying to Know: Ram Dass and Timothy Leary" from Ryan Keating. Ryan saw the film in Telluride and this is what he wrote...
This last long weekend I was fortunate enough to spend it in Telluride at the 35th annual Mushroom Festival. I am a wellness professional and being educated in massage therapy, training, nutrition, and more recently working in crisis counseling and psychedelic healing I was advised to attend. The Festival was magical on all levels, entheogeniclly and beyond, and one of the bright spots of it was watching the movie “Dying to Know: Ram Dass and Timothy Leary” directed by Gay Dillingham.
I grew up in Northern California in the 80s and 90s and taught high school history and political science in high schools for many years in San Francisco. I was one of those teachers who did not open the prescribed text book and always choose instead to create my own wheel with my own resources and provide an exciting and more “real” education than what was put forth by the state in their bland and narrow minded filtered interpretation of what was deemed appropriate for education. I definitely had exciting units dedicated to the counter culture movement of the 60s and 70s and so I was very excited to see what this movie had to offer. The movie was close to 2 hours and I don’t think I moved once and maybe blinked but ten times at the fear that I would miss even but a few seconds of the rich and interesting history that has been all but lost but now dramatically and energetically recovered in “Dying to Know.”
There was an array of emotions I felt while watching. I was pissed that I hadn’t come across this information first while I was creating curriculum for my students many years ago. Geez, I thought I had cool info to share! Compared to this movie my units were bland. Then I was even more angry that I wasn’t taught the info myself growing up just right outside San Francisco; one of the bases of the counter culture movement. How had nobody told me any of this? Being somebody educated in history and politics I was not aware that Timothy Leary had campaigned for governor against Ronald Reagan and had the Beetles write their “Come Together Right Now Over Me” song for his campaign. Not to mention that shortly after he was jailed for a sentence of forty years for having a half ounce of cannabis on him and then served two years in solitary confinement, upon which after he was conveniently hidden under a witness protection program. It was a very corrupt time in America and the powers that be were squashing the counter culture movement and apparently they were also squashing the history of their shady dealings as people like me had never heard anything about what Timothy Leary went through. I feel cheated by my own education and country.
The movie very much represents the present day energy and culture of America. A new generation is emerging and continuing the trend of what the counter culture movement started in the 60s and 70s. It has gone full circle. Movements like “black lives matter” are scratching the surface of how police brutally treat minorities and exposing white privileged and how racism is as alive and present as it ever has been. Movements like Bernie Sanders running for president are scratching the surface on how corporations and their moneyed interests are controlling the whole country and the political process and destroying the middle class and the availability of good jobs. Drug policy reform activists are scratching the surface and exposing the harsh truth that the drug war is largely racist and putting more people in prison than ever before, not to mention the for profit prisons that are starting to become popular. The nutritional movement is also scratching the surface on the American Standard Diet and how if you trust in eating what is stocked for you at the grocery store and what the government deems healthy by their “Food Guide Pyramid” you will most likely end up malnourished, with diabetes, and extremely unhealthy. Alternative health care professionals (and also many big pharma doctors) are scratching the surface at the medical industry and uncovering the large number of people that are either dying, or are addicted to, or generally have a much lower quality of life from pain killers, anti-depressants, antibiotics, statins, and other prescription drugs. All these people are asking the same questions and coming to the same conclusions. There is a better way and we are stuck in a paradigm shift. The transitional process defined by people trying to expose the truth is only growing greater.
“Dying to Know: Ram Dass and Timothy Leary” was yet another brilliant movement forward in the attempt to uncover the wrongs of the past to make them right and real. It dramatically contributes to the movement at large as yet another entity the populous can point to as truth seeking that directly challenges the powers that be. The counter culture movement of the 60s was squashed by people who were in charge of the government’s institutions, and their ideas and policies have reigned supreme for decades. That chokehold put on our country is now finally losing its momentum. Ram Dass and Timothy Leary were crusaders trying to create an alternative way of thinking that questioned a lot of American culture at the time. Now the children of the 60s counter culture movement are coming of age and a new generation is emerging that is more concerned with what Ram Dass and Timothy Leary were doing than what Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were up to. There’s medicine to be gained, there’s health, there’s an appreciation and acceptance for other’s views and we as a country are rising up and are not being led by our fears anymore. Arrest us all! We’ll see how that panes out and it won’t be in the favor of the oppressors. We are interested in the truth and what has been kept from us for so long. Gay Dillingham’s “Dying to Know” is just another piece of the uncovered knowledge and remarkable history that is now part of the thought process and leading a generational movement that is coming into their own.