David Lynch on Transcendental Meditation
Part One of an interview with Alexander de Cadenet
As I walk up the steps to the open door of his woodwork studio in the Hollywood Hills, I spot David Lynch seated in the far corner, wearing an old black boiler suit. As I get closer I can see he’s working on a strange looking object which he explains is a clay lamp that he had made for his wife. We spend some time talking about the lamp and why he wants to mend it and I quickly get the sense that what he’s communicating to me can be processed on different levels. It’s a taste of what will come during our meeting and before long he’s sharing his thoughts on topics such as Transcendental Meditation, the evolution of consciousness and the mysterious origins of creativity. We’ve split the interview into two parts, this first part being about TM.
HOW DID DAVID COME TO TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION?
AdeC: What I’d like to know is how did you come to TM? Was there something that you were looking for or was it just part of the evolution of your own consciousness?
DL: A little bit of both. Here’s an analogy: “Is the person running from the garden towards the palace or is the person running to the palace and therefore leaving the garden?” Is suffering driving people to transcendental meditation or is it the search for enlightenment? For me it was both things. I heard a phrase, “True happiness is not out there. True happiness lies within”, this phrase had a ring of truth to it for me. But that phrase doesn’t tell you where the ‘within’ is, nor does it tell you how to get there. Is it in the heart, legs, stomach; or in the brain or is it outside the body? Where is the within? If they told you, they also don’t tell you how to get there. So way back when I first heard the word meditation, (probably it was because of the Beatles), I thought it was a kind of fad, a waste of time and then something must have happened in the stars. And so all of a sudden I got this thought, maybe meditation is the way to go within. Then out of the blue, my little sister called and said she had started transcendental meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. So I asked her some questions about it and I liked what she told me. Then I heard a change in her voice; I heard more self assuredness and a really innocent, joyful happiness kind of thing. And I said, that’s it, I want that. And I went and got it. POW! That was it. I started at SRM [Spiritual Regeneration Movement]. That’s what Maharishi called the movement when he first started it in India.
BENEFITS OF TRANSCENDENCE
AdeC: So what was the impact? What were the positives?
DL: Okay. It’s the same for me as it is for everyone else. I had a kind of melancholy, not a full blown depression but a soft depression. I also had a lot of anger for my life situation with many worries and anxieties. I was creative but I was not self-assured. I was on the weak side, in a way. And in the film business, if you are not so self-assured you’re going to get killed, squashed like a bug. And so it was a tender thing and I started meditating. I took this anger out on my first wife and two weeks after I started she comes to me and says, “What’s going on?” I said, “What are you talking about?” She said, “This anger, where did it go?” And it just lifted away and I didn’t try to lift it. In a way, this is the secret to transcendental meditation: it’s not a trying form of meditation, it’s not concentration or contemplation. Mental activity keeps you near the surface. You don’t want to stay near the surface even though that may give you some benefits.
AdeC: Could you tell me a bit more about the process?
DL: You ramp up what’s within you, that eternal field and negativity starts to recede, all those things that are driving us crazy. Stress, trauma, anxiety, tension, depression, hate, anger, sadness, despair, violence, tormented feelings and fear. All this stuff just starts to lift up naturally. I call it the “suffocating rubber clown suit of negativity”. No one wants to be a clown. No one wants to have this stinky, thick, heavy ‘rubber of negativity’ suit. When it starts to dissolve, you start feeling so good. That in itself would be beautiful, but not only is this suit dissolving and giving you this great feeling of more freedom, gold is coming from within, from transcending. Every day you win on both sides.
And so common sense would say, if I heard of another technique that was better and they could prove it to me, I’d say, “okay, I’m going”. Through the years, I’ve never heard of any other forms of mantra meditation that show on the EEG [electroencephalogram]. Transcending is way beyond the level of concentration. But transcending is BOOM and the whole brain is engaged with the active experience of transcending.
Doctors used to say we only use five or ten percent of our brain. Here’s an experience that utilizes the full brain, that’s what it’s for; it’s for enlightenment, for higher states of consciousness culminating in the highest state of unity consciousness. And it’s our birth-right as human beings. It’s there for us. It just needs unfolding.
AdeC: Is TM compatible with other forms of meditation?
DL: You can do any other kind of meditation if you want, but add TM to it. If you like being a Buddhist, fine add TM to it and transcend everyday and watch things get better and better and better. And, if you’re religious. TM is not a religion, it’s not a sect. You don't have to join anything. There’s a line in the Bible, “First seek the Kingdom of Heaven, which lies within and all else will be added unto you”. This is the story of life. Transcend. That’s transcendence - the Kingdom of Heaven, which lies within. It’s always been there. It’s always been the Kingdom of Heaven. Unfold that and what you’re unfolding is ‘Totality’. “All else will be added unto you”. Make your life better! Make your relationships better, get more energy, get more creative, get more intelligence, awareness, understanding; see a bigger and bigger picture and enjoy these things more and more. And you know, you can’t lose; it’s money in the bank!
EXPERIENCING THE CELESTIAL DIMENSION
AdeC: Do you find that you can sometimes access what you might call beauty or something that is beyond our sensory perception, when you connect to nature?
DL: They say that in these higher states of consciousness you sort of fall in love with everything and you see deeper and deeper levels of manifestation of creation. You see it and are almost filled with wonderment and awe at the complexity, the beauty, the intelligence - at how profoundly perfect everything is. And like they say, there are cells and molecules and atoms and subatomic particles, and you see all those different depths culminating in experience of the celestial, the area right next to the absolute. And then the final thing is POW, “All is one”.
You see all the diversity and it’s all appreciated as all being one. And Maharshi calls it “200% of life”. You own everything in manifestation and everything ‘un-manifest’; the whole thing. It’s like the lamp of the door that illuminates everything without and everything within.
Thanks to Deirdre Parsons at David Lynch Foundation UK for facilitating this interview. For more information about the David Lynch Foundation and transcendental meditation, please visit www.davidlynchfoundation.org.uk
MEET THE INTERVIEWEE
DAVID LYNCH is one of the leading filmmakers of our era. His films include Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive. A recipient of an Academy Honorary Award in 2019, he has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director. He is also a screenwriter, visual artist, musician, actor, and author. In 1973, he was initiated into Transcendental Meditation, and has practiced the technique consistently since then. In 2005, he launched the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and Peace, established to fund the teaching of TM in schools and research on the technique and its effects on learning. On the web www.davidlynchfoundation.org
Bookshelf CATCHING THE BIG FISH: MEDITATION, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND CREATIVITY BY DAVID LYNCH, published by Penguin Random House US, paperback (208 pages). 10th Anniversary Edition featuring interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
“All of a sudden I got this thought, maybe meditation is the way to go within.”
“Out of the blue, my little sister called and said she had started transcendental meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.”
“I call it the “suffocating rubber clown suit of negativity”.”
“Transcending is way beyond the level of concentration.”
“Here’s an experience that utilizes the full brain, that’s what it’s for; it’s for enlightenment, for higher states of consciousness culminating in the highest state of unity consciousness.”
“They say that in these higher states of consciousness you sort of fall in love with everything and you see deeper and deeper levels of manifestation of creation.”
This article first appeared in print in Watkins: Mind, Body, Spirit Magazine Issue 50. Click here to learn more: