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David Lynch on Enlightenment, Creativity & Synchronicity

Part Two of an interview withAlexander de Cadenet

During the meeting with David Lynch at his Hollywood Hills woodshop, we not only explored transcendental meditation, but also touched on other related topics such as enlightenment, the origin of creativity and synchronicity. Here are some of the key extracts:


AdeC: So do you still feel that you’re evolving as a human being?

D.L.: Yeah. Damn right!

AdeC: I interviewed Eckhart Tolle and I thought this person is enlightened and although I didn't ask the question I was wondering, if you're already enlightened, where do you go from there?

D.L.: Okay, here's the deal. There are tremendous unenlightened things and a lack of knowledge but there have been stories of people who are enlightened yet don't know how they got enlightened. They came into this life and all of a sudden they just entered into it; they did something in the past and it came to fruition now.

AdeC: Do you mean a previous life - do you believe in that?

D.L.: Yes, for sure. And so now they come in and they're enlightened. They enjoy their enlightenment but they don't know quite how it happened. And they don't teach a technique for others to have that experience. They just enjoy their enlightenment and they could tell you in words, but it wouldn't give you the same feeling. They could tell you, "I just live in the now" and you could say, "Well, what is that?" (Laughs). And it’s like not past, not future, it's just always, now. And there've been many stories about enlightened people…They’ve given up the small self and taken on the self with a capital "S". The self of all there is, pure consciousness. There's a Vedic line, "Consciousness alone is". Consciousness can turn itself into a squirrel, a babbling brook, a cloud, a star, a galaxy, a universe, an infinite number of universes.


AdeC: Is that the basis of our creativity, to bridge the world of the un-manifest to the world of form?

D.L.: Both. They're both the same. They're both made of the same. It's all consciousness.

AdeC: But one you can see and touch and the other you can't.

D.L.: They say all the manifestations hide in the transcendent and the transcendent hides in the manifestations. But it's all one thing. It doesn't do any good to say that, as some people are going to say you're nuts, but it's still something to think about.

AdeC: I'm fascinated by how a piece of art comes into existence.

D.L.: It comes into existence from ideas. You're sitting there in your studio or wherever you work and there is no lamp. There's no lamp and you're sitting there and the birds are chirping and this and this and this. Oh, I got an idea and I need some play and I need some lamp cord and I need a bulb and I need this and this. And you start working based on the idea that came and out comes a lamp.

AdeC: You talk about it as "fishing"?

D.L.: Yes.

AdeC: But it's kind of mysterious. Why is it that that idea came in at that point, as opposed to another idea?

D.L.: Well you might've gotten lots of ideas just sitting there,

but you did the one that you loved. So love comes into it and there's trillions and zillions of ideas and they're bubbling up all the time. Like I said, we don't know the idea until it enters the conscious mind; everyone's conscious mind is a certain size, but not everyone's conscious mind is the same size.

AdeC: So do you see your artwork as a manifestation of love?

D.L.: For things that I love? Yes. That doesn't mean other people are going to love it, but you don't set about making something unless it's really something you would love to do.

AdeC: Some of the works that you produced at the Kayne Corcoran Gallery are a bit macabre, a little bit dark with emotions that are seemingly contrary to where you wish to go to with meditation. Is it a form of therapy – something you wish to ‘exorcise’?

D.L.:'s something I love.

AdeC: Something you love?

D.L.: Yeah. I wouldn't do it otherwise. So it's like you could say, ‘Well Dave, I don't think you're very highly evolved’. That may very well be true, but I love to do those things and I like to do them for different reasons. So, I like textures. I like different kinds of things. I like a balance of slow and fast. I like certain things and some ideas come and incorporate those things that I love. And I say, this is where I'm at, you know - my painting or the lithography or whatever - and I do them. I say that every medium starts talking to us. If we get involved with them, you get a dialogue with it.


AdeC: It's joyful....

D.L.: It's a joyful process, absolutely joyful.

AdeC: Yeah! It's about accessing those states of joy for as much of your time as possible.

D.L.: Exactly right, Alexander. And now here's this word joy, right? You're talking about many people at work. And so, in the field of relativity, you could say the word joy is a relative kind of thing. How much joy, it differs. A lot of people work to get the money, and they don't necessarily enjoy the doing. One thing about my experience with transcendental meditation, I started enjoying the doing more and more. So the doing becomes thrilling.

And I use this analogy. Let's say you're a men's room attendant and your job is to clean latrines, toilets, sinks, the floor in there, all that stuff. It could be considered a very tough job. Not an appealing job. And my theory is if you started transcendental meditation and that was your job, little by little you would start not only enjoying the doing of that job but getting ideas to make it, maybe faster, more clean; enjoying the sparkle of the porcelain more and more, making it comfortable for others.

AdeC: That's accessing the extraordinary within the ordinary.

D.L.: The joy of making it good for you and for others - there’s huge enjoyment.

AdeC: But if we look at the way that your life has developed, what I see, which is the veneer of what's in the public domain, is that you have always been somebody that has done what you really love to do.

D.L.: I've been extremely lucky and fortunate.

AdeC: I mean you have had the will and the desire to spend your time in the way that you wish to spend your time. And it's been like that from a very young age.

D.L.: But many people have a desire and they have a will. They work yet they don't get green lights, they get red lights. So I say fate plays a huge role in our lives.

AdeC: So how would you say you have evolved your consciousness in the last 10 or 15 years?

D.L.: Okay. So consciousness doesn't evolve. Consciousness is, is consciousness. It's fullness. It's always the same.

The potential for each and every human being is infinite consciousness. I see it as every one of us has a ball of consciousness, but not everyone has the same size ball of consciousness. One analogy is if you have a golf ball size ball of consciousness, when you read a book, you're going to have a golf ball size understanding of what you read. When you look out the window, you'll have a golf ball awareness of what you see when you wake up in the morning; you'll have a golf ball size wakefulness. If you start transcendental meditation, that golf ball size consciousness starts to expand.

Now it comes to be like a softball or a basketball size. When you read a book, there’s more understanding, when you look out, there’s more awareness, when you wake up, there’s more wakefulness.

AdeC: So that's you, you have more awareness now.

D.L.: More awareness. It’s infinite.


AdeC: Another topic that I'm really curious about is synchronicity. I've always felt that it’s a secret window into the deeper mechanisms of nature. I'd love to know your thoughts on synchronicity?

D.L.: They call it “support of nature”. In enlightenment you would be one with those laws of nature, one with the absolute.

AdeC: So you'd have increased incidences of synchronicity?

D.L.: Yeah, Mother Nature smiles on you. And if you go against the laws of nature it leads to suffering - and the suffering is really meant to bring you back in accordance with the laws of nature.

AdeC: So, would you say that if you're running with nature that you can have more incidents of synchronicity? Do you have incidents of synchronicity?

D.L.: Yes. For instance on Eraserhead. I’d just started meditating and I needed to get a wig. I didn't even really know about wigs. (Chuckles). I just knew that I needed one, so I got in my car and I just went - I didn't even know where I was going. I went up Sunset Boulevard, I was driving along. I look over, I see the wig. I do a U turn and find the traffic almost parts for me like the Red Sea.

AdeC: (Laughing)

D.L.: I pulled up, there's a parking space right in front of the wig store. I get out and I go in. I say, "I want that wig in the window". They said, "fine" and “it's on sale”. So I get it. It's like that. (Both laugh)


AdeC: And how do you feel about mortality? Do you see this as just one stage and that afterwards there'll be a reincarnation?

D.L.: Consciousness is a continuum and everybody kind of understands that.

AdeC: So you don't fear death?

D.L.: Yeah. Okay. There's a story of a guy who thought he was highly enough evolved. He said he didn't think he had any fear. And then he dropped into 'Unity Consciousness' and he realized that he used to have what he thought was no fear, but he still had it. When in Unity, he knew it was no more fear. So there's fear up until the big enchilada, the big enlightenment. Everybody fears the unknown and death and suffering, and these things, but it gets less and less - and that's the thing, it saves us. You do start seeing a bigger and bigger picture; you start appreciating life and people more and more. And I say life becomes more like a game than a torment. To live in the now, that would be supreme enlightenment; then you're home free, you're liberated. It’s total fulfilment.

AdeC: Okay.

D.L.: It just needs unfolding. And you unfold it by transcending. Transcending is the key word. If you are transcending every day, you're doing the most for yourself that you can do. And there's a line in the Bhagavad Gita, it says, "in short time, you'll realize the goal”. But in the field of relativity, a short time can be quite a lot. In a big picture, it's short, but who knows how long it takes? If you’re doing something to unfold that, common sense would tell you, one day it's going to get unfolded.

AdeC: Right.

D.L.: And you're enjoying more and more of life, as you go along.


AdeC: But you know what's so curious to me?

D.L.: What's curious?

AdeC: What's curious to me is despite the fact that you are accessing these states of joyfulness and deep connection, what you choose to do every day in your practice as an artist, is not overtly offering people access to those states through the art work. Have you considered that you could use your art to take people to that particular place? Or do you just keep the art work for yourself?

D.L.: Something a bit like that. And if I say, if you want to send a message go to Western Union, right? And I want to make a paintings message. I love ideas and I love to fall in love with certain ideas. Now the thing is they say the world is as you are, people see things differently and it's just the way it is. So somebody stands in front of one of my paintings and they see a negative thing. Someone else comes, they see some kind of humour and it gives them a good feeling. You never know. And so I make those things for myself and I very much realize that the reaction is going to be different depending on who the people are. And the same way with cinema; I made a film called The Elephant Man that has a sublime ending, a great feeling. It's a story of life that is frightening or is a down thing. I fall in love with certain ideas.

AdeC: You like the whole thing.

D.L.: I like the whole picture.

AdeC: You like the richness of existence.

D.L.: Exactly.

AdeC: So there's no need to just focus on one aspect of it. You're like a disciple of experience.

D.L.: I am a follower of the mother of ideas. Yeah. And so, I get a lot of ideas from our world, but our world is filled with negativity and also stories - I've said this a million times. Stories have been told since the dawn of time.

Even these great books, they show different stages of humans evolving, tons of horrible things we do to one another. And there's life and death situations and stories. There's overcoming this, there's learning about this. There's mysteries, there's betrayals; there's the whole thing - all these different things. Swimming together is what makes a story. A story holds many things and they've been told throughout time.

D.L.: And so you find that with certain ideas. I say for cinema, it's two things:the idea and the way cinema could tell the idea - and those two things together. Sometimes I say, “Whoa, this is it!” First of all, you don't have to go see the film if you don't want to. And even in a dark story, there's something swimming in there; it could be thrilling. And, when I really liked that and other people say, “No, no, no, I didn't like it”, it's just one audience. The film is the same every screening but this bunch, it didn't click, and the next bunch they just love it. It depends on the people. You’ve got to do what you believe in and what you fall in love with.

Thanks to Dierdre Parsons at David Lynch Foundation UK for facilitating this interview.

For more information about the David Lynch Foundation and transcendental meditation please visit

This article first appeared in print in Watkins: Mind, Body, Spirit Magazine Issue 60. Click here to learn more:



Poem (Krause) - New Mexico Desert Dawn
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