David Lynch on New Book, Movies and Meditation

David Lynch
Author, director
Wednesday, May 2, 2007; 12:00 PM

Director David Lynch, whose credits include "Blue Velvet," "Mulholland Drive" and "Twin Peaks," was online Wednesday, May 2 at noon to discuss his new book, "Catching the Big Fish," about how practicing transcendental meditation drives his creativity.

A transcript follows.



Bethesda, Md.: Congratulations on an incredible body of work. Dreams seem to have a special place in your films. Some of them, such as "Mulholland Drive," could be called extended dreams. Does meditation help you tap into your dreams? If so, how?

David Lynch: Meditation expands consciousness, creativity, energy, intelligence and it's that expansion of those qualities that allow a person to more easily catch ideas, find solutions to problems and get a smoother flow of ideas as they work. It also allows any person to dive within, experiencing the deepest level of life, the unified field, a field of pure bliss consciousness, you expand bliss, intense happiness. You enjoy the doing of things more and more. Sometimes we get ideas from dreams -- it doesn't happen that much for me. But I love dream logic. And cinema can show abstractions like dreams.


Reston, Va.: How often do you meditate and for how long? Is this a daily practice, and if so, what does it involve? I've always been intrigued by the concept, but until learning of your pursuit, I always associated it with hippies or people that I simply don't take seriously.

David Lynch: Exactly, I understand 100 percent. I've been meditating for almost 34 years, twice daily. With transcendental meditation, you meditate 20 minutes in the morning, and 20 in the evening. There are lots and lots of misconceptions about meditation. It's not a religion. If you're a human being it will work. How it works -- you're taught, and you need a legitimate teacher of transcendental meditation. You're given a mantra, a mantra is a very specific sounds/vibration/though, and you're taught how to use the mantra. When you've finished the teaching, you know how to use the process and understand it correctly. Then you have your first meditation, and the mantra turns the mind within, and you so naturally and effortlessly dive and experience subtler levels of mind and intellect, and then you transcend, and experience the deepest levels of life. Unified field -- pure vibrant consciousness. And that field will do everything for you.

When you experience that deepest level of life, you enliven it, and that consciousness and those qualities of life grow and unfold, and life gets better and better and better.

The side effect of enlivening this field of unity is negativity starts to recede, so tension, stress, anxiety, depression, sorrow, anger, hate, fear, these things start to lift. So you go now with more freedom, more flow of creativity, more energy and more happiness in the doing.


Tokyo: If you didn't practice TM, would you be hamstrung as an artist?

David Lynch: If I didn't practice TM, I would still be filled with the same anxieties, fears, depression and anger that I had, and I wouldn't be as happy in the doing. I think I would suffer much more from the pressure of the business, the pressure of the world. I think I'd have a darker outlook on my life, more worries, more fear. They say negativity doesn't feed the work -- you should understand negativity, but you don't have to suffer to show suffering. Put the suffering on the screen, not in your life. Stories will always have contrast and depth of suffering and the struggle to overcome those things, but the artist doesn't have to suffer to show it. And the more the artist is suffering, the less he or she can do.


Wilmington, Del.: Are you ever able to turn off your mind? Or are the creative wheels always turning?

David Lynch: You don't want to turn off your mind -- in meditation, awareness settles down to the deepest level, and the unified field is a field of infinite silence combined with infinite dynamism. They call it "restful alertness." It's such a sublime experience -- thoughts come and thoughts go, but it's much more of a blissful experience, and when you come out of meditation, you feel so refreshed and vibrant and enthusiastic about things -- your ability to catch ideas, and the ability to catch ideas at a deeper level, where there's more to them.


Pulaski, Va.: Would transcendental meditation have "softened" the evil Frank Booth?

David Lynch: Absolutely. I've had this question before. Frank is a human being -- Frank would become more and more "Frank," but the torment within him would ease up. He would start enjoying life without that torment, and he and Jeffrey could become good buddies.


Anonymous: What keeps a good idea from being a bad idea? What keeps your bad ideas from wasting your time?

David Lynch: That's a real good question. There are, I guess bad ideas, and you know a bad idea could bring bad results. I guess one of the things is that whatever you do to anyone else, you are, in effect, doing to yourself. You can ask yourself, would I like this done to me, and if the answer is no, it's probably a bad idea. Now, in the cinema dept., I fall in love with an idea, because of the idea and how cinema can translate it.


Philadelphia: I can practice transcendental meditation while putting "Eraserhead" on my screen. Do you recommend any audio or visual comforts, or do you see them as distractions?

David Lynch: I don't really believe this person is doing TM -- when you meditate with TM, you close your eyes. Closing your eyes shuts off the motion picture of the outside. You start your mantra, and you want to turn within. You want to take your awareness within -- all the way within. But it's an easy, effortless process; it's not about trying. You want to transcend and experience that ocean of pure bliss consciousness. You want to unfold that, and grow in that. Human beings have potential, that potential is called enlightenment, and it's a human being's birthright to experience that. Stay regular in your meditation, be taught by a regular teacher of meditation, don't add anything to it or subtract anything from it, and you will get better and better and better. You won't become like other mediators -- you're going to become more you.


London: Hello Mr. Lynch,

I've read that you used to order the same lunch at Bob's Big Boy Diner for more than seven years during the 1980s. Was this intended as a meditative experience, or did it predate your introduction to meditation?

David Lynch: Now, I was meditating during this time -- I liked to go to the dinner to think and catch ideas. And what I liked about the dinner was that it seemed like a safe place, so if I went to darker areas mentally, I could always come back to the safety of the dinner. And I like coffee, and I liked their silver goblet milk shake. After about seven years, off and on, one day I climbed into the dumpster behind Bob's, and found a carton of the premixed shake solution, and noticed that all the ingredients ended in the letters -ate or -zine, and I figured I better stop with that. (And yes, in a way that was part of the scene in "Mulholland Drive." The areas behind dinners hold some fascination for me.)


Garner, N.C.: Your films are, to say the least, unusual. How would you tie your interest in TM to the themes explored in your films?

David Lynch: I think I've answered this, but we are all, on the surface, different. And each of us fall in love with different ideas, different types of ideas. I don't believe in "message" films, so I don't think, unless I get an idea I fall in love with, that I'll do a film about TM, outright. But, I can tell you that TM has greatly affected my work and I think, from previous answers, you can see how. It's brought me more focus, more clarity, there's this thing of intuition -- intuition is a thing for all human beings, such a huge tool, and it lets you know when things aren't quite correct, and lets you know how to correct them. It's such a subtle thing, but it's such an important thing in film, in art, in all walks of life.


David Lynch: Also -- In TM, when we transcend, we experience that ocean of pure consciousness, and that ocean is also a state of "knowingness" and that knowingness is another name for intuition. In my work -- you work on every element until it feels correct; it's not just feeling because there's also intellect. So intuition is intellect and emotion working together to give you that knowingness.


Missoula, Mont./ Washington, D.C.: What should be the goal(s) of today's young (20-30 year old) amateur artist struggling to balance a career (separate from art) with his art? At what point does one need to put off dreams for paying the bills?

David Lynch: That is a a really good question. You know -- the need for money is a real need, and I've been in that situation throughout my early years, and it always continues, but it would be, I'd say, important to get a job that fulfills the requirements in the money department, but allows you enough time to do your work. I delivered the Wall Street Journal during "Eraserhead," but I only worked about an 1 1/2 hours a day, so I had plenty of things I wanted to do. So it's finding the job that allows you what you need/want to do. And then, start TM, because you'll have more energy, you'll get more supportive nature -- when you unfold that field of unity, you're unfolding more of the whole of all of the laws of nature, and you see things getting smoother and smoother day by day.


Fairfield, Iowa: If TM removes your fear, anger, and stress, what motivates you to make such distorted, frightening films?

David Lynch: What motivates me is, I fall in love with those ideas. And when you fall in love, there's not a whole lot you can do about it. In addition, I like stories that hold contrasts, and I think there will always be stories throughout time, even in times of peace, the stories can hold suffering and torment and huge contrasts, life and death struggles, but, as I said earlier, the artist doesn't have to suffer to show suffering. A story that shows only good things might possibly be boring. Some parts of my ideas I know are disturbing, but there's always another side, in my mind, so it's always a combo of things. It's like music -- there are low notes and high notes, and because they flow, they can conjure huge, beautiful experiences. Stories are like that. If it's all low notes or all high notes, it can get very boring. It can be a fun exercise, but it's not going to light anyone's fire.


Cambridge, Mass.: Do you believe that the advent of organized religion has alienated individuals from their own unique spirituality, which is inextricably linked to our ability to be creative?

David Lynch: Maybe in some cases, but I think that all the great religions, as I said in my book, are like beautiful rivers flowing to the one ocean. It's the one ocean, that ocean of unity, of oneness, unified field, from which everything springs. The whole universe, all diversity, all of us, that's the key to everything. It's our home, it's our self and the experience of that one ocean is for us human beings, people from all religions, practice transcendental meditation, human beings from all over the world practice TM, and they all say, appreciation for the religion grows, understand of the religion grows, solutions come, negativity recedes, life gets better. Enliven that, and go about your business.


Washington, D.C.: Mr. Lynch, Thank you for taking time to talk about transcendental meditation. I applaud your foundation for trying to encourage peace and creativity through TM. I see you are trying to bring TM to the classroom. How do you think TM will change the American school system? How long do you think it will take to get the Dept. of Education to buy into the positive force of TM?

David Lynch: Schools are made up of students, and everybody knows that schools are troubled places these days. And we can't believe the horror stories we hear coming out of our schools. If you give the students a chance -- there's a phrase, "know thyself." If you give students a chance to dive within and know the Self, to experience pure consciousness, creativity, energy, bliss, bliss, bliss and more bliss. You'll see these students become happier, from the inside, you'll see them become more creative, you'll see their IQs go up, you'll see them get along better. You'll see them take in knowledge so much more easily, you'll see their grades go up, you'll see things like fear and hate and stress evaporate. Day by day, these students will become more themselves, more in love with the world, and human beings of the world will be like a family to them. You'll give them something that will transform their lives, from the deepest level of life, and something that won't go away. You'll give them a technique that will take them to their full potential. And that's what education is supposed to do. They'll still learn about physics and chemistry and art, but inside them they'll have this huge happiness, flow of creativity and ability to fill their desires. A student who is a unite of a peaceful world, not a world like we have now


Richford, Vt.: When did you first start practicing T.M.? Where did you learn how to practice it? Is there a difference between the way it's practiced by a woman compared to a man?

David Lynch: If you're a human being, TM will work, and it's the same for a woman as it as a man. I learned on July 1, 1973, on a sunny Saturday morning, at around 11 o'clock.


David Lynch: I would like to add -- TM works right from your first meditation, but it's important to stay regular. If the grass is brown and not doing so good, one watering isn't enough. So you water your lawn 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the evening, and little by little by little, watch it get green and healthy.


Los Angeles: This is non-book related... but thanks Mr. Lynch for bringing us some of the greatest, most creative, entertaining and thought-provoking films of our time. I was 9 years old when my mom brought home "Blue Velvet" from the video store when she was supposed to be bringing home "International Velvet." Not quite the same movie.

David Lynch: Ha -- Wow, well, I hoped that a screening of "Blue Velvet" was not too disturbing an experience for you, but this world has conjured up many disturbing experiences for all of us. But TM will very quickly fill us with enough bliss to heal us from difficult experiences. The world is really beautiful. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who brought TM to the world this time around, because it's been here before, it's an ancient form of meditation, said that mankind was not made to suffer. Bliss is our nature. It's a hopeful thing to think about. But a far better thing to experience. Know it by being it.


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