Originally published in Arthur No. 20 (January 2006)…
The Whole Enchilada
David Lynch was 27 years old and depressed. Then he started meditating…
By Kristine McKenna
In person, David Lynch bears only the vaguest resemblance to the image most people have of him. He is, of course, an artist of extreme complexity, but he’s not a weirdo, and the people who work with him adore him because he’s respectful and appreciative of their contributions to his art.
Lynch has been working under the radar on his latest film, Inland Empire, for quite a while; it commenced principal photography two years ago in Lodz, Poland, and features Polish actors Karolina Gruszka and Krzysztof Majchrzak, along with Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton and Justin Theroux. It will be his first digital film, but it won’t be his last as he loves the freedom digital affords. “Film is over for me,” declares Lynch, who’s thus far handled the financing of Inland Empire, which is being produced by his longtime partner, Mary Sweeney.
I’ve been interviewing Lynch semi-regularly for 25 years now, and each time I see him I’m struck by his ability to retain the best parts of his personality; he remains an enthusiastic, open and very funny man, and he never fails to tell me something useful and inspiring. I spoke with him this past summer, ahead of his fall speaking tour of universities to promote the work of the new David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace…
Arthur: You’ve said in the past that your daily meditation practice is what enables you to maintain such a high level of creativity. What was going on in your life at the point when you were able to commit yourself to meditation?
David Lynch: I was 27 and I was in the middle of the first year of Eraserhead and things were going great. I had this unbelievable place to work—the stables at AFI—I had all the equipment I needed, I had people helping me, I had money to do it, and it was like a dream come true, yet I wasn’t happy. That saying ‘happiness comes from within’ started making sense to me and meditation seemed like a good way to go within. I’d always thought yogis sitting cross-legged in the woods were wasting their time, but I suddenly understood that all the rest is a waste of time. Meditation is the vehicle that takes you to the place where you can experience the unified field and that’s the only experience that lights the full brain. It’s a holistic experience and it’s not a foreign place—it’s a field of pure bliss consciousness and it’s the whole enchilada. People think they’re fully awake when they wake up in the morning but there are degrees of wakefulness, and you begin waking up more and more when you meditate, until finally one day you’re fully awake, which is the state of enlightenment. This is the potential of every human being and if you visit that unified field twice a day, every day begins to feel like a Saturday morning with your favorite breakfast, it’s sunny, and you’ve got the whole weekend ahead with all your projects that you’re looking forward to doing.
There are many types of meditation; why did you pick transcendental meditation?
I lucked into it. My sister was doing it, then one day she mentioned it to me and I don’t know why—maybe it was the sound of her voice and the time that I heard it—but bang! I said I’ve gotta have that. Transcendental Meditation is the way of the householder in that it allows you to stay in the world. Some people like the recluse way and want to go into the cave, and there are mantras that will take you right out of activity and put you into that cave. But transcendental meditation is a way of integrating these two worlds and activity is part of it. It’s like dipping a white cloth into gold dye; you dip it and that’s meditation, then you hang it on the line in sunshine and that’s activity. The sun bleaches it until it’s white again, so you dip it and hang it again, and each time you do that a little more of the gold stays in the cloth. Then one day that gold is locked in. It isn’t going anywhere no matter how violent the activity, and at that point two opposites have been united at a deep level. In the west people think yeah, like I’m really gonna give up my dental practice and go to the cave, but you don’t have to quit dentistry. Meditate before you go to work and you’ll start liking the people that come in and you’ll start getting ideas about dentistry. Maybe you’ll invent something and get into the finer points of a cavity and honing that bad boy. Things get cooler.
If you were running the world, what’s the first thing you’d do?
I’d get people going on consciousness-based education. Stress levels in children are going way up and there are so many bad side effects to stress. Kids are on drugs, they’re overweight—they are not happy campers and being a kid should be a beautiful thing. Kids take to meditation like ducks to water. The so-called knowledge we try to cram down their throats is useless and that’s why there are things like cheating—it’s all a bunch of baloney. It’s a sick, twisted, stupid world now. It’s ridiculous.
What’s America’s problem?
It’s locked in an old, ignorant way of thinking. Things are pretty low right now but lots of people are working to enliven that field of unity in world consciousness. John Lennon described meditation as “melting the iceberg,” and when that heat starts coming up some people love it, but it can be too much for some people and they fly apart. So, it’s gotta come up gently—it has been coming up pretty gently, too, but the bunch running the show here in America are working overtime in a negative way.
How did you interpret 9/11?
You don’t get something for nothing and America’s been up to a lot of nasty business for a long time. But Maharishi [Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement] says instead of fighting darkness you should just turn on the light, so let’s turn on the light and start having fun.
What makes you angry?
There’s an increasing amount of censorship in America and that is not a good sign. It really makes you wonder what’s going on with this country.
Is man on the road to extinguishing himself?
No. Quantum physics has verified the existence of the unified field and Vedic science understands how it emerges—in fact, Vedic science is the science of the unified field. There’s a whole bunch of trouble in this world but the way to get out of it is there; just enliven that field of unity. It sounds like magic but it’s science—it’s the real thing and the resistance to it is based on fear. But it’s not something to be afraid of—it’s us.
Your beliefs are deeply optimistic, yet many people find darkness in your work; how do you explain that?
Films and paintings reflect the world and when the world changes the art will change. We live in a world of duality but beneath it is unity. We live in a world of boundaries but beneath it it’s unbounded. Einstein said you can’t solve a problem at the level of the problem—you gotta get underneath it, and you can’t get more underneath than the unified field. So get in there and water the root then enjoy the fruit. Water that root and the tree comes up to perfection. You don’t have to worry about a single leaf if you get nourishment at that fundamental level.