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David Lynch
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12/13/12 11:23 AM
David Lynch is one of my favorite artists. His surrealists films tap powerfully into my emotion-core, vibrating there in strangely consonant harmonies, resonating somewhere in a land between my rational brain and my Id, speaking to something weird and disturbed and terrified and childish within me, often evoking what I think Freud best described as the "uncanny."

So, of course, it is intriguing to me that Lynch has been a lifelong meditator.

His chosen technique is TM - the Transcendental Meditation school - as promoted by the Maharishi Yogi.

I don't know a lot about TM except what I've gleaned here and there, as well as some supplemental readings, such as this book called The Maharishi Effect: A Personal Journey Through the Movement That Transformed American Spirituality by Geoff Gilpin, which I thought was a funny, sad, and revealing memoir/expose of what an old school TM insider and Maharishi University graduate makes of it all.

I also read some of The Science of Being and Art of Living by the Maharishi Yogi, but it wasn't a meditation manual so I lost interest in it pretty fast.

TM seems to be a huge, secretive, engine-of-money-generation ala Scientology in some ways, but influenced by Vedic philosophy, etc. They charge HUGE amounts of money to teach meditation, as in the thousands of dollars type huge. And they are always trying to claim that their style of meditation IS THE BEST EVA!! Whatevs.

The yogic flying videos one finds on Youtube are pretty darn amusing, though! Full lotus hopping. I like when they race each other.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO8HI884_zI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHwhGUo90jw

Anyway, I've always wondered, what attainments, if any, do you think David Lynch has attained?

TM seems to be a mantra meditation, so probably all he does in his twice daily 15 minute sits is a kind of samatha-style meditation, right? So maybe he gets jhana, or some of the higher jhanas? In promotional videos about TM, Lynch does tend to go on and on about "bliss," so that makes me think maybe he is blissing out in some jhana state or other.

There is no indication that TM does insight practices, is there? I mean, Lynch does talk at numerous times about the "unified field," which sounds like he is possibly describing some High Equanimity stuff, etc., ala the formations, but, unless he has gone on retreat, it is hard to imagine that he has managed to work his way through the stages of insight in just twice daily 15 minute sits. Lynch does take the unified field theory pretty seriously, as it influenced the creative process of Inland Empire, which is a crazy masterpiece. In everything I've read, however, TM talks about how its practices are restful, regenerative, etc., so there seems to be no emphasis on insight, perhaps just some jhana stuff then. It could be that he is describing the formless realm jhanas, such as #6 boundless consciousness, when he talks about, for instance, "an ocean of pure vibrant consciousness." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2UHLMVr4vg

Thoughts?

RE: David Lynch
Answer
12/13/12 1:05 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan,

TM was the very first meditation I ever did. From what I remember, the Maharishi's oraganization(s?) was/were set up as educational, not religious organizations. He established a University in Fairfield Iowa.

You'd go to the center, bring some fruit for an offering and pay a fee. There'd be a brief initiation ceremony after which they'd give you a mantra. The instruction were to use this mantra twice a day for 20 minutes a sit. I beleive none of the mantras was coordinated with the breath. That was it. You could go to any TM center anywhere after that it you needed any sort of refresher or had questions.

The mantras are all traditional sanskrit seed mantras (bijas). There were a number of tables of these mantras, and I beleive most were used to assign mantras based on birth date and sex. Different tables were used at different periods. You can probably still find them online if you search for them. I couldn't remember exactly when I got initiaited, and was able to get some idea when this occurred by finding the table and working backwards.

That is the whole basic program. Above and beyond that, there was the Siddhi program, which I never went for. This entailed attempts to levitate, and other wackiness.

I didn't do this for that long, and soon got into Zen, which is what I really wante to do way back then. Much after the fact, I like you, wondered if there were insight practices involved. I never found any, unless it would be the arising and passing of the mantra.

You might be interested in the most recent episode of the podcast "Buddha at the Gas Pump", an interview with Mark Landau who part of the Maharishi's inner circle. The host, Rick Archer, was a long time TM practitioner and teacher; many of his interviews are peppered with his comments about TM.

Eric

RE: David Lynch
Answer
12/13/12 1:22 PM as a reply to Eric B.
Eric Bause:
Alan,

TM was the very first meditation I ever did. From what I remember, the Maharishi's oraganization(s?) was/were set up as educational, not religious organizations. He established a University in Fairfield Iowa.

You'd go to the center, bring some fruit for an offering and pay a fee. There'd be a brief initiation ceremony after which they'd give you a mantra. The instruction were to use this mantra twice a day for 20 minutes a sit. I beleive none of the mantras was coordinated with the breath. That was it. You could go to any TM center anywhere after that it you needed any sort of refresher or had questions.

The mantras are all traditional sanskrit seed mantras (bijas). There were a number of tables of these mantras, and I beleive most were used to assign mantras based on birth date and sex. Different tables were used at different periods. You can probably still find them online if you search for them. I couldn't remember exactly when I got initiaited, and was able to get some idea when this occurred by finding the table and working backwards.

That is the whole basic program. Above and beyond that, there was the Siddhi program, which I never went for. This entailed attempts to levitate, and other wackiness.

I didn't do this for that long, and soon got into Zen, which is what I really wante to do way back then. Much after the fact, I like you, wondered if there were insight practices involved. I never found any, unless it would be the arising and passing of the mantra.

You might be interested in the most recent episode of the podcast "Buddha at the Gas Pump", an interview with Mark Landau who part of the Maharishi's inner circle. The host, Rick Archer, was a long time TM practitioner and teacher; many of his interviews are peppered with his comments about TM.

Eric


So what attainments do you speculate/hypothesize that Lynch may have obtained, based on his descriptions and what you know about TM?

RE: David Lynch
Answer
12/13/12 1:53 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:


So what attainments do you speculate/hypothesize that Lynch may have obtained, based on his descriptions and what you know about TM?


I don't know. I was at the eye rolling stage by the end of my brief TM foray. "Unified field" has some special meaning in the context of TM lingo--I never got that far.

RE: David Lynch
Answer
12/13/12 6:26 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
I think it was back in 2006 when I attended a talk Lynch gave (for free, bless him!) at the University of Washington on the subject of meditation and how it inspired creativity. He was actually very pragmatic about it, saying something along the lines of meditation basically strengthening the focus of the practitioner to be able to dive deeper and deeper into dreams and the unconscious. The comparison to weight-lifting was made. He never got too much into the practice of TM in particular, though, and talked about meditation mostly in broad terms. Being both in art school and a big fan of Lynch's work at the time, I really took a lot of what he said to heart, and it was probably been a part of what got me into serious meditation down the road.
That being said, it seems like a really difficult thing to comment on someone else's attainments without personally talking in specific terms. He certainly didn't demonstrate any levitation, but he was very lucid and concise and generous with his time after the talk.
And I feel that I should add that my father, who is a better man than most I've ever known, is also a 30+ practitioner of TM, and when we talk in technical detail about our respective practices, he doesn't relate to Stream Entry or any other path.

RE: David Lynch
Answer
12/13/12 9:10 PM as a reply to R. Gabriel Hill.
I think it was back in 2006 when I attended a talk Lynch gave (for free, bless him!) at the University of Washington on the subject of meditation and how it inspired creativity. He was actually very pragmatic about it, saying something along the lines of meditation basically strengthening the focus of the practitioner to be able to dive deeper and deeper into dreams and the unconscious. The comparison to weight-lifting was made. He never got too much into the practice of TM in particular, though, and talked about meditation mostly in broad terms. Being both in art school and a big fan of Lynch's work at the time, I really took a lot of what he said to heart, and it was probably been a part of what got me into serious meditation down the road.
That being said, it seems like a really difficult thing to comment on someone else's attainments without personally talking in specific terms. He certainly didn't demonstrate any levitation, but he was very lucid and concise and generous with his time after the talk.
And I feel that I should add that my father, who is a better man than most I've ever known, is also a 30+ practitioner of TM, and when we talk in technical detail about our respective practices, he doesn't relate to Stream Entry or any other path.


Has your father ever mentioned getting into jhanic territory, meaning, states of absorbtion as a result of his TM practices?

RE: David Lynch
Answer
12/14/12 8:31 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Yep, he has, and seems pretty darn adept at regularly reaching at least a few discernible states that sound pretty jhanic to me. His descriptions of that kind of territory lead me to believe (from my admittedly purely Mahasi/"Pragmatic Buddhism" vantage point) that he, and all TM practitioners, have been using a pretty straight forward Concentration Meditation technique, without any sort of Wisdom/Insight/Vipassana component... That being said, I've heard there's all sorts of other sub-groups of teachings within the Transcendental Meditation community.
I too was officially initiated in TM and used the mantra method for about eight months before throwing my hands up in frustration, so I can claim a little personal experience, too! Didn't hit the spot for me, but good ol' Dad stands by it, and the benefits of stress-relief, discipline, and higher brain function! emoticon

RE: David Lynch
Answer
12/14/12 9:32 PM as a reply to R. Gabriel Hill.
R. Gabriel Hill:
Yep, he has, and seems pretty darn adept at regularly reaching at least a few discernible states that sound pretty jhanic to me. His descriptions of that kind of territory lead me to believe (from my admittedly purely Mahasi/"Pragmatic Buddhism" vantage point) that he, and all TM practitioners, have been using a pretty straight forward Concentration Meditation technique, without any sort of Wisdom/Insight/Vipassana component... That being said, I've heard there's all sorts of other sub-groups of teachings within the Transcendental Meditation community.
I too was officially initiated in TM and used the mantra method for about eight months before throwing my hands up in frustration, so I can claim a little personal experience, too! Didn't hit the spot for me, but good ol' Dad stands by it, and the benefits of stress-relief, discipline, and higher brain function! emoticon


That's pretty interesting. So perhaps ol' David is tappin' a few jhanas after all!!

My only reservation regarding this is that he mentions in the talk I posted the almost instantaneously positive effects of practicing meditation. He says that within a few or something like that his wife already noticed a difference. He couldn't possibly have been getting jhanic states so quick, although I suppose he could believe that even regular non-absorbed states produced by meditation have positive effects. Although all his talk about endless oceans of consciousness sound like the formless realm jhanas to me...