Interview: David Lynch on Creativity, Meditation, and Collective Experience (But Nothing on That New Sparklehorse / Danger Mouse Collaboration)

"Transcending is a natural thing; so you have this experience, you're going asleep but you're still awake. Boom! Woah, what was that? You transcend."

This man even takes his own press photos.
This man even takes his own press photos.
David Lynch

David Lynch has clearly been an influencer within Hollywood over his 35-year-plus career. But more recently, he's devoted much of this power to creating the David Lynch Foundation For Consciousness Based Education and Peace, with the goal of bringing Transcendental Meditation to the masses. Lynch himself has been practicing the technique since the early '70s and in 2006, Penguin published Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, which outlines his thoughts on how he's worked these techniques into his work and day to day life. And this Saturday, "Change Begins Within" benefit show will take place at Radio City Music Hall with such marquee names as Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eddie Vedder. I sat down with Lynch for fifteen minutes at his midtown hotel two days before his foundation's biggest event to date.

A bunch of my friends are jealous of me for getting to do this, so that's great.

That's great [laughs].

For today at least.

It won't last very long.

It won't. I revisited Catching the Big Fish; you talk a lot about the meditative process. As a writer, I wonder, through your experience is this a way to enhance someone's creativity or unleash it?

Both. Because you're diving into infinite creativity so it's going to give you more of that. In a way, creativity is problem-solving, sort of solutions. And it has to do with ideas and catching ideas and the flow of ideas. So, sometimes, in your writing, you're writing along but you stop, because you're stuck. But if the ideas are flowing, your pen doesn't even stop; it just flows. And ideas just flow like ink; they just go. This happens more and more, the more that you bring out. It's all there. When you experience the deepest level when you transcend, that flow of creativity goes.

Then there's this thing in intelligence. Intelligence is a good thing. And it comes up more. And it's an ocean of infinite energy, so energy comes up more. When you got more energy, it does help the work. And then it's an ocean of infinite bliss, of happiness. So you find you've got more happiness. This, in my mind, is money in the bank. If you don't enjoy what you're doing, or if there is some fatigue or unease, and a little bit of anxiety or some kind of thing: life isn't so enjoyable and the work isn't so enjoyable. If you got more inner happiness, that disappears more and more. So you're sort of happy all during the day.

A lot of people--and it may have started in the 60's--there was a thing almost against happiness. You know, you got to suffer and you got to have a lot of angst and its an "up yours" kind of thing. Artists were angry and negative and it was super cool to be that way. But it's kind of a joke. The more suffering there is, the less flow of ideas, the less creativity. It doesn't happen so good. The more that weight lifts, the more everything flows.

Were you taught how to get to that place?


Through a long teaching process?

Yes, you need a legitimate teacher of Maharishi Manesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation. Once you have that legitimate teacher, he or she will teach you. And when you leave the teaching you'll know how to meditate and know that you're meditating correctly. And all your questions will be answered.


In Catching the Big Fish, you were describing that "fourth state of consciousness." I've felt that way sometimes right before falling asleep, that feeling that you're falling. But usually crazy things are happening, where I'm perplexed about what's going on. I don't know about clearing my mind from distractions; I have all this clutter.

What you said are two different things. Whenever you transfer from one state of consciousness to another, from waking, for instance, to sleeping, they say you pass through a gap and you can transcend in that gap. Transcending is a natural thing; so you have this experience, you're going asleep but you're still awake. Boom! Woah, what was that? You transcend. It's usually accompanied with a bright light or a euphoric feeling, a blissful feeling. And you can transcend without this technique; this technique just guarantees you're going to transcend using this technique. And every time you transcend, you're going to get more of that deepest level, pure consciousness. And you'll get the beautiful side effects of all that--the benefits.

And when you say you don't know if you can get all those thoughts out of your mind: Transcendental Meditation is not a trying. It's called effortless transcend. When Maharishi first brought this out in India, it was a shock to the Indians. It blew their minds how easy that state their trying to get to: boom! They're there, every time. It's beautiful. Thoughts are a part of the meditation. You'll just go right through them; they can be there and you'll transcend. In the time you're transcended, there's no thought, just pure consciousness. Thoughts bring you out. It's a beautiful process.

With the launch of the TV site, your professed love for digital video, you can be an anomaly in terms of looking ahead. But the entertainment business seems so resistant to change and going forward. In a lot of ways, it seems like it's a fear of changing. Does that hurt forms of creativity in your observation?

I think it's a human-being thing. There are some things that are good to hold on to and there are some things that are good to let go of. I think that Maharishi would say traditions are good to hold on to and mother tongue languages are good to hold on to, certain ways of doing are good to hold on to. But there are other things that come along and you have a resistance to them, natural, in a weird way. But the benefits are so great, very quickly you learn to let go of them. That happened to me with celluloid. Celluloid now is like a nightmare; digital is like heaven.

So, tell me about the concert. Has that idea been brewing for a while?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think lots of people thought that a concert was one, a good way to raise money. And two, a good way to raise awareness. But I don't think anybody dreamt that these particular people would come together in such an enthusiastic way for this. So, I think it's a huge, really important concert.

The lineup is staggering. In Catching the Big Fish, you talk about the collective experience of watching a film. Do you have those same types of feelings with live music?

I think it's the same phenomenon. I think sometimes that radio is so appealing because you know others are listening to the same station. When you listen to your own music, it might be a real groove, but it's more lonely; it's just you or the people in the room. So, a collective experience is a heightened thing. It's a special thing.

I read yesterday that you're involved with Mark Linkous and Sparklehorse in some way.

And I'm not supposed to talk about it (laughs).


Sorry, man.

This Saturday, David Lynch's "Change Begins Within" benefit show will take place at Radio City Music Hall with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eddie Vedder, Moby, Ben Harper, Jim James, Betty LaVette, Paul Horn and Donovan. Pre-concert footage will stream via his new website, David Lynch Foundation Television.

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