Wednesday, November 28, 2012

David Lynch

Film maker David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, etc.) has been practicing  meditation for over 30 years and has founded the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.  Lynch claims that meditation "has changed my life, my world. I am not alone. Millions of other people of all ages, religions, and walks of life practice the technique and enjoy incredible benefits."

David's particular practice is Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-focused meditation that is different from Zen's "objectless meditation."  This is not to say that it is without merit as it does have enormous benefits. As Lynch points out on his Foundation's web site, "The stresses of today’s world are taking an enormous toll on our children right now. . . In today’s world of fear and uncertainty, every child should have one class period a day to dive within himself and experience the field of silence—bliss—the enormous reservoir of energy and intelligence that is deep within all of us. This is the way to save the coming generation."  

The David Lynch Foundation was established to ensure that any child in America who wants to learn and practice the TM technique can do so. They provide scholarships for students to learn the technique and to receive the complete follow-up program of instruction throughout their student years to ensure they receive the maximum benefits. They also provide scholarships for students who want to attend TM schools, colleges, and universities.  Meditation, whether it be TM or Zen, should be a standard part of every school’s curriculum, part of the preparation for learning and a tool for developing the creative potential of the mind. 

Back in the 1970s, when I was a geology grad student in Boston, I noticed that one of our fellow students, Dennis, seemed not to be as affected by the stresses, the competition, and the social games in which the rest of us were engaged.  He was a few years older and married, but the small difference in years and marital status didn't account for the difference in personality.  One day, several of us confronted Dennis and  asked hom, Okay, what's the deal?  Why are you the way that you are?  What is it that makes you so different?

"I practice TM," was Dennis' answer.

That made perfect sense to me.  I had heard of TM, of course, and was generally interested in such things, but I never seriously pursued it, in part because I was so busy with school and also because I had no idea where to start looking (this was decades before the advent of the internet). It seemed like an opportunity had suddenly presented itself to me.

"Can you teach me to meditate?," I asked.

He couldn't, but he offered to introduce me to his teacher.  That sounded good, but for various reasons, mostly financial, I wasn't able to attend the course.  A few of the more well-to-do among my motley crew of geology grad students did take the introductory course, but didn't pursue the practice much beyond that first course.  Personally, I was somewhat offended about the emphasis on money, and disappointed that they would withhold their teaching based on my financial hardship.

Flash forward about 22 years later:  at another critical juncture in my life - the end of a romantic relationship, the realization of my advancing years, etc - I was experiencing a great, almost existential, stress and thought back to the lesson from the 70s that meditation might offer a solution.  It now being the ago of the internet, it was fairly easy for me to find a Zen group right here there in my hometown, and in short order I was present at their Sunday morning introductory instruction.

Based on my prior experience, I expected to be lectured about the myriad benefits of meditation and to be offered to participate in an extended series of classes to teach me the technique - something I was then finally capable of affording.  But to my surprise, they jumped right in and had us meditating - for free! - within 15 minutes of the class starting.

I am now in my 12th year of practicing with that center, and am now teaching newcomers to meditate - for free - myself.

My point here is that we never can know how the karmic seeds we plant will come to sprout and blossom.  Dennis showed me through his own example how mediation can make a difference in one's life, and even though I couldn't then receive the instruction he was offering to provide at that time, decades later the lesson took root in my life.  Most of the newcomers I provide basic instruction to now don't return to the Center again, but I have no way of knowing what seeds have been planted, where they will be in 10, 20, or more years, or how the teachings will take root in their lives.

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