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meditation

Fishing with David Lynch

David Lynch's first film, Eraserhead (1977), a dark, disturbing and deeply surreal exploration of the directors own subconscious, was initially pronounced as un-releasable upon completion, but in short time became a cult classic and critical success, launching Lynch to the forefront of avant-garde film-making and earning him the favour of Stanley Kubrick, who proclaimed Eraserhead one of his all-time favourite films. lynch_catching_the_big_fish.jpgThirty years later David Lynch is still exploring the sub-conscious, and unusually for a notoriously private director who refuses to discuss the details of his plots or their meanings, has written a book about... himself. Not a traditional biography mind you, but a surreal, whimsical exploration of his own consciousness. His legion of fans would expect nothing less. In Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, David Lynch puts aside his filmic quest to get inside the viewer’s head and lets them instead inside his, an invitation almost as rare as a ticket to fiction’s Wonka Chocolate Factory, and possibly just as out of this world.
“When I first heard about meditation I had zero interest in it, I wasn’t even curious. It sounded like a waste of time. What got me interested though was the phrase, ‘True happiness lies within.’ ”
So begins Catching the Big Fish, and from the very first page, as though entering a state of deep meditation, ordinary reality is left—along with one’s shoes—at the door. A practitioner of meditation for twenty minutes, two times a day, for over thirty years, Lynch invites the reader on a mind-altering journey, expounding upon his commitment to Transcendental Meditation and the powerful creative wellspring it has provided him in 85 alternatively light and lofty chapters, many in koan-like form. Citing his daily sessions of silence and inner happiness as essential to the creative process, one can only wonder what kind of films this director might have made otherwise—Academy Award nominated Blue Velvet (1986) among the most disturbing, unsettling films of all time. Catching the Big Fish is a blend of thoughts and themes, sometimes random like a stream of consciousness, or the analogy he personally prefers for creativity, casting a hook into a bottomless sea, and melds biography, film analysis, philosophy and spirituality with a heart on sleeve sincerity, narrating the author’s passion for charting the world of dreams and ideas and rendering them unto action. Few probably realise that this famously reclusive director is putting his own money into establishing meditation centres around the world, or that he has founded the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and Peace to further his meditative ideals. A little like a rare sighting of the Loch Ness Monster, any public appearance of one of the greatest American directors of modern cinema is compulsory viewing, or reading in this case, and whether or not you are ready to tread the same waters, Catching the Big Fish is worth at least a dip.

Procrastination?

susan_cooper.jpgSadly, I'm in the midst of writing a non-blog piece at the moment—sadly because it makes me foresworn from lavishing even half-devoted attention to this barely born web diary until finished. All the same, and please don't tell my editor, in the course of researching work-in-progress I came across the following gem to share, an interview with English children's author Susan Cooper, best known for her profoundly powerful, mythic The Dark is Rising series (soon to be a film):
Question: Because you write about extraordinary events, do strange things ever happen to you? Susan Cooper: Yes, sometimes they do. When I began to write 'Silver on the Tree', I found it very hard and I remember going to stay the weekend with my American publisher, I told her I was having trouble and she said, "Let's talk about it in the morning, let's go for a walk now." We went for a walk in the meadow behind her house and three things happened: We saw two swans swimming in the river, an enormous bumble-bee came flying past my nose (very late in the afternoon for a bumble-bee to be about) and then my publisher told me a tale of a strange black mink, which she'd seen in the meadow last summer and I suddenly realised that in my first chapter I had two swans, a bumble-bee and a black mink! Now that is pure coincidence, but it's the sort of thing that gives you tingles and it certainly encouraged me to go on with the book.
The cross-over between fact and fiction, dream and reality, sanity and not is one of my favourite subjects—more abiding interest really—and not just because I spend time in consciousness-altering meditation every day. I was fascinated by the idea of the unreal being real from an earliest age; there was something just beyond comprehension, always gnawing away, whispering that the magical might exist in this world, just out of my reach. Which reminds me of an essay written by Indian spiritual master Sri Aurobindo, and now I really am getting diverted, called“The Intermediate Zone,” on the realm of consciousness just beyond the waking state, where dreams and half-truths take shape, informed by regions ever higher and more perfect... But no I must stop or else there will be no turning back, or finishing of what is almost finished, head turned, attention diverted by the charms of sudden temptation, and the glowing inspiration of the just started. Is this the definition of procrastination? Or just distraction.

Life is but a dream…

A circumzenithal arc (upside down rainbow) by Andrew G. Saffas Serendipity: Thanks, Horace Walpole by Sumangali Morhall has left me reaching for superlatives and floundering in imitation. A total of two mentions to this web diary? Flattered beyond due, how could I not be effusive in my praise! On the topic of serendipity, still, I am reminded of a friend from very long ago, an art student and later fellow practitioner of meditation who introduced me to the concept that life itself could be art. My ears picked up at this point; being something of a frustrated artist—one who could and should be doing creative things, had always planned to do them but convinced self that he was not “good” enough to—I knew intuitively as soon as he spoke that here was a better way to live; a chord was struck within. In following this outlook, my friend and his art school acquaintances admittedly went to very unusual extremes. A flatmate of his, a particularly shy, awkward young man, took to roaming the streets in a reflective, silver spacesuit; several years later child-like quirkiness became full-blown strangeness, live art gallery performances and national magazine writeups of the very unusual party trick—sewing his own lips shut. Borderline psychosis of fleeting acquaintances aside, I very much admired my friend’s philosophy of allowing life to surprise him, the way he sought joy in the random, the unusual and completely unplanned. Like leaving small amounts of money “forgetfully” in pockets; in a week or a month when next worn—a pleasant surprise! To one used to planning and practicality but not terribly enamored of the consequences, seeing a person living thus opened my eyes, and ever since I have made a practise of always allowing life to surprise me. Like turning one's eye skywards to glimpse a rainbow, serendipity and chance are there when looked for; accept them upon their own terms, graciously and un-demanded, their workings far more beautiful than explanation. There is belief common to many religions and philosophies that maintains our world is an illusion. A more positive way of stating this, a way which doesn't negate the meaning of our fleeting human experience and reality, is to see life as a game. This is Sri Chinmoy's approach to living, and he describes it as God’s as well—a being whom he often refers to as an eternal child. If you take God to be omnipotent, omniscient and omni-present, and all the major philosophies do, then what could give such a being more joy than the unknown—a game of surprise? It is said that God deliberately limits himself, hides from himself and his full capacity, just to be able to enjoy Himself and his creation more fully. This the real meaning of life; our lives an experience of God-becoming in the midst of limitation, God enjoying himself and his creation here on earth in ever-new ways, through our eyes and our human form. Life, it is said, is the ultimate game of hide and seek...
Hide and Seek Every minute inspires me To attempt. Every hour perfects me To ascend. Every day illumines me To reach. In my attempt, I have come to learn what I can be. In my ascension, I have come to learn who I eternally Am. On my arrival, God and I shall stop playing our age-long Game, Hide-and-Seek. —Sri Chinmoy

Found poetry

10-things-cover.jpg I read a touching film review today, a“found conversation” on a movie site discovered in much the same way one overhears a piece of conversation, insight gained even though—and probably because—it is completely out of context; the same words heard but quite the opposite meaning to that the original author intended. In reviewing 10 Items or Less, louisecardinal from Canada accidentally wrote a poem... I wish this film was realistic I wish this type of story happened more often I wish we didn't have to go to the movies to realize that we can indeed connect with each other even if we come from vastly different backgrounds The film's message is based in the open heart makes us wonder about the possibility of another world where we meet each other from there a world where peace could be a possibility To be completely accurate, louisecardinal wrote this as a film review rather than a poem; these are exactly her words, but I removed the punctuation and broke some sentences to format them as a poem. I may have to watch this film now, for I don't mind admitting that films with heart are my most favourite films of all. I can fault louisecardinal's English, but on this point I can't fault her sentiments. Yes, I also wish that we didn't have to go to the movies, read a beautiful poem or hear a haunting song to realise that we can connect with each other. Furthermore, I wish that connecting with another didn't need the sanction or binding structure of romantic love—that we could connect with every other. 10-things.jpg I guess that's why I first got into meditation—I've known intuitively since an early age that only loving a single person, a single family or a single country was somehow incomplete. I'm a child of mixed nationalities and two countries, of Canada and New Zealand, an only child of a solo mother, yet because of this I grew up almost a part of a multitude of other families, spending time in households, with non-siblings and their parents I often wished were my own; not exactly regretting my own circumstances, but always wondering why the seemingly impossible couldn't be possible—“Why is my Mother my Mother when I also love my friend’s Mother?” There's something of a koan, or Japanese Zen riddle, to insights gained in this accidental manner. When you put aside the ordinary way of seeing the world, as such riddles ask us to do, quite extraordinary meanings can be found in the most unlikely of places. I'm not terribly concerned with the reality or not of these experiences. Yes, an argument could be made that my experience of reality bears no relation to“actual reality,” that I have abandoned objectivity for a quite delusional subjectivity. So what? It is my opinion that the sooner people realise that life is always subjective the better—our obsession with objectivity is synonymous with the loss of heart and pre-eminence of mind in today’s world. Only you have to find a true subjectivity, a notion of and experience of self based on an underlying spiritual reality. I would call this“Poetic Reality.”