David Lynch on meditation: Heaven is a place on earth

Transcending is the only experience in life that gives total brain coherence. Any other thing we do utilises different small parts of the brain, this small part for painting, another small part for mathematics, that small part for playing the piano.

What is Transcendental Meditation? What is transcending? Where do you go when you transcend? And what good is it to transcend? To help answer these questions, I’ve done a little drawing and you can refer to it from time to time. You will notice a line at the top of the drawing representing the surface of life. We live on the surface and see surfaces everywhere. This right side represents matter and the left side will represent mind. Mind and matter.

About 300 years ago, scientists started wondering: what was matter, what was wood, what was air, what was water, what was flesh, etc? And they started looking into matter and they began to find things – things that we now learn about in school. They found cells and molecules. They went deeper and found atoms; they went deeper and deeper, all the way down to the tiniest particles – the elementary particles.

They found four forces that act upon the particles. And on a deeper level, they found that the four forces became three. Some unification started. And, on a deeper level, the three forces became two. About 35 years ago, modern science, quantum physics, discovered the Unified Field at the base of all matter. This field is the unity of all the particles and all the forces of creation. This is a field of nothing, but the scientists say that out of this nothing emerges everything that is a thing. This Unified Field is unmanifest yet all manifestation comes from this field.

Ancient Vedic science, the science of consciousness, has always known of this field. Believers say that it is an eternal unbounded ocean of consciousness. And this consciousness has qualities. So this Unified Field, this ocean of consciousness, is a field of unbounded intelligence, unbounded creativity, unbounded happiness, unbounded love, energy and peace.

Transcendental Meditation is a mental technique, an ancient form of meditation brought back for this time by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It is a technique that allows any human being to dive within, through subtler levels of mind and intellect, and then transcend – that is experience, that ocean of pure consciousness at the base of all mind and matter – to experience this Unified Field within with those all-positive qualities.

In Transcendental Meditation you’re given a mantra. A mantra is a very specific sound vibration - thought. The mantra that Maharishi gives is like a law of nature designed for a specific purpose and that purpose is to turn the awareness 180 degrees from out, out, out to within, within, within. Once pointed within, one will dive easily and effortlessly. It is easy and effortless because the nature of the human mind is always to want to go to fields of greater happiness.

Each deeper level of mind and each deeper level of intellect has more and more happiness – charm, as they say. So the happiness growing is like a magnet that gently pulls us within. And at the border of intellect, one then transcends and experiences the transcendent, the Unified Field, the ocean of pure consciousness, the kingdom of heaven that lies within – the Tao, the home of total knowledge, being or divine being; Atma, meaning the Self, the Self with a capital “S”.

There’s a line we’ve all heard: “Know thyself.” This is the Self they’re talking about. This field is also known as Brahm, meaning totality. First seek the kingdom of heaven that lies within and all else will be added unto you. All else is totality.

Every time a human being transcends, they infuse some of this all-positive consciousness and they truly begin to expand whatever consciousness they had to begin with. There is a side effect to expanding consciousness, and that side effect is that negativity begins to recede. Things like stress, traumatic stress, anxieties, tension, sadness, depression, hate, anger, rage and fear start to lift away very naturally.

The analogy is: negativity is just like darkness. When this light of consciousness begins to truly expand, it is like being in a dark room with a light on a dimmer. As the light gets brighter, the darkness starts to go. And when the light is full on, there is no darkness. Likewise with the light of unity – consciousness – growing, negativity very naturally starts to recede, automatically and without you having to worry about it. This heavy weight of negativity lifting gives such a joyful feeling of freedom to a human being. So you could say the person practising Transcendental Meditation each day is infusing gold and getting rid of garbage.

Transcending is the key word!!! Transcending is truly experiencing that deepest eternal level of life. It is this experience that does everything good for a human being. Every human being has consciousness but not every human being has the same amount. The good news is, every human being has the potential for infinite consciousness. Every time you experience this ocean of consciousness within, you expand more and more consciousness and you are unfolding your full potential as a human being. The full potential of the human being is called enlightenment – infinite consciousness, infinite happiness, total fulfilment. Totality.

Transcending is a holistic experience, meaning that all avenues of life will start improving. The things that used to stress you will still be out there in the world but they will not be able to hit you so hard. You’ll still be able to feel sadness but the sadness won’t last so long. It will lift away more quickly. The same with anger; the anger will leave more quickly. It won’t stay with you and poison you and the environment. Fears begin to lift – you work in more and more freedom. This is a field of infinite creativity. You will see creativity and problem-solving start to expand. Through research, scientists know that IQ can go up because of transcending each day.

Happiness comes more and more and you feel good in your body and enjoy the doing of things more and more. The field within is a field of universal love. This universal love feeds personal love and relationships improve. This field within is a field of infinite energy. People today are so fatigued and here within each of us is an infinite amount of energy to fuel our work and play. There is infinite peace within and that is deep, deep contentment, harmony, coming up inside the human being. It is so beautiful.

Transcendental Meditation is, as I said, easy and effortless. Many people might think that because it is easy it is not as good as other meditation techniques. This is wrong thinking. Concentration forms of meditation, contemplation forms of meditation, will keep a human being hovering on the surface. There will be no transcending. And it is hard work and it is boring and the reward is not there.

Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is a technique that has been here many times before and it is a blessing. It is the real thing. It works. Brain research scientists have found a wondrous thing. When a human being truly transcends, hooked up to an EEG machine, then the full brain gets engaged in concert. They call this “total brain coherence”.

Transcending is the only experience in life that gives this total brain coherence. Any other thing we do utilises different small parts of the brain, this small part for painting, another small part for mathematics, that small part for playing the piano, and so on. Scientists have always told us before that we use only 5 per cent or 10 per cent of our brain but transcending is an experience that utilises the full brain.

This shows us something of the relationship of the human being to this glorious Unified Field within. The more we transcend, the more this coherence stays with us and this eventually gives rise to higher states of consciousness, culminating with supreme enlightenment. On the EEG machine, Transcendental Meditation meditators are seen to transcend many times in each 20-minute meditation. Those meditators who practise concentration or contemplation forms of meditation do not transcend. They do not get the experience of that ocean of bliss consciousness, the Unified Field.

A ten-year-old child can practise this technique of Transcendental Meditation; a 110-year-old can do it, easily and effortlessly, and they will each get the experience they are yearning for. It is a sublime experience to transcend and feel that rejuvenation and that happiness and all those other all-positive qualities growing.

Transcendental Meditation is not a religion. People from all religions practise this technique and they see there is no conflict with their religion. On the contrary, they say they understand and appreciate their religion more because understanding and appreciation for all things grow by transcending each day. It is a technique for human beings, no matter what walk of life, what religion or where you are from. People who have experienced great suffering have gotten this technique and happily said, “Now I have my life back again.” The real story is: THE NATURE OF LIFE IS BLISS and THE INDIVIDUAL IS COSMIC.

Russell Brand’s article in this paper is about revolution. Revolutions are usually associated with violence or force. Transcendental Meditation leads to a beautiful, peaceful revolution. A change from suffering and negativity to happiness and a life more and more free of any problems. The secret has always been within. We just need a technique that works to get us there to unfold a most beautiful future.

Find out even more about Transcendental Meditation at: davidlynchfoundation.org.uk

Mind and matter: Lynch's diagram of Transcendental Meditation. Image: copyright David Lynch

This article first appeared in the 23 October 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Russell Brand Guest Edit

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The £7m fingers: how Jeff Beck became a guitar hero by saying no

Kate Mossman talks to Jeff Beck about escaping Eric Clapton's shadow, dodging fame, and why he can’t go and see Pat Metheny.

Michelangelo and Da Vinci loathed each other. Ingres sneered at his chief rival, Delacroix. Picasso and Matisse all but ignored each other for 50 years: a bit longer than Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Even now, Beck – who is one of the top three guitarists in the world and no longer needs to concern himself with Clapton – finds it hard to listen to other guitarists. His internet radio is tuned to Kurdish music. Onstage, he plays out old rivalries with high camp, welcoming other axe heroes with a touching-the-hem-of-your-garment gesture and mumbling into the microphone, “I might as well f*** off, then.”

In 2010, Beck chopped off the tip of his left index finger while making a stew. It was hastily reattached but he took no chances, insuring his fingers and thumbs for £7m. That his brokers felt that there was £7m worth of music left in them is not insignificant – though for many, he will always be associated with a 1967 pop song for which he claims to have received “40 quid” in royalties. He has likened “Hi Ho Silver Lining” to having a pink toilet seat hung around your neck for the rest of your life.

According to rock lore, Beck’s journey has been marked by strange choices, leading him away from fame and fortune. Like a musical Forrest Gump, he was present at many of music’s big moments but remains at the edge of the photograph. He replaced Clapton in the Yardbirds on the recommendation of his childhood friend Jimmy Page but was kicked out for bad behaviour. (He is thought to have been the model for Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap.) Pink Floyd wanted him to replace Syd Barrett but they never got up the nerve to ask him. The Rolling Stones wanted him, but he turned down the offer at the last minute. Beck formed a band with an unknown singer called Rod Stewart but quit just three weeks before they were scheduled to play at Woodstock.

Stewart went on to form the Faces, while Page was ascending into the stratosphere with Led Zeppelin. Stevie Wonder wrote “Superstition” for Beck but decided to keep it. Was it bad luck or self-sabotage, or simply that the music he really wanted to play was never going to make him famous? Clapton has said that the only reason Beck was never a megastar was that he never wanted to be one. “He deliberately carved that image,” he told Rolling Stone in 2010. “He likes to be left alone. He wants to be underneath the car, working on the engines.”

Quite literally. He has restored 14 vintage automobiles “from the ground up” at his house in East Sussex and produced a book about them, Beck01, published this month. This is perhaps not as strange as it seems. Much of what Beck has done with his instrument resulted from a kind of musical mechanics, a private process of tinkering, test-driving and refinement. Years ago, while listening to Bulgarian choral music – presumably because he couldn’t bear to listen to guitars – he started playing a tune with his tremolo. Pulling the whammy bar high off the body, he divined notes from an invisible scale in mid-air. The ghost voice, more like a theremin than a Strat, appears on the 1989 song “Where Were You” (“Some people say it’s not real playing but you try,” he says). This and other tricks punctuate his music with moments of cosmic tenderness. On message boards, men analyse his work and, he tells me, “They say, ‘What string is he using? That’s what I need, because that’s what gives Jeff the sound!’ No it bloody isn’t!” At the age of 72, on the eve of his 17th album’s release, he says that the “guitar nerd image” has finally got to go. There’s little chance of that.

A man on a galloping horse would be hard pressed to pull Beck out of a line-up with Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – they all have feathered hair, eternally dark, and a weather-beaten urchin face. For many years, he has worn stage outfits of an athletic style: white, nimble boxing boots laced to the calf, skinny nylon track pants and sleeveless tops, leaving a sinewy arm free to arc down on the strings like a flesh-and-bone whammy bar. Today, at his management office in Kensington, his hair is a couple of shades lighter and his nose is comfortably bulb-like. He tells me that he might need to rethink the stage outfits. All of his clothes are designed by Hilary Wili; she did the costumes for Downton Abbey but, Beck says, “She still finds time to stitch me something.” He does not have the sunken cheeks or “keyhole face” of his Stones peers – a result, he guesses, of a teenage lust for sweets and the lack of dentistry to support it. But he is so much a specimen of that generation that he even has the middle name to prove it: Arnold.

He, Jagger, Richards and Page were born within 11 months of each other towards the end the Second World War, and baby Clapton came five weeks before VE Day. According to Google Maps, you could drive from the family homes of Mick and Keith in Dartford to Clapton’s in Ripley, via Jimmy’s in Epsom and Jeff’s in Wallington, in an hour and 50 minutes. Suburbia, war stories, flannel trousers and a childhood conversion after hearing Bill Haley or Les Paul on the wireless: the background that gave birth to the British blues boom is well known. This was a musical ground zero for the sons of insurance clerks and factory workers; they may have heard guitars but they couldn’t see any, so they made them – Brian May (of Feltham, Middlesex) from a fireplace, Beck from cigar boxes. It was just another project alongside the boy-sized spaceship that he was constructing from the bashed-out insides of 400 Oxo tins. Hearing Les Paul for the first time or watching the Sputnik – it was all the same thing.

“Any information about guitars was so scarce. I remember getting a bus when I was 15 and going eight miles just to look at this guy’s catalogue of Fender,” he says. “He wouldn’t even let me in the house. He came all the way down to the garden gate and said, ‘Here you are, don’t dog-ear it,’ and held it out to me.”

After botched attempts at making your own instruments came guitars on hire purchase. “Don’t talk to me about hire purchase! There was this guy, he wasn’t old enough to be my dad but he offered to be my guarantor. He said, ‘I’ll tell them I’m your stepfather.’ Within a month, they’d sussed out he was nothing to do with me whatsoever and they snatched the guitar back. My dad went along and explained that we couldn’t afford it – so they waived the rest of the payments and I got the guitar.”

His father walked three miles to the station every day and three miles back. “All his life was cricket,” Beck says. His mother hoped to refine his musical tastes. “She kept telling me how nice the boy down the road was, who plays the marvellous piano. He came in the house once and played Moonlight Sonata and my mum nearly collapsed with delight. I thought, ‘Get that bastard out of there.’”

Like many of his contemporaries, Beck went from grammar school to art college. His sister had introduced him to Jimmy Page as a teenager. Page recommended Beck to the Yardbirds because he didn’t want to give up his own lucrative career as a session musician – the idea of the guitar hero as solipsistic soloing genius was still a few months away from being invented. It was two years before the “Clapton is God” graffito appeared around London.

Clapton was a blues purist, Beck a wizard with tone and tricks. They could probably have coexisted in moody rivalry but someone arrived in London “with 14-foot hair and playing the guitar with his teeth” and ruined it for both of them. Clapton walked offstage when Hendrix played with him at Regent Street Polytechnic. “Jimi steamrollered right through my life,” says Beck.

While Clapton was an “ogre” in his mind – he rolls up imaginary sleeves and prepares to punch – Hendrix was direct creative competition, which was far worse. “It wasn’t the muso thing that got me recognition in the beginning. It was doing ‘Wild Thing’,” he says. “I had to stop that because Jimi came along. I was doing all sorts of weird things, detuning the strings, using a repeat echo, and I thought, ‘I can’t do that any more.’ I had to jump out of one bus and get on another. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”

The first bus he jumped – or was thrown – off was the “converted school bus” that carried the Yardbirds around the US on the TV presenter Dick Clark’s 1966 package tour. “Lots of racial animosity,” he recalls. “A couple of black acts on the bus that hated the sight of us, didn’t like us playing the blues because it was their music. Twenty hours a time on the road; we’ve come 3,000 miles to play three songs a night and then it’s back in the misery box. By the time I got to Amarillo, I’d thrown my towel in.

“I was in love with someone back here, too, so it didn’t take me much to get back to England. But then, sitting by the pool for a day, I thought, ‘I wish I hadn’t done this! She doesn’t want me here! And I don’t want to be here!’ At least I got to say to Eric, ‘Na-na-na-na-na – I went to America before you.’”

***

Beck tells his story in the way that is most amusing to him. He recently said that his temper results from a bang on the head he received when his headmaster ran him over. Yet the decisions he made were the result of serious soul-searching. In the mid-1970s, he was flown to Rotterdam to discuss the possibility of joining the Stones. “I’d been there two days and I hadn’t seen a Stone, and I thought, ‘Right, I’m witnessing what it’s like to be
a Stone – not playing, and having single malt whiskies.’”

He decided to get away under the cover of night. Down the corridor, from Keith Richards’s room, Betty Wright’s song “Clean Up Woman” was emanating from a little Dansette automatic-replay record player. He entered the room and hovered over the sleeping figure of Keith and lifted the arm off the record. He left the Stones with a note slipped under someone’s door.

“They were living the rock lifestyle of all rock lifestyles. I don’t think anyone will ever be like that again,” he says. “But I wouldn’t have been my own master. And that would be my whole being truncated. I thought, ‘Now you’ve made your choice. You will go down that path and you will stick to it.’

“I dearly wanted to tell them how grateful I was,” he adds, of the men he has seen countless times over the past 45 years. “Maybe another time.”

The truth was, Beck had already had two experiences that would shape his musical life. His group had been on tour with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the shape-shifting jazz-rock tribe fronted by John McLaughlin, Yorkshire’s boy wonder who’d trained with Miles Davis. The two bands had a block booking on American Airlines, taking up the whole front of the plane, and it was joyous, he says, because they were all Monty Python fans.

“It was the refinement of McLaughlin that presented a way out for me,” Beck says. “Arriving at the soundcheck and watching him and the sax player trading solos, I thought, ‘This is me.’ He has such knowledge of scales, and he tells the story within the scale. Playing with McLaughlin, and then the Stones – dang, dang, dang – can
you imagine?”

Although he reels off the rock’n’roll anecdotes like Johnny Rotten or Wilko Johnson, when he talks about music he changes. “Mahavishnu's drummer Billy Cobham was the best I’d ever heard. Not loud, that’s not the secret – powerful as hell when he wanted to be – but 90 per cent of the time he was just dancing with the drums, you know? Just like a butterfly, all over them.”

His second revelation came when he was booked to work with George Martin, who produced Blow by Blow, the 1975 album that showed off the full range of his jazz sensibilities and made him a tax exile into the bargain. Martin “was a massive pair of wings. Just knowing that somebody with such sensitive ears was approving of what was going on, you were flying. I can’t explain the joy. I found it almost impossible to deliver what he was looking for every day. I would feel the cut-off point, thinking, ‘I don’t know anything else I can impress him with.’ The band were looking at each other with new-found love for music, but with us playing.”

Martin encouraged Beck to play the piano, picking out skeletal melodies unhampered by style and padding. Beck finds fast playing physically upsetting. “It sounds impressive but it doesn’t mean a thing.”

Blow by Blow paid for his 16th-century farmhouse in Wadhurst, East Sussex, in 1976. He moved there with his girlfriend at the time, the model Celia Hammond, and Hammond’s rescued stray cats had the run of the 80 acre park. They split up some years later – her animal trust is still run from the town; he is the patron of one in Tunbridge Wells. He had been married at the age of 19 to Patricia Brown from Crawley. The couple’s first possession for their marital home was an Afghan hound; the fees from Beck’s band the Nightshift scarcely covered the dog food. The future Julia Carling was another girlfriend: she left college to live with him at 18 in the early 1980s but later said that, despite the age gap, he needed someone to mother him. He still lives in Wadhurst, with his wife since 2005, Sandra Cash, his sheepdogs Wilf and Paddy, a ewe called Bubba and a crow called Dave. He has been a vegetarian for 47 years.

I ask him about the old beef with Clapton. “Eric wanted to be the underdog,” he summarises, “the back-room boy, and I turned out to be that person, while he was like: ‘LAAAAAYLA!’”

Were their temperaments too similar? “The approach to playing maybe so,” he says, “but outside that, one of my touchstones is humour. I have to have people around who are of a certain strain of humour. I can’t deal with people who have no humour. I’m not saying he doesn’t . . .”

On 10 August, Beck will play the Holly­wood Bowl in Los Angeles, covering 50 years of guitar music in two hours. He asked Clapton to play but he is suffering from the nerve condition peripheral neuropathy. Beck is worried about him; he says that he googled
it and sent Clapton a list of websites offering treatment.

In technique and innovation, the two haven’t really been competitors for years. In 2007, Beck did a run of gigs at Ronnie Scott’s in London with one of his best discoveries, Tal Wilkenfeld, an Australian bass prodigy who turned heads because of her prodigious capabilities and possibly because she was a 20-year-old woman in the male-dominated world of instrumental jazz. In 2010, his album Emotion & Commotion included a version of “Nessun Dorma”, which won him his eighth Grammy. His new one, Loud Hailer, features the guitar playing of Carmen Vandenberg and the voice of Rosie Bones, Bill Oddie’s daughter. The girls wrote the songs with him in front
of a fire with a crate of Prosecco. After our interview, they’re coming to the office for a meeting, with another crate of Prosecco.

“The right time to record is when you’re not quite ahead of yourself,” he says. “You’re probing and you’re treading carefully and it sounds that way, like you’re telling a story. If you flash, people’s ears clam up.”

Of the top three guitarists in the world, Beck is OK playing with John McLaughlin (“I’ve done John”), although he has turned down an invitation to appear with McLaughlin’s “butterfly” drummer Billy Cobham (“I’m not up to that standard”). However, he is not sure that he can go to see the third player in the Planet Earth axe triumvirate, Pat Metheny, when he appears at Ronnie Scott’s the week we speak.

“They asked me if I wanted to go,” he says. “But I don’t know if I can see any other guitarists. It might just send me a curve ball. Maybe I’ll go. Or here’s what I’ll do. I’ll sit in Bar Italia across the way, getting plastered, and you can tell me how it was.”

“Loud Hailer” is released by ATCO Records

Kate Mossman is the New Statesman's arts editor and pop critic.

This article first appeared in the 21 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The English Revolt