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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Bohemian rhapsody: Jeanette Winterson’s “cover version” of The Winter’s Tale

 Jeanette Winterson's The Gap of Time is full of metaphorical riches.

Shakespeare – that magpie plunderer of other people’s plots and characters – would undoubtedly have approved. The Hogarth Shakespeare project invites prominent contemporary writers to rework his plays in novelistic form and this is Jeanette Winterson’s reimagining of The Winter’s Tale. Like the original, it shuttles disturbingly between worlds, cultures and emotional registers. It has never been an easy play, for all its apparent focus on reconciliation, and Winterson handles the gear-changes with skill, moving between the offices of Sicilia, a London-based asset-stripping company, and New Bohemia, a New Orleans-like American urban landscape (with interludes in both a virtual and a real Paris).

Her Leontes is a hedge-fund speculator, Polixenes a visionary designer of screen games (the presence of this world echoes the unsettling semi-magic of Shakespeare’s plot). They have a brief and uncomfortable history as teenage lovers at school and Polixenes – Xeno – has also slept with MiMi (Hermione), the French-American singer who eventually marries Leo.

The story unfolds very much as in the play (though Winterson cannot quite reproduce the effect of Shakespeare’s best-known deadpan stage direction), with Leo using advanced surveillance technology to spy on Xeno and MiMi, and Perdita being spirited away across the Atlantic to the US, where her guardian, Tony, is mugged and killed and she is left in the “baby hatch” of a local hospital – to be found by Shep and his son and brought up in their affectionate, chaotic African-American household. Perdita falls in love with Zel, the estranged son of Xeno, discovers her parentage, returns to London and meets Leo; Leo’s PA, Pauline, has kept in contact across the years with MiMi, a recluse in Paris, and persuades her to return secretly to give a surprise performance at the Roundhouse, when Leo is in the audience, and – well, as in the play, the ending is both definitive and enormously unsettling. “So we leave them now, in the theatre, with the music. I was sitting at the back, waiting to see what would happen.”

That last touch, bringing the author into the narrative in the same apparently arbitrary way we find in a text such as Dostoevsky’s Demons – as a “real” but imperfect witness – gently underlines the personal importance of the play to this particular author. Winterson is explicit about the resonance of this drama for an adopted child and one of the finest passages in the book is a two-page meditation on losing and finding: a process she speculates began with the primordial moment of the moon’s separation from the earth, a lost partner, “pale, lonely, watchful, present, unsocial, inspired. Earth’s autistic twin.”

It is the deep foundation of all the stories of lost paradises and voyages away from home. As the moon controls the tides, balances the earth’s motion by its gravitational pull, so the sense of what is lost pervades every serious, every heart-involving moment of our lives. It is a beautifully worked conceit, a fertile metaphor. The story of a child lost and found is a way of sounding the depths of human imagination, as if all our longing and emotional pain were a consequence of some buried sense of being separated from a home that we can’t ever ­remember. If tragedy is the attempt to tell the story of loss without collapse, all story­telling has some dimension of the tragic, reaching for what is for ever separated by the “gap of time”.

Winterson’s text is full of metaphorical riches. She writes with acute visual sensibility (from the first pages, with their description of a hailstorm in a city street) and this is one of the book’s best things. There are also plenty of incidental felicities: Xeno is designing a game in which time can be arrested, put on hold, accelerated, and so on, and the narrative exhibits something of this shuttling and mixing – most effectively in the 130-page pause between the moment when Milo (Shakespeare’s Mamilius, Leo’s and MiMi’s son) slips away from his father at an airport and the fatal accident that follows. In the play, Mamilius’s death is a disturbing silence behind the rest of the drama, never alluded to, never healed or reconciled; here, Milo’s absence in this long “gap of time” sustains a pedal of unease that has rather the same effect and the revelation of his death, picking up the narrative exactly where it had broken off, is both unsurprising and shocking.

Recurrent motifs are handled with subtlety, especially the theme of “falling”; a song of MiMi’s alludes to Gérard de Nerval’s image of an angel falling into the gap between houses in Paris, not being able to fly away without destroying the street and withering into death. The convergence and crucial difference between falling and failing, falling in love and the “fall” of the human race – all these are woven together hauntingly, reflecting, perhaps, Shakespeare’s exploration in the play of Leontes’s terror of the physical, of the final fall into time and flesh that unreserved love represents.

A book of considerable beauty, then, if not without its problems. MiMi somehow lacks the full angry dignity of Hermione and Leo is a bit too much of a caricature of the heartless, hyper-masculine City trader. His psychoanalyst is a cartoon figure and Pauline’s Yiddish folksiness – although flagged in the text as consciously exaggerated – is a bit overdone.

How a contemporary version can fully handle the pitch of the uncanny in Shakespeare’s final scene, with the “reanimation” of Hermione, is anyone’s guess (the Bible is not wrong to associate the earliest story of the resurrection with terror as much as joy). Winterson does a valiant job and passes seamlessly into a moving and intensely suggestive ending but I was not quite convinced on first reading that her reanimation had done justice to the original.

However, weigh against this the real success of the New Bohemia scenes as a thoroughly convincing modern “pastoral” and the equally successful use of Xeno’s creation of virtual worlds in his games as a way of underlining Shakespeare’s strong hints in the play that art, with its aura of transgression, excess, forbidden magic, and so on, may be our only route to nature. Dream, surprise and new creation are what tell us what is actually there, if only we could see. Winterson’s fiction is a fine invitation into this deeply Shakespearean vision of imagination as the best kind of truth-telling.

Rowan Williams is a New Statesman contributing writer. His most recent book is “The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language” (Bloomsbury). The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson is published by Vintage (320pp, £16.99)

Rowan Williams is an Anglican prelate, theologian and poet, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012. He writes on books for the New Statesman

This article first appeared in the 01 October 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory tide