David Lynch on Meditation and Reuniting the Beatles

By
Photo: Getty Images

Famed director David Lynch is known for his predilection for severed ears, dancing midgets, and nightmarish dream sequences. Yet he's also involved in something slightly less creepy: the David Lynch Foundation, which teaches children how to meditate. On April 4, he's hosting the 'Change Begins Within' concert at Radio City, reuniting Paul and Ringo for the first time since the Concert for George in 2002. Vulture caught up with Lynch at the swanky Mandarin Oriental in Columbus Circle for a sneak preview of the event. Naturally, Lynch had two cameramen filming as we interviewed him.

How did an artist like yourself — who's associated with making films that are considered to be pretty dark — get so interested in meditation?
I always say that books and films and music reflect the world in which we live, and we live in a dark and troubled world. I got interested in meditation because I heard this word 'enlightenment' and I wondered if it was true that a human being had a potential for more and more that could be unfolded. My first experience with transcendental meditation proved to me that there was a way to get there and it was beautiful.

What do you remember about that experience?
I remember as if it were yesterday. It was as if I was in an elevator and someone cut the cables. [Makes a boom sound]. Within I went. And waves of bliss, so deeply beautiful and powerful, and I wondered, 'where has this experience been?' This is something so powerfully beautiful, I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. That kept me meditating through the years.

The goal of the concert is to teach a million children to meditate. How realistic is that?
We're going to need a bunch of money to do it. I've heard that the figure is $50 million. They think they can teach a million kids at fifty dollars a head. They plan to teach 300,000 in South America, 300,000 in India, and the rest will come from the rest of the world.

A lot of people associate meditation with the The Beatles. Is that why you wanted Paul and Ringo to do the concert?
Paul and Ringo were with Maharishi in 1968 in India. It's been pretty quiet since then. The fact that Paul and Ringo are so enthusiastically coming to this concert, to me is a very important thing.

I hear you're planning a documentary about the founder of Transcendental Meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who passed away last year. Can you talk about that?
No. [Laughs]. It's such a huge project. Maharishi was in the world teaching for fifty-three years and brought out so much knowledge. The trick will be to tell that knowledge in such a way that people understand it and are thrilled by it.

Is it going to be hard to make a film that's so close to your heart without it turning into propaganda?
You could look at it like that, but I think that knowledge is knowledge and people should know what's there.

What else can we expect of you?
I love to paint and I'm going to be painting. I love to take pictures and I'm going to be taking pictures. I love to make music and I'm going to be making music. And at the same time working away on this film about Maharishi.