Moviegoers might associate director David Lynch with wailing babies, dead women in plastic bags and severed ears, but the audience at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque Monday night got nothing but peace and positivity from the man responsible for the perversity in films like “Blue Velvet,” "Eraserhead” and “Mullholland Drive.”
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It was the Israeli premiere of the documentary “Meditation, Creativity, Peace,” which follows Lynch’s tour through 16 countries in Europe and the Middle East. The main topic: transcendental meditation.
Most of the documentary was shot by film students. The movie, which was edited by Noriko Miyakawa, was completed in 2012 and is in theaters across the United States now. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the creative process of one of history’s great filmmakers.
After the screening, Tel Avivians were treated to a Skype conversation with Lynch himself, who was celebrating his 68th birthday. He answered questions at length on meditation, cinema and creativity – and the Mideast conflict.
The documentary begins with Lynch’s visit to Israel in 2007, when he met with President Shimon Peres and thousands of enthusiastic film students. It opens with Lynch speaking to the camera while holding a jelly doughnut.
“This is a doughnut,” Lynch says. “It is very sweet, and very good. But if you’ve never tasted a doughnut, you wouldn’t really know how sweet and how good a doughnut is …. Transcendental meditation is like that. Transcendental meditation gives an experience much sweeter than the sweetness of this doughnut. It gives the experience of the sweetest nectar of life: pure bliss consciousness.”
The film then spends 70 minutes following Lynch on his tour. He explains how transcendental meditation, which he has been practicing morning and evening for 40 years, has changed the way he thinks and creates.
Lynch doesn’t lecture, he goes straight to the Q&A. So the film is mostly questions by film students and his take on topics like his love for Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” how to write a script, and living a more positive life.
During a session in Edinburgh, one questioner asks how he dares talk about meditation and world peace after visiting Israel, and how meditation can help Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Lynch answers that people are similar all over the world, and that he was happy to meet Israeli film students, Peres and the mayor of Haifa. He wasn’t at all ashamed to visit Israel.
But the trip to Israel had a special objective: to achieve regional peace by establishing “peace groups” that would practice meditation and effect change.
Take it from the Maharishi
When Lynch appeared on the cinematheque’s big screen live via his home computer, the audience sang “Happy Birthday” and followed with an ovation. It’s not every day Israelis interact with giants like Lynch, though the birthday boy remained humble throughout.
One questioner wanted to know if Lynch considered his visit to Israel a failure given that there was still no peace. Lynch mentioned the father of transcendental meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
“I think the journey was to plant some seeds. And those seeds are still there, and they do need some watering, for sure. They say that Maharishi is the man who revived the science of consciousness and the technologies of consciousness,” Lynch said.
“One of the technologies of consciousness is transcendental meditation, a mental technique that any human being can take, and which allows any human being to transcend, to dive within and experience that unbounded eternal level of life. This unbounded eternal level of life is also a field of infinite unbounded peace.”
This peace has always been there, it just needs enlivening, Lynch said.
“Maharishi brought out the technologies of the peace-creating group – a group of human beings practicing the transcendental meditation that enliven the field of unity, this field of peace within, so powerfully that it can bring peace up in the field of diversity and raise collective consciousness,” he said. It can make people feel happier and more harmonious.
“And they say when real peace comes it is because this field within has been enlivened in the field of diversity. You can say it’s unity in the midst of diversity. I was telling all the people in Israel that I met: Start a peace-creating group for Israel, enliven that field of unity, get real peace.”
According to Lynch, “A peace treaty is a piece of paper on the surface of life. It does not address the hate, the anger, the torment inside the human beings. We want peace and here is a technology to truly bring real peace, and real peace is not just the absence of war – real peace is the absence of all negativity.”
Lynch was also asked about the situation in Israel compared to other conflicts around the world.
“The situation in Israel exists in lots of places: People just don’t get along. Surface cures will never work. Never work. If you want to get rid of that negativity that causes disputes you need to enliven that field of unity and peace that has always and forever been there,” he said.
“This is the big, big, big secret: Get to work, help form a peace-creating group for Israel and watch what happens, it will be so beautiful. It’s the real thing. Get to work and make this thing happen.”
When asked if he liked any new Israeli movies, Lynch said he didn’t have time to watch films lately. He said he didn’t understand how Martin Scorsese had the time to watch every movie that exists and still have the time to make more films than him.
Many questioners tried to pry information from Lynch about his next projects; they were eager to see more of his work. One brought up the rumor about a new version of “Twin Peaks,” the cult TV series from the early 1990s.
“Rumors are just rumors. There have always been rumors about things. So there is no real truth to it,” said Lynch.
“I don’t know where these rumors come from, but I think they were based on some misunderstanding of what’s going on. It’s true that there will a new Blu-ray [disc] of ‘Twin Peaks,’ including the pilot, first season and second season. And there will be some special things that haven’t been seen before. That’s about all I can say.”