David Lynch on meditation and the darkness in his films

David Lynch, the legendary director of dune, twin peaks and blue velvet The fame has had a glittering career, but none of it has come easy. Over the years, the 76-year-old filmmaker has suffered from depression that many creative minds struggle with.

In conversation with The discussions, Lynch explained how he began using meditation to control his depressive state and anger issues in the early 1970s. “I picked it up in 1973,” he said. “It was the idea that man can attain enlightenment. It drove me crazy because you hear that we only use five or ten percent of our brains. What is the other part for? How do you get more and more and what is the maximum you can get? Many people have said that meditation is like jogging or lying on the beach in the sun. This shows a great misunderstanding of what meditation is. Meditation is a way of going inward, all the way inward to the deepest level of life, transcendence, the absolute, wholeness and reality, and experiencing that. Humans are built for this.”

In response to the director’s response, the interviewer asked if Lynch felt that the heightened level of consciousness achieved through meditation aided his artistic process. “I don’t know,” Lynch admitted. “You can grasp ideas on a deeper level when you start meditating. Intuition grows, and intuition is the number one tool for an artist – feeling and thinking combined. When you work on a painting, it’s like you know it and you enjoy it so much. It’s the same with films. The joy of work increases, the joy of everything increases. The ideas flow and the feeling that you can do it right. You know what that is. It’s a knowledge that grows. It’s really beautiful.”

Lynch was later asked if he finds his depression returning despite meditating. “You can still get a wave of depression or hatred,” he explained. “And it’s all relative. The degree of it is getting smaller and smaller. This is how suffering begins to go away. Mankind was not made to suffer. Bliss is our nature. We should be happy. It is entirely possible to be full of happiness. Real, deep bliss, wide awake, happy doing things. And it is doing things, enjoying life, that is so much more intense as that bliss grows.”

Explaining how meditation impacts daily life, Lynch said, “The events of life remain the same, but how you go through them will certainly get better. on my movie dune, this experience could have crushed me. It was so awful. I identify so much with my films – and I knew I was sold out – and meditation kept me from cliff jumping. There’s a saying, “The world is as you are.” You can wear dark green dirty glasses and that’s the world to you. Or you start diving inward and experiencing the limitless ocean of pure bliss, awareness, creativity, intelligence, all those beneficial things, and you start wearing rose-colored glasses. And this is how the world looks to you. And it’s getting better.”

Then, on the subject of tinted glasses, Lynch was asked why his films often seem to view the world through “dark glasses.” Lynch explained, “If you’ve seen a movie and the beginning of the movie was peaceful, the middle was peaceful and the ending was peaceful – what kind of story is that? You need contrasts and conflicts to tell a story. Stories have to be dark and light, turmoil, all those things. But that doesn’t mean that the filmmaker has to suffer in order to show the suffering. Stories should concern suffering, not people.”

While Lynch finds ways in his personal life to clear the oppressive clouds of darkness from his psyche, he uses them to his fullest advantage at work. As he explained so perfectly, one must contrast the dark with the light, the rough with the smooth. Otherwise the light might get a little dull.

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