Bargain Bin Bliss
December 3, 2006 1:27 PM   Subscribe

TM without the ™. When he's not directing one of the best movies of the year or sitting on intersections with cows, David Lynch is a vocal advocate of Transcendental Meditation. In his new book Catching the Big Fish, he talks about the Box and the Key, meeting Fellini, the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit, why he doesn't do DVD commentaries--and TM, which he calls "the experience that does everything." If you're intrigued by TM but sketched out by the organization and the $2,500 fee, perhaps you'd like to know that there is a cheap, downloadable alternative.
posted by muckster (33 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
1 posts tagged with snakeoil.
posted by unmake at 1:30 PM on December 3, 2006

I'm not ready to advocate yogic flying quite yet, but Lynch's book is a very convincing and generous look into his methods, and he comes off as a thoroughly sane & rational man who's been able to leverage some way-out ideas into astounding works of art. Having never learned TM™ I can't offer a comparison, but I've been doing the unofficial "Natural Stress Relief" technique for two weeks, with some truly amazing results. If that's snake oil, I'll happily keep taking it. Given the interest in both Lynch and TM on Mefi in the past, I thought I'd share.
posted by muckster at 1:41 PM on December 3, 2006

posted by interrobang at 1:43 PM on December 3, 2006

Wasn't there a political party out there that claimed that if "The square root of 1% of the population practiced TM it would solve all our problems". Of course they failed to mention that the square root of one percent was... ten percent.

Anyway, trancendance isn't really all that hard to archive.
posted by delmoi at 1:49 PM on December 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

$2500 for an ancient method of thinking.


It's good to see an eastern philosophy/religon snake oil salesman. It's usually just the western/Chrisitian variety that I run across.
posted by teece at 1:54 PM on December 3, 2006

Forgive the quick math, but if 10% of the world's population (let's say 600,000,000) chalked up $2,500 a piece, that would be about $1.5 trillion. I like David Lynch and think that TM is probably a worthwhile endeavor for a lot of people, but the dollar signs are a big turn off and only remind me of Scientology.
posted by dhammond at 1:55 PM on December 3, 2006

I think it is unlikely that 10% of the world's population will sign up.
posted by ORthey at 2:11 PM on December 3, 2006

Howard Stern has been doing TM for decades.
posted by wfc123 at 2:18 PM on December 3, 2006

drjimmy11, Suzuki teaches meditation, but that's not the same as transcendental meditation. TM is a specific technique, and it seems to be much more effective than anything else I've tried. I agree that the cost of TM seems outlandish; that's why I was so excited to find a cheap alternative teaching the same thing. The difference is the lack of personal instruction and the fact that you get a generic mantra rather a personalized one.
posted by muckster at 2:22 PM on December 3, 2006 [3 favorites]

The difference is the lack of personal instruction and the fact that you get a generic mantra rather a personalized one.

does that mean you have to settle for generic enlightenment?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:27 PM on December 3, 2006

Remember, folks: The more you pay, the better the placebo effects!
posted by kid ichorous at 2:27 PM on December 3, 2006

Whenever people have said to me, "Transcendental Meditation!", I've always tended to shrug my shoulders and say, "Maybe."

Whenever people have said to me, "David Lynch!", I've always tended to shrug my shoulders and say, "Maybe."

This confluence really doesn't surprise me.

May the oddballs of our world keep on truckin'.
posted by Alex404 at 2:42 PM on December 3, 2006

I thought everyone knew by now that TM is a scam. The connection between TM and the yogic pilots of various Natural Law Parties, which delmoi refers to, is perhaps less known. As far as I understand, TM has little in common with zen buddhist meditation, as it does not require any concentration of mind but instead aims for a trance-like state.
posted by ikalliom at 2:49 PM on December 3, 2006

Whatever happened to om?
posted by jckll at 2:57 PM on December 3, 2006

That Mulholland Drive theory site is great! After the movie first came out I trawled the internet for a long time reading about various interpretations ( had a nice collection). I didn't realize a site collating theories had been set up. Badass film, badass site.
posted by painquale at 3:11 PM on December 3, 2006

Whatever happened to om?

you know what they say, cklennon ... you can't go om again
posted by pyramid termite at 3:13 PM on December 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

TM lets the devils in.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:38 PM on December 3, 2006

cklennon : "Whatever happened to om?"

They got in trouble for releasing sarin gas in the subway.
posted by Bugbread at 3:40 PM on December 3, 2006

Is there a difference in meditation if one employs TM or the less expensive alternative or the many many meditation stuff available free online? If meditation works, as I am sure it does, why should one approach be more effective than another when it is the end result rather than the getting there that matters? Anyone?
posted by Postroad at 4:25 PM on December 3, 2006

I should probably stop commenting on my own post, but there really is a difference. In regular meditation, you contemplate, concentrate, breathe, be, whatever. TM consists of a certain mental exercise that helps you "transcend," which (as far as I understand it at this point) is the oscillation between an aware and a relaxed state of mind. When you transcend, you relax more deeply and supposedly heal past damage done to your nervous system due to stress. You can think of it as a kind of mental yoga. Lynch writes: "Relaxation techniques can take you a little way in. That's beautiful; it's like having a massage or something. But it's not transcending. Transcending is its own unique thing."
posted by muckster at 5:03 PM on December 3, 2006

I'm always intrigued by this sort of thing, but my first immediate reaction to anyone asking for money in exchange for methods of enlightenment is intense skepticism.
If you're really enlightened and concerned about spreading enlightenment and relieving suffering, why charge for it?
I'm not really sure why I believe that this kind of information should be freely available to all...I'm a firm believer in TANSTAAFL and don't begrudge people making a buck on nearly anything else. But for some reason, cashing in on spiritual development irks me.
posted by nightchrome at 5:18 PM on December 3, 2006

Delmoi said something similar, but if you want transcendence, try some LSD. I guarantee it is light years beyond any sort of meditation... hell, even lucid dreaming won't compare.

But maybe I'm just wary of paying thousands for a religious teaching.

Anyway, something relevant (from Zen is Boring):

People long for big thrills. Peak experiences. Some people come to Zen expecting that Enlightenment will be the Ultimate Peak Experience. The Mother of All Peak Experiences. But real enlightenment is the most ordinary of the ordinary. Once I had an amazing vision. I saw myself transported through time and space. Millions, no, billions, trillions, Godzillions of years passed. Not figuratively, but literally. Whizzed by. I found myself at the very rim of time and space, a vast giant being composed of the living minds and bodies of every thing that ever was. It was an incredibly moving experience. Exhilarating. I was high for weeks. Finally I told Nishijima Sensei about it . He said it was nonsense. Just my imagination. I can't tell you how that made me feel. Imagination? This was as real an experience as any I've ever had. I just about cried. Later on that day I was eating a tangerine. I noticed how incredibly lovely a thing it was. So delicate. So amazingly orange. So very tasty. So I told Nishijima about that. That experience, he said, was enlightenment.
posted by mazatec at 6:19 PM on December 3, 2006 [2 favorites]

Postroad, TM is the only acceptable form of meditation, because if a specific number of people on the earth all practice TM at the same time, there will be peace on earth. I wish I was making this up, but this is what David Lynch said when I saw him speak about TM last year.

Of course if you mean "which kind of meditation is more effective for a person's actual health" then I have no idea.
posted by holyrood at 11:49 PM on December 3, 2006

Consciousness, Creativity & the Brain David Lynch discusses his films and his 30-year relationship with Transcendental Meditation, and its role in his creative process. [video 88min]
posted by roboto at 1:32 AM on December 4, 2006

Man, lots of people dogging TM. I started TM as a kid-both of my parents started in the 70's, so I grew up with it. Apparently, it's really expensive now-I think I was taught back when it was a lot less-maybe $300? The organization that pushes TM has some interesting beliefs, and I consider myself a pretty rational guy; I'm working on an MS in geology and am an agnostic. Many of their claims definitely set my weird-o-meter off. But I can also say that practicing TM makes a noticeable difference in my day-to-day life. During the times that I'm able to be regular with my meditation, I'm much more clear-headed and I tend to be able to focus on difficult tasks for longer. It makes a big difference with my schoolwork, actually. So while I'm very much the type to question organizations that make weird, pseudo-scientific claims, my experiences with TM have been only positive.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 2:46 AM on December 4, 2006

Whatever happened to om?

They're making fantastic sludgy metal music.
posted by jack_mo at 3:15 AM on December 4, 2006

HighTechUnderpants writes "I can also say that practicing TM makes a noticeable difference in my day-to-day life."

I don't really think the argument is that TM does nothing for someone, just that it does the same for someone that regular meditation does, and regular meditation is free, and usually free of all the mystic stuff that TM tacks on.
posted by Bugbread at 3:34 AM on December 4, 2006

In Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness, a study of physiological changes in the brain that occur after years of regular meditation, the author James H. Austin claims that the 20 minute meditation time of TM is insufficient to enact lasting changes and that a time of 45 minutes or greater is necessary to gain the benefits of long term change.

I read it several years ago and it was a very interesting, if long read that goes into great detail about the brains areas and the changes that are seen in the brains of Zen adherents.
posted by daHIFI at 6:27 AM on December 4, 2006

The familiar cult practise of taking old ideas, wrapping them in a we-are-the-saviour-of-humanity package and hawking them for money/sex/labour/fame/fortune.

Meditation is easy and free: just focus on one thing of your choice. I suggest focusing on your breathing, heartbeat, footsteps, or maybe cooking or your favourite sport. Or you could pay TM $2500 for a magic word to focus on. Anything good TM can do for you, you can do for yourself, sans brainwashing.

Something I dug up a while ago on TM's cultiness: Falling Down the TM Rabbit Hole.
posted by MetaMonkey at 4:06 PM on December 4, 2006

daHiFi: I've read that book (or the parts of it I could understand - the neuroscience and anatomy is pretty high-level), but I can't recall that part, and had to give it back anyway.

Is what Austin was saying that the only difference in TM and zazen was quantitative, that it was only the period of sitting that differed in results obtained? That would be an interesting result based on the qualitative differences mentioned here.
posted by Sparx at 4:08 PM on December 4, 2006

I bought my TM word when it was something like $1500, used it for about a year, then got cats.
posted by nomisxid at 12:12 PM on December 5, 2006

How about we end on Manohla Dargis' review of INLAND EMPIRE, opening tomorrow at the IFC Center in New York:
“Inland Empire” isn’t a film to love. It is a work to admire, to puzzle through, to wrestle with. Its pleasures are fugitive, even frustrating. The first time I saw it, I was repulsed by the shivers of Lynchian sadism, a feeling doubtless informed by my adoration of the far more approachable, humanistic “Mulholland Drive.” On second viewing, though, “Inland Empire” seemed funnier, more playful and somehow heartfelt. Certainly, there is nothing but love in Ms. Dern’s performance, which is as much a gift to us as to the director who has given this actress her greatest roles. It’s easy to get lost in a David Lynch film, but Ms. Dern and her amazing rubber-band mouth, which laughs like the sun and cries us a river, proves a magnificent guide.
posted by muckster at 8:34 PM on December 5, 2006

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