The Hawk Eye interviewed Fairfield native Cameron Mullenneaux on her Emmy nomination, competing against news giants ABC and CBS

September 18, 2018

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best and brightest in the world of television, was held Monday night at the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles. The 39th Annual News and Documentary Emmy® Awards will be held Monday, October 1, in a ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Complex at Columbus Circle in New York City. The event will be attended by more than 1,000 television and news media industry executives, news and documentary producers and journalists. It will be webcast live at 7:30pm ET on emmyonline.tv.

A short film directed and produced by Fairfield native Cameron Mullenneaux will be in the running. Condé Nast Inc. funded “Angelique” for Glamour Magazine, posted it online last November, and submitted it to The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) for an Outstanding Feature Story in a Newsmagazine. Angelique’s story, the adversities she had to overcome, and the way Cameron captured it is truly inspirational. The film will be competing against ABC’s 20/20 and CBS’s 60 Minutes!!

Bob Saar interviewed Cameron on her nomination and filed this report for The Hawk Eye’s Sunday edition: Fairfield native pitted against CBS, ABC.

The entertainment business is rarely looked upon by Americans as “business” because they’re attracted to the Hollywood glamour and gossip.

You might hear some guy say, “Those guys are artists, not businessmen.”

Two problems here: They aren’t all guys, guys. And those who succeed are, indeed, business-men or -women.

Southeast Iowa filmmaker Cameron Mullenneaux is an artist and businesswoman, and this week, she’s in New York at the Emmy awards. Director-producer Mullenneaux is up for an Emmy against giants ABC and CBS — and their big guns Diane Sawyer and Leslie Stahl.

Cameron Mulleanneaux

Cameron Mullenneaux, producer/director of “Angelique”, is competing against news giants ABC’s 20/20 and CBS’s 60 Minutes for an Emmy for Outstanding Feature Story in a Newsmagazine.

Mullenneaux, formerly Bargerstock — she married in June — is a Fairfield native, the daughter of Betty and Andy Bargerstock, a professor at Maharishi University of Management. Mullenneaux, who now lives in California, wrote, produced and directed “Angelique,” a film about a straight-A homeless high school student in Asheville, North Carolina.

“I was looking for a bright, creative, and resilient young person who didn’t let their difficult life circumstances hold them back from pursuing their dreams,” Mullenneaux said. “I met her through Asheville High School social worker Pam Pauly.”

Mullenneaux attended Maharishi School and graduated Warren Wilson College before earning an MFA in Documentary Filmmaking at Wake Forest University.

Here’s a brief synopsis distilled from a description submitted by Condé Nast to the Television Academy: ‘Angelique’ is a short documentary following the life of a homeless high school girl who battles the odds to stay in school, get good grades, and go to college despite the challenges of living with a mother who suffers from bipolar disorder and an absentee father.

@LynchFoundation CEO @meditationbob offers #TranscendentalMeditation to those in need

September 16, 2018

Last year, Alexandra Wolfe wrote a great profile on teacher and David Lynch Foundation CEO Bob Roth for the Wall Street Journal‘s Weekend Confidential. Transcendental Meditation for Everyone was published June 30, 2017. It’s posted below with added links. See the 5-column printed article with photo by Chris Sorensen: Bob Roth: The nonprofit executive is working to bring Transcendental Meditation to all.

Bob Roth, chief executive of the David Lynch Foundation, teaches Transcendental Meditation to a range of students, from elementary-school children to CEOs.

Bob Roth knows his field sounds a little like “woowoo” spirituality, as he says. But as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation, he now works with a wide-ranging clientele that includes celebrities such as Katy Perry and Jerry Seinfeld, hedge-fund managers, inner-city students, prisoners and veterans. He has the same goal for everyone: to teach them the virtues of T.M., as it’s called—a practice that involves silently reciting a mantra over and over for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day.

Proponents say that the practice reduces stress and raises self-awareness. Bridgewater founder and co-chairman Ray Dalio, a student of Mr. Roth’s for more than a decade and a donor to the foundation, is a believer. The practice has been “integral to whatever success I’ve had in life,” he says. “It makes one feel like…a ninja in a movie, like you’re doing everything calmly and in slow motion.”

Mr. Roth, 66, is chief executive of the David Lynch Foundation, a nonprofit he co-founded with the film director in 2005 that is dedicated to teaching Transcendental Meditation, particularly to at-risk populations, “to improve their health, cognitive capabilities and performance in life,” as the foundation’s website says. Some of its funds come from teaching courses to companies and individuals; a four-day training course costs up to $960 a person. The foundation has 60 employees in the U.S. as well as partners in 35 countries.

In early June, Mr. Roth opened the nonprofit’s first office in Washington, D.C., where he says he is currently teaching a dozen members of Congress. His organization has also been participating in studies in prisons recently. In a study published last year in the Permanente Journal, 181 male inmates at the Oregon State Correctional Institute and the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem either took a Transcendental Meditation program through the foundation or did nothing outside their usual routine. The researchers found greater reductions in anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms in the group that had taken meditation.

Mr. Roth finds an analogy in the sea. “The ocean can be active and turbulent on the surface, sometimes with tsunami-like 30-foot waves, but is, by its nature, silent at its depth,” he says. “The surface of the mind is the active, noisy, thinking mind—often racing, noisy, hyperactive, turbulent. But like the ocean, the mind of everyone is quiet, calm, silent at its depth.”

T.M. was developed in India by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a physicist turned meditation teacher, in the 1950s; it gained popularity in the 1960s when he worked with the Beatles and other celebrities.

The son of a doctor and a teacher, Mr. Roth dreamed of being a senator when he was young. He started meditating in college at the University of California, Berkeley, after a friend suggested it as a way to relax amid the student riots on campus.

He was skeptical at first but soon became hooked. After he graduated in 1972, he started teaching meditation to children in inner-city schools in San Francisco. A few years later, he traveled to Europe to study under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi before returning to California to continue teaching over the next decade. In 1982, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he eventually met Mr. Lynch, the director of “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks,” who had taken up the practice in the 1970s. “If you are a human being, [Transcendental Meditation] works,” says Mr. Lynch.

Contrary to what you might expect for a meditation teacher, Mr. Roth often wears a suit with a crisp white shirt. (More predictably, he has a serene demeanor.) He lives alone in New York, and in his downtime enjoys trying new Asian fusion and Italian restaurants and watching sports, especially baseball. “I grew up with Willie Mays, who was my first hero,” he says.

He spends half his time teaching and the other half running the organization. For all of his new students, instruction is the same. He conducts a short ceremony in which he acknowledges past teachers and gives each student a mantra—a sound or word that has no meaning and is to be repeated silently during the meditation. (The student keeps that mantra forever.) After that, the student closes his or her eyes for 20 minutes and silently recites the mantra while sitting in a comfortable position.

In follow-up sessions, Mr. Roth discusses the benefits of the practice, refreshes students’ techniques and answers any questions they have, often meditating alongside them. Critics have said that the practice isn’t any better than therapy, exercise or medication at reducing stress, but Mr. Roth points to studies that have shown it to be effective, including in reducing high blood pressure. “It’s not a matter of ‘either or,’ ” he says. “It’s a wiser matter of ‘and also.’ ”

The foundation is now participating in a study with the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab to research whether T.M. can reduce violence and improve scores in a trial with 2,000 children in five Chicago public schools. Next year, the research will expand to 800 students in two public schools in New York.

Mr. Seinfeld has been working with Mr. Roth for the past eight years and has performed at some of the foundation’s benefits. “It completely changed my ability to do work and be active and do the things I want to do,” he says. “Wives like to go out to dinner and husbands just want to lie there, but now I find I can do anything, with the T.M. to restore me,” he adds with a laugh.

Excellent interview with @DAVID_LYNCH about #TranscendentalMeditation & @LynchFoundation

September 16, 2018

Huffington Post writer/interviewer Marianne Schnall produced this wonderful, comprehensive Interview With David Lynch: His Mission to Change the World Through Meditation. It was posted December 9, 2014 and updated February 8, 2015.

I can remember being absolutely hooked and engrossed into the surreal world of the cutting-edge television series Twin Peaks back in the ’90s. That was when series creator and director David Lynch became a household name and the show developed a massive and passionate cult following (which the show still has — there was much excitement over the recent announcement that Twin Peaks will return as a limited series with new episodes written, directed, and produced by Lynch to air on Showtime in 2016). In addition to receiving numerous Emmy nominations for his work on Twin Peaks, Lynch has also received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay for iconic films like The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive. All these years later, I found myself playing my own cameo in a seemingly surreal scene: hanging out with David Lynch in a hotel cafe in NYC, sipping lattes and talking about topics such as meditation, consciousness, the Unified Field, and “positivity moving at the speed of light in all directions.” What I experienced during our inspiring and thought-provoking time together is that while he is an explosive force of nature creatively, in person he is a gentle, soft-spoken, thoughtful, and deeply caring and compassionate soul. In addition to being a consummate artist in a variety of mediums (as well as being a film and television director and writer, he is also a musician, actor, author, and visual artist), David has one passion that is especially dear to his heart: the David Lynch Foundation, a non-profit founded by the legendary filmmaker to help people overcome trauma and transform their lives through the Transcendental Meditation technique. It began when he first experienced how dramatically TM transformed his own personal life experience, which he says granted him “access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity, and happiness deep within.” But he says, “I had no idea how powerful and profound this technique could be until I saw firsthand how it was being practiced by young children in inner-city schools, veterans who suffer the living hell of post-traumatic stress disorder, and women and girls who are victims of terrible violence.” The organization was founded in 2005 as the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace to ensure that every child anywhere in the world who wanted to learn to meditate could do so. Now, the foundation has expanded and is actively teaching TM to adults and children in countries everywhere and offers a variety of pioneering campaigns and programs, including many innovative initiatives aimed at youth and a variety of at-risk communities. The positive effects of the organization’s work is backed up by measurable results and emerging scientific data and research, as well as support from celebrities and fellow TM practitioners such as Russell Brand, Howard Stern, Jerry Seinfeld, Ringo Starr, Ellen Degeneres, Lena Dunham, and Katy Perry. In the following interview, David Lynch shares the story of his own personal transformation and his belief in the power of meditation to not only positively affect one’s own enjoyment of life, creativity, and ability to cope with stress and trauma but also transform our “collective consciousness.” As he told me, “The human being is like a light bulb. If a human being is super stressed, depressed, and filled with negativity, this is what that human being radiates out into the world. On the other hand, if a human being is filled with happiness and positivity, this is what they radiate out into the world. We each affect our environment and that collective consciousness. The more people who are diving within and transcending and are getting that happiness and positivity, the better the world will be.”

Marianne Schnall: Tell me a little about your journey that led you to found the David Lynch Foundation and just in general how you wound up at this place, your own experience with Transcendental Meditation.

David Lynch: I started Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1973 in Los Angeles, California, on July 1st on a beautiful Sunday morning, about 11:00. I loved my experience with Transcendental Meditation. I loved my experience, I just loved it. And I’ve been meditating twice a day for 41 years now, never missed a meditation in those 41 years. I went to Fairfield, Iowa, one time to visit a high school where the entire school’s teachers and students practiced Transcendental Meditation. While I was there on a cold and raining night, I was invited to a high school play and I thought maybe it would be one of the most boring nights of my life. I went to a little theater that was packed with people. Then on the stage came students, high school students, and they put on a play that blew me away.

A lot of things about the play impressed me so much, but the main thing was a glow on every face — this glow of consciousness, of intelligence, of happiness. None of them were actors. They were high school students. They weren’t going into acting, but they were so beyond good and the timing of everything was so good, the humor of everything, where it was supposed to be humorous, was so good. It was tight. And it was performed so beautifully. There was some kind of extra thing coming off them that was thrilling. After that, I thought every actor, every actress, should learn Transcendental Meditation. It’s that thing, that charisma, that magic thing that was coming off the high school students.

Around this time, I started hearing about different schools around the country. I started hearing about students bringing guns to school and then more and more through the years, about more and more violence in schools, metal detectors, no learning, fights in the school, a lot of depression, a lot of pharmaceutical drugs, a lot of illegal drugs — the whole thing that by now everybody’s heard about. And I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if students knew about Transcendental Meditation? And one thing led to another and this foundation got born in 2005.

Read the rest of this entry »

How #TranscendentalMeditation is helping lifestyle writer/editor @Tara_Gardner_ @glam

September 8, 2018

I was so impressed with this article I shared it via Twitter and my newsletter. It’s so good I decided to post it on my blog. Tara Gardner‘s experience and understanding of what makes TM unique among other meditations is impressive. She nails it! I like her style and highlighted two key sentences. Here it is without visuals or links, except mine. Click on Glam to see the original published August 27, 2018.

How Transcendental Meditation Gives Me Mental Clarity Like Nothing Else

It hit me, quite literally, after endless months of going to sleep wired, waking up tired, and spending my days drifting through a murky brain fog. I stepped out onto the Chicago streets one morning, absent-mindedly looking in the British direction, and got clipped by a car. Something had to give.

Living in a new city and forging a new career as a freelance editor with a bazillion deadlines, I didn’t really give my head time to acclimatize. I just jumped right in and expected my brain and body to follow behind. To alleviate the low energy, I dosed myself on coffee and copious amounts of Diet Coke, riding the caffeine highs until the crashes became too much. After the car accident, I realized that I needed to find a way to give my head a break from the cranial quicksand of daily life. So, like any editor, I hit the trends — from cleanses to self-care — hard. Then, I tried elimination diets. I felt better physically, but the mental cloud still hadn’t cleared. (And, no, it wasn’t jet-lag, as many suggested; I’d been in the U.S. for six months at that point.)

Back in London, I had done several mindfulness meditation courses. I always felt a little superficially smug about doing them, too — like you do after you’ve just finished a three-day juice cleanse and everyone in the office is asking you how amazing you feel, but secretly all it made you want to do is eat a bucket of fried chicken. Truth was, I never actually noticed a huge shift in anything. Perhaps I wasn’t doing it properly. Perhaps my brain was immune to it. Perhaps (and most likely) I was sleeping through it. Obviously, mindfulness works for a lot of people, and I’m not saying it isn’t a method worth trying — we’re all wired differently. In fact, it’s one of the most popular forms of meditation, really hitting the mainstream in recent years thanks to a multitude of apps and YouTube videos.

But the main sticking point for me was its rigidity. Clear your mind. Clear the thoughts of clearing your mind. Self-observe but don’t think about those observations as you meditate. Focus on your breathing, but don’t think thoughts about your breathing. It all felt too, well, mindful. That said, I did enjoy the fact that it helped me be more present in my daily life, to take a moment, breathe and notice the more mundane daily activities, rather than rushing through every moment thinking about dinner, my next Instagram post, or a fight on The Real Housewives.

However, this practice didn’t travel with me to Chicago. I readily gave myself excuses, which I mindfully accepted: “I’m too busy teaching my cat to sit to take 12 minutes for meditation,” I would tell myself. It wasn’t until I started getting dragged down the rabbit hole of Twin Peaks season three (episode 8 anyone?) that I found myself looking up David Lynch interviews for clues as to what the heck was actually going on. I stumbled upon a video of him talking about Transcendental Meditation, or TM as it’s commonly called.

Anything that could open up my brain to the levels of Lynch-imagination was worth investigating. Oh, and add that Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, Kate Hudson, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow (okay, not that surprising), and Oprah all reportedly practice it, my pack-mentality told me there’s got to be something to this. Also, having long been a Seinfeld fan, the fact that the uber cynical Jerry Seinfeld was also a major advocate of the practice, gave me the green light. “You know how your phone has a charger?” he said during an appearance on Good Morning America. “TM is like having a charger for your mind and body.” I was sold.

Hippy-dippy, cultish connotations aside, TM is actually one of the most scientifically studied, evidence-backed forms of meditation out there. Studies have reported that it can increase and improve actual grey matter (brain cells), along with supporting all manner of issues, including PTSD, depression, ADHD, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and more. “Transcendental Meditation doesn’t focus on breathing or chanting like other forms of meditation,” the official TM website reads. “Instead, it encourages a restful state of mind beyond thinking.” And, as I started researching it more, I found myself really drawn not just to the science but also the technique.

Unlike mindfulness or other meditations, it’s not about trying to empty the mind or monitor thoughts. In fact, concentration or trying to control thoughts couldn’t be further from the practice, making it ideal for a brain full of jumping beans like mine. What TM is at its core is getting to a place of deep relaxation, deeper than any other meditation practice, to the point where it doesn’t matter what you’re thinking about or if you’re having thoughts at all.

What TM is at its core is getting to a place of deep relaxation, deeper than any other meditation practice, to the point where it doesn’t matter what you’re thinking about or if you’re having thoughts at all.

With the thick soup of emotions, activities, actions, and lack of sleep that makes up modern life, many of us find ourselves in a constant state of stress — whether we realize it or not. Our fight or flight responses are jacked up, leaving us in a pickle of confused cortisols and befuddled coping mechanisms, which really just mask the inner noise. This is where TM practice can really help, putting the body into a deep, regular state of relaxation, in which to heal and restore.

Think of the brain like an ocean, the practice says. The surface of the ocean is the conscious or thinking mind, and the waves are like the thoughts. Mindfulness remains on or slightly below this surface, but no deeper. TM is about effortlessly sinking as low into consciousness as possible — to the bottom of that ocean. Now, that’s not to say you’ll start levitating or have some out of body experience; it’s more that you’ll experience the relaxing and precious feeling you get just before sleep when you’re still sort of awake. That’s the “transcendence,” or as some call it, the “bliss” state.

But what is it that brings you down to this level? No guided words of wisdom or philosophical outlooks on life. It’s actually super simple and has been practiced this way for 5,000 years, originating in India. To anchor down into this state, your TM teacher gives you a word, a Transcendental Meditation mantra that is unique to you, which you silently repeat until it just becomes an intuitive and effortless act. The word is deliberately meaningless and more of a sound.  Yes, I did try Googling it to no avail, and you can’t say it out loud or share it with anyone else out of respect for the practice.

Quite aside from stereotypical views of sitting cross-legged or lotus with a straight back and Om position, you’re encouraged to find a comfortable spot to sit and relax into the meditation. Sitting for 20 minutes while repeating the mantra, you’ll find that over time everything just slows down, breathing becomes deep but quiet, and the mantra starts to fade to the back of your mind, while thoughts that were whizzing around at the forefront kind of just drift away.

I can honestly say, it’s a feeling quite like no other. After my first round of Transcendental Meditation mantras, it felt like I woke up out of a trance. The more I started practicing — with the four-session TM course and then on my own twice a day — the deeper I was lulled by its resulting calmness. I’ll admit that I was at first daunted by the idea that I’d need to do this twice a day, for 20 minutes each, but once the practice started, it actually became like a treat I’d look forward to, totally the opposite of previous meditations. I mean who wouldn’t want to escape Twitter shouting matches, Facebook political fights, and the constant ping of work emails for a deep, serene journey into the mind cave? Also, all cat-training went out the window.

I’ll admit that I was at first daunted by the idea that I’d need to do this twice a day, for 20 minutes each, but once the practice started, it actually became like a treat I’d look forward to, totally the opposite of previous meditations.

Some people in my course claimed almost instant effects from their practice — good moods, clarity, increased productivity — but me being the cynical Brit, I had to really take a step back and think carefully before announcing I was a “new” person. The thing is that it can take days, weeks, months, even years to see or notice the effects, depending on what you’re dealing with. But, as I started to regularly do the practice, I did find the fog lifting, the clarity coming through, and my thoughts becoming more ordered. The daily juggling act began to feel smoother and more efficient.

Still, it’s not always easy. There are moments when it feels like a Grand Slam final between my thoughts and the Transcendental Meditation mantras, but as long as the mantra is there, effortless and anchoring, good stuff is happening in ways and on levels I might never even be aware of. And, even if it’s not, it’s still like taking a twice daily, luxury brain staycation, which can only be a good thing.

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To learn more about Tara Gardner visit her website.

Also see: How is Transcendental Meditation different from mindfulness?

Quora posted this question: What is the difference between Mindfulness meditation and Transcendental Meditation? Read a very clear and concise answer Jim Karpen gave explaining their differences in method, experience, and scientific research. 

Wendell Berry’s stepping over stones in a stream shows us how he writes a poem and takes a stand

September 5, 2018

“What I stand for is what I stand on.” — Wendell Berry

I love the playful music in this brilliant little poem by Wendell Berry from Leavings: Poems. As if imitating the sounds and poetry of nature, Berry’s stepping over stones in a flowing stream demonstrates his own creative flow, the way he uses words to show us how he writes a poem, and takes a stand for nature and his place in it.

The Book of Camp Branch

How much delight I’ve known
in navigating down the flow
by stepping stones, by sounding
stones, by words that are
stepping and sounding stones.

Going down stone by stone,
the song of the water changes,
changing the way I walk
which changes my thought
as I go. Stone to stone
the stream flows. Stone to stone
the walker goes. The words
stand stone still until
the flow moves them, changing
the sound – a new word –
a new place to step or stand.

Here’s another of his poems I posted: Wendell Berry’s “No going back” is about the generosity of the evolving self through time.

For more on this environmental legend and writer, see Wendell Berry: Poet and Prophet. Produced by Bill Moyers, it aired on PBS 10/03/13.

Denise Levertov’s The Avowel reminds me of the effortlessness of transcending in @TMmeditation

September 5, 2018

The Avowal
By Denise Levertov

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

These poems also reference such a transforming experience:

Denise Levertov’s poem “Of Being” describes that mysterious moment of expansive inner stillness, joy and reverence

Denise Levertov’s Primary Wonder is being present to the quiet mystery that sustains us

Poems~Pears for Breakfast Haiku

August 30, 2018

Today I saw Raffi tweeted a photo of two luscious pears. It reminded me of a haiku I had written and submitted eleven years ago to a Fairfield poetry competition. I decided to tweet the poem to him, which he liked. My Breakfast Haiku had won first place and I was invited to read it at Revelations Café. Since the photo and poem go so well together I decided to share them both with you in this blog post. Enjoy!

2 Pears 4 Breakfast Haiku

Photo of Salt Spring Island pears by Raffi Cavoukian used with permission

BREAKFAST HAIKU

Two poems, now ripe,
Waiting to be devoured,
Like pears on my plate.

Ken Chawkin
September 1, 2007
Fairfield, Iowa, USA

Freddy Fonseca had organized that Fairfield poetry competition, which culminated with the winning poets reading their poems at Revs Café. He also published my Five Haiku in This Enduring Gift – A Flowering of Fairfield Poetry, 2010. They were selected from 13 Ways to Write Haiku: A Poet’s Dozen published in The Dryland Fish, An Anthology of Contemporary Iowa Poets, 2003, edited by Matthew MacLeod. Freddy also included the tanka, Cold Wet Night, and Poetry—The Art of the Voice, for This Enduring Gift. See other haiku and tanka posted on The Uncarved Blog.

Writing, literature, life and love intersect in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

August 17, 2018

I saw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) on Netflix, based on the #1 best-selling book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s a period piece that takes place shortly after WWII. The war’s emotional aftermath still weighs heavily on the lives of these isolated islanders. Juliet Ashton, a London journalist and author, visits this small book club to explore the idea of an article about how they survived the war, and forms an unexpected bond with them. Writing, literature, life and love intersect in surprising ways. 

These lines from the trailer resonated deeply. “Do you suppose it’s possible for us to already belong to someone before we’ve met them? I feel keenly how the arc of her life has changed the arc of mine forever. If books do have the power to bring people together, this one may work its magic.” It did, as does the film.

shares some revealing research on the writing of the book and the making of the movie in her review for the Los Angeles Times. Definitely worth reading and watching.

You might enjoy some of my other favorite romantic films, including this 2009 Korea-China co-production, A Good Rain Knows when to come, (a.k.a. Season of Good Rain). See The spring rains renew life and the promise of love in this film inspired by the poetry of Du Fu. Most of these films reveal the power of love to transform individuals challenged by some kind of adversity.

The spring rains renew life and the promise of love in this film inspired by the poetry of Du Fu

August 17, 2018

The good rain knows its season,
When spring arrives, it brings life.

I appreciate believable romantic movies. For some reason this one deeply moved me. I’ve watched A Good Rain Knows (when to come) (2009) several times. Also titled, Season of Good Rain, the film’s theme was inspired by a poem from Du Fu (Tu Fu). Love, like the right season, can come around again and potentially renew one’s life.

HUR Jin-ho directs this Korean-Chinese co-production. The love story stars South Korean actor Jung Woo-sung (Dong-ha) and Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan (Mei).

Season of Good Rain (A Good Rain Knows)

Synopsis: Timely like the spring rain, so has he come back into my life… Dong-ha is a thirty-something Korean man on a business trip to Chengdu, China where his company is carrying out construction projects to rebuild the city after the earthquake of 2008. There, totally by chance, he meets an old friend from his school days in the U.S.. Mei (May) is originally from Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province. She returned home after graduation and now works as a tour guide. Dong-ha and Mei were perhaps more than friends and had feelings for each other back then, but they parted ways before they had a chance to define or declare them. Now that their paths have crossed again, they find the old feelings remained, and new ones are forming that may resemble love.

This Du Fu poem inspired the film: Welcome Rain on a Spring Night.

The good rain knows its season,
When spring arrives, it brings life.
It follows the wind secretly into the night,
And moistens all things softly, without sound.
On the country road, the clouds are all black,
On a riverboat, a single fire bright.
At dawn one sees this place now red and wet,
The flowers are heavy in the brocade city.

The brocade city is Chengdu, in south-west China, where the story takes place. The park where Mei works contains a statue of Du Fu and a replica of the hut that he lived in, along with the kind of flowering trees he had planted. Dong-ha was also a poet, but got caught up in his work instead. He is later seen reading a poem by Du Fu titled, A Spring View.

Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;
And spring comes green again to trees and grasses
Where petals have been shed like tears
And lonely birds have sung their grief.
…After the war-fires of three months,
One message from home is worth a ton of gold.
…I stroke my white hair. It has grown too thin
To hold the hairpins any more.

The subject matter about the destruction of war from the past resonates with the physical and emotional losses in the city after a recent earthquake. Mei’s life was also affected, as we find out later in the film.

This romantic film carries feelings of loss and longing, uncertainty and hopeful renewal brought about symbolically by the spring rains arriving in time. The theme song, with scenes from the film in the trailer, emotionally conveys those feelings: A Good Rain Knows When to Come – Falling Down / Song by Sungbin Cho / Sondtrack by Jaejin Lee.

The rain and silence in the song, like the ones described in the poems, seem to carry a mystical quality about them, similar to the mysterious ways of love. The English translation leaves the listener wondering if there will be a more committed reunion. Here it is sung in English: Falling down – (A good rain knows when to come).

Maybe sometime
It could be here again.
Trying to find out.
We don’t know yet.

Maybe it’s something
To make us come around.
The rain will be something
To let me calm down.

There is silence
Flowing around me
In the air
When you approach.

Maybe it’s something
To make you turn around
The raining is something
Just holding me now.

(Musical bridge)

I know that you wonder
Where we stay around.
Maybe I found you
Always here in my mind.

It’s falling around me
I’m feeling like lost in time.
I’m waiting behind you.
Just don’t let me down.

You’re running away now.
You’re sinking in flowing time.
The raining reminds me of your smile.
Don’t bring me down.

This love song, sensitively and beautifully performed, captures the uncertainty of their situation after meeting again years later by chance. The attraction between them is still there, but it never had a chance to develop into a serious relationship. Will it now? The song plays at the end of the film and as the credits roll.

Two different endings?

For some reason the ending seems slightly different in this version, which has better picture and sound quality on YouTube. At this last moment of the film, we see Dong-ha pacing back and forth, hoping that Mei will come out of the park entrance, but she doesn’t appear. It leaves the viewer hoping and waiting, with him. Did he return after much soul-searching ready to commit to her? Was she ready to commit to him? Will he wait in vain?

In this similar version, with English subtitles, at that last scene, as he turns away, we see someone pushing a yellow bicycle with a basket out of the park entrance, but can’t quite make out if it’s Mei as it cuts to black and the credits roll. Maybe they did that to keep us in suspense. You get the feeling they will see each other, but we’re left to wonder what will happen next.

The reason why I think it’s Mei is because he had mailed a bicycle to her as a gift. She had sold the first one he had given her when they were students, since she didn’t ride a bike. When they meet again, and it comes up in conversation, he gets upset. Now, at the end of the film, her co-workers assemble the new yellow bike with basket. We see her awkwardly riding it at first, then with more confidence, and finally smiling with the wind blowing in her hair. Fade to black, then wait for who I think might be her. I found another copy on YouTube where you see clearly the same bike and someone like her. Click on this 3-second clip to see for yourself.

For some reason it was left out in the other version. Maybe they decided to make it purposefully ambiguous to keep viewers guessing? Or it might have something to do with which version was shown in which country — Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, or elsewhere. If you watch the film with both endings, post a comment; I’d like to know your take on it. Assuming those links will still be active. Here’s a BluRay 720p version.

Updated footnote: I emailed an American film critic living in South Korea about the two different endings. He had reviewed this film. When I pointed out the different endings he was surprised, and said “that was a very good eye catch on your part.”

He didn’t remember which version he had seen and wouldn’t have noticed or guessed that it was Mei with her bicycle. But he did give this surprising answer. “If I were to hazard a guess I would say the version without the woman and the bicycle is the original version and the one with the woman and the bicycle was added in for international release (or at least, the release in whichever market CHC operates in) for the sake of implying a happier ending. This is a fairly common practice with exported South Korean films from this time period.”

You might enjoy some of my other favorite romantic films. They reveal the transforming power of love triumphing over adversity through time. Here is a new one I share in this post: Writing, literature, life and love intersect in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

@Willwrights interviews Director @DAVID_LYNCH on #TranscendentalMeditation for @LOfficielUSA

July 29, 2018

This interview between L’Officiel USA journalist William Defebaugh and Director David Lynch on Transcendental Meditation is one of the best on the subject! Visit their website to see the article with photos published July 23, 2018. (Photo: Matthias Nareyek/French Select/Getty Images)

David Lynch in L'OfficielUSA by Matthias Nareyek:French Select:Getty Images

While David Lynch may be most revered as the man behind mind-melding cinema masterpieces like Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and Twin Peaks, his work with the human psyche extends far beyond the small and silver screens.

Since he discovered its potency in the 1970s, the artist and auteur has been an avid practitioner and preacher of Transcendental Meditation. In 2005, he started the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which actively teaches TM to adults and children — including war veterans and victims of violence and assault — in countries all over the world. Why? Because it works.

When and how did you first discover Transcendental Meditation?

I heard about Transcendental Meditation from my sister in 1973. I’d been looking into many different types of meditation; before that, I was not interested one bit. But suddenly it hit me, this phrase I heard, “True happiness is not out there. True happiness lies within.”

Then I thought, “Maybe meditation is the way to go within.” So, I started looking into different forms of meditation.

Nothing seemed right for me. My sister called. She said she started Transcendental Meditation, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She told me about it, and I liked what she told me. More than that, though, I heard a change in her voice. More self-assuredness. More happiness. I said I want this. So, I went and got it.

Do you recall preliminary breakthrough moments in your early days of practicing or did it have more of a gradual effect?

You know, everyone is different. Me, it hit me with my first meditation. It was as if I was in an elevator and someone cut the cables and I just went within. So blissful, so powerful. I had this anger in me that I took out on my first wife. And after I’d been meditating two weeks, she comes to me and says, “What’s going on?” And I said, “What are you talking about?” And she said, “This anger, where did it go?” And it just lifted. That negativity starts leaving and positivity starts coming in when you truly transcend. That’s the key. Transcending is the thing that we human beings want. We want to experience the deepest level of life. For some reason, we’ve all lost contact with that level.

Transcendental Meditation is a mental technique, an ancient form of meditation. Ancient: Maharishi revived it, he didn’t make it up; it truly brings the experience of transcendence. Now with brain research, they know that’s true.

Whatever size ball of consciousness they had to begin with truly starts to expand, little by little. You expand consciousness. Every human being has consciousness, but not every human being has the same amount. But the potential for every human being is unbounded consciousness. Infinite consciousness. Enlightenment. It just needs unfolding.

Do you consider meditation to be more of a mental practice or a spiritual one? Or is that an irrelevant distinction?

It’s strange. This bliss, it can be physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual all at the same time. You can vibrate in happiness. And we human beings are supposed to enjoy life. Right from the beginning, when you start transcending, huge pressure goes out. Negativity starts lifting away. They say negativity is just like darkness. And then you say, “Wait a minute. Darkness isn’t really anything. It’s the absence of something.”

What separates TM from other forms of meditation?

In Transcendental Meditation, you’re given a mantra—a very specific sound, vibration, thought. And the mantra you’re given is like a law of nature, designed for a specific purpose. And that purpose is to turn the awareness from out, out, out, 180 degrees to within, within, within.

Once you’re pointed within, you will naturally start to dive through deeper levels of mind, and deeper levels of intellect. And at the border of intellect, you’ll transcend. You’ll wish you could stay there, but you’ll come out with thoughts. And you’ll go again. You just stay regular in your meditation day by day and watch things get better and better.

And how do you go about finding a mantra for someone?

It takes about four days to learn, about an hour and a half a day. You need a legitimate teacher of Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It’s so important that the technique stays pure. And the teacher knows what mantra is correct for you.

At the end of the four days, you’ve been taught how to meditate, and your questions have been answered. This is the way, I feel, that our almighty merciful father has built into this game to get real peace. You enliven that deepest level and affect collective consciousness.

With Transcendental Meditation, you’re given the technique and it’s up to you to do it. When you learn this technique, it’s like you’re placed in the middle of the river, in the fastest current and you go. It’s a very profoundly beautiful cosmic thing to get on the path to enlightenment. To get a technique that works, where you truly transcend and experience this level of life, which is eternal. Always there.

Everything in the field of relativity has a lifespan. Some super long some very short—but a lifespan. Beneath the whole field of relativity is a non-relative absolute and that’s what you want to experience. That’s the key to everything good in life.

If you could capture the entire world’s attention for two minutes, what would you tell them?

I’d say, “Do yourself a giant favor, learn Transcendental Meditation from a legitimate teacher and practice this technique regularly. Be a light unto yourself.”


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