One of the more unique stories in scholarship news this week was the announcement of a $1 million donation from film-maker David Lynch to fund transcendental meditation studies in order to advance the cause of world peace. A little bit of a jump? Maybe, but its money for students who want to learn something new! Of course, the issue has its friends & foes – some claim scientifically verifiable medical benefits and some claim it is little more than a new religious cult.
Transcendental meditation is a relaxation technique originally taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and it is claimed that the methods are derived from traditional Hindu texts. The religious / spiritual goal of the meditation is to achieve enlightenment through varying stages of awareness, but it also claims political benefits of peace and medical benefits from hypertension (high blood pressure) control and heart health to increasing the brain’s ability to cope with physical pain. Millions of dollars have been spent have been spent on researching the issue with varying results over the years, but it hasn’t produced anything conclusive enough to end the controversy and debate.
Speaking of peace, David Lynch had this to say about the transcendental meditation university:
“America urgently needs at least one university to teach the science of peace—and to actually promote peace in the world,”
The irony of this isn’t lost on Liberty Film Festival, who notes that finding a pro-war college campus would be the difficult part, noting the overwhelming leftward slant in higher education. All jokes aside, I’m glad to see funding for education, regardless of the program or agenda. In fact, I have a bias in favor of whatever is new or controversial. That is, after all, how all of the major breakthroughs in science began, with an observation that didn’t fit perfectly with the established belief systems. Even better that the education in the theory be free – let the believers foot the bill and if it works, the market will respond.
David Lynch is probably best known for his work on Twin Peaks, Dune, and Lost Highway so presenting people with new visions of reality isn’t necessarily new for him. Applications are available at: http://www.lynchweekend.org/scholarships/