Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

by David Lynch


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Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch

In this "unexpected delight,"* filmmaker David Lynch describes his personal methods of capturing and working with ideas, and the immense creative benefits he has experienced from the practice of meditation.

Now in a beautiful paperback edition, David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish provides a rare window into the internationally acclaimed filmmaker's methods as an artist, his personal working style, and the immense creative benefits he has experienced from the practice of meditation.

Catching the Big Fish comes as a revelation to the legion of fans who have longed to better understand Lynch's personal vision. And it is equally compelling to those who wonder how they can nurture their own creativity.

Catching Ideas

Ideas are like fish.

If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you've got to go deeper.

Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They're huge and abstract. And they're very beautiful.

I look for a certain kind of fish that is important to me, one that can translate to cinema. But there are all kinds of fish swimming down there. There are fish for business, fish for sports. There are fish for everything.

Everything, anything that is a thing, comes up from the deepest level. Modern physics calls that level the Unified Field. The more your consciousness-your awareness-is expanded, the deeper you go toward this source, and the bigger the fish you can catch.

--from Catching the Big Fish

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781585425402
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/2006
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 510,704
Product dimensions: 7.19(w) x 7.31(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 - 13 Years

About the Author

David Lynch is considered one of the leading filmmakers of our era, counting among the few directors to have appeared on the cover of Time magazine. From the early seventies to the present day, Lynch's popular and critically acclaimed film projects, which include Eraserhead, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive, are considered to have broken down the wall between art cinema and mainstream movie making.

Read an Excerpt

the first dive

He whose happiness is within, whose contentment is within,

whose light is all within, that yogi, being one

with Brahman, attains eternal freedom in divine consciousness.


When I first heard about meditation, I had zero interest in it. I wasn’t even curious. It sounded like a waste of time.

What got me interested, though, was the phrase “true happiness lies within.” At first I thought it sounded kind of mean, because it doesn’t tell you where the “within” is, or how to get there. But still it had a ring of truth. And I began to think that maybe meditation was a way to go within.

I looked into meditation, asked some questions, and started contemplating different forms. At that moment, my sister called and said she had been doing Transcendental Meditation for six months. There was something in her voice. A change. A quality of happiness. And I thought, That’s what I want.

So in July 1973 I went to the TM center in Los Angeles and met an instructor, and I liked her. She looked like Doris Day. And she taught me this technique. She gave me a mantra, which is a sound-vibration-thought. You don’t meditate on the meaning of it, but it’s a very specific sound-vibration-thought.

She took me into a little room to have my first meditation. I sat down, closed my eyes, started this mantra, and it was as if I were in an elevator and the cable had been cut. Boom! I fell into bliss—pure bliss. And I was just in there. Then the teacher said, “It’s time to come out; it’s been twenty minutes.” And I said, “IT’S ALREADY BEEN TWENTY MINUTES?!” And she said, “Shhhh!” because other people were meditating. It seemed so familiar, but also so new and powerful. After that, I said the word “unique” should be reserved for this experience.

It takes you to an ocean of pure consciousness, pure knowingness. But it’s familiar; it’s you. And right away a sense of happiness emerges—not a goofball happiness, but a thick beauty.

I have never missed a meditation in thirty-three years. I meditate once in the morning and again in the afternoon, for about twenty minutes each time. Then I go about the business of my day. And I find that the joy of doing increases. Intuition increases. The pleasure of life grows. And negativity recedes.


rubber clown suit

It would be easier to roll up the entire sky into

a small cloth than it would be to obtain true happiness

without knowing the Self.


When I started meditating, I was filled with anxieties and fears. I felt a sense of depression and anger.

I often took out this anger on my first wife. After I had been meditating for about two weeks, she came to me and said, “What’s going on?” I was quiet for a moment. But finally I said, “What do you mean?” And she said, “This anger, where did it go?” And I hadn’t even realized that it had lifted.

I call that depression and anger the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity. It’s suffocating, and that rubber stinks. But once you start meditating and diving within, the clown suit starts to dissolve. You finally realize how putrid was the stink when it starts to go. Then, when it dissolves, you have freedom.

Anger and depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but they’re like poison to the filmmaker or artist. They’re like a vise grip on creativity. If you’re in that grip, you can hardly get out of bed, much less experience the flow of creativity and ideas. You must have clarity to create. You have to be able to catch ideas.

starting out

I started out just as a regular person, growing up in the Northwest. My father was a research scientist for the Department of Agriculture, studying trees. So I was in the woods a lot. And the woods for a child are magical. I lived in what people call small towns. My world was what would be considered about a city block, maybe two blocks. Everything occurred in that space. All the dreaming, all my friends existed in that small world. But to me it seemed so huge and magical. There was plenty of time available to dream and be with friends.

I liked to paint and I liked to draw. And I often thought, wrongly, that when you got to be an adult, you stopped painting and drawing and did something more serious. In the ninth grade, my family moved to Alexandria, Virginia. On the front lawn of my girlfriend’s house one night, I met a guy named Toby Keeler. As we were talking, he said his father was a painter. I thought maybe he might have been a house painter, but further talking got me around to the fact that he was a fine ­artist.

This conversation changed my life. I had been somewhat interested in science, but I suddenly knew that I wanted to be a painter. And I wanted to live the art life.

the art life

In high school, I read Robert Henri’s book The Art Spirit, which prompted the idea of the art life. For me, living the art life meant a dedication to painting—a complete dedication to it, making everything else secondary.

That, I thought, is the only way you’re going to get in deep and discover things. So anything that distracts from that path of discovery is not part of the art life, in that way of thinking. Really, the art life means a freedom. And it seems, I think, a hair selfish. But it doesn’t have to be selfish; it just means that you need time.

Bushnell Keeler, the father of my friend Toby, always had this expression: “If you want to get one hour of good painting in, you have to have four hours of uninterrupted time.”

And that’s basically true. You don’t just start painting. You have to sit for a while and get some kind of mental idea in order to go and make the right moves. And you need a whole bunch of materials at the ready. For example, you need to build framework stretchers for the canvas. It can take a long time just to prepare something to paint on. And then you go to work. The idea just needs to be enough to get you started, because, for me, whatever follows is a process of action and reaction. It’s always a process of building and then destroying. And then, out of this destruction, discovering a thing and building on it. Nature plays a huge part in it. Putting difficult materials together—like baking something in sunlight, or using one material that fights another material—causes its own organic reaction. Then it’s a matter of sitting back and studying it and studying it and studying it; and suddenly, you find you’re leaping up out of your chair and going in and doing the next thing. That’s action and reaction.

But if you know that you’ve got to be somewhere in half an hour, there’s no way you can achieve that. So the art life means a freedom to have time for the good things to happen. There’s not always a lot of time for other things.


Excerpted from "Catching the Big Fish"
by .
Copyright © 2006 David Lynch.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“The quirky helmer known for Boy Scout demeanor and twisted tales shares his creative vision in a surprisingly gentle tome informed by the underlying teachings of Transcendental Meditation. But don’t worry: David Lynch, one-time creator of “The Angriest Dog in the World” comic, keeps the proselytizing to a minimum. He addresses topics ranging from working with wood (for it) to director’s commentaries (against) in deceptively simple, yet ultimately affirming, chapters. There’s much for fans and aspiring filmmakers to enjoy.”
“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you've got to go deeper," says David Lynch the idiosyncratic filmmaker whose creations include Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, and the cult TV classic, Twin Peaks. He claims that he has savored the pleasures of diving deep thanks to a 33-year practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM). He describes the fun of gathering what he calls "firewood" (all kinds of ideas and things for a film), the joy he takes in seeing an aging building or a rusted bridge, and the respect he has for Fellini and Kubrick. Lynch loves making movies and diving deep, and this testament bears witness to both loves.”
—Spirituality & Practice
“In Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, David Lynch puts aside his filmic quest to get inside the viewer’s head and lets them instead inside his, an invitation almost as rare as a ticket to fiction’s Wonka Chocolate Factory, and possibly just as out of this world. Catching the Big Fish is a blend of thoughts and themes, sometimes random like a stream of consciousness, or — the analogy he personally prefers for creativity — casting a hook into a bottomless sea. The book melds biography, film analysis, philosophy and spirituality with a heart-on-sleeve sincerity, while incorporating a narrative of the author’s passion for charting the world of dreams and ideas and rendering them unto action.”
“With this book, Lynch offers us a rare glimpse into his own head. In the process, he reveals just enough biographical information, philosophy of film, and general behind-the-scenes dirt (including the connection between Lynch's Lost Highway and O. J. Simpson)to keep the attention of those more interested in Lynch's films than in his consciousness.”

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Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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steveski More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of David Lynch's films for many years and was surprised to find this book. Not knowing what to expect going in, I was pleasantly surprised to find it a book for tasty philosophical nuggets that has demanded repeated readings. The creativity stuff is spot on. Nice work. Now write another book David :)
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Everybody wants something. We read biographies and self-help books to satisfy our deepest desires. We hope to gain insights that enable us to get more: more success, more love, more prosperity, more skill, more happiness. But all of that boils down to using what we already have. David Lynch¿s book is different. It is unique. He has found a tool that enables him to expand the container of knowledge. It is like being born with creativity the size of a golf ball and suddenly discovering we can grow our innate talents to the size of the Grand Canyon. Mr. Lynch has told us from his own personal experience what a transformation this tool has made in his life. He has related the scientific validation showing that this tool works for everyone. Catching the Big Fish is a wonderfully concise book that gives the secret formula for achieving anything we want in life. I wish that this book had been available to me when I was college age. At any age, this book is life transforming.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this in a little under 2 hours, but that doesn't take away from its immense creativity. It was a great book. I would recommend it to anyone, even though I have never seen any of his films. Buy this today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book reminded me of Lynch's wonderful and understated 'Straight Story' in its unpretentious simplicity and quiet power. And like Straight, this book may not be what some Lynch fans initially were expecting. But don't let that throw you. This book is a gem! At first I thought I might have liked it more if it had some of Lynch's amazing art throughout it - some of his paintings, a few chosen film stills, maybe even some of his thoughtful stylish furniture. But as I sat back with the simple words on white pages (so UN-Lynchian some might at first think), I realized that every aspect of the book was an intentioned aquarium view of anecdotes and insights of the Lynch mind and art - an outstanding exposition of a cutting edge artist's approach to, and cultivation of, the creative process. Delightful and bold - I loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In a beautifully concise manner, this maestro of film direction gives us a taste of what makes his creative juices flow. Wonderful anecdotes are interspersed with advice for bringing creative ideas to life, as concise as a director¿s notes to his actors. Many of the chapters are introduced with quotes from ancient Vedic texts, and give the book a spiritual tone. It is obvious that David Lynch takes both film and book writing seriously. Mr. Lynch underscores the importance of his 30+ year practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique in getting him to where he is artistically today. He attributes his ability to ¿catch the big fish¿ ideas to his twice daily dipping into a well of creativity through TM. As a neurologist, I¿ve been impressed with the health benefits of TM, and it¿s great to see an artist so enthusiastic about this technique. He gives those of us who dabble in the arts a reason to hope that we can tap into our own artistic genius. I read through this book on a quiet afternoon, and I¿m ready to ¿go fishing¿.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a gem. It's unique and surprising, just like his films. Like many great artists, he's not elaborate with words. But his writing has a kind of ultra simplicity and honesty that is intensely charming and revealing. This book is all over the map, from growing up in Montana, to filmmaking in LA, to his experiences with meditation and its relevance to his art and his life. I think that it is a rare look into the life of a real maverick--a pioneering artist. It¿s great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
David Lynch's new book, 'Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity' is creative, charming, brief and playful. Written in small passages that flow, despite uniquely defined ideas, and seem to jump right off the page and dance and twinkle in your mind as you continually turn the pages, Lynch takes the reader through a deeply contemplative--though subtle in description--journey into 'that which all things emerge.' I actually acquired this for a friend of mine and when I present it to him, I'll promptly admit to reading it--in its entirety--before giving it to him. I'll tell him how Lynch touches on his films, but only chooses one or two interesting anecdotal items regarding these films and then moves on. Much the same with his life. I'll also share with him the positivity that Lynch exudes throughout and how important and real this state of mind is to him. How his whole aim is to be less and less and less restricted by anger and depression and sadness and hostility and all the other negative aspects of life. According to Lynch, it's all because of Transcendental Meditation and consciousness-based education. Lately, he's been giving many interviews and talks and whatnot to propagate his progressive thinking with regards to the many benefits of Transcendental Mediation. His foundation--the 'David Lynch Foundation For Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace'--is dedicated to introducing and maintaining this principle to young people and educators around the world. In one passage of the book, Lynch says that Van Gogh 'would have been even more prolific and even greater if he wasn't so restricted by the things tormenting him. I don't think it was pain that made him so great--I think his painting brought him whatever happiness he had.' I suppose I'm charmed. And I now believe in world peace.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read with the expectation that I would get a better insight into meditation. What I found was a series of chopped experiences that went nowhere. If you were already a David Lynch fan, I suppose you would be biased towards him, but an objective reader will be very disappointed.