Berliner David Sieveking started out much like any other recent film graduate; he did not know what he was going to do next but he knew, as a director, he had to find some direction. On a whim, Sieveking flew to Fairfield, Iowa, to meet his idol, legendary cult writer and director David Lynch. Lynch was speaking at a transcendental meditation centre, one of many started by the followers of the teachings of Mahirishi Mahesh Yogi. Mahirishi Mahesh Yogi is famed for his spiritual teachings of transcendental meditation as a form of enlightenment, influencing people worldwide, including the Beatles. Lynch, a staunch believer in transcendental meditation, encourages Sieveking to learn it (at 2500 dollars a lesson) to open his consciousness and find creativity.
While Sieveking's film starts out with him trying to gain enlightenment and career direction from his mentor, he is sent on another journey where, bit by bit, he is exposed to the well-oiled machine that is the global transcendental meditation movement. Sieveking is enthusiastic in his journey, trying to soak up information that so many tell him is the only way to happiness, including hours of meditation, chanting and 'Yogic flying' from which the documentary takes its name. However, the cracks begin to show as Sieveking states: "A great idea turns into a great ideology where if you are not with us, you are against us." The preaching of enlightenment turns into the censorship of individual voice until Sieveking is eventually kicked out of the movement.
Through David Learns to Fly, Sieveking is given what he has hoped for, artistic expression through making a film of his own, even though it is at the expense of alienating his idol David Lynch. The documentary has received worldwide acclaim as a critical look into the financial and psychological disparities within social lifestyle movements such as these. Humourous, at times unbelievable and incredibly insightful, David Learns to Fly shows us that even transcendental meditation cannot guarantee everybody personal enlightenment.
Watch our interview with David Sieveking.
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