Posted by: bobroth | February 14, 2010

Spending time with Russell

Charitable Summit: David Lynch and Russell Simmons join forces

David Lynch and Russell Simmons met for the first time last year at a “National Summit on Quiet Time in the Classroom” in New York City. Now David and Russell are collaborating on science-based programs to address problems of youth violence, homelessness, American Indians with diabetes, prison rehabilitation, and veterans with PTSD.

Russell, David, and me

Russell’s talk on the benefits of meditation for at-risk youth got a standing ovation from 350 educators attending the national summit. His message was practical, wise, and very, very compelling. And as always, Russell had a good time.

Meditating with Russell Simmons

Then I think ahead to the next generation…

This morning, Russell is sitting with his legs crossed on a small pillow shaped like a half-moon on a deep-green sofa in the living room at his place. A murmur of jackhammers pulsates out the window, from far below. I sit across from him on a cushioned, backless round sofa. Before we meditate, Russell switches off his Blackberry (a miracle!) and leans forward to light a candle in a small ceramic aroma pot. My sense of smell is just so-so, so I am not sure what fragrance to expect wafting out into the air.

I usually meditate alone. I travel so much, and I am often on such an odd schedule and in such unpredictable places, that I just meditate wherever and whenever I can. But I do love to meditate with other people whenever the opportunity arises. Meditating with Russell is something special. I go deeper than usual, and time passes faster than usual.

After 20 minutes, I whisper across the room the time is up. A few moments later we are out of silence and ready for what’s next. Blackberrys switched on, a quick check for any urgent messages, and the day begins. Russell winds up the earphone cord on his Blackberry and heads across the living room towards the big computer screen in his office. I slip on my bulky parka, say a few parting words, and head out the door, down the elevator, through the glass doors and back on the streets, hitting the noise and frenzy of downtown traffic head-on.

Russell and I have been talking about a possible collaboration with the David Lynch Foundation for starting schools in Africa where students will get a top quality academic education—with meditation, yoga, and a healthy diet at the core. They call this “consciousness-based education”—and it’s working with amazing success in schools all over the world. We are also kicking around the idea of starting charter schools in the U.S.

I don’t know if you have had a chance to read Russell’s bestselling books (he is finishing up a new one now) or his regular tweets, but the stuff Russell Simmons is saying about life and living—about setting priorities and attaining wealth and resolving conflicts and how to be really and truly happy—is simple, clear, practical and essential. He’s also pretty much of a lone voice in today’s dazzlingly materialistic, celebrity-crazed, mainstreamed media world.

Maybe it is because I am getting older, but I keep thinking about the oncoming generation—the kids who are 5- or 12- or 16-years-old today and who are living in broken families in the inner cities (and wealthy suburbs), on American Indian reservations, children of parents who came home from Iran and Iraq traumatized. Who will train leaders from among these kids? What new skill sets will they possess that will allow them to better feed the people, heal the sick, fuel the cities, grow the economy—and enlighten the soul? What will distinguish them from today’s leaders who have led, even with best intentions, my generation to the brink of so many disasters?

Obviously, a lot of people are needed to train a new generation. I am just hoping Russell Simmons is one of them. The young people will be ready to listen to him. I know. They already are.


  1. Seems like this would be up Oprah’s alley. Has Russell tried contacting her?

  2. Yes, Bobby. I’m sharing your care – for here in Old Continent too.

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