The viscous coffee plops out of the cup in the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks. These zones are not really “between worlds,” since there is nothing between which they exist. All of reality is a bardo, a “between” as Tibetan Buddhism puts it, or rather a series of bardos. Karma, namely the collected tendencies and habits that things run into, is what fuels the bardos. These bardos are simply the relationships between entities… In some sense, modernity is the story of how oil got into everything. From oil’s point of view, my car is a shallow doll’s house thimble. Yet from my point of view, oil makes America look the way it does: it covers the plains with highways while weeds grow through the rotting wood on a railway track. From evolution’s point of view, I’m just an ephemeral expression of DNA. Yet from my point of view, I inhabit an extended phenotype that consists of computers, desks, lights, streets, children, and dinner plates.
The Man from Another Place first appears in the series' third episode, in a dream experienced by Cooper. Although a spirit, he appears to Cooper as a dwarf in a red suit and dress shirt. In the dream, The Man gives Cooper a series of cryptic clues, which ultimately prove helpful in determining the identity of Laura Palmer's killer, The Man's fellow Black Lodge spirit, BOB. One of these clues is a strange 1940s-style jazz dance, a sequence that makes repeated appearances throughout the course of the series. The series never made clear The Man's reasons for wanting to help Cooper, or his true identity.
Following Cooper's dream, The Man appears only a few more times: once with BOB, appearing to Cooper following the death of Josie Packard, and again at the end of the series when Cooper ventures into the Black Lodge.
Q: Were you very sad when Laura died?
A: Laura wanted to die.
Q: How do you know that?
A: Because she told me.
Q: What else did she tell you?
Q: Did she tell you there was no goodness in the world?
A: She said people tried to be good, but they were really sick and rotten.
A: Her, most of all.
A: Every time she tried to make the world a better place, something terrible came up inside her and pulled her back down into hell.
A: It took her deeper and deeper into the blackest nightmare.
A: Every time, it got harder to go back up to the light.
Q: Did you sometimes have the feeling Laura was harboring some awful secret?
Q: Bad enough that she wanted to die?
Q: Bad enough to drive her to prey upon people's weaknesses, tempt them, break them down?
Q: Make them do degrading things?
Q: Laura wanted to corrupt people because that's how she felt about herself.
Sila - Last Wednesday at 8:03 PM
Just finished Fire Walk With Me
According to cinematographer Ron Garcia, the film was popular in Japan, in particular with women, as Martha Nochimson wrote in her book on Lynch's work, "he surmises that the enthusiasm of the Japanese women comes from a gratification of seeing in Laura some acknowledgment of their suffering in a repressive society."
I'm starting to understand that Twin Peaks is profoundly Buddhist, as is the rest of Lynch's work. That's how I intuitively guessed @essentialsalts would be into it.
Agent Cooper Helps Leland Die
Leland, the time has come for you to seek the path. Your soul has set you face to face with a clear light. And you are now about to experience it in its reality. Wherein all things are like the void and cloudless sky. And the naked spotless intellect is like a transparent vacuum. Without circumference or center. Leland, in this moment know yourself. And abide in that state. Look to the light, Leland. Find the light. Into the light.
— Agent Cooper
O, nobly-born [so-and-so by name], the time hath now come for thee to seek the Path [in reality]. Thy breathing is about to cease. Thy guru hath set thee face to face before with the Clear Light; and now thou art about to experience in its Reality in the Bardo state, wherein all things are like the void and cloudless sky, and the naked, spotless intellect is like unto a transparent vacuum without circumference or centre. At this moment, know thou thyself, and abide in that state.
– Bardo Thodol, aka The Tibetan Book of the Dead (or, Book of Living and Dying, or Book of the State Between Births)
Like Lynch, Coop delights, wholeheartedly, in the odd. Like Lynch, he believes in the power of dreams and intuition. He marvels at the mysteries of the natural world, and he’s fascinated, lovingly, with human beings and what makes them tick. As such, Twin Peaks can be argued to be a meditation on life, death, good, evil, and identity as seen through Lynch and Cooper’s shared vision.
Also like Lynch, Coop meditates, as is confirmed in episode No. 28. (He reports to his never-seen assistant, Diane, that he’s been meditating in lieu of sleep, which has not been coming easily what with all the goings-on in Twin Peaks.) So he shares with Lynch an active interest in how he can better perceive reality by first looking closely at his own mind. More important, though, Agent Cooper seems to be a fine dharma friend to his colleagues at the sheriff’s department, whether any of them know it, or care, or not.
Being unashamed of his intellectual and spiritual sides, it isn’t long before Cooper’s got the entire department not only tolerating his ways but also playing happily along. In an early episode (“Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer”), he gathers them in the woods for an experiment. Employing a blackboard that he dragged into the great outdoors, he gives the TPSD crew a summary of his admiration for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as a quick Tibetan history lesson. Then, he asks them to indulge his beliefs about “deductive technique, Tibetan method, instinct, and luck” with a session of unorthodox, dream-informed mind-storming meant to sort the wheat from the chaff in the mystery of Laura Palmer’s murder.
Though initially skeptical, his colleagues warm to Coop’s unusual ways; they suspend all they know—or think they know—and instead trust and affirm their new partner in crime fighting. In a following scene, we even see Lucy Moran, the supposedly ditzy department receptionist, reading a massive hardcover book titled, simply, Tibet.
Now, Dale Cooper never declares himself to be “a Buddhist,” but that too is of no matter. What matters is the way he connects with and inspires the people around him; the way he lives every moment as truly and deeply as he knows how. He lives in exactly this way even when his methods have clearly failed him.
At one point in the series (I’m doing my best to exclude spoilers here!), Coop is, at least temporarily, stripped of his FBI badge and gun in response to what the Bureau sees as a cavalier and dangerous attitude. But the former special agent is nonplussed. While he feels that his dressing-down is the result of Washington’s being shortsighted and closed-minded, he goes with the flow even as bureaucratic justice goes unserved. He’s come to love Twin Peaks—the people, the landmarks, the unanswered questions that seem to reproduce like dandelions—and so he takes his ex-agent status as an opportunity, forgoing the G-man outfit that he wears so nattily for more region-appropriate duds. Cooper, it seems, is just as comfortable in a classic flannel shirt as he is in his old standard-issue black-jacket, white-shirt, black-necktie outfit. He even starts investigating local real estate offerings, thinking that he might just have found his home. Right where he is.
And what is it that could fill the gap in his life now that his career, to which he has been so dedicated, might be going the way of Twin Peaks’s endangered pine weasel? Coop, unashamed and calmly excited as ever, states his new priority himself: “Seeing beyond fear, and looking at the world with love.”
(From Lion's Roar: the Dharma in Twin Peaks by Rod Meade Sperry