Alan Arkin has enjoyed a long and successful career in Hollywood but he wasn’t always happy.
In his new memoir, Out Of My Mind, Arkin shares his spiritual journey from reincarnation to Tibetan Buddhism.
Arkin started as a musician. In 1956 his folk band Tarriers hit the top 5 with “The Banana Boat Song”. Shortly after he switched to acting and an Oscar nomination for 1996’s “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming”.
“I was miserable pretty much all of the time,” Arkin said via the Guardian.
Since meeting John (no last name given), with whom he has worked for 20 years, Arkin has undergone a transformation.
“My devotion to his teachings became virtually ironclad,” Arkin said.
The publication did work out that he was likely referring to John Battista (Batiste), an actor-turned-yoga instructor who was charged with sexual abuse of three women and a teenager whom he reportedly put into a trance before abusing them.
During Arkin’s interview, he was asked if his John was Battista.
“Oh my God, that was a dark night of the soul if ever there was one. I can’t even begin to tell you what that meant, not just for me but for my family. I could hardly leave my room for about six months. I found myself saying, ‘Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.’ But I couldn’t work out what was the baby and what was the bathwater.
“I was finally able to sort it out. I felt that I had grown so much. So much had borne fruit. Some miraculous things were going on as a direct result of meditation. It saved my life. I couldn’t throw it out. If I threw it out, then suicide would have been the only viable alternative. And for reasons which we’ll go into over a cup of tea one day, I knew that suicide was not the answer. I knew that suicide was not going to solve anything for me or my family or anybody I knew.”
When asked about Battista’s suicide, Arkin added, “He did, yeah, that’s true. But I doggedly went on and I’m glad that I did.”
Arkin now lives a life mostly out of the spotlight in California where he keeps to himself so as to avoid living in “a state of terror.”
The actor was on Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method” but exited the show ahead of the third and final season, which he seemingly hinted at in the interview.
“Acting is so ingrained in my physiognomy and the channels of my brain that I find myself missing aspects of the business. But I don’t need it anymore. I should probably get over it,” he said. “Living in silence. Looking at the garden. Having a relationship with trees and flowers and the sky. That’s what’s profound to me now.”
Out of My Mind: (Not Quite a Memoir) was released on Oct. 13, 2020.