Hedge fund manager Ray Dalio has long attributed his success to the power of mindfulness. The founder of $150 billion Bridgewater Associates, who started practicing transcendental meditation in 1969, credits the experience with changing his life. “I was a very ordinary or subordinary student,” Dalio, who launched Westport, Connecticut–based Bridgewater in 1975, recalled last year. “It brought me a clarity . . . it made me free-flowing. It just gave me lots of gifts.”
Dalio made those remarks at a New York fundraising event for the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace (DLF), where his fellow speaker and TM devotee was filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Recently, Dalio has been upping his game when it comes to backing the New York–based foundation, launched and supported by eccentric auteur Lynch, who helmed the movies Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive and the 1980s cult television classic Twin Peaks, which is now being remade.
In April the DLF auctioned off a lunch with the hedge fund titan; Dalio got to pick the restaurant. Bidding has closed, but neither the foundation nor Bridgewater would say how much the item raised. This month Dalio, along with former U.S. Federal Reserve chair Paul Volcker and ex–Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, spoke at a fundraising dinner for the DLF. Tables for the sold-out event were priced at $50,000 for a gold sponsor and $25,000 for a silver sponsor, or donors could buy a package of two tickets for $5,000. The cash raised will go toward Operation Warrior Wellness, a DLF division that uses meditation to help combat veterans.
Dalio, 66, has also given money to the DLF. The latest 990 filing for his family foundation, the $800 million Dalio Foundation, shows that it donated more than $4 million to Lynch’s organization in 2014, roughly the same amount it bestowed in 2013 and up from about $3 million in 2012.
In fact, Dalio has consistently given $1 million or more (typically closer to $3 million or $4 million) every year over the past decade. For the 2014 fiscal year, the David Lynch Foundation received a little more than $8 million in grants and donations, making Dalio’s contribution close to half of the total. For Dalio, who made $1.4 billion in 2015 alone, according to Institutional Investor Alpha’s ranking of the top-earning hedge fund managers, such largesse may look like nothing, especially compared with the peace of mind that meditation offers him.