I didn’t call the Beatles by their first names – or even clearly know their names – when they first came to America. Although the media wouldn’t let you forget Beatlemania, I was more of the Beach Boys persuasion at the time, and later got caught up in the San Francisco sound. Then, in 1968, the Beatles did something amazing to me – they went to India to study with a guru. They opened a door I had only vaguely known was there.
George was the Beatle whose life and work were forever altered by eastern religion, as was my own. He learned to play the sitar with a master, while I learned the harmonium, (a wonderfully simple instrument that allows even a novice to produce a credible melody). For a time he belonged to an organization I did, dedicated to meditation and the study of eastern philosophy.
In early November, 2001 at the age of 58, he underwent a last ditch treatment in New York for lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain. When that failed, he travelled to Los Angeles, where he died on November 29, surrounded by family and friends. Deepak Chopra wrote:
“He always would say that when I die I want to be fully conscious of God, I want to be totally at peace, and I don’t want to have any fear of death. And believe me, being close to him, I know that he died very conscious of God and in peace and not afraid of death.”
Blood line ancestors pass on their physical substance to us. Ancestors of the heart pass on their spirit, encourage us by example, and show us what a life well lived can look like. For inspiration, I still listen to Harrison’s last album, Brainwashed, released posthumously in 2002. His son, Dhani helped finish it and included this quote from the Bhagavad Gita in the liner notes:
“There never was a time when you or I did not exist. Nor will there be any future when we shall cease to be.”
Here is a very nice clip on one of my favorite George Harrison songs from the Concert for Bangladesh, 1971.
On this day, when I listen to his music, I remember a man I truly admire, who was genuine, who found his own path and followed it to the best of his ability. “You got to walk that lonesome valley by yourself,” as the old song says, but we do not do so alone. Somehow the spirits of those who went before are there to inspire us.
Very nice post. Thanks for the music and the history.
Glad you enjoyed the post and music.
I like your take of Harrison’s spiritual journey. Although I disagree with the theology of his belief system, he was genuine and believe him to be a decent man.
Yes, he was sincere and genuine. Not an easy task at all with that kind of money and celebrity.
you know, it is not fair to compare one of the beatles to any other, but there was always something about george that drew me to him. he seemed to embody such an inner peace and contentment, and i think this came apparent as he never seemed to be reaching for a post-beatle spotlight, even after being the least glamorous of the beatles. there was always a gentleness about him that was transcendent. nice tribute.
I think George’s character is revealed in a story I found while reading up on him that I didn’t use in the post. In the last few years of his life, a knife wielding man broke into his home and attacked him. He sustained multiple slash wounds, but his comment, from his hospital bed was, “Well, I guess he wasn’t there to try out for the Traveling Wilburries…”