George Harrison and Friends, reprise

Here is my transcript of the George Harrison video I posted a few days ago. I’ve posted the video below as well.  And I’ve also reposted below the full video of the last interview-and-performance George gave–with VH1, and my transcript of that as well. (There will be some overlap.) As a “bonus track”, I’ve thrown in a visit by Paul and Ringo to George at his home, in 1994. Enjoy.

 

George Harrison:   . . . I believe in the thing that I read years ago, which I think was in the Bible. It said, “Knock, and the door will be opened.” And it’s true. If you want to know anything in this life, you just have to knock on the door, whether that be physically on somebody else’s door and ask them a question. Or — which I was lucky to find, — is the meditation. You know, it’s all within.

. . . The goal is like a goal in life, which is to — really the only reason to be living is to have complete, full knowledge, full bliss consciousness. Everything else is just mundane and secondary. And so, I wanted to know some method of enlarging my own consciousness. And that’s meditation. It’s been there millions, millions [ie thousands] of years. It’s always there, and “knock, and the door will be opened.”

The thing that really got me interested was, after being brought up a Catholic until I was about thirteen, I couldn’t take it any longer, because it was just full of hypocrisy; and the teachings of an Indian called [Swami] Vivekananda (1863-1902), which really impressed me. He said, “If there’s a God, we must see Him. If there’s a soul, we must perceive it. Otherwise, it’s better not to believe, it’s better to be an outspoken atheist than a hypocrite.” Whereas, the Catholics were teaching me to be a hypocrite: “Just be a hypocrite, believe what we tell you. Don’t try to have any experience.” But the whole basis of religion is to have the experience, have that perception. So: these methods of God-perception, Self-realization, which is yoga and meditation; and the process you have to get from a spiritual master, somebody who’s an authority on this sort of thing.

…There’s many different techniques, and the technique we did with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a form of silent meditation. Which, you know, you can transcend, but see, the purpose is to transcend from this relative state of consciousness to an absolute state of consciousness. People will think, “This [physical body] is me,” and you know, this isn’t me, it’s just a bag of bones. Basically, everybody is spirit, which is really what Christ was here to tell everybody about, “the kingdom of heaven that lies within,” which is the state of Being, pure consciousness.

So, through many years of pollution of consciousness through material energy, and this association, then we’ve all ended up in a fallen state. But really, everybody is basically, potentially, divine. So yoga, all these methods, are, really, ancient methods just to stop further pollution of your system and consciousness, and to cleanse the system. The whole thing of purity that they talk about in religion is really a mental, physical and spiritual purity which is obtained through discipline and through practice.

So the meditation we did with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, was to sit silently, and to transcend through the sense of sound. Like, you can transcend with hearing, or with touch, or taste, or vision. Like, I think some Buddhists meditate by concentrating on an object, like either a garden, Japanese gardens, or on candles, looking at, into, the flame, and they transcend that way. But this method was to transcend through sound, so you’re given a mantra. The mantra brings all your body to rest. It calms everything down. And it brings sort of harmony and union just to all your senses. And this way your thoughts become finer, and finer, and finer, until you can arrive at a point which is transcendental, which means “beyond.” It’s beyond the senses, beyond intellect.

People always say I’m the Beatle who changed the most, but really that’s what I see life is about. The point is, unless you’re God-conscious, then you have to change because, because otherwise, it’s a waste of time. Everybody is so limited, and so really useless when you think about the limitations on yourself

And the thole thing is to change, try and make everything better, and better. And that’s what the physical world is about, is change. But the change that happens through meditation, I mean, it’s a gradual sort of thing, but the more you realize, with anything, with just growing older, the more you realize, it helps you in some way.

With meditation you’re able to understand that there is this unity lying beneath everything; there’s something there within every atom that holds it all together, and that, in actual fact, it really is One. But on an intellectual level to say, “It is, we are, One,”— then I mean, again, you missed the point. It’s an experience. You have to really have that perception that it’s One. Maharishi said, “For a forest to be green, each tree must be green.” So if you stand back and criticize the rest of the people, it’s again, Christ said, “Put your own house in order.” Automatically, if I’m to criticize someone else, I suddenly come back to me-self and realize, until I’m straight, then I’m in no position to be able to criticize others. So, it helps.

Also it helps in as much as you can, any time of the day, any situation you’re in, you can get control of yourself, just by sitting quietly, and by turning off from the external problems we have — noise, and all this society. We can go inside, inside yourself, where it’s always calm and peaceful. It’s like, being on this level of consciousness, it’s like the ocean which is always changing, and the bottom of the ocean is always calm and still. And if you’re not anchored to the bottom of the ocean, you’re at the mercy of whatever change goes on. And this process of meditation, or different types of yoga, is all just a way to anchor yourself securely to that pure state of consciousness, to that state of Being, so that you can still act out your life on the surface, but you remain anchored securely.

. . . Because, if you think about it, — the whole of creation is perfect. You know? there is nothing that goes wrong with Nature. Only what man does, then it goes wrong.

But we are made of that Thing, the very essence of our being, of every atom in our body, is made from this perfect knowledge, this perfect consciousness. But superimposed on that is, — if I can use the word, — the tidal wave of bullshit that goes through the world. So, we’re being barraged by, you know, by bullshit.

But not only that, the way the world is structured, or the way creation is structured, we have duality, which says: yes/no; good/bad; loss/gain; birth/death. And it’s a circle that you get trapped in. It’s like, “The Memphis Blues Again” [Bob Dylan song]. And that’s the hardest thing to understand. What is causing both of these things? What’s causing day and night, good and bad? It’s all the cause, and this is the effect.

So, I mean, we’re gettin’ really transcendental here. But, to say that our physical being is really, on a very, very subtle level, it’s just like the sap in a tree. In a tree is the sap, and it runs throughout all the parts of the tree. Now, it’s like that: our bodies are manifesting into physical bodies, but the cause, the sap, is pure consciousness, pure awareness. And that is perfect, and perfect knowledge. But we have to tap into that. . .

. . . I mean, the four of us all experienced the thing, and in a way we gained strength and supported each other in the turmoil. But, yeah, I think fame is a good thing, in terms of giving you a heightened experience, or at least more experience, and…But then, it’s what you do with that, or what that uncovers. I think, for me, you know, as I say, I realized I wanted, you know, I just want more. ‘This isn’t it. This isn’t it.’  You know, fame is not the goal. Money, you know, although money’s nice to have — it can buy you a bit of freedom, you know; you can go to the Bahamas when you want, — but, it doesn’t… It’s not the answer.

And the answer, you know, is how to get peace of mind. And how to be happy. That’s really what we’re supposed to be here for.

And the difficult thing is that, we all go through our lives and through our days, and we don’t experience bliss.

And, you know, it’s a very subtle thing. And to experience that, and to be able to know how to do that, is something you don’t just stumble across, you’ve got to search for it.

Host: Did you experience bliss on stage, when in the studio, in a way, when performing? Did it put you in touch with that bliss?

George: Well, we had happiness at times, and uh…But, you know, not the kind of bliss I mean, where, like, every atom of your body is just buzzing, you know? Because it’s, again, it’s beyond the mind. It’s like, you know, it’s when there’s no thought involved.

And that, I mean, it’s a pretty tricky thing to try to get to that stage. Because it means controlling the mind, and being able to transcend the relative states of consciousness — waking, sleeping, dreaming, — which is all we really know. Ah, but there is another state, that goes beyond all that. And it’s in that state, that’s where the bliss and the knowledge that’s available, is.

^ ^ ^

Host: I know the one benefit concert that you’ve done in England, in the past couple of twenty years or so, was for the Natural Law Party, back in ’92, I believe. What brought that about?

George: Well, it was, — one of the things that made it easy was, I’d just done a tour of Japan with Eric Clapton’s band. So I was kinda up to speed with the songs that I was doing. And I had, the band was there that knew all the material. But that was, — I think there was a general election going on.

And as far as I’m concerned, whichever, — you know, there’s Neil Innes, from the Ruttles, he wrote a song once, and he said,“No matter who you vote for, the Government always gets in.” And it’s like that. You know in England, you always get, — as far as I was concerned, the Left, the Center, and the Right, they’re all really the same. They’re all different shades of the same greyness.

And, although it was a long shot, you know, Maharishi tried to get these people to form together into a party which would be called the Natural Law Party, which was,—

Host: The same Maharishi Mahesh Yogi?

George:  —Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And the idea behind it, really, is to have consciousness as the basic thing. Because if — really, you know, we get in government, or we get in any situation in life, we get the reflection of our own consciousness, — we can’t really complain about what we have because that is us.

It’s a reflection of our own being.

Now, if we could have people who are actually conscious in a spiritual sense, then all the underlying problems to society… — I mean, it wouldn’t be able to change just overnight, but over a generation, or two generations, you could have things where, for instance, say, in England, and I’m sure it’s the same here, you get disease. So you’ve got a lot of expenditure on hospitals, and on fixin’ up people who have disease.

Now, the problem is, that most doctors, they study disease; they don’t know about health. So you’d need to re-program stuff so that you teach people about how to be healthy. That way, you don’t spend so much money on disease. You’d have, people would be healthier. You wouldn’t have such a requirement for, you know, all this, these various things that take up all the money. You’d be able to use that money for something else.

So, the natural law that operates on this planet, or in the universe, everything, as I said earlier, everything works in a perfect order. And there’s a scheme to things which has a certain intelligence that drives it and makes everything work. Now, if we as individuals could go to that level of consciousness where we can bring it into our being, and, as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once said, “For a forest to be green, each tree must be green.” So it’s no use just one or two people being, you know, like this. You’d have to make the whole of society, if they had that understanding… And that’s what I think, really, you’d have to school people. Right from being children, teach people about their health, about their bodies, about consciousness. Because it’s all to do with consciousness. Raise the level of consciousness, and then everything automatically becomes better.

…All Things Must Past [his 1970 solo album] just shows the nature of the physical world: everything is changing all the time; we get born, and we die. But we are in this body, and we go through from birth to death; we stay the same, the soul is the same, but the body is changing. And like that, you know, it’s the nature of — it’s called duality, — and it just keeps changing, but everything passes except the essence of that, which is our soul.

. . . You know, I don’t believe I have great musical ability, or great lyrical ability. And I have a bigger problem than that , is because of my influence from Indian music and that whole spiritual thing, is that I don’t see the point to writing most songs, like most people will write. I could write hundreds of songs, you know: “Hey, baby! Whatcha gonna do?” You know, I could churn them out, but I don’t want to. If I’m gonna say something, I’d like it to have some kind of importance, some value. So that, you know, in 20 years time, it’s still — it’s not just some dumb song that made, you know, some royalties. I mean, the royalties are nice, but it would be good to be able to have something a little deeper. And so, you know, it’s very difficult how — that’s why the Chants of India [his 1997 album with his Indian musical mentor, sitar master Ravi Shankar] is much better, because it’s all there in Sanskrit! You just say the Sanskrit, and they’re all mantras, and they’re all prayers, and they all have a spiritual connection. It’s much easier than trying to write in English some incredible philosophy, or something that has a value.

. . . You know, I’m unhappy about the world being concreted over, and all the forest chopped down, and the air polluted, and the fact that the planet is in the control of mad people! You know, people who are crazy, people who are greedy, all these people who are selling the rainforests, and you know, any forest. Just selling it because they make some money, without. . . You know, I’m very unhappy about that! But I have a long-term view, which is, “all things must past.” I mean, before, it used to be maybe they’re gonna blow us up with H-bombs! But even that, — I thought: “It don’t really matter; they can’t destroy what’s within ourselves.” Krishna said, “There was no time when we didn’t exist, and there will be no time when we cease to exist; the only thing that changes is the body.” So, even if they blew us up with H-bombs, our soul will stay in our other, astral body, and the only thing that won’t be here is physical. So, you know, I’m sad about it, the world, but I look at it from within and without.

[News-feed footer script running on screen: Beatle George Harrison passed away Thursday afternoon (29 November, 2001) in Los Angeles, after a long battle with cancer. His wife Olivia and son Dhani were by his side. . . Paul McCartney: “I’ll always love him – he’s my baby brother.” Ringo Starr: “We will miss George for his sense of love, his sense of music, and his sense of laughter.” … Yoko Ono: “His life was magical.” Fans have gathered to remember Harrison at Strawberry Fields in New York’s Central Park and outside Abbey Road Studios in London. … Flags are flying at half-staff in the Beatles’ hometown of Liverpool. … Friends say a private ceremony has already taken place. … Details on a public memorial are unknown. … Harrison’s family issued a statement: “He left this would as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends. He often said, ‘Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot wait. And love one another.’ ” More on this sad story today on a VH1 News Special: Remembering George Harrison.]

partial transcript:

[George Harrison]: “…I get confused when I look around at the world, and I see everybody’s running around, and you know, as Bob Dylan said, ‘He not busy being born is busy dying.’ And yet, nobody’s trying to figure out what’s the cause of death, and what happens when you die. I mean that, to me, is the only thing that’s of any importance. The rest is all secondary.”

Host: That was the great George Harrison during a surprise visit he made to VH1 in 1997. And that was a day that I will never, ever forget. George came by the studio with Ravi Shankar to promote Ravi’s album, Chants of India, which George had produced and played on.

…It was truly a magical afternoon. And it ended up being George Harrison’s last public performance.

We wanna give you a chance to hear some of the remarkable conversations George shared with us that day. And you’ll see as he got more comfortable he talked about the Beatles, the Maharishi, …and so much more. People like to call George Harrison the Quiet Beatle, but I’ll tell you, when he opened up, he was one of the smartest, most interesting, and funniest people it was ever my honor to meet.

George: It may sound like a lofty thing to say on VH1, but basically: What are we doing on this planet? And I think through the Beatle experience that we’d had, we’d grown so many years within such a short period of time, and had experienced so many things, and had met so many people. But I’d realized, there was nothing, actually, that was giving me a buzz anymore.

I wanted something better. I remember thinking, ‘I’d love to meet someone who will really impress me.’ I don’t mean because, somebody like, you know, Burt Lancaster, ’cause he was in a movie. I mean, I met Burt Lancaster, and he impressed me on that level. But I meant somebody who could really impress me. And that’s when I met Ravi [Shankar]. Which was funny, because he’s this little fella, with an obscure instrument [sitar], from our point of view. And yet it led me into such depths. And I think, that was, that’s the most important thing. It still is for me.

You know, I get confused when I look around at the world, and I see everybody’s running around. And you know, as Bob Dylan said, ‘He not busy being born is busy dying.‘  And yet, nobody’s trying to figure out what’s the cause of death? and what happens when you die? I mean, that to me, is the only thing, really, that’s of any importance. The rest is all secondary.

Host: Do you think, in part, musicians are afraid to deal with subjects that are so big? Or it just doesn’t occur to them? Or do people think, ‘it’s not commercial enough, who wants to talk about life itself?’ ?”

George: I don’t know what anybody else thinks. And, you know, as the years have gone by, I seem to have found myself more and more out on a limb as far as, you know, that kind of thing goes. I mean, even close friends of mine, you know, they maybe don’t want to talk about it because maybe they don’t understand it. But I believe in the thing that I read years ago, which I think was in the Bible. It said, “Knock, and the door will be opened.”

And it’s true. If you want to know anything in this life, you just have to knock on the door, whether that be physically on somebody else’s door and ask them a question. Or — which I was lucky to find, — is the meditation. You know, it’s all within.

Because, if you think about it, — the whole of creation is perfect. You know? there is nothing that goes wrong with Nature. Only what man does, then it goes wrong.

But we are made of that Thing, the very essence of our being, of every atom in our body, is made from this perfect knowledge, this perfect consciousness. But superimposed on that is, — if I can use the word, — the tidal wave of bullshit that goes through the world. So, we’re being barraged by, you know, by bullshit.

But not only that, the way the world is structured, or the way creation is structured, we have duality, which says: yes/no; good/bad; loss/gain; birth/death. And it’s this circle that you get trapped in. It’s like, “The Memphis Blues Again” [Dylan song]. And that’s the hardest thing to understand. What is causing both of these things? What’s causing day and night, good and bad? It’s all the cause, and this is the effect.

So, I mean, we’re gettin’ really transcendental here. But, to say that our physical being is really, on a very, very subtle level, it’s just like the sap in a tree. In a tree is the sap, and it runs throughout all the parts of the tree. Now, it’s like that: our bodies are manifesting into physical bodies, but the cause, the sap, is pure consciousness, pure awareness. And that is perfect, and perfect knowledge. But we have to tap into that to understand it.

And that’s really why, for me, why this record [Chants of India, by Ravi Shankar] is important. Because it’s another little key to open up ‘the within’ for each individual to be able to sit and to turn off: …‘turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream’ ” [quoting Beatles song from decades earlier, before they all learned to meditate].

^^^

Host: Ravi, you said a very beautiful thing a couple of years back in an interview. They asked you what it was like for you to become a big rock star, quote, unquote, a big pop star, as it were. And I recall you saying it was easier for you because you were older at the time, as opposed to George who was in his early twenties when it happened.

Do you think, George, that that may be a reason why you found a search for something deeper in life?

I think about you embracing Eastern philosophy. I think about Dylan becoming born again.* Do you think it drove you to search for something deeper? Because you were worshiped by millions. And why do you think that it drove you to search for something deeper. As opposed to Elvis, who had a hard time handling it?

* [Bob Dylan also learned Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation technique.]

George: Actually, Elvis, I think, looked for something deeper, too.**

** [Elvis, though addicted to various drugs, was also interested in various forms of meditative spirituality. See the book, The Tao of Elvis.]

Host: Yeah, he did…

George: Because I know that he was, at different times, he was involved with different organizations.

I mean, it was sad about Elvis. I think, compared to the Beatles, Elvis, I always saw the problem for him was, that he was the only one who had that experience. Because, like hippies, you know? So it takes more people to have that, to share the experience. I mean, the four of us all experienced the thing, and in a way we gained strength and supported each other in the turmoil.

But, yeah, I think fame is a good thing, in terms of giving you a heightened experience, or at least more experience, and…But then, it’s what you do with that, or what that uncovers.

I think, for me, you know, as I say, I realized I wanted, you know, I just want more. ‘This isn’t it. This isn’t it.’  You know, fame is not the goal. Money, you know, although money’s nice to have — it can buy you a bit of freedom, you know; you can go to the Bahamas when you want, — but, it doesn’t… It’s not the answer.

And the answer, you know, is how to get peace of mind. And how to be happy. That’s really what we’re supposed to be here for.

And the difficult thing is that, we all go through our lives and through our days, and we don’t experience bliss.

And, you know, it’s a very subtle thing. And to experience that, and to be able to know how to do that, is something you don’t just stumble across, you’ve got to search for it.

Host: Did you experience bliss on stage, when in the studio, in a way, when performing? Did it put you in touch with that bliss?

George: Well, we had happiness at times, and uh…But, you know, not the kind of bliss I mean, where, like, every atom of your body is just buzzing, you know? Because it’s, again, it’s beyond the mind. It’s like, you know, it’s when there’s no thought involved.

And that, I mean, it’s a pretty tricky thing to try to get to that stage. Because it means controlling the mind, and being able to transcend the relative states of consciousness — waking, sleeping, dreaming, — which is all we really know. Ah, but there is another state, that goes beyond all that. And it’s in that state, that’s where the bliss and the knowledge that’s available, is.

^ ^ ^

Host: I know the one benefit concert that you’ve done in England, in the past couple of twenty years or so, was for the Natural Law Party, back in ’92, I believe. What brought that about?

George: Well, it was, — one of the things that made it easier was, I’d just done a tour of Japan with Eric Clapton’s band. So I was kinda up to speed with the songs that I was doing. And I had, the band was there that knew all the material. But that was, — I think there was a general election going on.

And as far as I’m concerned, whichever, — you know, there’s Neil Innes, from the Ruttles, he wrote a song once, and he said,“No matter who you vote for, the Government always gets in.”  And it’s like that, you know. In England, you always get, — as far as I was concerned, the Left, the Center, and the Right, they’re all really the same. They’re all different shades of the same greyness.

And, although it was a long shot, you know, Maharishi tried to get these people to form together into a party which would be called the Natural Law Party, which was,—

Host: The same Maharishi Mahesh Yogi?

George:  —Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And the idea behind it, really, is to have consciousness as the basic thing. Because if — really, you know, we get in government, or we get in any situation in life, we get the reflection of our own consciousness, — we can’t really complain about what we have because that is us.

It’s a reflection of our own being.

Now, if we could have people who are actually conscious in a spiritual sense, then all the underlying problems to society… — I mean, it wouldn’t be able to change just overnight, but over a generation, or two generations, you could have things where, for instance, say in England, and I’m sure it’s the same here, you get disease. So you’ve got a lot of expenditure on hospitals, and on fixin’ up people who have disease.

Now, the problem is, that most doctors, they study disease; they don’t know about health. So you’d need to re-program stuff so that you teach people about how to be healthy. That way, you don’t spend so much money on disease. You’d have, people would be healthier. You wouldn’t have such a requirement for these various things that take up all the money. You’d be able to use that money for something else.

So, the natural law that operates on this planet, or in the universe, everything, as I said earlier, everything works in a perfect order. And there’s a scheme to things which has a certain intelligence that drives it and that makes everything work. Now, if we as individuals could go to that level of consciousness where we can bring it into our being, and, as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once said, “For a forest to be green, each tree must be green.” So it’s no use just one or two people being like this. You’d have to make the whole of society, if they had that understanding… And that’s what I think, really, you have to school people. Right from being children, teach people about their health, about their bodies, about consciousness. Because it’s all to do with consciousness.

Raise the level of consciousness, and then everything automatically becomes better.

Host: You think it can happen, or do you think people are totally on auto-pilot too much?

George: It can happen, but it’s something which will take a long, long time, generations of people.

I mean if you look now, just through, say, from the 60s, or the 50s, there’s a lot more people, thanks to, say, Indian music, thanks to rock ‘n’ roll music, who have got much more understanding. You go out there on the street now, you can find Indian spice shops, Indian restaurants, and places to go for yoga, for meditation. There’s a much higher awareness, generally, on those kinds of things. And so it is seeping through. I mean, where did all the really good hippies go, when they all dropped out?

Host: They’re driving Volvos, George!

George:  — Well, I don’t think all of them. I think a lot of them are, you know, have brought up, there’s probably two generations of kids now, who are much more open to that type of consciousness. And they’ve been brought up by, you know, being vegetarian, or whatever, that helps the society become, you know, much more balanced. That’s, it’s all to do with the balance. You know, we’ve got too much extreme goin’ on.

Host: You’re optimistic?

George:  Well. You have to be optimistic. Yeah, you know…

Host:   I…me, too…I just… You know, it’s so funny, when you talk to people, it’s down the middle: those who think it’s getting better, those who think it’s getting worse, and those who think it’s reflected in the music in all cases…

George:  It is getting better, and worse. Because that’s the nature of relativity. You know: good and bad, good and bad. But the individual, you know, if the individual gets on that consciousness, then it doesn’t matter. Because, in a way, you can retain the balance between the good and bad. You know, because really, good and bad are the same. They are. It’s the same sort of thing. So it’s like, in the middle is the safe half….

________

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