As we approach the 10th anniversary of his passing, it’s sweet to remember George, his music and his humanity. Of course he is best known for the role he played as the lead guitarist of one of the most popular, influential musical groups in modern history. And his own beautiful compositions keep him as a beloved part of our modern music tradition.
We’re also thankful to George for the influence he had on our society’s interest in meditation. It was his fascination with the ancient knowledge tradition of India that led the Beatles to meet Maharishi and to learn the Transcendental Meditation program.
“I had got to the point where I thought I would like to meditate; I’d read about it and I knew I needed a mantra – a password to get through to the other world.”
– George Harrison
It all started when in 1967 George’s wife, Patti Boyd, learned the Transcendental Meditation technique in London while George was away on tour with the Beatles. “I loved meditating and I found the effects remarkable,” Patti said. And it was her enthusiasm that led George to encourage the Beatles to hear a lecture in London by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
This meeting led to a lifelong dedication to meditation and the quest for higher states of consciousness—one that would set the tone of his personal and professional life. And it certainly influenced his music.
Some of his great contributions to the musical heritage of the Beatles came as a result of his experience studying Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi in India. His compositions that resulted from that special period include “Here Comes the Sun,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Something“—a song that John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the two principle songwriting members of the band, felt was among the very best the group recorded. It was also the second most covered (i.e., recorded by other artists) song after “Yesterday.”
George’s interest in the Transcendental Meditation program and the widespread adoption of Maharishi’s revival of Vedic wisdom continued throughout his life.
In 1992, to show his support for Maharishi’s effort to help raise the consciousness of society, George performed at a benefit concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. George was also enthused and engaged in Maharishi’s revival of the ancient Vedic science of health, “Ayur-Veda.” He regularly visited the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts.
During the 1990’s, George also visited Maharishi at Maharishi University in Holland. Dr. Bevan Morris, the president of Maharishi University of Management, was present during George’s visit and recalled with fondness the way George approached Maharishi “with great respect and tenderness. It was very sweet to see George’s humility, and how deeply he appreciated being in Maharishi’s presence.”
In our modern world where celebrity often overshadows the integrity of a person’s basic character, George’s life was one of simple dedication to high ideals. In the words of Dr. Morris, “George was a very fine, spiritual, humble and enlightened man.”
“Everybody’s looking for something…. We don’t have to look anywhere–it’s right there within ourselves.” – George Harrison, Press Conference, Los Angeles, 1974
I, Me, Mine by George Harrison
Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me by Pattie Boyd and Penny Junor
Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison by Joshua M. Greene
The Beatles Anthology, by the Beatles
Many Years from Now by Barry Miles
Dr Bevan Morris’ tribute to George Harrison on the Maharishi Channel