Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Beatles and Buddhism - John Lennon

Prior to my 200 post (the next one !) western pop music seems to be my zeitgeist when writing the blog at the moment ! There has been no greater popular music force in the 20th century than the Beatles and John Lennon was seemingly the most spiritually adventurous of the band and the leading force behind the Beatles's experiments with Eastern religions and metaphysics.

He made use of Buddhist chants in his song "Across the Universe." Buddhist hymns, saffron /orange dress and Buddhist artworks were hugely popular among hippies in this period. This culminated with the Fab 4 flying to India to meet with the Transcendental meditation Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. After the band split in 1970 the band members all went their own ways and towards the end of the 1970's John Lennon had left behind most of his new found enthusiasm for religions of whatever bent.

In their album revolver John Lennon makes references to Zen Buddhism in the track "Tomorrow Never Knows". In the first instance he had wanted Buddhist monks to chant along on the backing track. Lyrics include surrender to the void and the meaning is within.

When asked by a reporter about Bob Dylan's short lived conversion to Christianity he replied "I'm not pushing Buddhism because I'm no more a Buddhist than a Christian. But there's one thing I admire about the religion. There's no proselytizing."

"We were all on this ship in the sixties, our generation, a ship going to discover the New World. And the Beatles were in the crow's nest of that ship. "
John Lennon

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