This article was first published in Entertainment 2morrow on Oct. 9, 2016.
By Tony Sokol
John Lennon was born 76 years ago. The leader of the most popular band on the Common Era, the Beatles, was more than just a rhythm guitarist and mouth organ player with the band. He used his popularity, which was bigger than Jesus’s and possibly anything other than television’s, to bridge multiple gaps of generation, culture and spirituality.
Lennon is known as a peace politician, imagining a world without possessions, countries or heaven. He and Yoko Ono spent their honeymoon chatting about peace and Lil Abner comics, unafraid to be the world’s comics. The Beatles’ long hair, shocking at the time, influenced not only fashion but acceptance of gender and sexual identity. The band fought, albeit unconsciously, against racism in their choice of music and in their insistence on playing to integrated crowds in the early days of civil rights in America. They also explored eastern mysticism. Lennon even called himself Captain Kundalini.
John Lennon was born October 9, 1940 at 6:30 p.m. in Liverpool, England. When he was born the Sun was at 16°16′ Libra. His Ascending Sign was 19°54′ Aries, his Moon was at 3°33′ Aquarius; His Medium Coeli was 7°08′ Capricorn. Lennon’s dominants were Libra, Taurus, Aries. His Mars, Saturn, Sun wer in house 6, 1, 11 / Air, Earth / Cardinal. In Chinese Astrology he was Metal Dragon. His Numerology Birthpath was a 6.
Lennon went a long way from his mop-tops image. While George Harrison is the Beatle most associated with mysticism, with his life-long dedication to Krishna, it was Lennon who first advised listeners to “turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.”
Lennon got that from acid guru Timothy Leary’s reading of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which he read around the same time as he read The Passover Plot by Hugh Schonfield and the Bhagavad Gita. He had just come off singing “Help” for a kickoff, being in his “Fat Elvis” phase and was looking meaning in a meaningless world.
Lennon suggested that the Beatles include a photograph of Aleister Crowley on the cover of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Beatles introduced listeners to transcendental meditation, even if Lennon dismissed the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as a “Sexy Sadie” who made a fool of everyone.
The Beatles first met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1967. They traveled to Rishikesh in 1968 to meditate at his ashram. In an interview with Daily Sketch columnist Anne Nightingale, Lennon said the Beatles were using their power of popularity to spread the word about transcendental meditation. “Yes, because we’ve never felt like this about anything else,” he said. “We want the younger generation, especially, to know about it. It’s for everyone. For ‘householders’ as the Maharishi calls them. Just for ordinary people. You don’t have to be some sort of freak to meditate. We’ve got to convince people we are not mystic… get through our million images to show people that what we can do, anyone can do.”
He said he was convinced that meditation would be more than a phase.
“I’ve got some reservations, of course, but I’m convinced it works in the way they say it works,” he said. “There’s a lot more to learn yet. But I’m willing to find out. You don’t have to have a great faith or anything. The whole thing is so simple – as though it’s too marvelous to be true. You think: ‘Why haven’t I heard about it before?’ But in fact, it’s been around for a long, long time.”
“We dropped LSD weeks before we met the Maharishi. We were looking for something more natural. But all that has been said about us building gold palaces in India is rubbish. Everyone thinks we are going to freak out into the hills forever! All meditation means to us is that we have more output in our work. More energy for things like recording and filming. It would have worked just the same if we hadn’t taken LSD.”
The interview came out at the same time as the flower power movement of the sixties.
“I can understand religion now. I might have come to that conclusion anyway at 25 or 26,” Lennon told Daily Sketch. “But now I understand it – realizing that The Church Of England and all those things, they’re government. We all rejected that. I’m not against organized religion if it’s organized by religious people and not just by politicians disguised. But they’ve got themselves into the position of any big company – they lose touch. I’ve realized religion is personal. It’s ‘Do as you would be done by’ really.”
Lennon felt God was “an energy. I don’t and never did imagine God as one thing. But now I can see God as a power source – or as an energy. But you can’t see any kind of energy… only track it on radar or things like that. You can be aware of your own energy and all the energy that’s around you. All the energy is God. Your own energy and their energy, whether doing god-like things or ungodly things. It’s all like one big jelly. We’re all in the big jelly.”
He believed All You Need Is Love and thought everyone could all pay off the debts of Instant Karma because “We all shine on.” He played Mind Games, because he was a mind guerrilla.
In March of 1968, Lennon got an inquisitive piece of fan mail from a Beatlemaniac named Beth and wrote back “When you read that we are in India searching for peace, etc, it is not that we need faith in God or Jesus — we have full faith in them; it is only as if you went to stay with Billy Graham for a short time — it just so happens that our guru (teacher) is Indian — and what is more natural for us to come to India — his home. He also holds courses in Europe and America — and we will probably go to some of these as well — to learn — and to be near him.
“Transcendental meditation is not opposed to any religion — it is based on the basic truths of all religions — the common denominator. Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” — and he meant just that — “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” — not in some far distant time — or after death — but now.
“Meditation takes the mind down to that level of consciousness which is Absolute Bliss (Heaven) and through constant contact with that state — “the peace that surpasses all understanding” — one gradually becomes established in that state even when one is not meditating. All this gives one actual experience of God — not by detachment or renunciation — when Jesus was fasting etc in the desert 40 days & nights he would have been doing some form of meditation — not just sitting in the sand and praying — although me it will be a true Christian — which I try to be with all sincerity — it does not prevent me from acknowledging Buddha — Mohammed — and all the great men of God. God bless you — jai guru dev.
“The energy that I’ve found doing meditation, you know, has been there before – only that I could access it only during good days when everything was going well. With meditation I find that it could well be pouring down rain; it is still the same amount,” he told David Frost in 1968.
“It takes a lot of practice to remain in this state. We’ve been doing meditation for a matter of about six weeks, maybe. I definitely feel that it takes a long practice to be able to hold that level of consciousness, to be able to bring that level of consciousness into this grosser level.”
On April 1, 1973, Lennon and Ono held a press conference to issue the declaration of their own altered state. He asked the UN for diplomatic immunity and recognition.
“We announce the birth of a conceptual country, NUTOPIA. Citizenship of the country can be obtained by declaration of your awareness of NUTOPIA. NUTOPIA has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people. NUTOPIA has no laws other than cosmic. All people of NUTOPIA are ambassadors of the country. As two ambassadors of NUTOPIA, we ask for diplomatic immunity and recognition in the United Nations of our country and its people.”
“Citizens” of NUTOPIA would recognize how absurd and artificial it was to place labels on human beings: black, white, yellow, red, Japanese, British, Congolese, American, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, conservative, liberal, socialist, capitalist, etc. Absurd because, for example, how do we categorize the offspring of a black man and a yellow woman? Or a Japanese woman who emigrates and becomes a British or American citizen? Or a Jew who converts to Christianity and later converts again to Buddhism? Is any label applied to an individual as important as his character? As important as how much personal integrity she possesses? As important as how compassionate and considerate the person is?
“Citizens of NUTOPIA would mutually recognize their common humanity and their preference for peace and harmony, and they would interact in accordance with cosmic laws. Cosmic laws because those are the laws that make up our innate sense of justice. To kill each other or not to kill each other? Steal from or not steal from? Respect or not respect? Cosmic laws make sense to us, as opposed to: we should not kill except when the act is sanctioned by the proper political or religious leader, or we should never steal unless the legal machinery says that it is permissible this time (the Indians are being relocated to another region — stake out the land you want), etc.
“As a citizen of NUTOPIA — that is, someone who “got it” — each individual would be an example and a proponent of the common human bond. Each would qualify to serve as an ambassador to those who had not yet gotten it.”
“If you speak, what you say doesn’t end here. I believe scientists could prove that vibrations go on and on infinitely, and therefore every action goes on and on infinitely and has its effect. If you carefully think out the effect you’re going to create, there’s more chance for all of us. It’s hard to think of your every move. But your attitudes to life will have an effect on everyone — and thereby, the universe.”
“God is a concept by which we measure our pain,” Lennon said after in the post-Beatle solo album Plastic Ono Band. He broke down his childhood trauma, losing his mother at 17 after his father had abandoned him after presenting an impossible choice at the age of five. Lennon lived feminism by becoming a househusband, baking bread and keeping young Sean off chocolate. Ono introduced the Nowhere Man to visualization and other occult beliefs and the couple lived magically conscious.