The Rolling Stone Interview: George Harrison (Part 2)

Second installment of an interview with the Beatles' guitarist

Beatles guitarist George Harrison attends a UNICEF gala in Paris, December 1967. Credit: Terry O'Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty

We were talking about how meditation and yoga leads to self realization.
Yes, that's the whole thing why people have missed God. They haven't been able to see God because he is hidden in themselves. All the time people concentrate their energies and activities outwards on this surface level that we live on.

But it's only by turning your concentration and directing it inwardly, in a form of meditation, that you can see your own god in there. When you realize that then you can realize a lot more things about this surface level—because you're now looking at it from a more subtle point of view. I mean really there's people on every planet, but going on different planes. Not necessarily in a physical form as we know it, but in a different form. Like Venus. They've gone to Venus and they come back and say: "Oh, very sorry, it's too hot to live there, and there's none of this," and all that scene, but they're looking for people as we know them, people like us. Really what they're saying is, you can't live on Venus in the physical body as we know it. As we understand people to be the same as us, then they couldn't possibly live there—but in actual fact, you won't see anybody if you go there unless you're on their frequency.

But how important do you think positive music is in this huge evolutionary cycle?
Yeah, very important. I think there is spiritual music. This is why I'm so hung up on Indian music and from the day I got into it till the day I die I still believe it's the greatest music ever on our level of existence. It's really so, so subtle and that's the whole thing. This level of consciousness now that we're on is the gross level, which is the opposite to the subtle level.

Everything those Indian musicians do — it's just indescribable. It's an inner feeling, yeah, soul. It's like saying "It's soul man!" You know all this spade music that's going — it's just the first thing people getting into, the soul kick, but when you really get into soul, then — it's God.

[BRAINWASHING WITH MUSIC]

But the music is very important because of the "mass media" point of view. I think music is the main interest of the younger people. It doesn't really matter about the older people now because they're finished anyway. There's still going to be years and years of having all these old fools who are governing us and who are bombing us and doin' all that because, you know, it's always them. But it's no good getting hung up about them because the main thing is to get the kids. You know, this is the Catholic trick — they nail you when you're young and brainwash you, and then they've got you for the rest of your life. In actual fact, do this sort of thing — but brainwash people with the truth — turn them all onto music and books at that age, then they'll live a better life. Then it's the next generation that does it more, and after that ... so it doesn't matter if we see the perfection of the Golden Age or not.

I don't expect to see the world in a perfect state of bliss — you know, like 100 per cent — but it doesn't matter, it's on the way now.

So really, with Maharishi, we've gone into all these things and scenes, and I've learned a hell of a lot about Hinduism from being in India, things I've read, and from Ravi Shankar, who's really too much. So great. Not only in his music but in him as well.

This is the thing. He is the music, and the music is him. The whole culture of the Indian philosophy, the background and all that.

Mainly it's this thing of discipline. Discipline is something that we don't like, especially young people where they have to go through school and they put you in the army and all that discipline. But in a different way I've found out it's very important because the only way those musicians are great is because they've been disciplined by their guru or teacher, and they've surrendered themselves to the person they want to be.

It's only by complete surrender and doing what that bloke tells you that you're going to get there, too. So with their music they do just that. You must practice twelve hours a day for years and years and years. And Shankar has really studied every part of the music until he just improvises the music until it is just him, he is the music.

Was this the point you were trying to make in your ads which said "Sergeant Pepper IS the Beatles?"
I feel this is something we've been trying to do all the time. Keep that identification with people. It gets harder and harder the more famous you get.

[DOWN FROM THE PEDESTAL]

People see you, they put you up on that pedestal and they really believe you're different from them. With Sgt. Pepper we've always tried to keep this identification and tried to do things for those people, to please those people, because in actual fact, they're us, too, really.

It's no good us doing it all for ourselves, it's for them. With Pepper it's just that anybody who feels anybody who wants to be in Pepper's Band is in it. Anybody who feels any identification. And this all gets back again to God.

But at the same time we're all responsible in a way because a lot of people are following us, we're influencing a lot of people, so really, it's to influence them in the right way.

A lot of people, though, never realise what you're giving them?
Well, lots of people do, but then there's always the other ones who write in saying "Why the fuck do you think you are doing that." There's always that, you see, and it all gets back to the thing of the Maharishi and God.

The Maharishi says this level that we're on is like the surface of the ocean which is always changing, chopping and changing, and we're living on the surface with these waves crashing about.

But unless we're anchored on the bottom we're at the mercy of whatever goes on on the surface. So you go into meditation and your thoughts get smaller all the time, finer and finer, until you get right down there until that's just pure consciousness and you anchor yourself to that — and once you've established that anchor then it doesn't matter what goes on up on the surface.

The more people do it the more they'll realize. You can't tell somebody what it's like until they try it for themselves.

If you can contact that absolute state you can just tap that amazing source of energy and intelligence. It's there, anyway — you've just got to contact it and then it will make whatever you do easier and better. Everything in life works out better because everybody is happier with themselves.