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Here Comes the Sun

The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison

KIRKUS REVIEW
“A friend of George Harrison offers informed reflections on the late musician’s spiritual quest.

Out of the insanity, claustrophobia and estrangement that came with being a member of the Beatles, Harrison emerged an affected man, in search of God and peace. Filmmaker/biographer Greene (Justice at Dachau, 2003, etc.) portrays his friend as introspective and modest, inspired by an experience with LSD (‘ “From that moment on, I wanted to have that depth and clarity of perception,” ’ Harrison told Rolling Stone.) Harrison reached beyond intoxicants into the bliss of yoga and cosmic chants, a buzz that took him “into the astral plane.” He wanted others to share his contact with the mystical and spoke of his spirituality during concerts, where his comments were met with, at best, indifference. Though he spent considerable time exploring the Hindu religion, writes Greene, the musician was a restless quester, always looking for ways to put his spiritual house in order. Greene writes of a newfound “levelheaded dispassion” as Harrison moved into his sixth decade, a sense of liberation from the material world coupled with an affirmation of nature and a personal recognition of his place in the scheme of things.

Greene presents a man deeply engaged in the world he longed to transcend.”

Appreciations

"[The author] has efficiently separated from the mass of Beatles data the single thread of his subject's religious endeavor... [Here Comes The Sun] is suffused with the earnestness of the seeking soul."

5

"There is a palpable excitement to this book that made me feel I was there, with George, on his journey. He once said, “I want to be God-conscious. That’s really my only ambition, and everything else in life is incidental.” This extraordinary work provides nourishment for all who hunger, as he did, for that ultimate state of grace."

Co-Author, Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work Board Chair, Centre for Spirituality and the Workplace
5

"I have fond memories of times George and I spent together, and ‘Here Comes The Sun’ really captures him– not just as a Beatle, but as an artist and a human being."

Musician
4

"I felt a real bond and connection with George Harrison that left me thinking that the world was a much fuller and brighter place with his presence and participation....emotionally gripping and deeply satisfying read.

I felt I grew with George, understanding him as a person and becoming his friend through reading this book. Every fan needs to read it."

Amazon Reviewer
5

"There is so much in this book that touches my heart."

Amazon Reviewer
5

"This book moved me in ways that go beyond words. I lived through George as he discovered God...

This book was clearly a work of love and devotion. Thank you, Joshua Greene, for enriching my life."

Amazon Reviewer
5

Learn more about george's journey

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George Harrison was admired for his commitment to spirituality, which he believed could improve lives and protect the planet. His post-Beatles songs reflect that conviction and are as relevant today as when he wrote them.

Here Comes the Sun” includes rockin’ music by international touring artists, rare photos and film footage, and an absorbing commentary that has brought audiences to their feet at venues nationwide.

Book Excerpt

I’m No Longer a Beatle

It is the fall of 1966. The Beatles have just held their last live concert, in San Francisco, and George Harrison has declared, “That’s it. I’m no longer a Beatle.” For the past several months, his discovery of yoga, meditation, and the sitar have pushed him in a new direction—away from the external world of pop stardom toward the internal world of self-realization.

From the window of their suite in Bombay’s Taj Hotel, George and his wife Pattie Boyd looked out onto a traffic jam of beeping cars, rumbling bullock carts, trumpeting elephants and ringing bicycles. Ravi Shankar arrived at the hotel, and George’s sitar lessons picked up where they had left off in England.

At first, no one in the hotel recognized him. But after a few days, overconfident of his anonymity, George took an elevator down to the lobby intending to do some shopping and drew the attention of a teenage elevator operator. Could it be? The next morning, George and Pattie awoke to crowds of Indian Beatlemaniacs outside their window shouting, “We want George!”

To find some privacy, George and company took a train north to the province of Kashmir, a lake-filled state bordered by Pakistan to the west and China to the north. Kashmir was the retreat of royalty, an idyllic land of fruit orchards and flowering gardens. The group took up residence in a large wooden houseboat on the largest of the city’s many lakes. Through carved wood windows, George looked out on the Himalayas rising in the distance and savored freedom from life as a Beatle.

Among the books that Ravi had brought was Raja-Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. In Raja-Yoga, George learned Vivekananda’s central message: all people possess innate and eternal perfection. “Tat tvam asi—That thou art,” Vivekananda declared. “You are that which you seek. There is nothing to do but realize it.”

One passage in particular held George’s attention. “What right has a man to say that he has a soul if he does not feel it, or that there is a God if he does not see Him? If there is a God we must see Him…otherwise it is better not to believe.” Better to be an outspoken atheist, Vivekananda advised, than a hypocrite.

George discovered that the word yoga meant “to link,” as in the English words yoke or union. In its early stages, he read, yoga involved physical exercises, but its goal was to link the soul with the Supreme Soul or God. To reach that goal a yogi must also practice yama or self-restraint, which included no killing and, by inference, a vegetarian diet; no lying; he must refrain from “stealing,” which by extension meant not taking more than needed. Along with qualities such as cleanliness, austerity and dependence on God, these formed the basics “without which no practice of yoga will succeed.”

True yoga, Vivekananda wrote, did not depend on being Christian, Jew, Buddhist, atheist or theist. The benefits of yoga were available to every human being through daily practice. Try to practice mornings and evenings, the revered teacher advised. Try not to eat before morning yoga is done. And try to control sex drive. When contained, sexual energy transforms into nourishment for the brain. Without chastity, one loses stamina and mental strength. Above all, never produce pain in any living being by thought, word or deed. “There is no virtue,” Vivekananda wrote, “higher than this.”

Where was George’s childhood now, or his career? What sense did the history of this one short life make compared to the eternity opening up before him? However exciting his achievements looked from the outside, something grand and majestic was transporting him beyond the minutiae of that world. What other people perceived of him—a working-class Liverpool boy who became part of history’s most successful rock group, who then married a top model and had more fans than Elvis—dwindled to mere facts. What he was finding in India spoke to the quintessence of experience, to the meaning and significance of his life.

The books George read in Kashmir kept him enthralled with their descriptions of powers lying dormant within the soul.  He read essays on how meditation could lower metabolic levels, increase spiritual awareness, and eventually help the soul escape further reincarnations. As a child, George had little taste for reading. In Kashmir, he was rarely without a book in his hands.

He was twenty-three years old and as far back as memory allowed his sense of himself had been guided by what others told him, by childhood and family, by fame and by caricatures in the press. If, as he now read, he had nothing to do with any of those Georges, then who was he? If after this life ended, he did not end but moved on, precisely who moved on? His body would fall away and with it the accumulations of a lifetime, but he, the soul within, would remain. The books explained that the person he thought himself to be, the George whom others saw and judged, was real but temporary, a gross body built from five elements—earth, air, water, fire, and space—and a subtle body consisting of mind, intelligence and ego. It was his true self, the soul inside those coverings that provided the energy to make them work. At death, when the temporal coverings fell away, earth again merging with earth, water with water, air with air, that true self would move on to some other destination.

He had to share this knowledge with his mates. Pattie seemed happy to be there with him, but what about John or Paul or Ringo? Would they agree to spend time in India? And if they did, would they catch spiritual fire the way he had? There was no guarantee they would find those discoveries as meaningful as he did, and soon George Harrison would see that answering a spiritual call involved tough choices and a willingness to break free of old bonds.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Because none of those books explores a critical element of the Beatles legacy, namely George Harrison’s spiritual quest. George interpreted being one of history’s most successful entertainers as an opportunity to convey ideas that have encouraged huge numbers of people to go deeper into their own inner lives. Before now, no one has explained what those ideas were or why they meant so much to him.

They did go with him to Rishikesh, India, in 1968, and I’ve heard that Paul has been meditating for more than 20 years now. George once said he thought Ringo might be a yogi disguised as a drummer. John took meditation quite seriously at first but then went in his own more existential direction. George’s most notable spiritual influence was on their music, starting with a sitar on the mix of Norwegian Wood and then original songs that spoke to his fascination with the soul and God.

George never fashioned himself a guru. So the message he put out came from recognized teachers and texts that he admired, such as the scripture Bhagavad-gita. “We are not the body but eternal souls. We’ll never be happy in the material world. There is an eternal world where souls come from. You can go there by chanting God’s names.” George wasn’t an academic and kept his message pretty simple.
It’s hard to imagine what it was like for him, becoming rich and famous beyond calculating by age 23, and having so many profound experiences at such a young age. His life was compressed. He owned everything worth owning, met everyone worth meeting, but he also had the innate intelligence to know that “there’s something more to life than boogying,” as he put it. He said his great fortune was learning what “something more” was, first through the spiritual music of Ravi Shankar, and then through the teachings of India’s yogis and gurus.
Here Comes the Sun is an enjoyable, straight-ahead biography that goes from George’s childhood to his death from cancer at age 58. But it does emphasize his discovery of yoga and meditation and the challenges he confronted on the path to God. There are many verbatim discussions and first-hand accounts, so readers get to know George personally and find out what the journey was like for him and how he confronted the hurdles that stood between him and enlightenment.

I wasn’t aware of how difficult it was to live his life, constantly targeted by exploiters, constantly deprived of his privacy—which was a moral issue that had to be confronted before writing this book. He had marvelous parents and he took guidance from the best teachers he could find, and those supports helped him eventually shed a lot of anger and bitterness. By the end of his life, he had achieved a very heightened, pure state of consciousness.

The depth of his devotion to God. That took my breath away. Everything George Harrison did he did seriously, whether it was learning how to play guitar or how to plant a garden, but his devotion to God was stunning. Daily prayer, meditation, love songs, devotional works. For someone with his background in entertainment, it certainly was unprecedented.

It was terribly depressing looking at the dark side of human nature for so long. I had to move toward the light and couldn’t think of a better subject for doing that than George. Of course, it’s vitally important to study the Holocaust, to try—as hard as it may be—to understand how people could fall so far from civilized human behavior. But it’s just as important, I believe, to see how high we can ascend when we put our minds to it. The title of the book, which comes from one of George’s most popular songs, “Here Comes the Sun,” says it all.

Remaining objective, finding credible details amid tons of spurious accounts, striking a balance between admiration and unbiased writing—and perhaps above all to keep focused on the spiritual message without becoming preachy. I think George would have wanted that.