Gorge Harrison with Uri
George Harrison gave me a kick in the backside. I don’t mean he swung his foot at me – he was far too gentle a man ever to resort to violence, even under the most awful provocation. When a mentally deranged fan broke into George’s mansion and stabbed him four times, collapsing his lung and almost ending his life, the musician fought back by shouting “Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna!”
But George was a blunt man, cursed with the double-edged gift of seeing clearly both how the world was and how it could be. He saw how I was, and he saw what I could be, and he delivered a sharp
reprimand. A kick in the backside.I first met him in New York City, in 1974, when he had startled the world by achieving far more than any of his fellow ex-Beatles. Ringo had a successful acting career, Paul had a great little band going, John was an icon of the anti-war era. But George had done things his song-writing rivals could only envy – he created a new musical genre, which was to transform pop culture, and he invented the benefit concert, giving meaning and a depth of compassion to an industry which was outliving its teenie trappings.By embracing Indian music, and understanding the power of music from a non-Western tradition, George Harrison invented World Music, infusing pop with sounds which touched primal emotions.Without the sitar rock of Revolver and Sergeant Pepper, we wouldn’t have Paul Simon’s Graceland or Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club – music which, I believe, will one day be seen as classical scores, as the jazz of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis is now being reassessed and ranked alongside Mozart and Mahler.And without the Concert for Bangladesh, we wouldn’t have had Live Aid, or Paul’s Concert for New York in the wake of this year’s atrocities.eorge blazed the trail and suffered for it. Almost 15 years after Bangladesh, he was still smarting from the experience badly enough to warn Bob Geldof, as the Band Aid project started to roll: “Watch out for the lawyers!”
When we met, he was deeply interested in the power of the mind, yet he regarded psychokinesis as trivial. What fascinated him was the human soul. We talked intensely about vegetarianism, and he as passionate and articulate about the injustices of killing animals for food. He explained Jainism to me, and the Indian ethic of recognising all living creatures as holy: his influence was profound in my decision to renounce eating meat.George believed in a cycle of life, and had no doubt about reincarnation. I believe that, when a soul is committed to rebirth,it will return – but he had achieved such a degree of spiritual understanding during his life that it is inconceivable to me that he should return as any kind of being we would recognise.
Maybe he is an angel now, or an alien. Maybe his spirit has become purely music.In 1974 he gave me a spoon, which I bent, and which found its way onto my Cadillac Brougham, now festooned with hundreds of twistedpieces of cutlery.He was a heavy smoker, and I never did understand why he abused his body so badly, when he loved and respected all other life so fully. He said that whatever happened to him, however he was afflicted with illness, would be his destiny – a viewpoint I simply cannot comprehend. “When you cross the road,” I urged him, “you look right and left. You don’t imagine your destiny will keep you from
being hit by a truck.”We met again two years ago. His mansion near Henley-on-Thames is only a ten minute drive from my own home, but George wasn’t the kind of person you could drop in to see unannounced. He was obsessed with his garden and, following the death of John Lennon at the hands of a sick fan, he took his security very seriously. In the awful light of what followed a few months later, his caution was more than justified.
Deepak Chopra, a friend of George, was visiting me, and suggested we drive over. It was Dhani Harrison’s birthday, and the household was in a commotion. But George was intent as ever on his garden, and came riding up to us, unshaven and scruffy, on a quad bike.It was an enchanted, mystical garden, booming with love. If ever a man could communicate with plants and make his heart talk to them, it was George. As part of Dhani’s celebrations, I bent a spoon for the youngman, who was his father’s image. George refused to watch. He had not been impressed in 1974, and he certainly was’t going to be impressednow. I demonstrated some telepathy, and George just stared at me. There seemed to be a deep resentment in his eyes. Later, he drew me on one side and asked whether the energy that transmitted thoughts could also transmit healing. Of course I did not know he was battling cancer at that time, and simply said that I was not a healer: all I could do was trigger the healing energy that was dormant in other people’s bodies.
Perhaps I was offhand with him – I had wanted him to enjoy the psychokinesis and the telepathy for what it was, entertainment.
As we left, he snapped sarcastically: “When are you going to move on from that bloody spoon-bending? Look at me – how long was I going to sing, ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’?”That hurt my feelings. It was only later, when I reflected, that I realised he was right.
There is much more to the power of the mind and the power of prayer than its amusing effect on spoons. The real power is love. And that was a kick in the backside.
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"There is no spoon!"
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James Randi (In an open letter to Abracadabra Magazine)
Sir Elton John
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Dr. Walter A. Frank. Bonn University - Germany
"Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind"
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