More from year 1967
The Beatles and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Aug 24, 1967
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On August 24, 1967, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison attended a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at London’s Hilton Hotel. The Maharishi invited them to a five-day retreat in Bangor, Wales, starting the next day. On August 25, accompanied by their partners and other celebrities, the four Beatles travelled to Bangor by train. Cynthia Lennon missed the train but arrived later by car with Jane Asher.
On this day, August 26, The Beatles and 260 other people attended an initiation course in Transcendental Meditation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, after which they held a press conference announcing they had given up taking drugs. This announcement came two months after Paul admitted he had taken LSD.
The seminar was in a school: you sit around and he tells you how to meditate, then you go up to your room and try it. And, of course, you can’t do it for the first half hour. You’re sitting there and you’ve got a mantra, but you keep thinking: ‘Bloody hell, that train was a bit much, wasn’t it? — oh, sorry — mantra – du du du du du du – bloody hell – I wonder what our next record’s going to be? – oh, stop, stop, stop…’ You spend all your first few days just trying to stop your mind dealing with your social calendar. But it was good, and I eventually got the hang of it.Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000
The next day, Maharishi gave an introductory seminar to his three hundred or so devotees, seated cross-legged on the floor, and afterward the impromptu press conference took place. Reporters were swarming all over the college and there was no one to keep them in check. I am sure they had little idea who Maharishi was and perhaps thought the Beatles were pulling a stunt. But the Beatles said that not only were they deadly serious, they were no longer going to take drugs, in accordance with Maharishi’s teaching. Just a month before, they had put their names to a petition in The Times calling for cannabis to be legalized. “It was an experience we went through,” said Paul. “Now it’s over. We don’t need it anymore. We think we’re finding new ways of getting there.”Pattie Boyd – From “Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me“, 2008
We went to Bangor for a weekend to learn how to meditate, and we were initiated there. It was a bit funny going to those camps because it was like going back to school. Just the nature of it meant staying in a classroom and we’d been used to our nice comfortable homes or hotels so to be staying in an old school on a camp bed wasalittle bit disconcerting. Then trying to learn to meditate. It’s not that easy, you don’t just pick it up like that, it’s an effort and you’ve got to be involved, so it was like going back to school. And of course the food was all canteen food. But we were interested enough to learn the system, which we did.Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997
There was a press conference. It was suggested that as we were going with the Maharishi, it might be a good idea to accommodate the press; it also saved them waiting around outside our windows. I don’t remember that we specifically said that we’d given up drugs – but at the time I think we probably had, anyway.Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000
You cannot keep on taking drugs forever. You get to the stage where you are taking fifteen aspirins a day, without having a headache. We were looking for something more natural. This is it. It was an experience we went through. Now it’s over and we don’t need it any more. We think we’re finding other ways of getting there.Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000
[…] The retreat was held at Bangor Normal College and served as an initiation course in Transcendental Meditation. The Beatles and around 300 others learned the basics of TM, and each initiate was given a personal mantra. In a 1967 interview, Harrison explained the process:
“Each person’s life pulsates in a certain rhythm, so they give you a word or sound, known as a mantra, which pulsates with that rhythm. By using the mantra … to transcend to the subtlest level of thought … the mantra becomes more subtle and more subtle, until finally you’ve lost even the mantra, and then you find yourself at that level of pure consciousness.“
All initiates were asked to donate a week’s wages. Lennon described the financial arrangement as “the fairest thing I’ve heard of”, adding: “We’ll make a donation and we’ll ask for money from anyone we know with money … anyone in the so-called establishment who’s worried about kids going wild and drugs and all that. Another groovy thing: everybody gives one week’s wages when they join … And that’s all you ever pay, just the once.”
On 26 August, the Beatles announced at a press conference that they were giving up hallucinogenic drugs. The announcement came as an about-turn after McCartney had publicly admitted in June 1967 to taking LSD, to the dismay of his bandmates. Their renouncing was in keeping with the Maharishi’s teachings, yet it was a group decision made before meeting the Maharishi. The Maharishi did advise them privately to avoid involvement with the “Ban the Bomb” movement and to support the elected government of the day. Lennon later described the retreat as “incredible” and recalled that Jagger immediately telephoned his Rolling Stones bandmate Keith Richards, telling him to come down with Brian Jones and the other members of their band. […]
Last updated on July 30, 2023
"With greatly expanded text, this is the most revealing and frank personal 30-year chronicle of the group ever written. Insider Barry Miles covers the Beatles story from childhood to the break-up of the group."
We owe a lot to Barry Miles for the creation of those pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - a day to day chronology of what happened to the four Beatles during the Beatles years!
If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.