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Thursday, August 24, 1967

The Beatles meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Last updated on April 14, 2024

On this day, August 24, 1967, Paul McCartney and Jane Asher, John and Cynthia Lennon, and George and Pattie Harrison attended a lecture held by the 56-year-old guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, at London’s Hilton Hotel. The hotel served as the London headquarters for Maharishi’s Spiritual Regeneration Movement. Ringo Starr was unable to attend due to the recent birth of his and Maureen Starkey’s second child, Jason. It was anticipated that the Maharishi intended to retire, making this particular engagement his expected farewell in the West.

As special guests, The Beatles were allocated front-row seats for the lecture. Following the session, they had the opportunity to meet with the Maharishi in his hotel suite. During this meeting, the Maharishi extended an invitation for the band to join him as guests at a five-day training retreat scheduled to commence the following day in Bangor, located in northwest Wales.

Intrigued and impressed by both the lecture and their encounter with the Maharishi, the band made the decision to cancel a recording session in order to accompany him to Bangor.

The previous day, Thursday, Aug. 24. a 56-year-old Himalayan mystic named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (alias His Holiness The Master) gave a two-hour evening “transcendental meditation” lecture at the London Hilton Hotel. A few hours before the lecture was due to begin George Harrison decided he’d like to buy a couple of tickets — a dollar each — to hear the saintly, tiny, white-whiskered old man of the East preach his doctrine. Eventually Paul and John went along too and all seemed thoroughly impressed by the theories expounded by the leader of the Kashmir cult. After joining 1500 other believers and intrigued spectators for the lengthy lecture, the three Beatles had a special audience with The Master who sat cross-legged before them in a fine white cloak and brightly colored beads with a little bunch of red roses and carnations clutched in his dark brown hands. He told the Beatles many things. “If you go into your garden and sit down to meditate,” Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explained to Paul, “you must not keep your eyes closed all of the time or you will miss the great beauty of your garden.”

Before they left the Maharishi invited John, Paul and George to be guests at University College, Bangor, North Wales for the next four or five days. Over the August Bank Holiday Weekend the mystic was to give a further series of meditation lectures and the Beatles would be welcome to attend.

At first it didn’t seem likely that they would. For one thing the Beatles had a recording session scheduled.

Twelve hours later, at noon on Friday, John and George determined to postpone all other activities and accompany His Holiness to the North Wales coastal town of Bangor, a 300-mile train ride from London. They contacted Paul who was equally enthusiastic. Ringo decided to delay his journey to Bangor in order to bring Maureen and the week-old baby Jason out of the hospital on Saturday morning. But at the very last moment he switched his plans, after talking to Maureen, and left from Euston station with the rest.

Tony Barrow – From The Beat – September 23, 1967

This has been one of the most illuminating and exciting experiences I’ve had.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

We saw that Maharishi was on one of his voyages round the world. We’d seen him years before on a Granada TV current-affairs programme. There he was, just a giggling little swami who was going around the world to promote peace. So when he came around again and somebody said there was a meeting, we all went, ‘Oh, that’s that giggly little guy. We’ve seen him. He’s great.’ We wanted to try and expand spiritually, or at least find some sort of format for all the various things we were interested in: Indian music, Allen Ginsberg, poetry, mantras, mandalas, tantra, all the stuff we’d seen. It made us in a mood to inquire.

I think there was a little bit of emptiness in our souls, a lack of spiritual fulfilment. We were seeing all this stuff on acid, what I still think were DNA wheels: great big multicoloured chains of things. When you see the pictures of DNA, it looks remarkably like what I used to see in my head. So that made sense to me, that you can actually perceive your own DNA. We were glimpsing bits of bliss and we wanted to know, and I guess I still do, how best to approach that.

So Maharishi came to a hall in London and we all got tickets and sat down near the front row. There were a lot of flowers on the stage and he came on and sat cross-legged. And he looked great and he talked very well and started to explain, and I still think his idea is fine.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

It was George’s idea to go. During Sgt. Pepper, George was the most interested in Indian culture. We were all interested in it — but for George, it was a direction. But it was nice to hear Ravi Shankar’s music, it was interesting and very beautiful – and it was deep, technically deep.

I remember Peregrine Worsthorne being there, and I read his article the next day to see what he thought. He was a little bit sceptical. But we were looking for something, we’d been into drugs, and the next step was to try to find a meaning for it all.

We’d seen Maharishi up North when we were kids. He was on the telly every few years on Granada’s People and Places programme, the local current-affairs show. We’d all say, ‘Hey, did you see that crazy guy last night?’ So we knew all about him: he was the giggly little guy going round the globe seven times to heal the world (and this was his third spin).

I thought he made a lot of sense,- I think we all did. He said that with a simple system of meditation – twenty minutes in the morning, twenty minutes in the evening – you could improve your quality of life and find some sort of meaning in doing so.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

Transcendal Meditation is an ancient Indian practice that was brought to the West in the 1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as a means of ultimately achieving enlightenment. […] I loved meditating and I found the effects remarkable: I really did feel more alert and energetic. It did what it said on the bottle — it was life-changing. I couldn’t wait to tell George.

As soon as he came home I bombarded him with what I had been doing and he was really interested. Then, joy of joys, I discovered that Maharishi was coming to London in August to give a lecture at the Hilton Hotel. I was desperate to go, and George said he would come too. Paul had already heard of him and was interested, and in the end we all went – George, John, Paul, Ringo, Jane and I. Maharishi was every bit as impressive as I thought he would be, and we were spellbound. At the end we went to speak to him and he said we must go to Wales where he was running a ten-day summer conference of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement. It started in two days’ time. We leapt at it.

Pattie Boyd – From “Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me“, 2008

On August 24, all of us except Ringo attended the lecture, given by Maharishi at the Hilton Hotel. I got the tickets. I was actually after a mantra. I had got to the point where I thought I would like to meditate. I’d read about it and I knew I needed a mantra – a password to get through into the other world. And, as we always seemed to do everything together, John and Paul came with me.

George Harrison – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

‘Magic Alex’ was really out to impress and it was his need to impress that led him to introduce us all to another kind of magic, meditation. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was in London giving lectures on his own particular brand of Transcendental Meditation. Alex had heard of him before and suggested that The Beatles go along to the lecture.

Cynthia Lennon – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

He was doing a lecture in London, at the Hilton, so we all went and we thought, ‘What a nice man,’ and we were looking for that, you know, everybody’s looking for that. But, we were looking for that, that day as well. And then we met him, and he was good, you know. He’s got a good thing in him, and we went along with him.

John Lennon – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

From Maharishi Lecture at London’s Hilton Hotel – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru) – Along with the Beatles, Cynthia, Jane Asher, Michael McCartney, Patti and Jenny Boyd, and Terry Doran came to the lecture.
From 24 August 1967 – UK, London Hilton – lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)
From 24 August 1967 – UK, London Hilton – lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)
From Maharishi Lecture at London’s Hilton Hotel – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru) – Photo by Jeff Hochberg.
From Maharishi Lecture at London’s Hilton Hotel – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)
From 24 August 1967 – UK, London Hilton – lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)
From Maharishi Lecture at London’s Hilton Hotel – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)
From 24 August 1967 – UK, London Hilton – lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)
From Maharishi Lecture at London’s Hilton Hotel – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)
From Maharishi Mahesh Yogi dies (nbcnews.com) – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the International Meditation Society and “The City of Nations” in Kashmir, is seen in London, England, in this Aug. 24, 1967 file photo. AP file

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