Refocus and Rest – A Time to Begin Anew

Refocus and Rest – A Time to Begin Anew

By David Beard

While no one can pinpoint the actual date and origin of Transcendental Meditation [TM], it would eventually gain significant attention in Western civilization during a cultural movement in the mid 1960s when a multitude of society began seeking different methods of enlightenment. For many musical acts drug use was common practice, but once George Harrison, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney attended a lecture given by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Aug. 24, 1967, at the London Hilton, they soon began to practice TM and publicly endorse Maharishi.

Like The Beatles, The Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Alan Jardine, Dennis Wilson, and Carl Wilson) were looking for their own inner peace. TM had become so popular that Brian and his first wife, Marilyn, were taught locally in Los Angeles sometime in the fall of 1967, while Mike, Al, Carl, Dennis, and Bruce Johnston met Maharishi in Paris France on Dec. 15, when they performed at the UNICEF Gala held at the Palais de Chaillot.

The following day, most of the group – except for Dennis – had flown to London. As fate would have it, Dennis had stayed back in Paris and spoke with Maharishi, who told him he wanted to teach the group TM. Mike, Al, and Carl (Bruce maintains he learned later) returned to Paris to receive their mantras. Dec. 17, 1967 represented a profound moment in the group’s history.

Ending 1967 with the inner tool of meditation to ground them was the perfect way for The Beach Boys to begin 1968, and in January, they gathered with friends and family for a day of softball and football at North Hollywood Park in L.A. Working off the new loving energy of peaceful intention, the group invited Brian to join them in New York to meet Maharishi. The Beach Boys were collectively practicing TM with each being in touch with an inner peace, striving to find purpose and – in turn – expressing it through music. Soon, Brian began work on The Beach Boys Friends album, which remains among Brian’s favorite group albums.

Personally, thanks to Mike’s consistent five-to-six-year nudging, I decided to attend a TM introduction meeting in January of 2018 and phoned both Mike and Al upon completion of the course in February of that year. And have since been fortunate enough to meditate with Mike on multiple occasions.

So, as we set resolutions for ourselves this year, Mike and Al share their thoughts about their personal TM journey, the importance it took on in their lives, and how the practice found its way into the recorded format.

David Beard: What do you remember about the circumstances that led to you learning TM?

Mike Love: We were in Paris in December of 1967. We did the UNICEF show. We met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi during the rehearsals for that program. He was in Paris at that time, and with him were John Lennon and George Harrison. When the curtain opened for our part of the performance – there in the front row was Maharishi flanked by Harrison and Lennon. I thought to myself, “That’s a pretty impressive first row.” Marlon Brando was there with his Tahitian bride, Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor, and Victor Borga; it was quite an eclectic show. During the rehearsal period we met Maharishi and we asked him a few naïve questions about meditation because we had been hearing about it for quite a while – leading up to that. In fact, I had been to a lecture on Transcendental Meditation at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, only a couple of weeks before we found ourselves in Paris. We left for London the day after the show. I got a call from Dennis, and he said, “You’ve got to come back to Paris, because Maharishi is going to teach us to meditate.”

“It’s (TM) a very personal, fulfilling thing. It stimulates the mind and body and gives you a greater appreciation of life. It puts you in communication with something infinitely greater and more important than self.”
— Dennis Wilson

Mike: The Beatles had already learned meditation down in Wales … I think even Mick Jagger might have accompanied a group of people who had gone down there. We did go back to Paris and did in fact learn TM. We were initiated by Maharishi at the Hotel Creon in Paris – a very beautiful establishment. We had follow-up meetings in New York and Los Angeles because TM is taught in a four-step program: a day of initiation, (followed by) three days of checking. On three consecutive days you’re meant to gain more knowledge and experience, and make sure you’re doing it properly. Within a couple of weeks after that Maharishi came to New York, all of us (including Brian) went and visited while he was lecturing. There’s a picture of us sitting in front of Maharishi that was taken by Linda Eastman (who became Linda McCartney). That picture’s pretty incredible. After that he went to Boston to give an address at the Harvard Law Forum, which is a prestigious old building on the campus of Harvard University. I heard him speak there. Mia Farrow was there as well. That evening, when I called to find out some information, Maharishi answered the phone and invited me to come to India … to Rishikesh. I told him, “I don’t know about the other guys, but I’ll be there.”

The purpose of that trip, for most people, was to learn to become teachers of TM. I was so new to meditation that I didn’t exactly get the connection that it was actually a teacher-training program for those who desired to become teachers of TM, and I don’t think The Beatles did either. I did become a teacher – along with Al – a couple of years later at a TM teacher-training course in Mallorca, Spain. At that time, in February-March of 1968, George Harrison had his birthday in late February, and I had mine in mid-March and we both had birthday celebrations in India complete with music. It was really quite spectacular and a very special time in my life and a fantastic experience listening to Maharishi speak afternoon and evening.

Al Jardine: We learned to teach in 1971, and then we taught in 1972. In fact, I recently spoke with (my friend) Gary Winfrey, and he reminded me that I taught him to meditate. I asked him if he meditated and he said, “Yeah, you taught me.” I said, “Oh, okay. I remember … sure.” [Laughing] Sometimes you get busy, and you forget. Maharishi called it the “busy businessman syndrome.” It’s so easy not to do it that you forget to do it and pretty soon you get in the habit of not doing it because you feel fine. Then, after a few years, you realize that you really need that moment to yourself every morning after you get up in the morning. Whether it’s meditating, praying … or whatever you do … It’s important to take that quiet time to yourself to tap into that inner reservoir of peace.

“Maharishi is really fantastic to be with. Every time I’ve been with him I’ve felt very good. He’s a very spontaneous person. How happy he is, and things like his laugh are very contagious, and very powerful. … I meditate regularly. It’s helped me to cope … Difficult things affect me less … I find it that it relaxes me deeply and gives me energy. I recommend it highly.” — Carl Wilson’

Mike: Learning TM in Paris, the subsequent trip to India, and then Al and I going and becoming teachers of TM in Mallorca, Spain … All that led to our collaboration on “All This Is That” (from Carl And The Passions).

One of the more beautiful moments in that song is when Carl Wilson does that beautiful “Jai Guru Dev,” which sounds so beautiful towards the end of the song. The pulse of the chorus – when we do it in concert – to me, there’s a real effect. I think it might be a little bit subtle for a lot of people to appreciate, but on the other hand it’s just like one might appreciate the harmonies of “In My Room,” “The Warmth Of The Sun” and (even) “Surfer Girl.” When we’re expressing something as profound as “I am that thou art that, all this is that”; it has a mystical effect and I love doing it in concert. It brings me back to those times many years ago when we first learned meditation and those first experiences. I think, though people have gone their separate ways and done separate things, it reminds us that we’re all a part of the same unbounded universal place that we all inhabit.

Al: Everyone is so stressed. Everything’s moving so quickly. We all need to slow down and get the big picture. That’s what meditation and TM does for me … I get a better sense of priorities if I start the day that way. It’s a very practical and helpful thing to do. I do another one in the afternoon. That’s important not to miss because by that time I’m going 120% and I can forget to slow down. It doesn’t have to be TM. I love the Lord’s Prayer for instance. To me, that’s given me a great deal of peace. At times, when I’ve been really stressed, I’ll say the Lord’s Prayer, but there’s nothing like twenty to thirty minutes of deep silence. You can get away from all that stress, and really tap into a much deeper part of your mind and soul. A lot of great thoughts and ideas can come from freeing up your mind. TM really does help you gather your thoughts and access your life. It’s not just Mike and me talking.

Mike: One of the things that Maharishi spoke of was a saying from the Vedas. The Vedas are these ancient scriptures. There are several different books, or several different branches of the Veda. Most people have heard of Ayurveda, which is the science of health. Veda means knowledge, and there are various branches of knowledge. From the Vedas there is a stanza that goes “I am that thou art that, all this is that.” It means what it says … All life is coming from this unbounded infinite level that gives rise to all of creation. We’re all a part of that. It can be called being and consciousness. In the Christian philosophy they say, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven within and all things will be added to you.” That kingdom of heaven within is in that area of that unbounded awareness also known as “that.” Being able to meditate and contact a level of the individual self that merges with the unbounded cosmic self is a very profound experience. The song, “All This Is That” is inspired from that experience of actually transcending and gaining that unbounded awareness and appreciating – with an expanded awareness – that we are all, in fact, coming from the same source.

This read was courtesy David M. Beard ©2013/2022.

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image of Beach Boys