Saturday, February 25, 2012

On What Would've Been George Harrison's 69th Birthday...

I finally did it. Thursday night, my Tatus and I went to The Tattoo Factory in Uptown (Chicago) to get my dream tattoo, the Hindu "OM" and the Christian cross, as drawn by George Harrison underneath his signature (autograph, if you will, on the cover of his last album, "Brainwashed," see blog "Cuts You Up").

It's on my right wrist, the same arm I used to cut methodically and pathologically when I was acutely insane and not medicated.

In researching my tattoo, I wondered and actually marveled at the sight of the Christian cross next to the Hindu "OM" in George's signature, given George split from the Catholic church as a young man and converted to Hinduism, which he practiced for decades. It made me wonder, "Could George have embraced Christianity before he died?" and I found numerous web sources that point towards this theory. The cover of "Brainwashed" wasn't the first place I'd seen Harrison sign his name with both an OM and a cross in the years prior to his death.

Attempting to explain to my fellow practicing Christian friends and family, I had to explain my understanding of the "OM" and what it meant to ME and why I chose to use a symbol of Hinduism in my tattoo. Few understood or accepted it. To me, the OM is chosen as a mantra in Hindu chanting so much because it is the sound from which all other sounds originate, and represents the soul's unity with God, connection to God. I'm a practicing Christian, however, hence the cross beside it. Many Christians are aghast, like my mother, son and brother. They don't understand that symbolism is very important to me; representation of my feelings and ideas and credos via visible or emoted illustration is my thang.

My personal experience with wondering if Harrison was beginning to accept other faiths goes back to 1992, during his tour of Japan on a double bill with Eric Clapton. When he sang "My Sweet Lord," after the chants to the various Hindu gods, he sang "Om Christ" and "Om Buddha." (I apologize that there's no video of it online and I just have it on my iTunes; otherwise, I'd provide it as an example.)

A biography of The Beatles was written by author Bob Spitz (page 567) in recent years that claimed the following about Harrison's lifestyle during his final years:

"Later in life, he would become a vegetarian, consult an astrologer, and devote himself to Transcendental Meditation before embracing traditional Christianity."

When questioned as to the source of this information, Spitz claimed that he couldn't divulge the source per an agreement with the Harrison estate. What's a little off-kilter is that George became vegetarian WAY earlier than towards the end of his life. Of that much I am certain.

I came across this guy Bob's blog that says essentially the same information I just shared, which can be found at

His blog was from 2007, 6 years after the former Beatle passed away. (I found his blog whilst looking for a larger picture of the "Brainwashed" cover for my tattoo artist.) Certainly, the songs on "Brainwashed" contain references to both Christianity and Hinduism, and I must say I like the opening track, "Any Road," which ends the last verse with "Bow to God and call him 'Sir' but if you don't know where you're going, any road'll take you there."

To me, anyway, that implies that Harrison had found validity in other world religions, including Christianity, though he still held tight to his Hindu beliefs, which is fine by me.

The "Brainwashed" album was a collection of songs he wrote over the course of the last decade of his life, so his lyrics and songs are as varied in their praises as the choice of dishes at a Lutheran potluck. "P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)" glibly odes his lapsed Catholicism, "Pisces Fish" mentions the Pope, various songs mention God or the gods while the title track ends with a lengthy Hindu chant. Other songs reference God in a more discreet fashion, as opposed to tracks from earlier in George's career. Harrison's faith is all over the map on this record and it's hard to pinpoint exactly what his beliefs were. Ultimately, though, "if you don't know where you're going, any road'll take you there."

Perhaps Harrison converted over to Christianity or at least thought he'd give it a try before he died out of a "Holy shit, what if *I* was wrong and *they* were right? If so, and I've got this tumor in my brain and I'm going to die and I'm a practicing Hindu, I'm up the creek without a paddle." One thing is for sure: George Harrison wanted people of all creeds to live in peace and harmony together. We'll never know and the Harrison estate isn't about to divulge such a personal detail about George, nor should they feel compelled to.

The bottom line, as you're well aware from my previous blogs regarding religion, is that we'll never know until we die what becomes of our soul. We can believe all we want to believe in Christ or Buddha or the Hindu gods, but as I've said before, until someone can prove me otherwise, which is humanly impossible, we choose to embrace whatever faith works for us. Harrison was a perfect example of that in his life. He frequently said, and his widow, Olivia, regaled it in the HBO documentary about George, "Living in the Material World," that George essentially spent his whole adult life preparing himself for what would become of his soul after he died.

My prayer for George is that his soul is resting peacefully. Do I hope, as a Christian, that he accepted Christ as his Savior? Yes. Do I believe he's in Heaven? Yes. I know wherever George's soul might be, he's found harmony with God because he worked so damn hard to get it.

Am *I* going to Hell because I have an OM on my wrist? No.

George, we wish to God you were still around amazing us with your creativity, spirituality and offbeat personality. We miss you and love you. All of us, your fans, across the globe.

1 comment:

Bob K said...

Thanks for linking to my blog and for your comment there. Your thoughts about George make sense and it may well be what he was like before he died.