Review: Here Comes The Sun by Joshua Greene

One of the books I got for my birthday was Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, by Joshua Greene. It had been on my Amazon Wish List for several months and Nettl, knowing my love and admiration for George, got it for me.

I've read a lot of books on the Beatles through the years and for the most part, I really don't like them because most Beatle biographers have an agenda of some kind: to enter Beatle history through a slim, chance, or questionable meeting, or else to either slam or praise their subject undulythe member(s) of the group are either demons or divine avatars. I have no taste for either. Never have, never will...

There are countless reasons why people publish a book about one or all the Beatles. Greene's reason is one I applaud: to look at someone he knew personally, not as a Beatle, but as a man whose entire life had been a spiritual quest, the life of a seeker. He took me inside George's private world, revealing a deeply spiritual, generous, warm, and sensitive man. I always knew this George was there, but Greene is the first and only biographer that I know of to look past the Beatle mythology and focus on the man himself. There are things I've always intuited about George, and this book confirmed those.

Because, like George, Greene is a Krishna devotee, he possesses a special insight, viewing George's human foibles through the eyes of understanding and compassion. He does not wish for him to be perfect so he does not judge. Instead, he sees that we all must live with the consequences of our choices (karma), and he does not attach judgments of good or bad to his recording of  these choices. It is refreshing.

Also, unlike another author I've known personally (not naming names), Greene does not use George's story as an excuse to proselytize, boring the reader with long chapters that read more like a Hindu textbook than a personal biography.

He does, however, go into the guru/pupil relationship that George had with sitar master Ravi Shankar, a relationship that lasted until George passed in 2001 of cancer and actually continues for eternity. No other author that I've read has been in a position spiritually to write about this divine relationship in terms that go along with Hindu philosophy. (George Lucas and J. R. R. Tolkien got about as close as it gets.)  As a musician who was blessed with my own mentor, I really appreciated this aspect of the book.

In 1981 I was initiated into the Self Realization Fellowship at Lake Shrine in L.A. George too was an initiate and it was at Lake Shrine that his wife Olivia and son Dhani held his private memorial service immediately after his passing. That we are both followers of the universal teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda is only one (and possibly the strongest) of the spiritual ties I've felt with George through the years. He is, spiritually speaking, my brother.

My spiritual mother there was Margaret Dye, the woman who in meditation drew the now-famous portrait of Mahavatar Babaji under the master's guidance. George was well aware of this portrait and used copies of it for different purposes, from wall hangings to lapel badges. Margaret knew Yoganandji personally and told me many stories about him. It was she who lovingly gave him manicures when she was a young college student, saving some of the parings through the years. I remember one afternoon, over a snack of macadamias and jasmine tea, she gave me some of these parings, as well as an aged black and white photo she'd taken of him. She told me that Yogananda had lovingly laughed at her saving his nail clippings and then blessed them for her. She told me that I'd know what to do with them. I put them in a locket on a strand of sandalwood japa beads and used them in my daily meditation. A few years later I got the feeling that I should pass the necklace along to George. I never did, not really knowing how to contact him, so I suppose that was not their destiny. I was heartsick when they were lost in The Big Dump of 2001 about the same time that George passed. Another tie, one that taught me that All Things Must Pass, even those things we cherish most.

But I've gotten way off track here. Or maybe I haven't...

If you are of an eastern spiritual bent, I'd recommend this book wholeheartedly, but if you're a Beatle fan looking for just more dirt, move along. While some of George's more human escapades are referred to, they are seen, as I wrote previously, through the eyes of compassion and understanding, not through a fascination with tabloid trash mongering or celebrity voyeurism.

"Scan not a friend through a microscopic glass;
You know his faults, so let his foibles pass..."