July 19, 3012 By Jack Jodell
I came across a piece of writing that was first made public in 1967, but is equally as profound and universally true today. I believe it will always be so. It was penned by a brilliant then-24 year old. See if you can recognize it and if you remember it yourselves:
“ We were talking
About the space between us all
And the people who hide themselves
Behind a wall of illusion;
Never glimpse the truth
Then it’s far too late
When they pass away.
We were talking about the love we all could share When we find it, to try our best to hold it there.
With our love, with our love
We could save the world
If they only knew…
Try to realize it’s all within yourself –
No one else can make you change.
And to see you’re really only very small
And life flows on within you and without you.
We were talking about the love that’s gone so cold And the people who gain the world
And lose their soul.
They don’t know, they can’t see –
Are you one of them?
When you’ve seen beyond yourself
Then you may find
Peace of mind is waiting there.
And the time will come
When you see we’re all one
And life flows on within you and without you.”
I had barely entered my teens when this first appeared, and I admit its full meaning escaped me until years later. It was entitled “Within You Without You” and was penned by the Beatles’ lead guitarist George Harrison, appearing as the first track on side 2 of their monumental LP record, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Years after first hearing it, while in college, I put the album on again and listened anew with fresh ears. Whereas before I had merely assumed it was George being all esoteric and mystical, off one one of his hard to decipher Hindu rants with sitar ringing and primal drums pounding, I was delighted to this time discover the true genius in this piece.
For, yes, there IS a great deal of space between us all: politically, economically, and even culturally. And yes, many DO hide behind a wall of illusion, deceiving themselves into believing a myriad of self-serving untruths. Many have become paranoid warmongers, and others deny scientific fact out of selfishness and / or fear. Yet others live in hatred of those they don’t understand – like gays, minorities, or anyone with different ideas or customs than the old, usual, accepted ones. If they’re lucky, they will eventually learn the error of their ways, but often this occurs at life’s end – if at all – well after many victims have been created. Harrison reminds us that it is up to each one of us, as individuals, to take stock in ourselves to see the light of truth and fairness.
In the second part, he bemoans those who gain the world, with all its riches, power, and possessions, but lose their sense of shared humanity and spirituality in the process. He concludes by reminding us that true happiness and peace of mind can only be achieved when we think of others and stop thinking just of ourselves. He lets us know that we, as individuals, aren’t the be-all and end-all of everything: OTHERS count, too. He lets us know that, yes, life goes on not only inside each of us, but also all around us, as well as without us, after we have passed, and was present before we were even born.
For those who really “get it”, this song is an ingenious bit of truth and an incredible affirmation of the sanctity and beauty of life in all its aspects.
Thank you, Mr. Harrison, for having given us this very important food for thought, and a lesson which has now transcended even YOUR earthly life!