Here is the latest from my continuing study of the book "The Gospel According to the Beatles", and their effects on culture, religion then and now. This comes from an article written by Dan Wooding Founder of ASSIST Ministries about the book.
The Beatles didn’t aspire to be gurus, but this is the role they played from 1966-1970.
“Millions of young people smoked pot, dropped acid, investigated Eastern religions and marched for peace as a result of things the Beatles said or did,” Turner says. “And it wasn’t just impressionable fans but fellow artists and cultural commentators who thought of the Beatles as savior figures capable of transforming lives.”
The Beatles’ gospel is found in their hunger for transcendence rather than in conformity to a creed. Their “good news” was love, peace, and especially, freedom, Turner says. “The human problem in their eyes was one of limitations and constraints. We couldn’t reach our full potential if we were inhibited: ‘One thing I can tell you is you got to be free.’”
Their advice is always to expand the consciousness—to open up your eyes (Dear Prudence); to free your mind and change your head (Revolution); to learn to see (Blackbird); and to see beyond yourself (Within You Without You).
The Beatles were skeptical of the Christian church, yet many of their beliefs—love, peace, hope, truth and transcendence—were secularized versions of Christian teachings. Still, the Eastern view of life took over from the rudimentary Christian outlook of their youth. God was an impersonal force rather than a personal being. They meditated rather than prayed, believed in the karmic wheel rather than heaven and hell, visited an astrologer for guidance rather than a priest.
Hallucinogenic drugs were the crucial turning point in the Beatles spiritual explorations, Turner shows. “It’s unlikely that they would have been transformed from skeptical, worldly Liverpool boys who only believed what their eyes could see into mystics speaking of karma, nirvana and the coming golden age, if it hadn’t been for this chemical catalyst,” Turner says.
Here are the Spiritual Profiles of the Beatles adapted from "The Gospel According to the Beatles" by Steve Turner
John Lennon: Restless Seeker “People got the image that I was anti-Christ or anti-religion. I’m not at all. I’m a most religious fellow. I’m religious in the sense of [admitting there is] more to it than meets the eye. I’m certainly not an atheist. There is more than we still could know.” John’s doubts about orthodox religion coupled with his mystical bent provided the foundation for his subsequent ideas. His quest was to find a frame work that could contain both his skepticism
Paul McCartney: Pragmatic Hippy “If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.” Paul was as unlikely to contemplate having holes drilled in his head to expand his consciousness as he was to shave his head and devote his life to Krishna. His interest in religion was never rekindled after he left the Maharishi’s ashram in 1968. The closest thing to a religion in his life has been vegetarianism and concerns for animal rights and environmentalism. and his spiritual awareness.
George Harrison - Eastern Mystic “Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait.” George had been the most dissatisfied with the emptiness of fame and the one who most doggedly pursued a spiritual path. He was the only Beatle to remain convinced by Eastern religion although even his view was syncretistic, combining elements of Hinduism with Taoism, Buddhism and even a dash of Christianity. Krishna was the focus of his prayer and worship, but he never joined a religious order or participated in regular group worship George was the most unwavering in his beliefs. When he first espoused Hindu thought it was generally assumed to be another fad, but from the earliest days he was adamant that he would stick to it for his lifetime—and he did, until his death from cancer in November, 2001.
Ringo Starr - Happy-go-lucky Idealist “I’m quite happy to sit back and wait for whatever’s coming next. I haven’t found the answer to the question ‘What’s life all about?’ and I don’t suppose I ever will. It would take millions of philosophers millions of years to sort that out.” Ringo had never had more than a loose interest in the group’s philosophical meandering. He’d smoked dope, dropped acid, and meditated, but he was never as dedicated a pilgrim. But despite his happy-go-lucky exterior, Ringo was an idealist and a believer that peace would slowly be ushered in as the baby boomers took over positions of power.
His interest in religion was superseded by his interest in booze and partying. He was more forthcoming on the subject of spiritual values after being treated for alcohol dependency in 1988. He said he was now “comfortable with my spirituality” but that he had to go through a lot of turmoil to get there.