Carl Wilson discusses his first encounter with transcendental meditation.
Backstage at New York’s FilImore East, Purushottam and Gargamuni, two students of the Krishna Consciousness Yoga system, met Carl Wilson, his brother Dennis, and Mike Love—three members of the critically acclaimed Beach Boys rock group. The discussion, taped for BACK TO GODHEAD Magazine, went like this:
PURUSHOTTAM: I’d like to discuss transcendental meditation with you. First of all, are you practicing any form of meditation now?
CARL: Yes, I am.
Purushottam question the Beach Boys.
PURUSHOTTAM: How did you first get into meditation practice?
CARL: Well, I was introduced to transcendental meditation, and I found it to be a great thing for me. You know, nowadays we don’t really have a feeling of well being as much as they did at other times. Of course, it isn’t something that we really know about, you know. You just meditate, and through a long period of time you develop something, a state of awareness that is really good. It’s really just natural. But I definitely feel the influence and the help of it when I do meditate. And when I don’t, I miss it. I stopped meditating for about a month, a month and a half, and then I really noticed it. I really did.
PURUSHOTTAM: Do you have any special object of meditation? What do you consider to be the goal in meditation, the supreme state?
Mike Love sniffs at a rose as he listens to the conversation.
CARL: Bliss consciousness. I’m sure that all forms of meditation are really designed to do the same thing. To bring you to a higher state of awareness. Something above the everyday life. To bring you closer to God and like that.
PURUSHOTTAM: Do you believe that the power of a mantra could actually bring you to a supreme realization?
CARL: Well, I know that it’s worked for others. For myself I don’t know. Because I haven’t—I’m not at that state right now. And I certainly wouldn’t say so if I didn’t experience it for myself. But I know that if I were to stay with meditation a long time, just to meditate—I think that I could reach a state like that. Yes. Because I’ve always felt the Divine Power running through me. And I felt the love a lot. And, you know, that’s the thing—that I’ve always felt things like that for a long time. And I never really tried to categorize them or try to pin them down. And when I found meditation I felt it more, and I felt it all the time. It wasn’t just a once-in-awhile thing. That’s an important thing. That you can feel it whenever you want.
PURUSHOTTAM: What part do you think the Spiritual Master or Guru plays in bringing the disciple to this point? Is he essential, or is he—
CARL: I think he’s an important instrument. He can be a great help.
PURUSHOTTAM: In what way?
CARL: Well, because he’s teaching somebody to be like that. He can bring you up to his level. That’s his position. I mean, if he knows and you don’t, then you’ve got to listen to him or else how are you going to learn? He should be able to guide you, right? And know all about the spirit. Like what you read about in Scriptures.
PURUSHOTTAM: Do you hold as valid authority the words of the saints and sages in the Scriptures?
CARL: Yes, I do. One thing I do think is that a lot of them are grossly misinterpreted, though. Just like the Bible, for instance. The grossest misinterpretations. It’s hard to believe! Like we were singing a song the other day, “Didn’t It Rain.” Do you know that one?
CARL: It’s a spiritual, you know. An old Negro spiritual. And it was about it raining and flooding and all that. In the song they make it into just a story, I guess. I don’t know why they have to misinterpret it. I don’t know what made them think of it the way they did. But, you know, of course, we could experience the same thing. I think that maybe now people would try to … to say it like it is. To say simply that, well, you know, people were treating the earth bad, and they were abusing it and putting a lot of pressure on the earth in different places. Like in Manhattan, and like in Los Angeles for example. It’s just, you know, it’s just a bad thing todo to Nature. It’s sinful, really.
PURUSHOTTAM: How do you think one can tell if a Scripture is being interpreted correctly or incorrectly? How would you judge it?
CARL: It’s hard to say. I wouldn’t know for myself, but I think that the spiritual master could help you with this if you want to know what it’s saying exactly. I mean if he knows then he can tell you where it’s at. Do you agree?
CARL: Actually, I’ve never really gotten into the Bible that much, or any Scripture. I’ll tell you, I did read THE PROPHET, and I think that that is a beautiful thing. I haven’t yet been into any of the things that your Guru has written. I’d like to, though. You know, even before meditation and the whole thing, I was really inclined to … to feel things, and feel things deep. And … I would have feelings that something was or wasn’t real, you know. And to myself I knew it. I don’t know why. But I just felt that. You can’t explain it. Cause, possibly, from a different incarnation, you just know, you retain knowledge. And it gets through to you.
PURUSHOTTAM: You believe in reincarnation?
PURUSHOTTAM: And that the soul is an eternal part of God?
CARL: Oh, yes. Of course.
PURUSHOTTAM: If you accept that you are not just a body but are spirit soul,what do you think is the purpose of your taking births in the material world? Have you ever thought about that?
CARL: Yeah, I’ve thought about it. I’m sure there are a lot more reasons than we would ever dream about. I don’t really know, though.
PURUSHOTTAM: Do you think that meditation could help you in someday realizing this?
PURUSHOTTAM: In what way?
CARL: Well, I think that it would help, you know, that you could rediscover yourself. A lot of the point is to get out of illusions of forgetting about the spirit. I know then you would become evenly balanced, you know, and gain greater happiness and peace. At that point I think you would know more about who you are and why you’re here. And, I mean, in a lot of cases, if you balance yourself, you can only go straight ahead. It takes control, though.
PURUSHOTTAM: Do you try to control your mind?
CARL: Well, at this stage I don’t know if I can control my mind or not. I don’t think I can control what I think. I can’t help it, you know. That’s just the way it is, so I don’t get hung up about it. But I do know people think too much about things that turn out to be just not worth thinking of. I know meditation can get you more on the right track of forgetting illusions and thinking of the spirit and things like that. Of course, I’m not in that state. I don’t control my mind. I wouldn’t want to try to say what it would be like. I haven’t been there, you know. If I find out at some point that I’m able to control it, and that I would be happier, or that I could get along better, you know, and it’d be a better atmosphere, I suppose I’d always try it. But nobody’s ever laid that on me, so I don’t know.
PURUSHOTTAM: Do you feel that the people who are in the youth movements which are trying to change the world, do you think that if they had a better understanding of what life is, and what truth is, that this understanding would help them achieve better results?
CARL: Definitely. But the problem is people are gonna be on different levels all the time. So you can’t tell them all what it’s gonna be because a lot just aren’t ready to listen. It’s an individual thing, itsn’t it? For instance, not everybody’s at the same place at the same time, so you can’t say, “OK kids, uh, let’s do this!” cause that’s not the way it is, and it’s never gonna be that way. I mean, there’ve been a lot of writings saying that there’s going to be a holocaust, and then there’ll be only the good souls left. I guess that’s their karma, those that are worth it probably will be around after this kind of thing happens. But you can’t plan it. Maybe Scriptures know it, but I don’t.
PURUSHOTTAM: Do you have any special feelings about any particular Scripture? Do you regard any one with special reverence?
CARL: Well, I’ve always felt that Christ was a really great person. A great spiritual leader. I think that, you know, people misinterpret, and they … people blew it … they’re not doing what he wanted. He probably said to worship and get to knowabout God and Truth. Like in Yoga you get into that. Of course, I can’t say what the right interpretation of the Bible should be, right? Because I haven’t really readit enough, so I wouldn’t be dumb enough to say, “Now, like here. It’s like this.” Because I really don’t know.
PURUSHOTTAM: In your meditations, have you ever chanted the Hare Krishna Mantra?
CARL: No, I never have. Is it a thing you have to be initiated into?
PURUSHOTTAM: No. It’s for everyone.
CARL: [pointing to Purushottam’s bead bag] Are these things here something to…
GARGAMUNI: They’re prayer beads.
CARL: Oh, prayer beads. You keep your beads in them.
GARGAMUNI: Yes. The idea is to engage all of the senses in the process of meditation. To help us to engage the mind on the chanting, we use the sense of touch. Incense helps us to engage the sense of smell. For the eyes we look at pictures of Krishna. So in that way, every sense becomes engaged. To engage the sense of taste, we eat food that we offer. We offer our food to the Lord. We cook vegetarian meals that come out of the Vedic Scriptures.
CARL: Are you vegetarian?
CARL: How do you like it?
GARGAMUNI: Oh, it’s great!
CARL: You know, I got on a vegetarian thing, and sometimes I … like I had meat tonight, you know, and it was, you know, it was … I don’t know. (laughs) It’s hard to know what to think about things like that. It’s kind of confusing, isn’t it?
PURUSHOTTAM: You discussed before the spirit soul being reincarnated.Wouldn’t you say that it’s wrong to kill animals because they’re spiritsouls also?
CARL: Certainly ! I think it’s wrong to kill a flea, or a fly or anything. A plant or a … you know. Everything is part of Nature. I don’t like to kill anything. Sometimes I really think it’s wrong to eat meat. Yeah, see now, that’s a thing that I think about a lot.
DENNIS: [entered a few minutes before, and now joined in the discussion] Hey man, a piece of wheat growing in the field has just as much right to be alive as a rabbit.
GARGAMUNI: Yes, that’s true.
CARL: I guess everything’s relative. How does your Guru look at that?
PURUSHOTTAM: Well, we learn from The Bhagavad Gita that everything is here for Krishna and is created by Him just for His pleasure. So we use everything in serving His pleasure. We offer all of our food to Him before we eat it and that absolves us from the sin of killing plants. Krishna doesn’t like to eat meat, so we don’t offer it, and therefore we don’t eat it.
CARL: Is Krishna … He was here on the Earth, wasn’t He? Is He still here now?
PURUSHOTTAM: Krishna’s actually always here, but He was visible to everyone on this planet 5,000 years ago. In the Vedic Scriptures the process is described where we can realize Krishna as the Supreme Person and Creator. At that stage you can see that Krishna is always in everything.
CARL: Oh, I see. Yeah.
PURUSHOTTAM: Were you ever religious, in the usual sense of the word?
CARL: I don’t know if I could say I was religious at all, but, you know, I … I always knew that there was a Supreme Being, and I always had a lot of peace of mind about that. And I’ve always thought of God as the Protector. I’ve always known little stupid things, like I’d never get hurt doing this or that, and I’d never … I’ve always known that nothing would ever happen like in a car or a plane or something, you know. Something on that level. I’ve always known that inside. I know that meditation can probably make someone feel it more.
DENNIS: So why are we in this situation? Why is it like that?
CARL: Because we deserve it. Because you get EXACTLY what you deserve, no matter what happens at any time. You’re always gonna get exactly what comes to you. Because you reap exactly what you sow. Is that what your Swami says?
PURUSHOTTAM: Well, yes. He says that if we desire material life then we have to accept the dualities of the material world. And there has to be death and competition for living. But Krishna is waiting for us, and as soon as we turn to spiritual life we can transcend and be free of the material miseries.
CARL: Yeah, well, I’d like to see how your meditation goes. It’s Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, right?
[Little cards were given to Carl and Dennis, on which were written the Maha Mantra. For about five minutes everyone chanted together. Dennis danced, while Carl sat on the couch concentrating on his card.]
Denis Wilson dances to the chanting of Hare Krishna.
CARL: You do that over and over again?
CARL: What do the words mean?
PURUSHOTTAM: “Hare” means the energy of God. Krishna and Rama are different names for God. This chant is described in Vedic Scriptures as the most perfect means of God realization, because it can be done anytime or anyplace.
DENNIS: Don’t you know you are God? You don’t ever have to do nothing! You’re IT! You’ve always been here. There’s only one thing happening and its right now. And you’ll never do nothing else. Never, really. Everything IS for a purpose. Everything just IS, you know. And then that’s all there is to it. Everything IS, right? So…
CARL: But what he’s saying, Dennis, is like people are waiting around and thinking, “Well, something is going to happen here,” right? And so I think that’s the point they’re trying to make. I think—of course I may not understand…
DENNIS: There’s only one thing wrong, man, and it’s right now. This sound you hear right here …[claps] … it’s the most important thing you’ve ever heard, because the sound is right now.
Carl and Purushottam discuss the chant
PURUSHOTTAM: The sound is gone but you’re still here, you know.
DENNIS: Why do I want to know something? I’m here! Hallelujah! The only thing that’s happening is right now, you know, and that’s why this is here sound, music, your thing that you’re doing! What’s important? Everything is the same. It’s all important. God’s in everything!
PURUSHOTTAM: Do you really see that?
DENNIS: Everyone does, man. It’s like that. You don’t have to do anything. It’s already there. That’s the beauty.
GARGAMUNI: Then why are so many people unhappy in the world?
DENNIS: Because that’s what they want to be. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if someone sees sorrow and bitterness and all that crap, you know—well, you have to stay clear!
CARL: The point they’re making, Dennis, is helping people like that out of it. Like, in other words, good will towards men. I mean, it just is true that God is all great, and there’s no such thing as unfairness, because that just doesn’t happen. Really. Because that’s impossible. Either that, or the whole thing about a Supreme Being is a hype. Right?
DENNIS: You are the Supreme Being. You got to see it. You are what you see. Right?
PURUSHOTTAM: It may sound nice to say that I am God, but it’s not what God Himself says, and what realized souls say in the Scriptures. Christ didn’t say that we ARE God but that we should worship God. The Vedic Scriptures say that the spirit soul has the same nature as God qualitatively, but not in the same quantity. In other words, we have the same qualities of bliss, eternity and all knowledge as God. But in the material world, we’ve fallen into illusion, and God can never fall into illusion and suffering. Or else how can you call Him God?
CARL: Yeah, but you see, I can’t picture it. I’m not there yet, where I really know that. I think you’d have to be very advanced.
MIKE LOVE: [entering end seeing the interviewer’s beadbag] What’s that?
CARL: Those are his prayer beads.
DENNIS: Is this bag just a thing to protect them?
MIKE: It doesn’t matter what it is, then?
GARGAMUNI: No. It’s just a tradition, over thousands of years. This is just a kind of bag…
DENNIS: Is there any importance in that tradition?
GARGAMUNI: Well, yeah. Tradition helps us to become more God conscious. Not that it’s a tradition that we have to abide by, but it’s a means of helping.
CARL: They’re just there to help anyway.
DENNIS: Suppose somebody came up with a bag that was just a little bit better? I mean, if that’s just a function, it could be a little more subtle.
GARGAMUNI: Right, right. There’s no set rules.
CARL: You know, there are lots of people trying to be happy, trying to turn other people on to good things. Like there are people faking acid, people doing this, people doing that. Everybody … everybody wants the same thing really.
PURUSHOTTAM: Would you say that drugs would ultimately be a help or a hindrance for someone who’s seeking realization?
CARL: Well, I know that grass helped me. You know, I smoked grass.
PURUSHOTTAM: At the ultimate stage of realization, do you think that grass will still be necessary?
CARL: In some way, I think it helped me. But I didn’t say anything about realization. I know drugs aren’t natural like a chant can be. They can’t be really where it’s at. It’s really actually upsetting your nervous system to take drugs and stuff like that. They are unnatural to have in your nervous system. That thing of karma … Maybe some people don’t really think they should be happy, or maybe somewhere in their soul they know that they’re supposed to be, because everybody knows what’s happening. It’s probably hidden somewhere. Anyway, we’re all from the same place, really. We all know the same thing, I think, if we know anything. I mean, we’re all from the Universe, right? Like I said before, right now I can’t see anything. I’m not going to tell anybody where it’s at, because I wouldn’t want to say I know.