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According to the Beatles, “All you need is love, all you need is love, all you need is love, love, love is all you need, love is all you need”.
It’s clear from record sales for the song, that many agreed with this message of love, but some argued that love is not enough; we also need practical things like somewhere to live, a good job, decent food, a clean environment and freedom of expression. You could say, some people had a heart-based response and others a more head-based response to this song.
It is argued that Western society overvalues our practical, logical, head-based, masculine nature and undervalues our creative, intuitive, heart-based feminine nature. Perhaps that is why this seemingly simple love song has resonated with so many over the decades. Some homeostatic mechanism, that helps keep heart and mind in balance, may be behind the fact that even going back to the days of the troubadour, the great majority of popular songs are about love.
Love can loosen up those boundaries
To earn a living, raise a family and to generally ‘get on’, we need to be practical; we have to do the daily chores and we must stick to the routines of life. Yet, as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi often said, such routines impose boundaries on our innate creativity and this confinement of our creative genius is a great source of stress. Maharishi’s answer was 20 minutes of Transcendental Meditation (TM) twice a day. When you allow your mind to regularly transcend thought, and experience your inner source of pure creativity, unbounded awareness is naturally cultivated, even after meditation when you are dealing with all the narrow details of life.
It’s well known that meditation is probably the most effective way of releasing the stresses we have built up over the years. Yet we have always found little ways of subverting those physiological stresses and psychological and emotional boundaries life imposes. When you read a good book, go out to parties or to the movies, or when you enjoy weekend breaks and holidays in foreign places, there is an accompanying sense of breaking out of or transcending the daily drudge. These common ways of undermining the effects of the ridged boundaries of life may not be as powerful as the experience of transcending during TM, but they are enjoyable and usually effective.
And there’s falling in love – often highly subversive and not always that practical, but extremely powerful. There is also a higher form of love, which is even more subversive to our boundaries and stresses and which I believe is alluded to in the song All You Need Is Love.
When individual love blossoms into universal love
Early Beatles’ songs such as I Want To Hold Your Hand, All My Loving and You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, depict a personal kind of love – boy meets girl, boy declares love to girl, boy gets dumped by girl and feels rotten. Yet, as the Beatles matured their songs gained more subtlety and depth.
For me, All You Need Is Love expresses a less personal and more abstract and universal form of love. The lyrics and singing style is haunting, repetitive and mantra-like and gives the message “All you need is love” a sense of abstraction. And alongside the introspection is exuberance and the celebration of love. It’s as if the inward, quiet, reflective phase of love, expresses itself in the dynamism of pure joy.
About a month after the release of All You Need Is Love, the Beatles met Maharishi and learned Transcendental Meditation. It’s said that like attracts like and it’s clear that the Beatles were drawn to the spiritual path because they were ready to experience the source of all love – the Self.
Being in love forever
It is said that before you can truly love another person, you must love yourself and before you can love yourself you must know yourself. It is in the direct experience of your higher Self that both heart and mind become fully developed and perfectly balanced. Before that love is fickly, sometimes present, sometimes absent.
When the Self is established you discover that love’s source is never found in someone else but always within your own heart. When you are able to tap into that infinite ocean of love, love becomes self-sufficient, independent and constant, no matter what your outer circumstances; whether you have a partner to share that love with or not, love shines within your heart and warms you and those around you.
We all need to take care of the practical things of life, but on the whole I find myself on the side of the Beatles – love really is all we need. Without love everything loses its colour, its vibrancy and its purpose. When love is present, life becomes vital and meaningful, you become more interested and more interesting, you feel as though you can go out and conquer the world – with love, of course.
“The fortunate one uses the instrument of [Transcendental] Meditation and probes deep into his heart. Then the waves of love gain the depth of the ocean, and the ocean of love flows and fills the heart and thrills every particle of being. Every wave of life then flows in the fullness of love, in the fullness of divine glory, in the fullness of grace, in bliss and peace.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Love and God