“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”
In the lyrics from “I am the Walrus,” John Lennon reveals an intuitive vision of connectedness. He may have discovered many of his spiritual ideas through traditional Eastern books, but his approach to this wisdom was intuitive. He had a knack for picking the right ancient spiritual words and placing them in the perfect context for his culture.
The fact that he placed these messages in popular music is particularly amazing – and he did it within the most popular band of his generation.
It’s no accident these words – and so many others by Lennon – happened during his particular time in history. Western civilization needed a jolt of raw spirituality. The spiritual teachings Lennon used may have come from the East, but he presented them without the traditional context of Hinduism or Buddhism or Taoism. The spiritual wisdom he shared was unencumbered by religion.
As Beatles fans listened to Lennon’s quotes from Eastern religion, the ideas sounded brand new. This would be like a Buddhist hearing the words of Jesus without knowing anything about Christian tradition. The message would be raw and radical. The interpretation would be intuitive rather than structured.
Lennon put snippets of wisdom into a number of his songs. He used passages from the Tibetan Book of the Dead as the lyrics for “Tomorrow Never Knows.” He acknowledged that “Imagine” was “virtually the Communist manifesto,” although he added, “I’m not particularly a Communist and I do not belong to any movement.” This is another example of Lennon taking ideas out of the context of their traditional application and giving them fresh life.
Lennon’s approach to his sources was fresh and free from the baggage the tomes had gathered over decades or centuries. He snatched pieces of wisdom from a wide range of traditions and presented them as new to an eager young audience. He discarded the traditions themselves and showed the wisdom in its rawest form.
“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” It’s very clear. There is no me. There is no you. We are connected. Any separation is an illusion. Coo coo ka choo.