What does Across the Universe mean?

Beatles: Across the Universe Meaning

Album cover for Across the Universe album cover

Song Released: 1969

Covered By: Fiona Apple (1998)

Across the Universe Lyrics

Words are flowing out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass they slip away
Across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 17th 2005 !⃝

    JOHN 1980: "I was a bit more artsy-fartsy there. I was lying next to my first wife in bed, (song originally written in 1967) you know, and I was irritated. She must have been going on and on about something and she'd gone to sleep-- and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song-- rather than 'Why are you always mouthing off at me?' or whatever, right? ...and I've sat down and looked at it and said, 'Can I write another one with this meter?' It's so interesting. 'Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup/ They slither while the pass, they slip away across the universe.' Such an extraordinary meter and I can never repeat it! It's not a matter of craftsmanship-- it wrote itself. It drove me out of bed. I didn't want to write it... and I couldn't get to sleep until I put it on paper... It's like being possessed-- like a psychic or a medium. The thing has to go down. It won't let you sleep, so you have to get up, make it into something, and then you're allowed to sleep. That's always in the middle of the night when you're half-awake or tired and your critical facilities are switched off."


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Sep 19th 2009 !⃝

    Many people think "Jai Guru Deva Om" means "nothing's gonna change my world" because that is the following lyric.

    In all actuality, a loose translation of "Jai Guru Deva Om" is "Thank you teacher," referencing the Guru Dev, the Maharishi's teacher. The "Om" is the sound of the universe settling.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 19th 2013 !⃝

    Jai (Praise to) Guru (followers of Yoga - One of several different Hindu philosophic methods of yoking [this is what yoga means - to yoke] the individual soul with the universal or cosmic soul that is God or the Holy Spirit (or both depending upon one's views). Followers of Yoga have a teacher or Guru (means teacher). The Beatles at one time studied Yoga under the Guru Maharishi in India. George in particular was influenced and remained a Hindu throughout his life, although I think he shifted from Yoga to mainstream Hinduism (where the people pray to God and meditate without a Guru. Deva means Godess. In particular the Mahadeva or Greatest Godess is Parvati (the female energy of the universe and of God almighty) Parvati is the wife of Shiva, both symbolize universal energy, inner peace, nature and aceticism. In short, John was being nagged by his wife who was annoyed with him. Rather than reacting to her emotions he withdrew into himself and decided not to allow his emotions or the negativity around him to control him and create conflict, but to let go of them and meditate instead on the peace that is within and without (George Harrison - Within you and without you) eternal and universal - The great soul, Holy Spirit, God Almighty, Love eternal or whatever you choose to call it. We can find it in ourselves, see it in others if we look for it, and connect to it if we give our hear sincerely to it. Thank you teacher Parvati for teaching me of how to be free of being controlled by life as it goes on around me.

  4. mdowns
    click a star to vote
    Feb 10th 2023 !⃝

    I am confident I do not understand this song. It is one of the most serene collections of thoughts ever written. To incorporate a Hindu Transcendental Meditation Mantra into a rock song is genius. I don’t think anyone else could do it. I don’t think anyone else ever would ever think if it.

    John sees it all, for prosperity. A flow of ideas and thoughts, emotions, and virtues. He can see it, Jai Guru Deva, OM. The purpose of the Transcendental Meditation Mantra is to clear your mind. Open your mind. See the power of your mind. Close your eyes, look up to the skies, take a deep breath and sing, Jai Guru Deva, OM. You will feel it.

    Your mind is now open. You can see that anything is possible and that is a good thing. Yet John brings in, Nothing’s gonna change my world, right in the middle on his mantra. Four times stomping on the mantra with, nothing’s gonna change my world.

    It's like he is saying the cosmic world links all of us together. Thoughts, ideas, love, like a restless wind fluttering in a mail box. And I can do without it. Nothing’s gonna change my world.

    He ends the song with, Jai Guru Deva, without the mantra, OM. Maybe he is saying, I don’t want in or just let it flow by me. John said, This is not his song. It just came to him. His comments, “[The words] were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don't own it you know; it came through like that.”

    History documents how many times, many people, have had the same idea at the same time. When John opened his mind, OM, he saw it all. OM has a strong environmental effect which is OK if chanted in a group. But if used as a personal, internal mantra, it is suited for those wanting to be withdrawn from active life.

    The song is beautiful. I can almost see what he saw, feel what he felt. I do not think he wanted to be part of what he was experiencing.

    Think about it, nothing’s gonna change my world. Everything is going to change. Everyday we are on a journey of change. John Lennon knows that better than your average Beatle. So why is he sad. The chorus makes me cry. Perhaps he does not want to be part of it.

    John expresses, Joy, Peace, Tranquility Love, and Release. All in this song. Those are the five mantras of Hindu meditation. This song is genius as was the Walrus himself.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 1st 2020 !⃝

    One might think that "nothing's gonna change my world" means that one is fixed, unchanging. But this view falls short.

    Instead, what would be most accurate is that there is this uber-thing, nothing, or nothingness, which pervades us. It is our basic non-existence, the fact that we aren't who we think we are, that the symbolic language of our speech is quite removed from our true or actual beings, which by our natures is ephemeral, insubstantial, is not continuous, and changes from moment to moment no matter our tendency to cling and our attempts in vain to solidify things. And it is the nothing that's going to change our world.

    So, the lyric is uber literal, nothing is changing our world. Physically, our physical location travels in a corkscrew fashion, and most of the universe is receding from us faster than the speed of light.

  6. anonymous
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    Mar 12th 2020 !⃝

    My first exposure to this song was with the movie "Pleasantville" and it was so appropriate as things were becoming happy at the end of the movie. In fact the song was mesmerizing but not available for download purchase by Fiona Apple. I listened to many different artists renditions of the song - including that by the Beatles themselves - but none came near as soulful and heartfelt as Fiona's. It did become available and I quickly got it. The fact that JL wrote the song as a response to a spat with the wife just highlights his talents to use emotion to drive the writing of a great song.

  7. Andreisdaman
    click a star to vote
    Mar 28th 2013 !⃝

    As a married man it is easy to see what this song is about...John here is basically writing a song about ignoring his wife's constant nagging...instaed of focusing on what his wife is saying and the content of her arguments toward him, he is sitting there, ignoring her and just letting her words flow past him and out the window into the universe...meaning that it means nothing to him and her arguing is a waste of time because it's not going to change how he feels or what he does at all...sort of like how men continue reading the newspaper even when their wife is trying to engage them in a conversation they don't want to hear

  8. anonymous
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    Jun 20th 2011 !⃝

    It seems like, J.L. is in a completely different realm, and describing the most,unique, beautiful, and dramatic tale with him as the main character, also at the same time being influenced by Maharishi's teachings.

  9. anonymous
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    Jun 18th 2011 !⃝

    When the beatles were learning classical eastern sanskrit music in inda probably they must have learn this terms "Jai guru deva Om" it is a hindu religious term which refer as jai(great), guru(teacher), deva(lord) and Om(related to the lord shiva/inner peace)

  10. anonymous
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    Mar 24th 2011 !⃝

    The song is about the act of writing. He feels connected to the universe when he is involved in the act of writing, in his case a song. The words come out of him and literally escape into the universe where they go one forever. he is describing the trance-like state he is in when writing. I don't think drugs have anything to do with it. Haven't you ever created something and while you do it you are in touch with something deeper within yourself?

  11. anonymous
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    Dec 31st 2010 !⃝

    I think this song is about, him writing about how he feels, which is unknown, and the words going nowhere just out into space basically.Even though he's attempting to get relife it doesnt work, nothings ever gonna change his world. Writing down his feeling emotions, writing A new song, whateverhe's attempting to do to get rid of these bad feelings, its not working. nothings ever gonna change the world.

  12. manybenny
    click a star to vote
    Apr 16th 2010 !⃝

    As JR1419 wrote on September 19th, 2009, "a loose translation of "Jai Guru Deva Om" is "Thank you teacher," referencing the Guru Dev, the Maharishi's teacher. The "Om" is the sound of the universe settling." Following this with, "Nothing's gonna change my world" suggests that Lennon, or the singer of the song is feeling at peace and has established a solid, unshakable peace of mind or state of mind that the world cannot alter.

    Unfortunately, it would seem that five bullets to the body did cause a significant change.

    Meanwhile, one of the many beauties of this song is the shifting meter, whereby Lennon adds an extra beat here and there to create occasional bars of 5/4, such as just before the second verse, beginning with 'Pools of sorrow". This phrase is balanced by the following one: "waves of joy", suggesting that an equilibrium is achieved between these two extreme and opposite emotions.

    While engaging in creative rhyming, presenting things such as "possessing and caressing me", Lennon offers a rich harmonic variation by way of the IV minor6th chord under the phrase 'caressing me'. Here, he is simultaneously balancing minor vs. major, paralleling the emotional balance in the lyrics with harmonic balance in the chords.

    It's all very balanced. I recommend the Fiona Apple version.

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Dec 24th 2009 !⃝

    While the song as a whole is about oneness with the universe...the part about the light is clearly a reference to common hallucinations causes by
    drugs like acid

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 22nd 2008 !⃝

    I don't really have an interpretation, but I hate how a lot of people will probably immediately relate this songs to drugs, LSD, and all that.

  15. jtg08
    click a star to vote
    Oct 12th 2008 !⃝

    It says pools of sorrow waves of joy are floating through my "opened mind". Just a thought. The Beatles rock.

  16. anonymous
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    Aug 25th 2008 !⃝

    In my honest opinion, the song (aside from the spark that gave birth to it, I mean John's wife words) deals with the idea of "Unity". John just wants to talk to us that Brahman and Atman are the same, that all the different things we feel or see are, in fact, just one. The divine resides in us and in every little thing we can observe, in the sweet noise of the rain on in the sound of the wind in a letter box. John gets aware of that and wishes to thank his Guru.

  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 24th 2008 !⃝

    Of course not everything you think is "trippy" when you are actually on drugs..i convinced myself on evening that justin timberlake specifically designed his music videos for people who did acid...

    On the other hand, a lot of the beatles later songs made subtle and not-so-subtle references to drugs so its not that far-fetched to assume that the song is based on that idea.

    In the 60's everything was about being free and expressing yourself and seeing the beauty in everything. the song was probably more about those themes than drugs specifically. many people chose to use drugs to experience the freedom and beauty of the 60's but many people didn't. I don't think the song is meant to revert specifically back to a "trip" but more to an experience of seeing beauty in the ordinary, however you do it.

    Furthermore, as fun as acid and shrooms are, don't be stupid, they do not "open your mind" they cause a chemical reaction that makes your brain fire random signals that confuse your senses and in extreme cases cause realistic hallucinations. It is fun, funny, and mind-bending, but there is openness to truth in it. It is, by nature, a deception. so stop thinking you are so cool.

  18. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 13th 2008 !⃝

    Ok first off, I've done shrooms many many many times. and everything that you listen to or watch while on shrooms is about tripping and makes oh so much sense. I watched finding nemo on shrooms and thought it revealed some deep dark life secrets at the time lmao...but just because the song makes sense to people when they are tripping does NOT mean the song is about tripping or any psychedelic experience.

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