Beatles: Within You Without You Meaning
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Song Released: 1967
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Within You Without You Lyrics
And the people-who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth-then it's far too late-when they pass away.
We were talking-about the love we all could share-when we find...
This song describes a lot of the core philosophical principles of Indian spiritual philosophy, which went on to inspire many Asian religions and philosophies such as Hinduism and Buddhism. George had Hinduism in mind when he wrote the song, but a lot of the lyrical themes also ring true in Buddhism as well.
There are two main themes at work here. The first ring true in the main independent verses. They describe what Indian philosophy describes as the roots of all human suffering and dissatisfaction: ignorance, desire, and obsession with material gains. Out of ignorance of the path to Enlightenment, people become selfish and self-centered, pursuing material goals such as money or status or luxury, mistakenly believing them to be the keys to happiness. Of course, such things can't be, because they're impermanent and material. You are never satisfied pursuing wealth or status, because you're always going to want more wealth and status, no matter how much you have. And sooner or later, because they are nothing more than products of the material world, they will be gone, and because you put so much stock into them, you'll have nothing left, and will be miserable. Unfortunately, many people follow this self-destructive path, and in the end die lonely, frustrated, and full of regrets.
The second parts of the verses, however, describe the solution to this dissatisfaction. Freedom from desire lies in acknowledging the connectedness of all living things in our world. First, you must realize that you are only a miniscule speck within the universe; you are one of millions upon billions of living creatures in our world who each go on living their daily lives just like you. You are not special, and if you die, the flow of life in the world will continue on just the same. This may be a harsh principle for some to hear, but it is the truth.
The good news, however, is that you are not alone. Every human being is going through the same flow of life as you, and your life is intrinsically connected to the happiness and existence of those around you. No man is an island: we are all, equally, a cell in the great organism called Life. When you acknowledge this interconnectedness between all human beings, you will learn to gain a love and appreciation for all life, and can carry yourselves with compassion for all living beings and freedom from all material desires. To do so is to walk the Enlightened path.
A lot of this song is Hinduism or Buddhism in a nutshell; it really sums up a lot of both of their philosophical principles.
George Harrison followed eastern philosophical thinking. The space between us all is the illusion. Most people live and die without ever realizing the oneness we share. When we understand this, we see the love that binds us. If we hold our sights on this oneness, instead of war, hate, destruction and selfishness we could create a new world of love, compassion and sharing. For this to happen, each individual needs to look inside and realize they're part of the whole and "life goes on within you and without you" The people that "gain the world and lose their soul" gave up their spiritual growth to material possessions and they can't see the truth of our spiritual oneness. They never find true peace and happiness until they "see beyond themselves".
If everyone changed and realized their true nature "we could save the world" from hate and destruction.
anonymous Jun 6th, 2018 6:42pm report
We are each a part of life. When we die, life will continue. Great music but NOT a new idea.
anonymous Aug 23rd, 2017 8:02am report
We are all trapped in the wheel of samsara, but here little teenagers I have some LSD I am promoting with my music. The first dose is free...
anonymous Oct 25th, 2016 10:58am report
Simply a beautiful thought. Life goes on inside of you and outside of you, whether you are consciously aware of It or not. (Within You and Without You). Life goes on when you are Blissfully Happy or Blindly Dead Depressed. Narrowly Straight or Kiss the Sky, High on the Universe.
LSD is a mirror where one can see far inside and far outside of Oneself. Though may I humbly suggest that LSD is a bit like a Carnival of Life, spinning colourfully, fantastically, a bit Tinselly, like Los Angeles, compared to Peyote which is more Earthy and Grounded, perhaps deeper, longer lasting Profound, in its Enlightening Revelations about Life. Neither of these Drugs were taken simply for Fun, Recreational purposes in 1960s.
I remember most People of the 60s were rather more sincere and serious about their search for Truth and the quest to be Spiritually Enlightened, whereas in this Millenium, many people seem to just want excitement and kicks. Hence the popularity of Cocain and Crystal Meth. Rather a sad state to my way of Living Life. I prefer to look for meaning in Life. "Excuse me, while I kiss the sky." and "Leave your heart."
Within You and Without You.
anonymous May 7th, 2011 5:37pm report
Georgy in this one talks about-the average,selfish,foolish people and life and existence of our one emotional spirit and soul. He also talks about someones effect on another and seeks why we do that and truly, theirs no reason. He depths pre-existence, the common man, and life and its fortunes.
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Apr 16th, 2009 4:12pm report
George Harrison was indeed a seeker of God. He knew much about God but never stopped seeking Him. I don't know if he ever found Him. I wish I knew him but I did not. I too have sought God and believe he is in his kingdom. Even in the gospel of Jesus it is said that Jesus preached that the kingdom of heaven is within. So if God is in his kingdom he is also waiting to be awakened inside of everyone.
I don't believe in the myths and legends or miracles about Jesus however, this I found to be true during my journey to find it. Great song, very close to the truth indeed.
anonymous May 21st, 2008 5:36pm report
The song is a play on the Hindhu beliefs on Maya-the world is an illusion, Atman-the God within us all, and Moksha-enlightenment or nirvanna as it is more widely known.
morrishill2 May 6th, 2008 5:43pm report
The whole song to me is about lsd and the inner changes that take place. "And the people-who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion" that lyric to me is for the people who have never experienced what its like in the world of hallucinogens, I think he's trying to say that to everyday life there's that reality, and once you open up to lsd you find the alter reality. I could go on and on but if you think of every lyric in an lsd mindset it makes sence
anonymous Apr 29th, 2008 4:16pm report
I always thought it was about Hinduism and some of the ideas in it, hence the drums in the beginning.
anonymous May 31st, 2007 5:06pm report
Life flows on within you and without you.
Life flows on within you.
It exists inside of you. You are a living creature just like any other human. You feel. Happiness, pain, anger, joy, depression. You are alive. Within yourself, within the confinds of your person you live and your one person exists.
and without you.
life flows on within each person, and despite you're passing on (when you die), the life around you perseveres and continues to exist.
You yourself are the big picture of all of the intricate parts of your body that work so perfectly in sync with each other to create and sustain your life. This fact that you yourself are the final product of life is contradicted by the fact that you are a minute element that makes up life and lives of every other living thing that exists in the world.
Harrison is a genius who portrays life, and existence itself on multiple levels at the same time.
Furthermore, every line supports this on both levels. It's an extremely dense and intense work. Look at each line in both senses of Life: within you, and without you.
anonymous Feb 12th, 2007 2:39pm report
It appears to be a message about knowing yourself and submitting to love in a life that permeates you (within you), goes through you (within you, without you), and exists independently (you are very small, life flows...without you). Only you have the power to turn away from the material (who gain the world) and live for the good of all, which is self-fulfilling (when you've seen beyond yourself then you may find peace of mind is waiting there).
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