Posts Tagged ‘Rishikesh India’

Who was Dear Prudence the Beatles sang to in India? What happened to her? Here is her story.

December 21, 2014

See the full article with more photos and quotes featured in the 21st issue of Enlightenment: The Transcendental Meditation® Magazine: The “Dear Prudence” Story by Rolf Erickson. Reprinted here with permission including the video: Dear Prudence: A Portrait Of Prudence Farrow Bruns.

The “Dear Prudence” Story

BY ROLF ERICKSON

photo_prudence01Prudence Farrow Bruns, PhD, is the daughter of actress Maureen O’Sullivan and award-winning writer/director, John Farrow. She has been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique for 48 years, and has been a teacher of the TM program for 46 years.

It all started so simply. It was 1966, and 18-year-old Prudence Farrow was sitting on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at her brother’s home in Los Angeles. She was reading a book on meditation when she heard a voice say, “If you’re interested in meditation, I know just the meditation for you.”

The voice was that of Peter Wallace, a friend of her brother. Peter had spent six months traveling through India, where he met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and began the Transcendental Meditation technique. He told her how simple and effortless the technique was, and yet how profound the experience and benefits could be.

“It was the simplicity of the practice that struck me most,” Prudence said. “I’d been trying different methods of meditation for some time, but they had all been complicated and difficult. When Peter described a simple, natural practice of diving deep within, I knew he was truly onto something.”

So Prudence learned the TM technique at UCLA. After experiencing the positive effects of TM for herself, Prudence wanted more. She wanted to meet Maharishi and to study with him. “At that time Maharishi had courses in India,” says Prudence. “He brought people there, and they studied for three or four months with him. You meditated for long periods under his guidance.”

On January 23, 1968, three days after her 20th birthday, Prudence traveled with Maharishi from New York to Rishikesh, India to attend her TM teacher training course. And that’s when the “Dear Prudence” story really began.

The Beatles Make the Scene

One month after Prudence arrived in Rishikesh, The Beatles showed up to study with Maharishi. While they all spent some time there, John Lennon and George Harrison stayed the longest.

“The Beatles were all very nice, humble, modest, kind, and down-to-earth people,” Prudence remembers. “I was closest to John and George, since they were my ‘course buddies’ during our studies with Maharishi. We were supposed to look out for each other during the course.”

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Prudence (left) sat next to Ringo in course photo.

Prudence soon became known for her tendency to keep to herself in her room, focused on her meditation practice. “I was deeply immersed in my studies and meditation, locked away in my quarters. John, as my course buddy, was concerned and wanted to bring me out of my room to enjoy the experience more.”

John and George would come over to her room and play their guitars, encouraging her to come out and sing with them. It was this experience that became the inspiration for their song “Dear Prudence” in which John sings, “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?”

Before he left Rishikesh, George mentioned to Prudence that they had written a song about her, but she had no idea what it was. She didn’t hear the song until it came out on their 1968 album The Beatles, commonly known as the “White Album.”

Prudence’s dedication to her meditation practice did pay off. After four months, she graduated from the course and became one of the first and youngest teachers of the Transcendental Meditation technique at that time.

But that was just the beginning of the “Dear Prudence” story.

Prudence Comes out to Play

Once she completed her teacher training course in India, Prudence definitely did come out to play. Over the past 46 years, she’s instructed thousands of people in the TM technique throughout the United States and Canada. She married TM teacher Al Bruns in 1969, and they have three children and four grandchildren.

She’s produced Hollywood feature films and a play in Manhattan. She was an assistant to the curator of the “Theatre Collection” of the Museum of the City of New York. She has been a magazine writer. She’s written two books.

Prudence earned a BA, an MA, and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She received her doctoral degree in 2007, with a major in South Asian Studies and Sanskrit. She has made presentations to conferences at numerous universities, including Harvard, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Hawaii. She’s taught courses at UC Berkeley and Rutgers University.

TM and Yoga

Prudence continues to teach the TM program in Florida. In fact, she’s the most successful teacher in the U.S. at setting up Affiliate Programs in yoga studios. Maybe that’s not so surprising, considering that she’s a lifelong yoga practitioner, and she opened a yoga institute in Boston back in 1967.

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Prudence attended India’s Kumbh Mela last year.

Maharishi Foundation created the Affiliate Program to bring TM to yoga studios and fitness centers. When a studio becomes an Affiliate, their members can learn TM at a reduced course fee, and the studio receives a share of the income. Everyone benefits—the new TM student, the yoga studio, and the local TM teachers.

Today most people think of yoga as a series of physical postures. But Maharishi has explained that in the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali identifies eight limbs of yoga, and the eighth limb is Samadhi or transcendental consciousness. Maharishi said that with the practice of TM, Samadhi is actually the easiest limb of yoga to achieve, since no effort is required. We simply tap into the natural tendency of the mind to go within, to transcend, and that transcendence nourishes and supports all the other limbs.

“I do think that Transcendental Meditation is—of the meditations that are available to us—the most direct, and the simplest,” says Prudence. “When you meditate, when you transcend, it allows your heart and mind to balance. And when they’re balanced, that’s when you are really healthy. You are happy. You’re happy mentally, happy emotionally, and happy spiritually. Those three are all components of what make a human being, so that connection to transcendence is absolutely necessary for health.”

Creating a Better World

Fortunately for us all, Prudence did come out to play.

“The years of meditating have enriched my life so much,” Prudence says. “And that’s why at this point in my life, I’m giving back. We need a better world. We need people to be more conscious, to be more evolved. And expanding the mind, like TM does, is absolutely vital to bring about stronger people. If you can strengthen people inside, you’ve changed the world.”

So even today, 48 years later, the “Dear Prudence” story continues.

[In July 2018, this article was updated and published in Enjoy TM News.]

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Last year, Prudence Farrow Bruns participated in a series of Consciousness Talks at Maharishi University of Management, called Our Conscious Future. Here is a clip from her talk where she discusses a conversation she had with George Harrison about his spiritual awakening. Prudence, George and John Lennon said they felt it was happening to many in their generation, and that it would continue long after they were gone. Listen to Prudence describe The “Dear Prudence” Story. For other fascinating presentations, visit ConsciousnessTalks.org.

Years later, The Beatles released many versions of their songs on the 50th Anniversary of The White Album, now out on Spotify, which include The Esher Tapes. There are 3 versions of Dear Prudence there: the Esher version of John Lennon singing on guitar; one of just vocal, guitar, and drums; and the 2018 mix.

Another beautiful song that John Lennon wrote about his experience with Transcendental Meditation was, Across the Universe. Spotify included John Lennon on guitar singing Across The Universe–Take 6.

This article was also published in GGN: World Peace News. Here are some related videos and interviews with Prudence Farrow Bruns: The Beatles “Dear Prudence”: A Portrait of Prudence Farrow Bruns, Maharishi and TM and Ted Henry interviews “Dear Prudence” Farrow Bruns about her life with TM and Maharishi and Prudence Farrow — subject of the Beatles song Dear Prudence — visits India’s Kumbh Mela.

Prudence’s memoir is now out: Dear Prudence: The Story Behind the Song. Listen to an interview with Prudence about the book online at Spirit Matters with Dennis Raimondi and Philip Goldberg. Read an interview about the book in Rolling Stone: The Real ‘Dear Prudence’ on Meeting Beatles in India. Read this excellent article in the Pensacola News Journal: Woman behind Beatles ‘Dear Prudence’ reads at Open Books. Here is another interview: In Conversation With: Prudence F. Bruns, Transcendental Meditation Teacher and Inspiration Behind “Dear Prudence”. Prudence Farrow Bruns | Conversations with Jeff Weeks | WSRE Pensacola PBS.

Watch the A&E biographical film, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on History International Channel (November 2007) and the earlier CBC documentary of Maharishi at Lake Louise. TMhome also posted the International History Channel documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: How it was made: The story behind the film.

Watch this November 8, 2018 Lyndsey Parker interview for Yahoo Music: Mike Love remembers ‘beautiful, spiritual’ beginnings of the Beatles’ ‘White Album’ in India.

Read The Story Behind ‘Dear Prudence’ by Jennie McKeon, Dec 23, 2018, for wuwf 88.1, NPR for Florida’s Great Northwest.

August 9, 2019: ‘Dear Prudence’ Bruns in Parade discusses world peace, the ’60s, and why kids love the Beatles.

Mike Love of the Beach Boys on Stories of Success

May 31, 2012

Here’s a good Interview With Mike Love of the Beach Boys posted May 29, 2012 on Stories of Success. He discusses how the band was formed, his creative output as a singer/songwriter, their stages of success, the impact of drugs and alcohol on their lives and careers, and more.

At about the 9:55 mark, Mike is asked the question of what kept him from getting caught up in drugs and alcohol, and the responsibility he had of acting as a role model. He answers by talking about his TM practice, how he was personally instructed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and later invited to join The Beatles and Donovan in Rishikesh. He continued with a discussion on karma and the results of our actions, why people choose to abuse drink and drugs and how different people react, finding one’s dharma or what you’re meant to do and enjoy doing the most, and persevering to fulfill your chosen career path. The video is posted on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/43009744.

See this great article, Mike Love, Not War, written by Virginia McEvilley for the Iowa Source when The Beach Boys came to Fairfield, Iowa for an outdoor Labor Day concert, sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation, on Monday, September 7, 2009.

Related stories: Beach Boys’ Mike Love recharges at The Raj, Beach Boy found life saving cure in Fairfield, Beach Boys concert ‘fun, fun, fun’ for all, Q & A with Mike Love, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on History International Channel (November 2007).

Billboard interview: Donovan Q&A: Catching Up With a Folk Rock Superman

April 12, 2012

In the three months since Donovan received the news that he will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he has stepped up his activity in front of the film, TV and music industries. He performed at  the Sundance Film Festival, made numerous private performances for music supervisors and delivered a sold-out chat and performance at L.A.’s Grammy Museum.

“Good Day L.A.,” the morning show of the Los Angeles’ FOX affiliate, devoted daily segments to Donovan during the last week of  March, culminating in a live performance on March 30. Next up is the induction ceremony on April 14, which will be followed by Sony Legacy’s release of “The Essential Donovan” on April 17. HBO will air the Hall of Fame ceremony/concert on May 5.

In an interview held at his daughter’s home in the Hollywood Hills, Donovan spelled out his plan for the Rock Hall concert. “‘Sunshine Superman’, I cannot not play, but I would like to preface it with an acoustic song, probably ‘Catch the Wind.’ We’ll follow with ‘Season of the Witch.’ It looks like Jim James of My Morning Jacket (will join in). We played together at Radio City for the meditation concert and I got on really well with him so I will have the younger generation there.”

The meditation concert he referred to was held in 2009 for the David Lynch Foundation that funds the teaching of Transcendental Meditation for school-age children. Donovan, who turns 65 in May, has been an avid supporter of the Lynch Foundation, contributing a track last year to “Download For Good: Music That Changes The World.” A copy of the CD was on the coffee table so our conversation, which would touch on  poets from the 18th century up through the Beat Generation, Bob Dylan and his last studio album, the underrated 2004 release “Beat Café,” began with TM.

Billboard: Last year we heard a new song from you, “Listen.” As one of the first and most visible people to experience TM in India, how has it affected your music?

Donovan: In the early days when the Beatles and I went to India and returned, we knew our fans should have it and then the world should have it. We needed it. Flash forward 35 years later (April 4, 2009) and Paul (McCartney) and Ringo (Starr) and Donovan and David Lynch are on the stage at Radio City Music Hall announcing to the world how schools have applied this meditation. Fear and anger and doubt have been subdued somewhat. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be angry or filled with doubt again, but you won’t hold on to it —  all things the Maharishi spoke of. This one was designed to be very applicable to the Western way of thinking. My dream was to (figure out) how do we bring in a new generation of songwriters? As it progressed, I wrote songs with meditation in them. The Beatles wrote songs with meditation in them.

What was the first song you were aware of writing because of TM?

“Happiness Runs” is the most direct one, which I wrote while in India with the Beatles and one Beach Boy (Mike Love) and Mia Farrow. Before India in ’68 I was always looking for songs where people could sing along. It’s part of the job to be a poet, folk singer — children’s songs, rounds, circular songs. And so I made this circular song “Happiness Runs” and it directly references meditation because it says ‘happiness runs in a circular motion/thought is like a little boat upon the sea.’ Simple words, but profound. More rocking was the “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” In the 18th century the hurdy gurdy man played the instrument the hurdy gurdy and he traveled from town to town and he brought the news. So I related the hurdy gurdy man in the song to the teacher, the Maharishi, who brings us songs of love.

When you said meditation affected your songwriting, the first thing I thought of was “There is a Mountain.” What’s its origin?

It comes from a Zen haiku, but it is a koan as well — the clever question asked of the student by the Zen master. “First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.” “The caterpillar sheds its skin/to find the butterfly within.” It’s very literal. If we could discard our skin, our hard husk of persona, it’s an obvious description that inside there is a softer human. I found (sayings) in old books and by putting them into songs, I hoped they would trigger a question in the listener. By giving it a rhythm it has an attraction — people were singing my lyrics not knowing what they were about.

On a certain level, you were far ahead of your time. Musicians of the last decade seem to understand you better than the musical community of the 1980s and ’90s. Have you sensed that?

I could sit cross-legged in front of 20,000 people and play solo with one guitar (in the early 1970s tours) and a pin could drop and (be heard). I assumed even then, that everything I was singing they knew. It was just a veil hiding it. That didn’t mean that the outside world would understand the Donovan magic or the songwriting. But I have been recognized, extraordinarily so, by the audience. We’re talking 17 top 100 singles, selling out all the great concert halls of the world — Sydney Opera House, Hollywood Bowl, Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall. One gets recognized by one’s peers and journalists who have a lot of experience and have studied and know where the various parts of my music came from.

There were so many facets to your music – there was a dramatic change from “Catch the Wind” to “Cosmic Wheels” and that’s just 10 years. What made you want to be more than a folk singer and bring so many other elements into your music?

I’m a sponge. When I was younger I absorbed so much music and (the story) is always the same — passed on by an older Bohemian who has a house that becomes a crossroads for visitors. Such a one was in the town of St. Albans for me. Such a one was in Minnesota for Dylan. It’s where the older Bohemian says I know what you’re up to; you better spend a few days with my record collection. In it is everything – folk, jazz, blues, classical, baroque, spoken word. I was so fascinated that I absorbed all of the styles, even the antique music of Sicily, rare flamenco from 1928. It was fascinating to me that I started dressing my lyrics in all kinds of costumes musically. Many of my contemporaries had one or two styles — folk, blues. But when I did “Sunshine Superman,” begun in 1965 and finished in May 1966, and presented so many genres blended, it was a natural thing to me. It represented what the Bohemian said: all the cultures should share the planet. That meant be brave, break the rules and walk over the genre lines and blend. I could see how it made me difficult to pin down.

At the beginning of it all, though, was folk music.

It was. (As a young boy) all the relatives would come around, the room would be cleared and a chair would be put in the middle. And a slightly tipsy relative would be pushed into the chair to sing their one song. These songs I didn’t know at the time, were folk songs from the Scottish and the Irish, about the troubles and the migrations.  Only later, when I was 15, did I learn these were called folk songs. After that my father’s record collection of Sinatra and my mother’s Billie Holiday and five-piece jazz groups from the ’30s and musicals. When I was 15 ,that would be Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly and I’d collect all the records. At 16, I plugged into a (college) campus for nine months and became aware of the older Bohemians who introduced me to the jazz club, the folk club and the coffee house and the art school and soon the blues club. After that it was easy for me to fuse (styles); I just wanted to see how far it could go. The base is always the same – the guitar and the vocal.

At some point early on, you made the decision to write songs, which many folk singers of the early 1960s did not do.

I much more wanted to be recognized as a poet than as a musician. Poetry is still looked upon as something ineffectual, narcissistic. In actual fact, the Bohemian poets in the ’40s,  their mission was to return poetry to popular culture. When you bring a poet into popular culture, two lines from a poem can alter a whole nation, it can bring a government down. The beat poets were wrong when they thought poetry would come back on the wings of jazz. Some poets were improvising with jazz improvisers in clubs, but improvisational poetry only works within improvisational music. When folk jumped into bed with rock, the form of the folk ballad would allow the new lyric (to thrive), first with Bobby Dylan then with myself and Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young. The Beatles realized it, too. They were from the Irish tradition of social activism  (in poetry) but didn’t know it. I somehow knew it, because my father had brought me up reading poetry to me of social change.  Before I heard Woody Guthrie, my father was reading poems of social consciousness to me —  Wordsmith, Coleridge, Shelly. I got fired with the zeal that we could bring something (literate) to the fans of pop music to get their teeth into.

You arrived in the U.S. as a folkie but sign to Epic and become a rock star. A conscious decision?

It came to a boil in May 1965 when Joan (Baez), Bobby and I met (as documented) in (the film) “Don’t Look Back.” At the time, folk singers, classical and jazz musicians released albums, pop music went on 45s. I was a bit ahead, releasing a single. That bit of harmless plastic, the 45, I realized was cheap, available and millions of Baby Boomers bought them. There was already something going on that I was joining (socially conscious folk-rock music). But the folk singers rebelled,saying ‘We’re not plugging in our banjos and guitars.’ Nobody understood that folk could meet pop or rock.

It wasn’t until 2004 when you did “Beat Café” that you really exposed the importance of poets on your work. Why did you decide the time was right for that project?

I was exploring the Bohemian cooking pot that was going on when folk and jazz and poetry were mixing in these special hangouts. (Producer) John Chelew suggested that I and (the bassist) Danny Thompson (record). He said ‘That’s unique when you and Danny play a drone. I’ll pay for it. Come in and we’ll do the drone for an hour.’ Before I went in, I couldn’t do just a drone. We were recording at Capitol so I thought I’ll write a song for Danny that will be like Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever.’ I’ll get  a bass line going and I’ll write about when we used to play in the clubs. It was simple. We went into the studio and did the track. My wife, Linda, was in the studio. She knows her stuff and says there’s only one drummer who can join this thing, (Jim) Keltner. In came Jim. Set up his whole kit never knowing what it was about, having never played with Danny. He’s got the big kit set up and  I went (sings bass line). He looked at me laughed, ‘OK I’m in.’ And we sang about life in the beat cafes.

Good as the album is, the shows were even better – you mixed talk about poets and their affect on your writing.

San Francisco was particularly touching because Michael McClure was there. He jumped on stage and did (a poem). In New York, in Joe’s Pub, a girl stood up on a table and pumped it out. Nobody knew her. I took it on tour in the U.K., but it wasn’t the same. Before I took it on tour, I said it can only be in a small room, a  Bohemian café and there just aren’t enough of them.

You’ve been active this year, getting out to places such as the Sundance Film Festival to perform at the BMI Snow Ball and at the musical instrument trade show NAMM. What will come out of this activity?

The music supervisors have always been friends of mine and (publisher) Peermusic is introducing me to all these (projects). I would love to do a soundtrack with the right director – I have a love of cinema and by extension TV and commercials. I’m fascinated that Gibson wants to make me a custom cherry red J-45, which I used for every album up through 1969. It was stolen in 1970 — a fan walked into a stadium in 1970 and out with the J-45. It’s never been returned. I carried around the J-45 nostalgically as a second guitar while I played my new custom guitar, the moon shaped guitar designed by Tony Zemaitis. When Gibson heard there was a wanted poster out, they decided to make a guitar. To have a custom guitar and then possibly a line of guitars for my fans, that’s a lovely thing.

VIDEOS

These videos were embedded in the interview: “Catch the Wind” — 1964, “Cosmic Wheels” — 1972, and Bob Dylan And Donovan.

Donovan Tribute Week on Good Day L.A. All week they were saluting Donovan as he gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Watch the Interviews in their Video Player.

Donovan Tribute Week, Poe Performs “Season Of The Witch”

Eric Burdon “Spills The Wine” Saluting Donovan!

Jackie DeShannon “Puts A Little Love In Our Hearts”

Smothers Brothers’ Tommy Gives “Big-ups” to Donovan

Spencer Davis “Keeps On Running” and Salutes Donovan!

Donovan Week Continues With Tribute From Jon Anderson of “YES”.

The Essential…Donovan!! – Live On Good Day L.A.: interview and singing

Listen to WKSU: Scottish singer-songwriter looks back at his career with WKSU’s Bob Burford: Donovan still mellow as Rock Hall honors awaits

Visit http://www.donovan.ie/en/ for more interviews.

Related posts: Ode to Donovan by Meghan for Altavoz: Conan introduces Donovan while holding the DLF Music vinyl box-set “Music That Changes The World” | Donovan Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame | Donovan and Ben Lee on Good Day LADonovan GDLA and Off-Ramp Interviews | Donovan to be Named Icon at BMI London Awards | Mellow Fellow Donovan





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