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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by Lavanya Goswami

Just a week ago, John Lennon’s son, Julian performed for the first time, his father’s Imagine and dedicated it to the people in Ukraine, victims of an ongoing conflict. His father John had gotten the inspiration for writing the song from Julian’s step-mother and fellow artist Yoko-Ono. The song was Lennon’s political statement but it also became his commercial statement as it was the most sold single of his career. He held that Imagine was virtually the Communist Manifesto, even though he wasn’t a Communist and didn’t belong to any movement. The song has never really gone out of vogue and is considered the predominant pacifist’s anthem. Most recently and rather ironically, it was one of the theme songs for the recently concluded Beijing Winter Olympics. 

This was the idea behind the lyrics of the song according to Ono—”[It’s] just what John believed: that we are all one country, one world, one people.” The unity of all peoples everywhere is the underlying theme in virtually all conceptions of a Utopia in human imagination. The song’s name is quite telling in this light, implying that such a situation can only be conceived of in one’s mental space. Lennon considered Imagine as anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-traditional and anti-capitalistic, but thought it to be ‘sugarcoated’, seeking acceptability among the public. 

Imagine was written one morning in early 1971, on a Steinway upright piano at Lennon’s Tittenhurst Park estate in Ascot. It was nearly completed in a single writing session. Since its release, it has been played at every tragedy great and small, as a lament filled with hope, in the face of worsening realities. Lennon himself was murdered only nine years after this song came out, joining the long list of preachers of peace who have met violent ends. Many today claim that the song was written ahead of its time, while initially many claimed it was written far too late, the horrors of the second world war, fresh in their minds. The truth is that such a song is ever-relevant due to the most high and noble goal it sets out to achieve. Each generation strives to meet this insurmountable goal and fails but this does not diminish their motivation to keep striving. The pursuit of the good is not for some reward, if anything, the pursuit is its own reward.

And so, musicians who claim inspiration from Lennon will forever sing the familiar refrains which he expressed in Imagine, whenever the world is beset with hatred and violence. For Lennon, is not the only dreamer, his dream is the dream of humanity and it does not die with him. Collective sense of belonging and therefore action, which was characteristic of the psychedelic fueled Counter-culture revolution of the 60s and 70s is encapsulated in this song. It has the ability to stir the idealist within all of us, to encourage us towards pushing ourselves some more. 

In the most deep meditation, a hint of which is felt in sexual congress and psychedelic experiences, it is the overarching untiy of all there is, which is felt. This unity is the great dissolver of all imagined divisions. So, the exhortations of peace and non-violence are not out of some benevolence toward the ‘other’ but instead the recognition of its absence. Slapping oneself serves little purpose and thus is not advised and not because it hurts someone else. When the notion of ‘other’ completely evaporates, hatred and violence have no role to play. Armed with this Understanding the Buddhas, Jesuses and Mahaviras of this world have over millennia sought to bring about spiritual revolutions through their efforts. 

These have succeeded but not entirely and perhaps will never do so, as, the existence of the unjust and untruth is the progenitor of the just and the true. In Lennon’s song, we hear the wake up call for the good to rise from its periodic slumber and reduce the evil which it has allowed to exist. Knowing this scheme of things, the wise don’t lament the rise of evil. Established in the intransient and absolute unity of their true nature, they observe the play of the material world with amusement. They are as much affected by it as a lotus leaf is affected by water, submerged but untouched. Following in the footsteps of Lennon, let us too, make an attempt at climbing out the narrow and dark well of duality and entering the ocean of unity, love and harmony.

Srijay Raj

Ashoka '23

I am interested in spirituality, music, films and politics.