Larry Geller - kåseri

Larry Geller som var den person som stod Elvis närmast intellektuellt, är också gästskribent i vår bok ”Världen Känner Elvis Presley…”, skickade ett mejl till oss där han konstaterade: 

Bruno, jag läser boken om och om igen... med risk att låta som en papegoja – det är den bästa boken om Elvis som någonsin utgivits!

Larry Geller hjälpte även Elvis att bygga upp ett imponerande bibliotek på ovanvåningen i Graceland. Böckerna står där ännu idag. Han har skrivit nedan kåseri, exklusivt dedikerat till våra läsare. Kåseriet handlar om Lake Shrine och The Meditation Garden på Graceland, där Elvis ligger begravd.

Larry Geller - kåseri

Meditation Garden at Graceland

Text: Larry Geller

Elvis Presley’s creativity was abundant, and certainly evident in his music: in his vocal presentation, his performance on stage, and in every aspect of his career. But his creativity went beyond that arena; it was infused into every element of his life, whether it was his unique manner of dress or his very personal philosophy of life.

Elvis embarked on a lifelong quest for meaning and enlightenment, far from his world of the glittering lights of show business and the trappings of fame and fortune. He drew upon diverse sources for inspiration and guidance, his inner being finding comfort and refuge in the world’s great Wisdom Teachings. His growing need to be close to and understand the nature of God and his own place in God’s universe was paramount.

One of the many sources Elvis turned to was the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. These teachings spoke to him in a very personal way, and he asked me to bring him to the world famous Lake Shrine that Yogananda had founded, not far from Elvis’ home in Bel Air, California.

Perched in a small ravine near where Sunset Boulevard meets the Pacific Coast, the chapel grounds meticulously cared for by the monks is a natural wonder to behold. Its lush gardens and natural spring-fed lake are home to a variety of flora and fauna including white swans, ducks, koi, and lotus flowers. It has rushing waterfalls, fountains, colorful flower beds, inspirational statues, lacy fern grottoes, lily ponds, and even a picturesque old Dutch windmill that serves as a chapel. The grounds include a Court of Religions honoring the five principal religions of the world; the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial, where a portion of Gandhi’s ashes is enshrined; a small museum with exhibits on Paramahansa Yogananda’s work; and a gift shop with arts and crafts from India.

Elvis loved to walk around the lake and meditate in this oasis in the midst of his fishbowl life. As he walked toward the chapel on that first visit to the Lake Shrine, some visitors passed him on the path and looked up in recognition. They nodded a silent hello, smiled, and kept on walking. Elvis was impressed by this respect for his privacy. “Perfect,” he told me. “This is exactly the way I thought it would be.”

Several weeks after that first visit to the Lake Shrine, we drove back to Memphis for a few months of relaxation after completing filming of Elvis’ latest movie. One afternoon at Graceland while we were strolling around the grounds, Elvis pointed to an area and said softly, “Larry, I want to have a meditation garden, right here, just like the one at the Lake Shrine. We can come out here; you know, just kick back, relax, talk or even meditate if we want to. I’ve always loved this part of Graceland, especially by that wishing well over there; that’s my favorite spot. There’s something really special about it here, it just feels right.”

Elvis always got what he wanted, and the Meditation Garden at Graceland came into being. His spirit felt at home there, just as at the Lake Shrine – and now he rests in that special place that felt so right to him.

Elvis’ Search for Meaning and Purpose

Text: Larry Geller

Elvis was a musical genius whose voice struck a chord in the hearts of millions, unlike anyone in history.  With the face of an Adonis, he burst upon the cultural scene like a powerful comet, disrupting and transforming the course of music, style, and our lives forever. Guitar slung over his shoulder, he radiated a magnetic sexual force and soft smoldering sulkiness, inspiring and provoking the imagination of generations to come. 

The great American conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein said Elvis was “the greatest cultural force in the Twentieth Century…”

He gave us the hillbilly singer, the opera star, the sex symbol, the preacher; his voice had a quality that transformed itself to the message of the songs he sang, with a twang or a soft croon or a profound depth of feeling for the holy. In return, we gave him our undying love and adulation. Most importantly, he touched our souls and we believed him. 

His fabled, turbulent life and career are legendary: from his humble birth and impoverished childhood in a tiny wooden two-room house; to his musical beginnings as a teenaged truck driver; to his meteoric rise to international fame. 

But who was this man who changed music and culture forever? What was the root meaning of Elvis’ life? It’s easy to see him as larger than life, a man of excessive talent and beauty – and excessive weakness. What you see isn’t always what you get. The Elvis I knew, the private Elvis, was an intelligent, sensitive and thoughtful man who embarked on a lifelong quest for meaning and enlightenment. 

“The world knows Elvis Presley all right,” he said emotionally, “but they don’t know me,” poking his chest. “What my fans and everyone need to know is that I’m a spiritual person. If they don’t know that, they’ll never know who I really am, and what makes me tick. Ever since I was a little kid and growin’ up, I felt this unseen hand behind me, guiding my life, an’ getting me to the point where I am now. I mean, why me? Of all the millions and millions of lives in the world why was I chosen to be Elvis Presley?  Why was I chosen to live, and not my twin brother Jesse Garon who was born dead?” Elvis sat in silence for a moment; his eyes fixed on the ground, and then looked up. “An’ I always wondered what would’ve been if he had lived.” 

By twenty-one he was catapulted into a man of destiny. He had already drunk deeply from fame and fortune. He was a living legend who could live anywhere, go anywhere, do anything. Yet far from the intensity and dizzying heights of success and fame Elvis’ isolation from real life increasingly gnawed at him. “Why me; what does God want of me, how do I really fit into the big picture?” These and many more questions sprang from the core of Elvis’ lifelong, ongoing quest for answers, meaning and purpose. 

I feel so privileged to have shared Elvis’ spiritual quest, as we both searched and probed, always looking for answers to the unanswerable, each looking for his own purpose and helping the other along the way. He and I pored over every book in the world I could lay my hands on. Together we studied ancient wisdom and philosophy, religions of both East and West, exoteric and esoteric. Nothing was off bounds for our inquiring minds. We practiced meditation and spiritual healing. 

Elvis found refuge in an exotic and mystical realm, as far from his world of the glittering lights of show business and the trappings of fame and fortune as you can get. Here his inner being felt at home, comfortable and safe. 

Elvis read passages slowly and silently first, then read them aloud, as if he were trying in this way to impress their meaning on his consciousness. He would thumb through pages eagerly and then suddenly stop. When he was struck by a paragraph, sentence or a word, he would underline it. Many of his books contain notations and reminders in their margins. 

Elvis died in 1977, but his legend and what he meant to people are bigger than ever. He made an indelible impression that no book or motion picture could wholly capture. It’s as intangible as the invisible thread by which his own spirit moved, as he flashed through our lives and left his smile in our hearts.