George Harrison Called His Scars ‘Instant Karma,’ According to His Wife

George Harrison called his scars “instant karma,” according to his wife, Olivia. She’s recently released a poetry book called Came the Lightening, 20 poems for George, the closest she’ll ever come to writing an autobiography. Olivia released the book because she wanted fans to know more about George and wanted it to come from her.

There’s one poem where she describes her husband’s physical features and his scars.

George Harrison speaking at The Beatles' Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1988.
George Harrison | Sonia Moskowitz/IMAGES/Getty Images

George Harrison called his scars ‘instant karma,’ according to his wife, Olivia

In a recent interview, AARP asked Olivia what she hopes readers will learn about George in Came the Lightening. While many people claim to know about George’s life, they don’t know the person she knew.

“His life is somewhat documented,” Olivia said. “People know about Hamburg and Liverpool. But I wanted people to hear it from me. I wrote ‘Tuum Corpus’ (‘your body’ in Latin) because I wanted people to know what he looked like, about how he got the scars on his fingers, his lessons in life.

“He said, ‘I speared a fish. It was so little. It looked so big through the mask. I threw it back, and it slashed my fingers. I had to squeeze lemon on my fingers.’ He called the scars instant karma.”

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The former Beatle knew a lot about karma

George believed in spiritual instant karma as well.

Many people know George was spiritual. He believed in Hinduism and the Hare Krishna movement. Religious texts often talked about reincarnation and karma. George spoke about them in his song, “Art of Dying.”

In the song’s lyrics, George says that if you don’t mind karma, your soul will be forced back to the earth for millions of years after you die if you aren’t careful.

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” George wrote in his 1980 memoir, I Me Mine. “… And the only way you escape the chain of Karma, going round and round again, is if you get the seed and you roast it so it can’t germinate (or fry the egg).

“We have to first of all not create more Karma – that is, more actions and reactions – like throwing a pebble into a clear lake, the ripples keep on going. Every thought, word, action or deed that we have is like sending a ripple out across the Universe and it does eventually come back. Whatever you do, it comes right back on you.”

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Olivia helped smooth the rougher edges that George had, his internal scars

Besides dealing with George’s external scars, Olivia also had to deal with his internal ones too, especially when she first met him.

“There was a bit of dusting to do, a bit of clearance,” Olivia said. “I was, like: ‘Look, if we’re going to have a family, we’re going to have a relationship.’ He had a bit of a cloud over his head.

“He had a furrowed brow we used to call ‘the mark of the beast.’ Getting completely outside of the music business was refreshing for him. It allowed him to do normal things, go to normal places. And having a child shifts your life’s view.”

George dealt with his internal and external scars as best he could. He got even more external ones during a 1999 home invasion that left him with multiple stab wounds. Later, in his last years, he underwent several surgeries to help stop his cancer. None of his treatments worked.

However, as he died, his son Dhani said he didn’t have a scar on his body. George was like a yogi. He transcended this earth and went somewhere he’d been trying to get to his whole life, somewhere better. Karma couldn’t keep him here.

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