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41 years after they meditated together in India ... Donovan joins surviving Beatles at reunion gig

By Mike Merritt

Scottish sixties singer Donovan will join Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr when the two former Beatles play together for the first time in seven years at a special concert next month to help one million children meditate - in a recreation of the historic time they shared in India 41 years ago.

The folk singer famous for such songs as Mellow Yellow and Catch The Wind wants to open a transcendental meditation university in Scotland.

Now he is to join the ex-Beatles for a global benefit concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 4 to teach one million children the transcendental meditation technique - and change the world overnight.

Glasgow-born Donovan, Sir Paul and Ringo will appear with a host of other famous musicians and friends including Eddie Vedder, Sheryl Crow, Paul Horn, Laura Dern, Mike Love and more.

Donovan travelled to India with The Beatles in 1968 to learn transcendental meditation from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It turned out to be a profound experience for all of them.

His songs Hurdy Gurdy Man and Wear Your Love Like Heaven were inspired by his practice of transcendental meditation. In fact, the Beatles have said that most of the White Album was written while they were meditating in India with Maharishi.

Sir Paul is known to use meditation techniques and paid tribute to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the guru who brought transcendental meditation to the West, when he died last year aged 91.

"He was a great man who worked tirelessly for the people of the world and the cause of unity. I will never forget the dedication that he wrote inside a book he once gave me, which read; radiate, bliss, consciousness', and that to me says it all. I will miss him but will always think of him with a smile," said Sir Paul last year.

Donovan, 62, was one of the most popular British recording artists of his day, producing a series of hit albums and singles between 1965 and 1970. He became a friend of leading pop musicians including Joan Baez, Brian Jones, Bruce Springsteen and The Beatles, and was one of the few artists to collaborate on songs with the Beatles. He influenced both John Lennon and Sir Paul when he taught them his finger-picking guitar style in 1968.

But he formed an alliance - to popularise transcendental meditation - with film director David Lynch, famous for Twin Peaks. Now Donovan wants to set up a Scottish university.

The Invincible Donovan University will provide the traditional university subjects, but students will also undergo training in transcendental meditation. Donovan has said he would open the university in either Glasgow or Edinburgh, bringing the hippie dream of world peace to his home country.

The singer said he would like to be involved with some teaching at the university, particularly in relation to music, but his role would mainly be within a steering group for the project.

Lynch said he had practised the technique for more than 34 years. He said through his foundation he had found children undertaking meditation achieve better qualifications at school, boost their creativity, particularly in relation to the arts, and are more productive.

Next month the Change Begins Within concert will raise funds to teach one million at-risk children to meditate - giving them life-long tools to overcome stress and violence and promote peace and success.

Sir Paul said his transcendental meditation practice has helped him. "In moments of madness, it has helped me find moments of serenity," Sir Paul said. He added that he supports the work of the David Lynch Foundation to bring the technique to one million children. "I would like to think that it would help provide them a quiet haven in a not-so-quiet world."

Ringo Starr said: "It gives me great pleasure to be part of this evening. I feel the aims of this charity are wonderful."

Donovan added: "How great to be playing with Paul, Ringo, and Paul Horn again - as we did in India in 1968. Now we see the amazing results of our work from 40 years ago to bring meditation to the whole world. It's the same message today, which is, Change begins within.'"

The David Lynch Foundation has provided scholarships for more than 60,000 students. It also funds independent university research on the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on stress, learning, and behaviour. Visit www.DavidLynchFoundation.org

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INDIAN BUMMER

While the quest for inner peace may have helped refresh The Beatles' sound, their time at the Maharishi's ashram ended in bitter dispute when the spiritual guru allegedly propositioned the actress Mia Farrow.

Tensions had already been rising at the spiritual retreat, with Ringo Starr leaving early because he disliked the spicy food. A spat then followed between the music stars and their teacher, whom they accused of inappropriate behaviour towards Farrow. The stalemate resulted in John Lennon leading a walk-out after telling the Maharishi: "We're leaving," apparently adding: "If you're so cosmic, you'll know why."

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