Millions of words have been written about the tumultuous and legendary life and career of Elvis Presley: from his humble birth and extremely poor years as a child in a little wooden shotgun two-room dwelling in Tupelo, Mississippi; to his musical beginnings as a teenager discovered at Sun Records by Sam Phillips; to his explosive surge to worldwide celebrity set in motion and handled by the colorful Colonel Tom Parker. Despite this array of facts, the truth is that the most dedicated and hardcore enthusiast who can discuss the tiniest bit of facts and trivia about his personal life and his career has no idea of what is most important and revealing : the essential core of the man born Elvis Aaron Presley, his lifelong quest for meaning and purpose.
I knew Elvis privately as a smart, sensitive man who set out on a lifelong search for wisdom and spiritual growth. Our mutual quest was our deepest bond. Elvis and I steeped ourselves in the wisdom of the world’s great spiritual teachings. Elvis and I poured over every book I could get my hands on. We researched and considered, explored and dug into, always looking for answers to the unanswerable, helping each other on the journey as we each searched for our own fulfillment. Together we analyzed the wisdom and philosophy of the ages, spiritual teachings of both East and West, exoteric and esoteric. There were no limits to the subjects we explored. We experienced meditation and spiritual healing. We enjoyed playing with numbers and words, developing brand new ways of discovering mystical meaning in the ordinary. Metaphysics communicated directly to Elvis’ basic desire to understand the mystery of life, and thus it came forth naturally from the core of his heart and soul.
Most of Elvis’ conservative thinking entourage and management couldn’t accept or deal with Elvis’ inner voyage. The very word spiritual invoked bizarre, foreign and weird thoughts and pictures to many of them. As a result, there were many years of misunderstanding and dissension.
The word “spiritual,” just like “God,” has many emotional and philosophical interpretations, isolating individuals from each other and leading to a great deal of misunderstanding and conflict. People who have never raised their eyes above the material world, who have never even caught sight of the realms of the divine, talk about the concept as if they know what they are talking about or they dismiss the whole idea as if they know what they are denying. Just as with the word “love,” the full concept of spirituality has been thrown about so casually that its meaning has become buried. We love our family, we love God; but we also love tv shows or pizza. Love is more than an emotional feeling; it’s a rich, powerful spiritual frequency, a unifying power that links us all.
Understanding our true selves is the heart of spirituality, to learn the nature of our connection to God. This search has been the basis of all the world’s great religious and spiritual teachings, and the aim of all the great spiritual masters. True spirituality is an attitude, a way of being, an expansion of our awareness and our experience with life; it is the art of meaningful living.
The fundamental theme of Elvis’ quest for meaning and purpose in his life was to comprehend what was asked of him, what he was called upon to give to the world. He understood his God-given talent and the music he created were a great gift he presented to his fans, and most people would have been satisfied with that as the purpose of their life. But it didn’t satisfy Elvis; he sincerely felt he was chosen at birth and he suffered in his passion to do more, to give more.
His fans sense that Elvis is more than the performer on stage or on records, that there was a vulnerability and innocence that shone through the flash and glamour.