John Lennon: “Physically Violent with his first Wife, he Evolved.”

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He wasn’t all icon. He was human:

This life is a path. None of us are perfect. All of us make mistakes. Some of us make mistakes that hurt others. The question is: which direction will we travel? Will we wake up? Tomorrow is the anniversary of John Lennon’s tragic death. Let us honor the real man, not the icon—and in so doing embrace our own failures so that we might engage our potential to be of benefit to others. ~ ed.

For more: Amazing Animation of 1969 Lennon Interview [Great Video on Peace!]


“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Getting Better all the Time:

It is a diary form of writing. All that “I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved” was me.

I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically — any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am not violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence.

I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.


“Today I learned John Lennon was not as peaceful of a man as so many believe. He was physically violent toward women, and beat his first wife, Cynthia Lennon.”

“I used to be cruel to my woman I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved…Man I was mean but I’m changing my scene and I’m doing the best that I can.”
~ John Lennon

He wasn’t all love. He was human.

He could be unpleasant. He beat his first wife. He evolved. Mostly. He could be cruel to his sons.

And yet, he’s revered as a modern secular hippie peace loving saint.

Both can be true. We create idols, we put said idols on pedestals, only to knock them off and crush them. He never claimed to be perfect. His karma was inherited, and he did mostly good, wonderful, world-changing things with it.

He was well aware of his failings. He did his best, which was sometimes horrible, terrible, sad…and usually wonderful, something to be grateful for. He admitted his worse, singing about it in several songs (below). He was transparent—which is a kind of brave openness that helps to end a problem, a habitual pattern.

Moral of the story: humans change, evolve. Give peace a chance.

All we need is love?


As one Redditor comments:

“I think Jimi Hendrix takes the cake for being an asshole to women. He beat the shit out of one of his girlfriends with a public telephone after he thought she was calling another man. He also hit another girlfriend with a bottle of booze because he was drunk and got jealous, she later required stitches

And we won’t even get into Clapton.

Another Redditor:

In other news, politicians that shout the loudest about “family” bang the most prostitutes, and activists that call someone else “oppressive” are the most oppressive when it comes to others’ opinions.

Everyone judges everyone else through the lens of their own faults.

Write that down.


In response to McCartney’s line, “It’s getting better all the time”,

Lennon replies, “It can’t get no worse!”[5]

Referring to the lyric “I used to be cruel to my woman/I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved/Man I was mean but I’m changing my scene/And I’m doing the best that I can”, Lennon admitted that he had done things in relationships in the past that he was not proud of.

I’d rather see you dead little girl than to see you with another man: catch you with another man, that’s the end, little girl:


Read more:

John Lennon on Love & Happiness.

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anonymous Jun 19, 2015 2:45am

I had my suspicions for many years that Imagine was not John Lennon’s style of songwriting, it was Yoko’s.
Check out her writing style in songs like Who Has Seen The Wind or her bits in Luck Of Thr Irish then compare them to Imagine. Recently I read an article about John’s regret for not giving Yoko a songwriting credit for the song.
Imagine might be John’s tune but it is surely Yoko’s lyrics and style.

anonymous Jan 22, 2015 1:34pm

It makes me wonder… where do we draw the line in regards to giving someone a second chance? Let's say Lennon had lived to this day, and the past 30 years had been spent making amends and truly changing as a person. How much of his "past self" would be absorbed into the judgement of his "present self"? The self is ever changing. It is not the unitary, perpetual entity we believe it to be. Neuroscience has revealed the illusion of the self to that degree.

anonymous Nov 15, 2014 4:31pm

lennon was a violent man. please do not make any excuses for him. actions speak louder than words. he beat both of his wives. he nearly beat a man to death for making a pass at him. he urinated on nuns. it does not matter if another celebrity or any one else harmed more people or did more damage to a larger number of people than lennon it doesn't make lennon's actions any less deplorable.

anonymous Nov 15, 2014 4:29pm

and how would the many lennon fans feel about someone else committing the same acts of violence?

anonymous Sep 24, 2014 6:52pm

wealth and british blood money allowed him to 'evolve'

all the 'regret' and self hating and 'words' in the world would be instantly irrelevant upon actually witnessing his real life violent actions

they come to you in sheep's clothing but really they are ravenous wolves

    anonymous Sep 25, 2014 9:10am

    We agree. John Lennon was perfectly human.

anonymous Mar 6, 2014 10:57am

This Anaïs Nin quote struck me (pun intended) as I read through this: “We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

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anonymous Mar 10, 2013 2:53pm

There is a saying: “People will forgive a man of anything, if they like him.”

I have been amazed over the years, when people first learn about what an ahole Lennon really was, how they will knock themselves out to justify him, so they can keep him as one of their personal gods. They don’t care one bit about Lennon or what he stood for etc.; they interwove his success personae as a demi-deity in their minds and they cannot stand the psychological reconstruction they’d have to go through to extract him from that tapestry.

If you were hearing the same details about Joe Nobody, I doubt the reaction would be so generous.

Lennon head-kicked one of the first guys in their band to death (i.e., murder, pointless murder). Please note that said man was Lennon’s BEST FRIEND.

Following that, was he changed?

No, that is when he began with beating and doing cruel and sick things to his wife and other women, which went on for YEARS. Certainly you know how he treated his children?

The only reason the guy came across publicly the way he did was due to his media P.R. gurus. The Lennon you think you know is a commercially marketed fiction.

It gets worse, if that is even possible. Lennon was friends with the Manson gang – you know, the people who gutted a young pregnant women, among others, for fun. The Beatles used to hang out at Manson’s home and party with those freaks. Who do you think Sexy Sadie was? He thought she was sexy because she did this little death-eater show naked in a coffin they kept in the living room. If you don’t think that black magick thing he flaunted on the cover of St. Pepper’s wasn’t real, or was a joke, then hey, Peace and Love and Light while they knife your wife and child and use their entrails to write poetry on the walls of your home.

As to a few other points, did it ever occur to you how many children Lennon actually produced, that he has denied? I happen to know one (I grew up in the entertainment industry).

I didn’t think it was any wonder that he ended up being shot, with his karma.

I do believe that people can try to change, and on rare occasions actually change. From what I heard, Lennon continued to be abusive and sick to his friends, family, then-wife Yoko, and strangers, right up until his death.

So I must ask: If we weren’t talking about John Lennon, your hero, but just some unknown guy, how embracing of this darling would you feel then? Would you want to live next door to such a person as is described above? You are all in love with an image that was created to market popular music.

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anonymous Mar 5, 2013 3:27am

The way that Lennon was transparent concerning his weaknesses is significantly all the more charming. We need to figure out how to do less judging and take a gander at ourselves. Stay with your practice, ruminate, growing each day and do no damage. Don't let individuals that attempt to miracle you do So.

anonymous Jan 31, 2013 10:12pm

Typical, when it comes to white men beating, raping, killing and abusing it's "ohhh we are allllll human" when it comes to a woman saying that she is sick of how she is treated she is a "nagging harpy."

Just another white man woman basher, the world is full of them and the world congratulates them.

anonymous Jan 24, 2013 4:19am

[…] Title of a 20th century song,” led me to choose “Imagine” by the late, great John Lennon. When John Lennon wrote this song, he was imagining an ideal world, a better […]

anonymous Jan 1, 2013 9:09am

[…] […]

anonymous Nov 11, 2012 1:38am

[…] unfortunately it was also part of who a lot of celebrities were, including the secular saint himself  John Lennon. I try not to excuse or explain evil. However if you’re living in the US you’re living […]

anonymous Oct 9, 2012 9:24am

Happy John Lennon's Birthday! Another Lennon quote on this subject: I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically — any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything's the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster."

anonymous Aug 14, 2012 7:36am

Using "everyone has a past" as a lunching point, I'd like to remind us all that those who live life in a way that potentially makes us "glassy-eyed morons" are aware of our pasts too, and are by no means claiming that we are perfect because we choose to focus more heavily on the potential of our light rather than our darkness. Like all self-awareness, these people already know their own darkness; it is what makes it possible for them to feel and see their own light. And acknowledge the light and darkness in others. And yet if we don't have ideals, then what are we moving towards in life? Just because everyone here isn't writing about all of their self-regrettable actions and constantly bleeding on the page, doesn't mean they aren't aware, or that they are claiming to be perfect. It certainly doesn't make them any less credible because they see the value and beauty of their life despite the darkness that exists all around. We are all perhaps in different stages of our own self-evolutionary processes, and this informs the perspective from which we see and experience the world. It is interesting that it seems to be that compassion and acceptance for the "glassy eyed morons" here is seemingly most difficult. If we are compassionate for those who are noting their shortcomings, why do we begrudge those who choose to share their light the same acceptance and compassion? "Give Peace a Chance."

anonymous Aug 1, 2012 8:05am

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. (Not my quote, ha ha, I'm not that smart….but I guess it's always been true….)

anonymous Aug 1, 2012 7:50am

I've known about similar details for a long time. He was definitely a complicated man. I was raised by a similarly complicated man.
If there is one thing I would caution against it is too much idealism. What sets off people like this is their conflicts with the way they expect their lives to be and how they are in reality.
I am a dreamer and an idealist; however, I have taught myself that striving for ideals and expecting ideals are two very different things. I also recognize that I cannot and should not try to control others. Persuade, inspire, encourage…all of that yes, but not control.
For some, these seem like common sense, but for many, they are not. For many, the difference between shiny ideals and gritty life is too great a conflict to resolve.
That is very sad, self-destructive habit, often leading to abuse of those who love them most deeply. They build things up, only to tear them down when the reality is not as perfect as their ideal.
So, take his outstanding lessons, but also work on learning the lesson that he hadn't truly learned:
Strive for ideals with an open heart with the understanding that reality is not shiny and perfection lies somewhere between what we imagined and what we receive.

anonymous Jul 31, 2012 1:05am

“Today I learned John Lennon was not as peaceful of a man”……. And so on and so forth… Today I learned by my own actions I am not as peaceful of a man as I would like to be so from this day forth I will do what is within my power to change that in hopes that I will find the peaceful nature that is inherently within. Gandhi said “Be the change that you would like to see in others.” Perhaps this gentleman we are speaking of did just that. However it is most interesting to see the emotions posted here due to the reactions of what was shared. If we are to look deeply into this we will see that it is our perceptions that have illuminated these thoughts.

Perhaps this man was a man of peace and perhaps he was not however it is still our judgments that create this perspective. Through our own expectations we believe this man should be this or that and when we find out otherwise our emotions come forth and then disappointment sets in for his actions do not align with our expectations. Sogyal Rinpoche says “Expectations are premeditated disappointment”. A friend of Oprah says “Forgiveness is letting go of the idea that the past will be anything different than what it is.” Whenever we look to another to find the answer to what will bring peace to our heart we have already given our own Divine power away. Perhaps it would be best to learn from another actions in order to see into the depths of our own hearts without apply judgment to the actions we have witnessed. For when the time comes it will be our actions that our judged and not how we have judged others’ actions.

The word maya (Sanskrit: cosmic illusion) leads us to believe we are separate from –All That Is- when in fact we are the whole… We are the Divine… We are the –All That Is-…. Each of us AS A WHOLE.
This heart shines, smiles and bows unto yours with peace, love and humility. May you find that which is unseekable as it has always been within. Namaste.

anonymous Jul 31, 2012 12:27am

Castillo oh well nobody is a perfect angel…no such thing…we gotta learn from out mistakes!!!! hahahahahha

Heidi H This is not news

Miriam D ugh.. what about Yoko??

Chase P Man, must've been tough being her with SO many people not understanding that or knowing that about him. Oof.

Gertrude C ‎"It takes two to tango." -my sainted mother.

Narayan S I am the same generation as his son Julian, and I resonated with his feelings towards his father, as my father, of John's generation and Hippie just the same, did the same thing to me; he almost abandoned me, lavishing love and attention on his new children with his second wife and preached and preached free love, peace, connecting with other humans – when he couldn't even settle down his feelings for my mother, or share with me? That, in my, and Julian's book was called a very big Hypocrite, but we both have learned to forgive over time….

Dylan Barmmer Was he drunk?

Andrea Garcia Honestly, who cares? He already died. It is what is it.. we can't do anything about something that already happened.

Suresh M. Nair can't 'like' this, its disturbing. however a disconnect between aspiration and reality is not necessarily hypocrisy, especially if he realized his fault and tried to evolve beyond it. perhaps he grew more mature with age, and by being with Yoko Ono. some partners enable that growth.

Elizabeth Shaw yoga – union of body and spirit… what does this have to do with that? John Lennon is long gone and did plenty to contribute to our collective consciousness. this article seems to be something of a tabloid story.

Suresh M. ‎Andrea, it matters because later on in his life he became a very visible spokesperson for world peace. people would want to know that he walked the walk, not just talked the talk.
or as Shakespeare wrote in 'Julius Caesar': "the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."

Stacey Rizzi N It matters not…..rumors and heresay..we were not there to see. May he rest in peace…. Om shanti

Rhema Flowers And why do we need to know this now????

Amani D I agree with many of the above comments. What is the point of posting this?

Debbie Z It was that vulnerability that made me love him, he struggled with his nature, his duality. He made my heart ache, I hope to meet him on the other side.

Debra K anyone who is a Lennon fan knew this info decades ago – its old news…….its not even news……

Anna S What does this have to do with anything? Wow, John Lennon was a human and did BAD things. Please. The man and his entire life was more important than the collection of stories of his faults. Let him rest in peace.

Suresh M. I believe knowing this – if its true, as some people have pointed out – matters, because we tend to idolize people like John and remember only the good things – because WE are uncomfortable with the rest, not necessarily out of concern for him. as many have said, he's dead – so why should he care what we think or say? then why not remember him honestly and appreciate his efforts to evolve? its a much more human story.

Latasha T Agreed, old news. Hyped media. Leave it be. The story is in the journey not the destination. Let's be more open to seeing the larger picture Otherwise… peace out .

Paula G If you would take the time to read any of Lennon's last interviews, you would see how he deeply regretted the man he had been, admitted his faults openly, and did whatever he could do to be a better person. He never claimed to be a saint of any kind…only an artist doing his best to reflect some light into the world.

Paula G ‎"I'm not claiming divinity. I've never claimed purity of soul. I've never claimed to have the answer to life. I only put out songs and answers questions as honestly as I can…But I still believe in peace, love and understanding." – John Lennon

Michelle L Figures!

Elizabeth S reflecting light into the world seems like a fine topic for elephant journal to cover…unless I am misunderstanding their mission.

Carol Anne The movie 'Dinner with Jimmie" portrays him as a dick. Amazing: a lot of comments saying, in effect, "domestic abuse doesn't matter—this man is a saint!" First of all, wow. Wrong. Second of all, this article is not a criticism—he was, to his credit, open about his hitting, even wrote lyrics about it that Paul sang (read. the. article.) He evolved. And that is his greatest example and inspiration.

Character is not "being perfect." Character is starting where we are and then improving, learning, opening up. That's why he's a hero, or should be, to so many.

anonymous Jul 30, 2012 11:37pm

“I’m not claiming divinity. I’ve never claimed purity of soul. I’ve never claimed to have the answer to life. I only put out songs and answers questions as honestly as I can…But I still believe in peace, love and understanding.” – John Lennon

anonymous Jul 30, 2012 11:22pm

Wow. If you would take the time to read any of Lennon's last interviews, you would see how he deeply regretted the man he had been, admitted his faults openly, and did whatever he could do be a better person. He never claimed to be a saint of any kind…only an artist doing his best to reflect some light into the world.

    anonymous Jul 31, 2012 12:28am

    That's what I say below…he was open about this, even writing this in lyrics. Did you read the article? I agree wholeheartedly with your points, and love the below quote.

      anonymous Jul 31, 2012 8:54pm

      TY for responding! 🙂 Yes I did read your piece, but still felt compleeled to mention Lennon's final interview, a marathon session done to promote Double Fantasy by the BBC. Part of the reason Lennon has been a hero to me was his breath taking honesty and humilty when it came to his personal life. I also suggest seeing the film "The U.S. Vs John Lennon" to see why he does deserve being remembered as a person who worked for peace…even when the price was his own liberty to remain in America.

anonymous Jul 30, 2012 10:55pm

This may be the best truest, real thing I've ever read on this site. Untill now I really felt everyone here was a glassy eyed moron. Maybe not…….Maybe.

anonymous Jul 30, 2012 8:00pm

Dr Dre likes to rap about how he beats up on women. nothing has changed.

anonymous Jul 30, 2012 4:57pm

Most of us strive to be better persons as we go through life. The fact that Lennon was transparent about his shortcomings is even more endearing. We need to learn to do less judging and look at ourselves. Stay with your practice, meditate, smile every day and do no harm. Do not let people that try to upset you do so.

anonymous Jun 8, 2012 12:23pm

[…] use of vocabulary. Though Buddhist and yogic terms were becoming popular between the 60s and 70s, John Lennon even singing of “Instant Karma,” the word was still not one well understood by the masses or […]

anonymous Jun 1, 2012 6:16pm

great post!

yea there is also a story that in the amphetamine-fueled hamburg days before they became famous lennon beat a man so badly and left him where he lay – it haunted john that he may have killed him…

he was at different times an angry protestor, a junkie, a guru follower, a guru exposer, he got into primal scream therapy, and was famously rude and insulting to interviewers who bored him with talk of the mop tops after he had moved on from the band.

an excerpt from the wiki page about the albert goldman biography "the lives of john lennon: " Among Goldman's most serious charges are that Lennon was not only instrumental in the murder of a sailor whom he met in Hamburg, but also in the death of bandmate Stuart Sutcliffe. Goldman states that Sutcliffe's death was the long-term result of severe kicks to the head administered by Lennon in a fit of drunken rage. He also alleges that Lennon caused the death of an unborn baby he'd conceived with Yoko Ono during 1968, when he kicked the pregnant Ono in the belly during an argument."

the fact that he was an icon for the anti war movement was never a claim of sainthood!

also not so sure he "evolved"….. his heroin and cocaine use was in the later years of his life.

let's just say he was a complex character – and one can be opposed to war between nations yet still deeply conflicted, angry, addictive and even abusive, AND one of the greatest rock musicians and songwriters of all time…

anonymous Jun 1, 2012 10:12am

Scott Medina: #
Just read a little of Beatles' bio books and you'll hear a lot more about the many sides of John's personality. Idealism and cynicism all mixed in together. Not a bad thing if he's remembered for the peaceful/activist side, but that's certainly only a part of the picture.

Kristina Dalton · 18 mutual friends
Yes, he also left his first son, Julian, out of his will.

Kristina Dalton · 18 mutual friends
Instant Karma and Mind Games are 2 of my favorite songs. I choose to focus on the essence of the person who wrote these masterpieces (while not idealizing him, either).

Jered Morgan Googley eyed versions of idealized moral behavior are never the full story. For anybody. Ever. And that's a good thing.
3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
Swami Vigneshwara · 14 mutual friends
everyone's got b*llshit, and the flowers that grow from that manure. Some are remembered for the BS while others are for the flowers. It's still very clear to me that sincerity is the key in this matter. If a person shows the flowers more often ( insincere ) they are remembered as a great person. If they show the BS (honest or true nature) they are remembered for that. Why?? simple…. People are f*ckin dumb. Yes that's right kids, the honest ppl are hated, and the BS fakes are adored. Thus, i'm happy not to be mr. popular 😀

anonymous Jun 1, 2012 4:37am

Just intro'd on FB to: I'm Not Spiritual, Family, Culture & Equal Rights.

anonymous May 31, 2012 9:37pm

Great Post Waylon. Everyone's looking for hero's and it's easy to hate on them when they prove to be human. Lennon is a wonderful example of a man who has had many failings, owned some, learned from them and dedicated a big part of his life to creating postiive change. At times I question if all is truly forgivible, but like to think everything can be; that we are all mistaken in times of fear, though certainly abuse should never be condoned. My instinct is that the impact Lennon had creating awareness and change in the world far outweighs his "sins". Perhaps it was the combination of "awareness" and "regret" that inspired such revolutionary change in the world so in a way, perhaps all of it, the good and bad, was a ncessasary part of Lennon's inspiration to ultimately do his good in the world…. Either that or he's just a flawed man with some blind spots who writes some kick ass music. 😉

anonymous Jul 30, 2012 6:33pm

Those words are McCartney singing a McCartney song. Not Lennon. Duh!

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.