Charlotte Sawyer
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05 November, 2012

Changemakers sharing and exploring: A Photo Essay by Charlotte Sawyer

What does it mean to explore and share each other's faith, ideas of quiet time and inner peace and George Harrison's house at the same time?

On a sunny Sunday afternoon a group of School for Changemakers, an IofC UK programme for young changemakers, visited a Hare Krishna Temple in a mansion donated by the Beatle, George Harrison. Hare Krishna was a faith held by some of the young people in the group who were so happy to share part of their lives. Having an opportunity to understand and explore other cultures and faiths was enjoyed by the whole group. Even though each young person attending held their own view of quiet time and inner peace, they were able to enhance their understanding through another point of view.

Chetan Halai, who has been involved in School for Changemakers for three years, introduced us to Sutapta Das, our guide for the day. Sutapa is a resident monk of the temple who writes great blog here.

Sutapa took us for a walk around the grounds and the temple explaining his faith, how he came to be a monk and what the temple does in service to the community. Sutapa spoke of how he grew up in London, living his university life, but felt pulled to ask deeper questions of himself and moved to Bhaktivedanta Manor to focus on a life of 'simple living and high thinking.'

We were welcomed into the Temple where morning prayers were taking place. Some of the changemaker group prayed, some asked questions and others stood back and observed life in the temple. Our group consisted of young people who are from a range of faiths or no faith, backgrounds and passion for change but all with a common thread of wanting to engage and share with others. This was a great opportunity for just that! 

I have known Rupal and Sashi (pictured) for over three years and have enjoyed their friendship, food (they're both amazing cooks!), meeting their family and friends and finding new music to listen to! Sharing their faith was another aspect of their life that I could enjoy that day. 

Hare Krishna Monk who guided SfCM group around temple
Hare Krishna Monk who guided SfCM group around temple

Sutapa invited us to ask questions which ranged from 'why did you leave a normal life to become a monk?' to 'what does inner peace and quiet time mean to you?'. With a joyful smile on his face Sutapa described how, in order to find peace and allow that peace to change others he takes materialism and other distractions away from his life.

While I'm not planning to join a monastic order anytime soon I was challenged by his committment to not allowing distractions to get between him and God. My life can become so busy and I can react to situations emotionally instead of with grace and forgiveness. It was wonderful to receive an encouragement and a reminder to not allow distractions in my journey.

We walked past a member of the temple having a time of quiet.
We walked past a member of the temple having a time of quiet.

On our walk around the gardens we passed many of the temple members and visitors having times of quiet and reflection. I wondered what their distractions were and how busy their lives were. Some had come for the day like us, some lived there. It might seem easy to find peace overlooking a tranquil lake but quiet times are more than sitting in front of a beautiful view.

What do quiet times of reflection mean to you? How do you make sure that you take time from your busy schedule? It would be great to hear your thoughts.

Photos by Charlotte Sawyer

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