Flagler student Kristin Kownacky went to listen to a visiting Hindu Swami in her quest to learn about other religions and came away feeling that religious enlightenment is tied closely to religious tolerance.
By Kristin Kownacky
All eyes were locked on the short, humble-looking man, as we waited for him to reveal his answer. If someone had dropped the proverbial pin, we all would have heard it, here in the hushed presence of a swami. Finally, after what seemed forever, monk Swami Prakashananda spoke.
“People get caught up in words,” he told us. “Our gaze must be turned to the direction the words are pointing.”
Some of us murmured in agreement as though we understood – yet maybe it was just in relief that he had spoken. As I re-read my notes, I felt embarrassed. I had no idea what he meant. But then, I was here to learn, wasn’t I?
Clad in a bright orange robe, in striking contrast against his dark skin and bright smile, this Chinmaya Mission monk was attempting to urge this eager group, as he had many others, to find in their hearts what they may already knew in their minds, or vice-versa.
Founded in 1953 in India, Hindu-based Chinmaya Mission has branches around the world teaching philosophy of Vedanta, the knowledge of the one Reality. In the common vernacular: helping those of any religious or cultural background to find happiness.
Prakashananda, a monk known as a Swamiji, or more commonly “Swami”, was taking a break from mission work on the Caribbean island of Trinidad to visit St. Augustine’s Chinmaya branch.