“I hate the Tories, Labour are economic wazzocks, the Greens are on another planet..I hate you, you’re getting blocked for that ****” some of the abuse bandied around on social media at the minute, in a world where friends fall out over a misplaced re-tweet or a misguided facebook comment..Can’t we all just get along? Dark times , and so searching for some inner peace, on a surprisingly warm spring evening I set off for the Chester music theatre in Boughton. Tonight’s co host is Chester Forest schools.
The music theatre is another of the city’s excellent and unsung venues, lost in the “no theatre” haze (see previous blog). Previously I had attended a Dr Sketchy art event there in 2013, and looking at their website they have a full programme over the summer(http://www.chestermusictheatre.com/mainsite/) .. The Beatles tribute act looks quite good. The theatre is the venue for regular dance and theatre classes including the popular Swing stompers. Back to the main event, which had been well promoted via posters and social media. I knew very little of the Hare Krishna’s , but had enjoyed seeing them parade around London in the past, and am a big fan of George Harrison’s eastern influenced work,
We were greeted by one of the organisers, Manish, from Manchester, the fragance of a pungent incense filling the air. Manish explained that he ran regular classes in Manchester Chester and Wrexham and we took our seats neat the front. We looked forward to an insight into another culture, another way of thinking and learning as much as possible, information and chameleon like behaviour has always been the way of @Shitchester and tonight was to be no different. The night began with a fantastic musical performance, beautiful vocals and chanting a magazine rack like musical instrument later revealed to be a harmonium… it was pretty hypnotic, relaxing and soothing and went on for about 20 minutes. I closed my eyes and imagined my phone was off, there was nothing to tweet and I was drifting down the Ganges in a fully air conditioned boat. The crowd of about 80 received it enthusiastically.
The Hare Krishna host for the evening was a softly spoken Scot. He explained the roots of the movement, which is associated with India , “but like many philosophies they transcend geographical and historical boundaries” Its core beliefs date back to ancient Hindu sacred texts but the movement itself was founded in the mid 1960s by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Originally based in America, the movement spread to London where George from The Beatles took a great interest. Next up was some dance, set to Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun, appropriate for the season and a pleasing mix of eastern /western traditions. The host (name forgotten sorry) stated that part of the inspiration for the song was Harrison searching for the sunshine in the darkness of the material world. “It’s alright, it’s alright” the lyrics soared.
Next up was a short video which “in a fun way” asked us to consider the nature of existence and what defines our identity- always a good point for an anonymous twitter account. “Who am you?” the interviewer asked various people milling around Camden town. Most gave their names, but on a deeper level, who are we ? And do we even know ourselves? Are we our heart, our brain, our soul? That day I’d read about a proposed head transplant… what would happen to that individual… what would happen if we put our brains inside cybernetic bodies like Cybermen from TV’s Doctor Who. “If you took your brain out and put in on the table would that be you?”
There then followed a quite surreal dramatic performance, mimed by 3 actors, depicting life as a metaphorical train journey for the soul including some great lines…” you’ll have to get a train to lower species and change a few times” and “this is Diseasechester”… Again, thought-provoking and got the message across well with some silent movie style antics. The host returned, poetically describing the journey of our physical bodies through life as “pieces of seaweed in a storm.. the ups and downs, the bad things, the good things, but its all in a sense temporary”
A new speaker took the stage, I will call him John as he was a Scouser. “ I won’t tell you what part of Liverpool I’m from or you’ll know how common I am “ he laughed. He explained that the team travel all over the UK and always have a huge presence at the Glastonbury festival. “You’re welcome to join us if you want, we have a barber out the back!” All in good humour. He reiterated the belief in physical decay, everything dies and everything has its time, from the body, the stage, to lego bricks…A belief in reincarnation was expressed “at the time of death we take birth again according to how we’ve lived”. There was talk of the pleasure seeking nature of the soul, inconsistent and flickering happiness, but that only by moving closer to Krishna could we obtain true happiness.
The scheduled Bunny puppet show was sadly cancelled as the puppeteer had been stuck in traffic, so the band took the stage again for another rousing chant. Slight delay again as the host had to have his microphone stuck onto his drum with a length of masking tape “As you can see we’re not the most organised religion”
A Vegan feast followed, I didn’t sample it as I had a Dominoes back home in the fridge to reheat. Forest Schools and I stayed for a while chatting to one of the monks who detailed his devotional lifestyle, rising at 330am and over 2 hours of chanting a day. In conclusion, a thought-provoking night, which served as a basic introduction to the Hare Krishna movement… those interested can have a look at facebook.com/iskconchester for further details. “They all look very happy “ remarked CFS and I agreed, an interesting event and very friendly people with a great deal of peace in their hearts. “There only be world peace when there is inner peace”
with thanks to all the Hare Krishnas, Kate Northcott and Chester Forest schools