In the spring of 2004, David Lascelles invited a group of monks from Bhutan to build a stupa in the gardens of Harewood House in Yorkshire. It was a step into the unknown for the Bhutanese. They didn’t speak any English, had never travelled outside their own culture, had never flown in an airplane or seen the ocean.
Theirs was one kind of journey, but the project was also another kind of voyage for David. It was an attempt to reconcile a deep interest in Buddhism with the 250 years that his family has lived at Harewood, the country house and estate – with its links to one of the darkest chapters in Britain’s colonial past – that he has loved, rejected, tried to make sense of and been haunted by all his life.
In Buddhist thought, one of the functions of a stupa is to harmonise the environment in which it is built and subdue the chaotic forces at work there. Would this stupa have a similar effect, quelling the forces of Harewood’s past and harmonising the contradictions of its present?
A Hare-Marked Moon tells the story behind the extraordinary meeting of cultures that resulted in the Harewood Stupa, interspersed with accounts of David’s travels in the Himalayas which delve into the rich and turbulent history of the region, and the beliefs that have shaped it.