“All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?” – Buddha
On an August morning – several years ago – when Tom was nine years old – we decided to visit an impressive Dartmoor maen; a tall, solitary standing stone – called, the Beardown Man. It was a moody, atmospheric day – grey and overcast – and not that warm. As we set off in the car towards Dartmoor – we hoped the rain would hold off.
On the way – just outside the small market town of Hatherleigh, I noticed a man standing at the roadside – dressed in colourful, full-length robes – signalling for a lift with his thumb. In what seemed like nanoseconds to weigh up the possibilities – I decided there was enough room in the car for one Buddhist monk with an extraordinarily large rucksack – and decisively, he was hitchhiking from a safe place for me to stop.
Through the nearside door – we established where we were both going. He said that he was on his way to a meditation weekend at Totnes – but he wasn’t certain whether he was on the right road. I explained that we were going to Dartmoor and I showed him on the map exactly where I was heading for. I put forward an idea that he would be able to catch a bus – or hopefully thumb another lift from my drop-off point on the main road to Ashburton – and from there it would be straightforward to Totnes. After helping him to put all his worldly possessions in the boot of the car – he got in with us – and we travelled on…
Gracing my backseat with humility and wisdom, this once-in-a-lifetime passenger – illuminated us about his gentle way in the world as a wandering artist monk. His name was Shenyen.
Because our journey together was impromptu – I mused a little while driving, about what first impression Shenyen may have made on my nine-year old son – who was sitting uncharacteristically quietly – out the corner of my eye, in the front passenger seat…
Suddenly and unexpectedly, a bald stranger with an unfamiliar dress-code, had entered the confined space of mum’s car – and was now sitting at the rear – unseen without the use of my driver’s mirror!
What was a boy to make of this experience?
Several years on – Tom remembers Shenyen – and our journey with him to Dartmoor; vividly and with happiness.
Too swiftly, time and landscape whizzed-by – and we arrived at the turn-off to Holming Beam; the start point to our planned walk. I parked the car on the grass verge – just off the B3357- the main road between Princetown and Ashburton. We all got out into the fresh Dartmoor air; Shenyen wisely put his hat on – then heaved his load up on to his strong, ‘broad’ shoulders…
It was time to say our good-byes before the parting of our ways.
Just then – a wild pony came to us unbidden – and stopped unafraid at Shenyen’s feet; probably inquisitive about who this colourful moorland visitor was. Apart from Shenyen’s XL backpack and stout walking-boots – he looked like no other Dartmoor rambler! Shenyen patted and stroked the pony on its forelock – as if in benediction; a fitting conclusion to an all-round, karmic encounter.
Shenyen means – ‘the friend’.
While compiling my previous post about the magic of Hawthorn trees – I came across this image; something about the colours – inspired me to follow on with this one.
Silhouette. Hawthorn Tree betwixt and between the Staple Tors – Dartmoor.