Memories, Dreams and Reflections of the 16th Karmapa: I didn’t know he spoke Italian


It was 1977, in the Château de Chaban, Dordogne, France. His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa was holding group interviews. As one of his secretaries, I was hovering outside the room in which they took place. When the party (of mixed nationalities) emerged, an ecstatic lady came straight to me saying, in a very strong accent, “I had no idea he spoke Italian … and so beautifully and so perfectly. And, it’s incredible, he spoke just about what was on my mind!” During my six months travelling with His Holiness, driving him sometimes, these instances of mind-to-mind communication, which people automatically “heard” in their own language, were so numerous as to seem “normal” after a while. It helps explain such things as why, in the Buddha’s sixty qualities of speech, he can be heard by those at the back of a huge crowd just as clearly as by those at the front.
Ken Holmes
Director of Studies
Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery

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