Memories, Dreams and Reflections of the 16th Karmapa: A High Note

Grandfather Burt is a very secretive man with some interesting stories to tell about his meetings with His Holiness the 16th Karmapa. If we hadn’t met in a dark corridor one evening, he would never have revealed a single word. But on that auspicious occasion our minds joined and I jotted down his personal memoir.

‘When the 16th Karmapa was visiting one day he told me he wanted to buy some mules. What on earth do you want mules for?’ I asked him. He explained that these are not the mules we all know as mules; they are in fact a cross between a canary and a wild song bird which are noted for their enchanting song. By chance we found some breeders of ‘mules’ nearby in the heads of the valleys.
After a short journey, we knocked at the door of the Jones house and Mrs Jones invited us in. The Karmapa was in robes of course and Mrs Jones looked at him with friendly curiosity. Soon we were sitting down and having tea with the Jones’ family and soon everyone was in high spirits. Mr Jones showed us his rare cross breed collection of ‘mules’. The Karmapa selected a few birds and they were put into cages to travel home. As he opened his wallet to pay for the birds, a sudden gust of wind swirled through his wallet lifting the notes. I ran after them trying to catch as many as I could. The Karmapa was watching and roaring with laughing as I ran to and fro over the garden driven by the wind. I returned all the notes I collected to him. Thereupon he gave me one back. I looked at the £50 note which was a lot of money in those days and said no, I could not keep it. But the Karmapa insisted. After three attempts to return the money I decided it was useless to argue with His Holiness. I have kept it all these years treasuring the moment which ended on such a high note!’
Grandfather Burt smiled with delight and winked mischievously.
edited by Naomi Levine


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