Memories, Dreams and Reflections of the 16th Karmapa: Wake Up!



by Erika Belair
His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa was staying at the Oberoi Hotel in Calcutta for a few days upon his return from his first visit to the USA. I heard about it in Bodhgaya and was encouraged to go and see him as I had only recently taken refuge, Upon arrival in Calcutta I phoned Achi, the translator, to ask if it was possible to come for a blessing from His Holiness. He asked me to be there the next day at seven o’clock in the morning. Not yet quite awake at such an early hour I managed to arrive at the appointed time.
His Holiness was royally seated in a beautifully decorated reception room, talking to two huge Bhutanese sponsors seated at his feet. He radiated a soft golden light and such compassionate warmth that I felt right at home and settled somewhere in the back. As I was gazing at him, mesmerized by the sound of his voice, I understood that he was talking about his experiences in the USA. He described everything in that land as huge and that the earth was rich and the fields really big and well organized in big parcels tended by amazing machinery.
Suddenly I realized that he was speaking Tibetan and that I did not understand that language. As I perked up in surprise he looked at me directly and waved to ask me to come close. I sat at his feet and looked up still totally surprised. Then he made this huge gesture with his hand, almost frightening, so I ducked a little bit. But he only put his hand very gently to my ear and said – this time in perfect English – ‘Wake up!’ Maybe he had a little gadget in his hand like an alarm clock.
I just looked at him smiling somewhat mischievously and I had to giggle. He also started to laugh and we spent a few blissful moments just laughing.
I felt there was nothing to be added. I got up, bowed and left.

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