On 16 March 2015, I had the great honor of hosting His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa at Google.  It was the first day of the Karmapa’s 2-month official visit to the US, and he chose to spend it visiting Google.  We spent a few hours together, much of it in private conversation.

I found His Holiness to be very authentic.  He is the same person in private as he is in public.  He is shy, but very kind and sincere.  He carries a huge burden of responsibility at a very young age, but he carries it with calmness, faith and dignity.  He has a deep spiritual practice, but outwardly, wears his mastery lightly and humbly.  I predict that many many years from now, history will regard His Holiness as one of the great historical figures of our time, and I have no doubt he is worthy of his role.

Here is a video of the fireside chat (minus the fire) between His Holiness and yours truly.  To me, the most memorable part of the conversation happened right after 34:20 when I slipped and referred to him as “my friend” instead of “Your Holiness”, as I was supposed to do in public per protocol.  He then joked about himself and called himself “Your Loneliness”.  He touched me with his authenticity, humility and humor.

Shakespeare said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”  His Holiness the 17th Karmapa is all three.