[dalailama.com] Anaheim, CA, USA, 5 July 2015 – His Holiness the Dalai Lama began the day early giving an interview to Ann Curry for KIP News. He told her at the start that today he got up at 1am to begin his prayers. Wishing him a happy birthday, she asked him for his wish. He replied:
“The same as all beings, I wish to live a happy life. We all face a lot of problems that are essentially our own creation. The real point here is with our emotions. Unless we have some knowledge of how to tackle them we’ll run into trouble.
“My life is dedicated to the well-being of others. If humanity is happy, then I’ll be happy, because each of us is dependent on others.”
Ann Curry asked what makes him want to share compassion so much that at a time when other people would be taking it easy His Holiness is still working. He answered:
“It’s because this is my only profession. As a Buddhist practitioner and a student of Nalanda masters such as Nagarjuna I have learned about how the mind and emotions work. It seems that due to experience of that I can be of service to other human beings. Every day I pray for the welfare of all mother sentient beings. If I were to pray, but do nothing it would just be hypocrisy.”
Later, talking about whether or not there will be a 15th Dalai Lama, His Holiness told her that, recognised or not, he would still be there.
“I’m determined about that. The biography of the 1st Dalai Lama tells that when he was about my age he remarked about growing old and his students and disciples commented that he needn’t worry because he’d be sure to go to a Pure Land. He retorted that he had no wish to go to some such heaven, he wanted to be reborn where there was suffering in order that he could be of some help to others. I share that prayer.”
When Ann Curry asked for a message for the world to be posted on Facebook on his birthday, His Holiness said:
“I’d like to express my thanks to the many, many people who have expressed warm feelings towards me. So many have wished me a happy birthday, I’d like to ask them in turn to pay more attention to their own minds, to tackling their own emotions. Now I’m 80 and have faced a difficult life. At 16 I lost my freedom, at 24 I lost my country and news from Tibet has been heartbreaking, but throughout it all my best friend has been my intelligence and a sense of warm-heartedness. This is something I’d like to share with others.”
Interviewing His Holiness for CBS News, Carter Evans remarked that a lot of people seemed to be making a lot of fuss about His Holiness’s birthday and asked what he felt about it.
“Nothing special,” was the reply. “The sun will rise and the sun will set. It’ll be the same kind of 24 hours, but when other people know someone has a birthday they like to celebrate.”
Evans went on to ask why concern for the global environment is so important to him.
“I didn’t realise that there was any issue about the environment until I left Tibet. Then I was surprised to be told that I couldn’t drink water from any source the way I could in Tibet, because often the water was polluted. I began to realise that we need to take care of the planet as if it were our only home.
“When we see violence or scenes of violence take place, it has an immediate impact on the mind, but the damage being done to the environment doesn’t have that immediacy. We don’t notice it until it is often too late. That’s why it will be more effective if taking care of the planet becomes part of our day to day life.”
At the Honda Center His Holiness was welcomed to a special breakfast to celebrate his 80th birthday. Addressing the gathering, he told them we need to use our intelligence to promote loving kindness. He said the nature of compassion is not something new. It’s something we are all familiar with. We all have the seed of compassion in us that we can cultivate. In the past we learned about this from our religious traditions, but today many people claim no longer to believe and of those who say they believe, many go through the motions in the place of worship, but bring nothing with them when they leave.
“Cultivating the kind of compassion we can extend to our enemies requires that we use our intelligence. We have to use reason just as we do to understand that anger destroys our peace of mind.”
As he was about to leave the breakfast, His Holiness called two fellow Nobel Peace Laureates, Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi, up to join him. He explained that they had last met at a gathering of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, at the end of which they had announced a determination to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons. They had also declared that the announcement by itself was not enough, there needed to be a timetable for reducing and eliminating these weapons of mass destruction had to be set and nuclear states needed to be held to it. His Holiness said they would need to mobilize popular support.
He followed this with a meeting with Representative Ed Royce who is Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
In an interview with Maria Hall Brown for PBS Southern California, His Holiness noted that 20 years ago little attention was paid to ethics or inner values, but over the last 10 years more and more people have begun to take an interest. He said that increasing numbers of people realize the shortcomings of the current education system. That scientists too are showing interest in the workings of the mind is a source of hope. He told a correspondent for the local Orange County Reporter that as human beings we all have responsibility to promote the idea of the oneness of humanity especially in multiracial, multi-religious societies.
After lunch, Ann Curry escorted His Holiness onto the Honda Center stage before an 18,000 strong audience. Singing children had already set the scene and a video depicting scenes from His Holiness’s life had been shown. Mayor Tom Tait introduced His Holiness to the crowd, explaining how he’d been to see him at home in Dharamsala and been made very welcome earlier this year. At the time His Holiness had been working on a ‘Book of Joy’ with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Founder of the Friends of the Dalai Lama, a prime organizer of the event, Ven. Tenzin Dhonden spoke next, expressing greetings to His Holiness and welcoming everyone in attendance. Among the many people he thanked for their support were Pierre Omidyar, Mayor Tait, the Honda Center staff and his own spiritual masters. He acknowledged His Holiness as someone who embodies compassion in person.
Facebook video greetings from #WithCompassion were shown featuring messages from Larry King, Arianna Huffington and many others. The video ended with a song ‘We are One’ by Runaground, who then appeared on stage to perform it again live, joined by a joyfully singing children.
Ann Curry then introduced an array of well-wishers who came forward to offer His Holiness words of appreciation. They included: actor Josh Radnor, Professor Robert Thurman, Bishop Desmond Tutu’s grandson, Australian Cody Simpson, Dr Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar, UCI VC Thomas Parham, actor Wilmer Valderrama, actor Julia Ormond, oceanographers Justin Nappi and Veerbhadran Ramanathan, comedian George Lopez, who had everyone laughing, musician Randy Jackson, rights activist and Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, businessman Anthony Melikhove, peace activist and Nobel Peace Laureate Jodie Williams, musician MC Hammer, and on behalf of the Apache Nation Jonelle Romero.
Thirty Tibetan children from San Francisco sang a traditional Tibetan song. They were followed onto the stage by activist, rapper and musician Michael Franti who played, sang and led the audience in a rousing song for His Holiness.
After cutting a huge cake, His Holiness took his slice to the lectern and addressed the audience.
“Brothers and sisters,” he told them, “I’m overwhelmed that so many speakers have expressed the importance of loving kindness. They have given me encouragement and hope. I have generally thought that I would not see a compassionate world emerge in my lifetime. However, there seems to be real enthusiasm for the idea that the source of peace is within ourselves and that to change the world we all have to develop inner peace. Since scientists and educators are also showing interest in this, maybe we can achieve a peaceful world sooner than I thought. As my friend Jodie Williams says, ‘We have to take action’ and there is a Tibetan saying that if you fail nine times, nine times you should try again.
“I’ve faced many difficulties, but I’ve remained truthful, honest and determined. As time goes on the truth becomes stronger, while the power of the gun diminishes. A more compassionate world is in the interest of all sentient beings, and even the environment will benefit too. The kind of universal compassion, unbiased compassion, that can be extended even to your enemy is within the reach of all of us.
“We all come from our mothers. We all have a deep experience of affection, even those who are now referred to as ‘terrorists’. In this large gathering I’d like to repeat that I am just one human being. We are all part of humanity. We are all the same and our future depends on others. Each day I dedicate my body, speech and mind to the welfare of all mother sentient beings. I say my favourite prayer:
For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.
The ensuing discussion among the people on the stage with His Holiness touched on the fact that anger may bring energy to situations, but it is blind energy. Compassion is directed energy. That to lead a meaningful life, we need a calm mind and a sense of concern for the welfare of others. Compassion is a choice. Authenticity is significant. His Holiness pointed out that the crucial notions of freedom, liberty and democracy take for granted that basic human nature is good.
As His Holiness got ready to leave, Ann Curry summed up the sense of the gathering in her comment:
“It’s your birthday, but the rest of us seem to be the ones who have been made a gift. Thank you and happy birthday.”
At the Anaheim Theater Mayor Tom Tait welcomed His Holiness to a special reception. In this newly announced City of Kindness, His Holiness repeated his belief that progress towards greater kindness can be made through education. The Mayor described a project already run in local schools for children to create a million acts of kindness. He noted that reports of bullying are down and children are happier and more fulfilled. Mayor of nearby Santa Ana, Miguel Pulido, announced his plans to emulate the ‘million acts of kindness’ in the schools in his area.
At a further reception attended by 1000 people and organized by the City of Garden Grove, Mayor Bao Nguyen welcomed His Holiness, who spoke briefly.
“Respected brothers and sisters, inner values such as compassion and forgiveness bring us peace, comfort and inner strength, which are helpful to us. Anger and fear do us no good; they disturb our peace of mind. I see there are a lot of Vietnamese here. I’ve come across quite a number of communities like you in America, France and Australia, who have made an effort to preserve your cultural heritage and your Buddhist faith. I admire your determination.”
His Holiness was offered a certificate by the Vietnamese Americans of the USA. The Mayor of the City of Westminster praised His Holiness as a role model and when the Mayor of Garden Grove presented him with a key to the city, His Holiness responded:
“Ah, and compassion is the key to open inner peace.”
At the end of an unusually long and full day, His Holiness finally retired for the night.