Today is the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, and he’s celebrating it with a three-day forum centered around compassion. His Holiness is using the three days to lecture on education, creativity and climate change.

The festivities kicked off Sunday in Anaheim, California, with a star-studded assembly that included Hollywood actors Sharon Stone and George Lopez as well as Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi of Iran. 

The Tibetan word “lama” means guru, a fitting title for the man who has dedicated his life to teaching us how to be happy. In honor of his 80th birthday, we’re bringing you eight more reasons to love this guru of happiness.


1. When He Won the Nobel Peace Prize, He Said He’s No Different from Anyone Else

In his acceptance speech in 1989, the Dalai Lama said, “No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have the same basic human needs and is concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples.”

2. He has a Passion for Science

The Dalai Lama has long had an interest in science. As a child he taught himself to fix broken machines, from cars to clocks and movie projectors. He spoke in September, 2010 about human neurology and the intricate distinctions between mind and body that led him to be a founding benefactor for Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research.

3. He says You Don’t Have to be Religious to be EthicalThe Dalai Lama talks at Stanford- Jack Hubbard

At the 2009 opening of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values on the MIT campus, he urged professors to teach ethics and compassion without a basis in religious belief.

4. Compassion is at the Core of his Teachings

He told the audience gathered in Anaheim Sunday, the only thing he wanted for his 80th birthday was that people exercise compassion toward one another. This video from his lecture on compassion was posted to His Holiness’ Facebook page.

In just a few hours, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will turn 80 years old. He asks no gifts, only that we live #WithCompassion. Today, in front of tens of thousands of people, he shared why. We look forward to continuing the celebration tomorrow with University of California, Irvine, Center for Living Peace and Honda Center!

Posted by Friends of the Dalai Lama on Sunday, July 5, 2015

5. He Learned “The Power of Aloha”

Dalai Lama praying hands cc Christopher.MichelThe Dalai Lama brought his message of peace and compassion — and his trademark humor — to Hawaii in April, 2012, celebrating the coming together of two native cultures. Similar to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the indigenous culture of Hawaii has its own inherent spirituality– and “Aloha” means more than hello.

6. Nearly Every Time You See Him, He’s Smiling

The Dalai Lama actually co-wrote a best-selling book to explain how we, too can be happy. He says that “the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” The Art of Happiness shows us how to cope with day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement– and how to smile more often.

7. He’s Not Afraid to Ask for Directions to Dalai-lama-UScapitol-2011-Intl-campaign-for-tibet-photo“Inner Peace”

Speaking at the U.S. Capitol in July, 2011, the Dalai Lama suggested a roadmap to world peace that begins at an individual level, with each one finding inner peace by feeling compassion.

8. He’s Worked with Muslim Leaders to Address Religious Extremism

He broke his regular schedule, normally planned seven years in advance, and accepted an invitation from the Muslim community in April, 2006, to discuss how to mitigate religious extremism, to celebrate unity and denounce religious intolerance.

(READ more about his Forum at the LA Times) – Photos: Sun Star, Christopher.Michel, Luca Galuzzi, Jack Hubbard, via CC; and International Campaign for Tibet

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