Happy Birthday Dalai Lama!

Today, the Dalai Lama celebrates his 85th birthday. Calm and centered, the spiritual leader of Tibet continues to inspire us with the Buddhist message of kindness, compassion, and mindfulness. Here’s an excerpt from a recent BBC interview with correspondent Justin Rowlatt:


Happy Birthday Dalai Lama!

Today, the Dalai Lama celebrates his 81st birthday. The recipient of numerous awards, among them the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, he continues to inspire us with messages of non-violence and universal compassion.

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Here are ten of my favorite quotes from His Holiness…

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.

Someone else’s action should not determine your response.

Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

Anger or hatred is like a fisherman’s hook. It is very important for us to ensure that we are not caught by it.

I always say that people should not rush to change religions. There is real value in finding the spiritual resources you need in your home religion.


Book Review: The Making of a Spiritual Hero

I was fascinated by the back story.

Using an easy, conversational tone, Stephan Talty provides us with rare glimpses of the Dalai Lama’s childhood and adolescent years.

As a precocious two-year old, the Dalai Lama delighted and exasperated his parents, especially his mother.  He would often pack a small bag, tie it to a stick and tell his mother he was leaving for Lhasa.

The Dalai Lama inherited his father’s dark moods and liked to torment his older brother.  At the monastery, he would shake with rage whenever he lost a game.  He was also obsessed with war games, military drills and dangerous stunts. In his mid-teens, he realized that anger was a destructive force and turned to the Buddhist scriptures for inspiration and guidance.

In Escape from the Land of Snows, Talty focuses on the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s flight to India during a two-week period in 1959. Accompanied by a 300-person escort, the 24-year old monk left behind the comfort and splendor of his summer palace and traveled across the highest terrain in the world and over treacherous Himalayan passes.  Forced to sleep in tents and endure extremes in temperatures, he arrived in India sick with dysentery and stripped of his possessions.

Talty gives us an accurate picture of the political climate of Tibet by skilfully weaving dates, numbers and historical data into the narrative.  He also provides a glossary, bibliography and maps.  Throughout the book, Talty includes comments from local reporters, CIA agents, members of the Dalai Lama’s family and individual Tibetans.  He succeeds in piecing together all these elements and producing a smooth narrative.

It is an inspiring tale that chronicles the transformation of a naive, childlike monk into a spiritual hero renowned for his compassion and commitment to mankind.