California, US — His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama celebrated his birthday on Monday, July 6th with a crowd of 18,000 well-wishers at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The birthday party kicked off a three day Global Compassion Summit held at the University of California.
In his address to the crowd, His Holiness said, "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 Jodi 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."
On the occasion of His Holiness's 80th birthday, many notable well-wishers took the opportunity to wish him a happy birthday. Celebrities, friends and admirers of His Holiness compiled a video of their birthday sentiments, spreading the twitter hastag #WithCompassion, as a tribute to His Holiness. The video includes the voices of Larry King, Randy Jackson, Ariana Huffington, Common, Russell Simmons, Venerable Tenzin Dondhen and others, who come together to send this message to His Holiness:
"Welcome to the 80-plus club Your Holiness. It's a joy and an honor to celebrate your birthday and thank you for all the gifts you have given us. You have dedicated your life to peace, kindness, and compassion. I would like to show you gratitude and love and say thank you for your kindness, your compassion and your commitment in touching the hearts and minds and souls of so many people. You have shown us the utmost compassion and humility for all mankind. May you continue to be a beacon of compassion, peace, love and joy for our planet. In honor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has dedicated his life to peace and kindness, my gift to you is that I will give compassion wherever it is needed, to the world, to my neighbor, to myself; a hand or a kind word for someone who needs it. And we all need it. Happy birthday Your Holiness. You are 80 years young, and you will have many more years on this planet and beyond. We love you."
Additionally, other Nobel laureates honored His Holiness, including Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian Nobel Peace prize winner who said, "whenever I get tired or I lose hope I remember you. For 60 years you have been fighting for the rights of the people of Tibet without becoming tired and without losing hope."
Anti-landmines campaigner Jodi Williams, who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1997, said, "he always says he is just a simple Buddhist monk. He may be a simple Buddhist monk, but he is the most rocking, compassionate simple Buddhist monk I know."
The hastag #withcompassion was requested by His Holiness as a way to spread our daily acts of compassion, and attracted hundreds of thousands of tweets from people across the world wishing His Holiness a happy birthday and sharing how they spread compassion every day. The birthday video ends with a young boy, who proclaims, "well compassion makes you a better person. And love is like the most important thing in your life."