Tuesday, July 5, 2005

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyuatso, turns 70 years old

New York, USA -- As he turns 70 on July 6, the Dalai Lama has grown far larger than his cause and become a global conscience keeper.

Although Tibet remains the centrepiece of the Dalai Lama's life, his influence transcends beyond some six million Tibetans and a geographical entity, which is one fourth of China. It is a serious struggle for him to confine himself to just Tibet any longer, considering that he has built up an ever-growing following internationally.

In 1978, when he first came to the US, his supporters could not muster up a couple of hundred people. "They did not understand whether the Dalai Lama was human or animal," the Dalai Lama said with his trademark belly-shaking laughter.

Now his lectures routinely attract thousands of people. According to Jeffery Paine, author of the celebrated book "Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes To The West", the number of Buddhist followers has doubled faster than any other religion or philosophy.

Yet, for the Dalai Lama, it has never been about expanding his flock. "I want no one to become Buddhist because I am a Buddhist. I just want them to be compassionate and decent in whatever faith they practise. Buddhism is not about conversion," he said...

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On Wednesday 6 July 2005, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will turn 70. Recognized at the age of two as the 14th incarnation of Tibet's Dalai Lama, he has become a global symbol of peace, understanding and compassion.

In 1949, at the young age of 15, the Dalai Lama was required to take on the heavy burden of leading his country during the invasion and occupation of Tibet by Chinese Communist forces and was eventually forced to flee Tibet in 1959. Since then he has led Tibetans from exile in Northern India. In 1989 the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize and today he is respected around the world for his consistent non-violent struggle for Tibet.

We would like you to wish the Dalai Lama a peaceful and happy 70th year and the fulfillment of his peaceful vision for Tibet and the wider world.

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