Tibet’s spiritual head, the Dalai Lama, traveled to the 2015 Glastonbury Festival and spoke before a crowd of 8,000 on June 28. “Brothers and sisters,” His Holiness began, “I can see you’re enjoying this Festival, on my way here, I noticed that everyone seems to be full of joy. I’m happy to have been invited to this Festival of people. As I always say, the purpose of life is to be happy.
“Who knows what tomorrow may bring, but we live in hope. Without hope our lives have no direction. The 7 billion human beings like us alive today all have a right to be happy. And it’s sad to note that while you are here enjoying yourselves, in other parts of the world like Syria, Iraq and Nigeria, people are killing each other. Therefore, we need to promote a greater awareness that we are all human brothers and sisters, that we belong to one human family.
“I speak to you now just as another human being. Like you, I too am subject to mental disturbances. Like you I love my life, in fact everyone loves their own lives and everyone has a right live a happy life. And yet, we tend to make problems for ourselves. What we need to do instead is to promote greater human affection. Problems like killing, cheating and exploitation arise when we only think in the short term. Our education systems are oriented towards materialism. We need to change this to a greater focus on the long term and teaching about inner values, secular ethics. This entails simple warm-heartedness and a real sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. On such a basis we could demilitarise the world and use the money saved to close the gap between rich and poor.
“I don’t expect to see real change in my lifetime, but if you young people, people who belong to the 21st century start to make efforts now, the later parts of the century could see a happier more peaceful world. Please think seriously about this. This is something I am committed to, just as I am committed, as a Buddhist monk to promoting religious harmony and as a Tibetan to the preservation of Tibetan religion, culture and language. Tibetan culture is characterized by peace and compassion, which makes it something worth preserving.”
When asked by an audience member about how he stays happy, he responded: “Faced with difficulties I take the advice of Shantideva, an 8th century Indian master who said ‘Think carefully about difficulties you face – if they can be overcome, there is no need to worry. What you need to do is make effort. If they can’t be overcome, worry is of no use.’ This is practical advice that I follow myself. My other secret is that I get nine hours sleep.”
Later, he joined musician Patti Smith on stage, before a crowd of 120,000. Patti Smith suggested the crowd welcome him and sing to celebrate his approaching 80th birthday. She read a poem in his honour and then led him out onto the stage to cheering approval. The crowd sang ‘Happy Birthday.’
“Dear sisters and brothers, I really appreciate it when so many of you express your warm feelings to me and I reciprocate,” he said. “Every day I dedicate my actions of body, speech and mind to the benefit of others. When you show me such warm affection it strengthens my enthusiasm.”