Dalai Lama at the Glastonbury Festival – Steals the show from Kanye .

Dalai Lama at the Glastonbury Festival
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Dalai Lama at the Glastonbury Festival

It’s not every day that we see an 80-year-old spiritual leader steal the show from the self-proclaimed “greatest living rock star on the planet.”

The 2015 Glastonbury music festival was headed by Kanye West. The festival is the biggest of its kind in the world. In predictable Kanye style, the show was mostly all about Kanye.

Some loved the show, and some hated it. The crowd was entertained in both good ways and bad, as the show’s most memorable performance by Kanye was his horrid rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody which has since gone viral.

When the Dalai Lama at the Glastonbury Festival took the stage, he addressed the crowd with a message far more powerful than any of the entertainment that day. He offered wonderful insight directly to the thousands of people gathered there. His warm, light-hearted persona drew a roaring silence from the crowd.

After the crowd belted out a wonderful rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the Dalai Lama on his 80th birthday, the Dalai Lama offered his message of friendship and compassion to all in attendance. His words advised us that “Every day is a new day. A new birthday”. His message, simply… was to treat every day as a new beginning and a new opportunity to express friendship and compassion towards others:

“So, now we are all the same—human beings. We all want a happy life. Actually, each day is a new day, a new birthday—so we, every morning, when we wake up think… “now this new day, birthday, I must carry this birthday as a happy day. In order for it to be a happy day, keep here (gesturing to his heart) more compassionate feeling, sense of concern for others’ well-being. That is the ultimate source of a happy mind, happy feeling… We are social animals. Friendship is very important.”

He also shared his observations and compliments on the performers of the show:

“Those singers, musicians, most of you have white hair, but their voice and their physical action, they look very beautiful, very forceful. So that gives me encouragement. Myself now 80 years-old, but I should be more like you—more active.”


Dalai Lama at the Glastonbury Festival


In the earlier hours, the Dalai Lama at the Glastonbury Festival sat on a panel discussing issues of the environment and ending nuclear weapons alongside several journalists.

He reiterated the pope’s radical message on climate change, saying it was “very right” and added his thoughts on nuclear weapons, bringing a lighter tone to some of the heaviest topics of discussion:

“We have to say more—we have to make more effort, including demonstrations. Non-violent way! Non-violent way!” 

When asked what he thought we all should be thinking about doing, what our own responsibility is in all of this, he shrugged wryly, said, “I don’t know.” and immediately succeeded in lightening the atmosphere. He then added some insight:

“World peace will not be achieved through prayer. World peace will be achieved only through our action. First hearing, second conviction, third action.”

A short while later in the area known as “Stone Circle“, he spoke in candid fashion more on the issue of world peace, or lack of it:

“A lot of problems we are experiencing are our own creations. Violence is being created this very moment in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria. Humans killing each other in the name of religious faith. Unthinkable. Carry the message of love and tolerance and forgiveness.”

The Dalai Lama at the Glastonbury Festival reminded the crowd of the true definition of jihad (aside from its misguided translation by extremists) as “a constructive emotion to combat destructive emotions” in the struggle to live life in a spiritual way:

“I daily use it in my five hours of meditation, this kind of jihad.”

There aren’t many spiritual leaders who could pull off an appearance at Glastonbury with such grace, humor and presence at such a venue. His voice demanding a deafening sense of peace with his very first word.

Kanye may not agree, but on this day, the Dalai Lama was surely the “greatest living rock star on the planet.”

Dalai Lama, Glastonbury Festival 2015, with Patti Smith