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Celebrating His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday

We attended as a guest of the venue

Celebrating His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama's 80th Birthday

There are very few people in the world that I would be thrilled to meet.  My list isn’t very long; a few of them would be The Pope, The Royal Family, any US President past or present and The Dalia Lama.  That being said I never would expect to meet any of them let another hear them speak in person.  If I lived in London, NYC, LA or DC I figured I’d have a better chance, but living here in suburbia Orange County no way could that happen.  So naturally to prove me wrong, the cosmos worked in my favor not once but twice. In 1993 I was one of the lucky few OCC students who got to see then presidential hopeful Bill Clinton speak at the Pacific Amphitheater.  Twenty some odd years later I got to be part of one of the most amazing experiences in my life, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday and Global Compassion Summit.  This all happened right here in Orange County at the Honda Center in Anaheim on July 5.


I picked up my mom at 10:30, a good hour and half early from the start of the show.  Excitedly asking my mom if she was ready to check off one of her life wishes to which she replied that she cannot believe I actually had tickets and until she sees him her mind won’t accept it.  Driving to Anaheim we talked about what he meant to us, how his philosophy of kindness and tolerance is what the world needs right now and how through all that he has been through, he laughs and is completely calm.


How is it possible that a man who has been in exile for over 71 years is so calm and at peace?  I cannot answer these questions but what I took from the little he spoke at the summit was that you need to have compassion.  I will list down some of his words a bit later but first I wanted to write a little about the summit.


As we drove into the parking lot of the Honda Center, I felt an overwhelming emotion that I can’t describe.  The only other time in my life that I felt this emotion was when I went back to Iran for the first time after escaping the revolution.  Emotions of happiness so intense that all I could do was cry.  It wasn’t just me, my mom was crying as well.  We actually sat side by side in the car and cried a bit before we walked up to the arena.


Sadly not everyone there felt the same as us.  Protestors chanting a very catchy tune of False Dalai Lama! Stop lying lined up along the path leading to the Honda center with drums and microphones.  My mother not understanding what they were saying started humming along to their tune until I explained what their angry chants were.


Immediately her joyful face saddened, and asked why would people try to take others happiness away.  The closer we got to the doors the less we heard the chants.  In front of the entrance was a temporary wall.  I didn’t understand why it was there until I got a better look.  It was the largest birthday card I had ever seen.


My mom looked at me and asked for a pen, “I need to wish him happy birthday before we sit down”.   I had no pen, but I was able to get her paint.  As she wrote, happy birthday looking forward to celebrating your 100th in Farsi (Iranian language), her face once again lit up.


Once she was done, we walked through the metal detectors and to our seats.  18,000 people filled the Honda Center to see and be part of the summit.


Our seats looked down at the stage and after a few performances; the familiar voice of Ann Curry took over the arena.  After walking out with the Dalai Lama she explained that today was all about his holiness; guests were here to give him thanks and for him to just sit back and listen.


The list of guests included Julia Ormond, Lama Tenzin Dhonden, Michael Franti, Walter Monk, Shirin Ebadi, MC Hammer, George Lopez, Randy Jackson, Jody Williams and UCI chancellor Michael Drake, to name a few who came to spread the thanks to his holiness.





After being presented with a cake that was at least 6 feet tall, the Dalai Lama spoke.


Here are a  few statements that made an impact on me:

Meditation alone cannot change this world what we need is action

Take action! Worrying without action is completely irrelevant

We should find it in our hearts to be more compassionate, unbiased compassion

Message of love, forgiveness, tolerance gets rid of the inner beast

We need religious harmony like what they have in Indian

What you believe you must implement

Happy human = happy community = happy universe

9 time failure 9 time rework

Remain truthful and honest

Compassion is contagious – Compassion within self, then family, then neighbors and friends and it grows and grows then we grow a city of kindness.  We must make effort

We put more effort to make money than compassion

More money more worries

What I took from his holiness is that unbiased compassion is the key to everything and that once we achieve this compassion we can change the world for the better.


I’m an OC mom of two and photographer. I love living in Southern California and want to expose my children to all that it offers. I love taking my kids on adventures and capturing their every moment so much so that my kids find it odd if I don’t take their pictures. You can see my work on
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