Dalai Lama cel­e­brates birth­day with three day sum­mit

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD/IN MEMORIAM -

It won’t be a small, pri­vate af­fair when the Dalai Lama cel­e­brates his 80th birth­day this week­end in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Hun­dreds of well-wish­ers are ex­pected at a three-day Global Com­pas­sion Sum­mit to mark the ex­iled Ti­betan spir­i­tual leader’s big day, with events Sun­day through Tues­day at Ana­heim’s Honda Cen­ter and the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine.

The Dalai Lama him­self plans to de­liver talks all three days on global com­pas­sion, cre­ativ­ity and the arts, youth lead­er­ship and cli­mate change. His ac­tual birth­day is on Mon­day.

Plans for the fes­tiv­i­ties in­clude an 8-foot (2.4-me­ter)-tall birth­day cake com­plete with ma­roon-and-gold frost­ing — the colours of the Dalai Lama’s Ti­betan robes.

Vol­un­teer Colleen John­son and her team at the Art In­sti­tute of Cal­i­for­nia are us­ing a Sty­ro­foam base cov­ered in 100 pounds (45 kilo­grams) of fon­dant and more than 400 del­i­cate gum paste flow­ers. A com­part­ment in the side will hold an ed­i­ble cake: le­mon-vanilla chif­fon with straw­berry fill­ing.

“I hope to God ev­ery­thing works,’’ John­son said Fri­day.

John­son said she was hon­oured to cre­ate the pre­sen­ta­tion, es­pe­cially be­cause the re­li­gious leader will be speak­ing on “the trans­for­ma­tive power for cre­ativ­ity and art.’’

“He just seems like such a great per­son, I wanted to meet him,’’ she said. “I need him to rub off on me. I need some of that good­ness.’’

Guests at the event can’t bring gifts for se­cu­rity rea­sons.

In­stead, the Dalai Lama wants well-wish­ers to post quotes, photos and videos of sim­ple acts of com­pas­sion on their so­cial media ac­counts with the hash­tag #WithCom­pas­sion.

Not ev­ery­one, how­ever, is thrilled with the spir­i­tual leader’s cel­e­bra­tion.

The In­ter­na­tional Shug­den Com­mu­nity plans protests out­side all events sim­i­lar to ones con­ducted last month in Lon­don when the Dalai Lama opened a Bud­dhist cen­tre there. The group’s mem­bers ac­cuse him of pre­vent­ing them from fol­low­ing their form of Bud­dhism, which he once prac­ticed but re­nounced in the 1970s.

The Dalai Lama was born to farm­ers in a ru­ral and moun­tain­ous area of Ti­bet. He was iden­ti­fied as the 14th rein­car­na­tion of the Bud­dhist na­tion’s spir­i­tual leader when he was just 2.

He was en­throned in 1940 and as­sumed full po­lit­i­cal power in 1950. He fled to In­dia dur­ing an upris­ing against Chi­nese forces in 1959 and has been in ex­ile ever since.

He is widely revered for his com­pas­sion­ate acts and com­mit­ment to the spir­i­tual well­be­ing of fel­low Ti­betans.

AP PHOTO

Chef Colleen John­son, right, Lead Pas­try Chef works on an 8-foot tall gold-and ma­roon birth­day cake made for the 80th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion of the Dalai Lama at the Art In­sti­tute of Cal­i­for­nia-Or­ange County in Santa Ana, Calif on Fri­day.

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