It’s not every day an 80-year-old spiritual leader gets the crowd going better than the self-proclaimed “greatest living rock star on the planet.”
Kanye West headlined this year’s Glastonbury music festival, the biggest of its kind in the world, on Saturday night. In typical Kanye style, it was mostly all about himself.
Some loved it, some hated it. He declared himself the aforementioned. In some way all were entertained. But that’s not really worth speaking about. We’ll leave that to Twitter.
When the Dalai Lama hit Glastonbury, he did something worth more than entertainment. He brought mindfulness beyond the choir, directly to the people—the thousands of people gathered there. And he did it in his typically warm, light-hearted fashion. And this struck me in particular because this exact thing is what all of us at elephant are madly passionate about doing: bringing the mindful life to those who didn’t know they gave a care about it.
So right there, on the Glastonbury main stage, after the crowd sang him “Happy Birthday”, the Dalai Lama gave his message of compassion and friendship to all who would listen, and some who perhaps listened when they might otherwise not have, telling thousands of party animals how to access the ultimate source of happiness, and make every day our birthday:
“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 the 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 gave something of a shout-out to the real rock-stars of the festival, the original rock-stars, like Patti Smith and her band:
“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.”
The BBC also noted that the Dalai Lama indirectly served as Lionel Richie’s opening act on the Pyramid Stage.
In an earlier appearance at the festival, he sat on a panel discussing issues of the environment and ending nuclear weapons alongside Katharine Viner, the Guardian’s editor, and the Guardian columnist George Monbiot.
He backed the pope’s radical message on climate change, saying it was “very right” and added his thoughts on nuclear weapons, bringing laughter 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 his nugget of wisdom:
“World peace [will] not [be] achieved through prayer. World peace [will be] achieved only through our action. First hearing, second conviction, third action.”
In another impromptu speech at the “Stone Circle“, he commented further 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.”
He even reminded us of the true definition of jihad (outside of its misappropriation 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 leader who could pull off an appearance at Glasto with such grace, humour and presence in the midst of the partying.
I’m not sure how Kanye would define that, but all of the above makes the DL the “greatest living rock star on the planet” in my book.
Author: Khara-Jade Warren
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Image: Thierry Erman/Flickr
Bonus: a beautiful tip via the Dalai Lama (via Waylon):