By Lodi Gyari
Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
On July 6, Tibetans, friends and admirers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be celebrating his 75th birthday. Even Tibetans inside Tibet, in spite of tremendous restrictions will celebrate this day will in one way or another mark the occasion, which for some is a considerable risk.
While birthdays are important social events for the concerned individual in the Western society, to Tibetans there is no such tradition. In fact, it is only until recently that Tibetans have started marking their individual birthdays. Traditionally, the Tibetan New Year is observed as our collective birthday with people changing their age on that day.
Whether it is New Year or birthday, I have seen His Holiness say that the important thing is how meaningful you make that day rather than the day itself. To him, every day is a new day. Also, as a Buddhist His Holiness considers the impermanence of life and the need for preparing for that eventual day when one passes away from this world. In a sense people need to look forward to, and prepare for, their “death day” more so than their birthday.
Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari is Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama