Read Patti Smith’s Poem For The Dalai Lama’s Birthday – And His Inspiring Response

There are some things that could only ever happen at Glastonbury, and Patti Smith welcoming the Dalai Lama onstage midway through her electric show on the Pyramid Stage to wish him a happy birthday is undoutbtedly one of them. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who earlier spoke about the importance of global unity and oneness at the Stone Circle, will turn 80 on July 6. As an early birthday present Smith read a new poem that she had written for the occasion:

A small entreaty
Like the peeling of a lotus
Papering the distance
For you underfoot
One lone skin
To lift and fashion
As a cap to cradle
Your bowing head
An ear to hear
The great horn
A slipper to mount
The temple step
One lone skin
Bearing this wish
May your hands be full of nothing
May your toys scatter the sky
Tiny yellow bundles
Bursting like stars
Like smiles
At the laughter of a bell

The Dalai Lama then joined her onstage, and Smith lead the crowd in a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. The Dalai Lama then thanked Smith – and said that her performance, at the age of 70 herself, was inspiring him:

“Thank you, thank you. I hugely appreciate so many people’s expression of warm feelings. I very much appreciate it. I dedicate my body, speech and mind to the wellbeing of others, as my main daily practice, so when the people show this warm feeling that gives me more enthusiasm. I very much appreciate it. These singers and musicians… most of them have white hair. I saw their hair was white, but their voice and physical action looks very youthful. That gives me encouragement. Myself, I’m now 80 years old but I should be like you – active!”


Smith, who had apologised to the crowd for beginning to lose her voice, joked: “Yes, but your voice is stronger than mine today.”

The Dalai Lama then left us his thoughts on birthdays, friendship and seizing the day:

“Thank you. We are all the same human beings. We all want a happy life. Actually, each day is a new day. It’s a new birthday. Every morning, when we wake up, think: ‘Now this is a new day, a birthday. I must carry this happy day.’ In order to have a happy day, keep [in your heart] a more compassionate feeling. A sense of concern for other’s wellbeing. That will be the source of happiness. That creates a happy mind, and that brings self-confidence. That creates honesty and truthfulness, so your new day will become a more meaningful day. In that way, you will be more transparent. That brings trust. Trust is the basis of friendship. We are a social animal. Friendship is very important. Friendship cannot be bought with money, or brought by force, only by warm-heartedness. I practice that, so I want to share with those good wishes. Thank you very much.”