Celebrating his 80th birthday, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama spoke of living with compassion to a crowd of about 3,500 people in Irvine Monday.
The 14th Dalai Lama spoke about the transformative power of creativity and art on Sunday at the Honda Center in Anaheim and, as part of his third trip to the University of California, Irvine, participated in a panel discussion about the effects of climate change Monday morning. He was set to participate in another panel about wisdom, holiness and vision Monday afternoon.
"Actually taking care about our planet is something like taking care one's own room, one's own home," the Dalai Lama said to the crowd Monday morning.
His last panel will be on youth leadership on Tuesday morning at UC Irvine. At the conclusion, an estimated 30,000 people will have attended the Dalai Lama's three-day birthday celebration, UCI spokeswoman Janet Wilson said.
For the Dalai Lama's birthday, well-wishers are asked to use the hashtag #WithCompassion on social media to spread messages of peace and kindness.
But not everyone is happy about His Holiness visiting Southern California. Hundreds of Buddhists from the International Shugden Community organized a protest against the Dalai Lama, accusing him of religious persecution of Shugden Buddhists. Protesters chanted, holding signs that read "Dalai Lama Stop Lying" and waving colorful flags outside of the panel venue in Irvine.
"For the last 20 years he's been abusing his power by creating an atmosphere of religious hatred within the Buddhist community and we're here to ask him to stop, to stop discriminating against people for their religious beliefs," said Len Foley, a representative for the International Shugden Community.
Al Jazeera reported in 2009 that the Dalai Lama banned the worship of Tibetan Buddhism's deity known as Dorje Shugden.
Foley said if the Dalai Lama preached equal treatment of Shugden Buddhists, discrimination against them would end.
"The Dalai Lama started this," Foley said. "He can end this right now by just telling people to just treat people equally. Let people do whatever they want, let them practice the religion that they choose."
The Dalai Lama says all he wants for his 80th birthday is compassion, a trait he believes can conquer almost anything. He blew out the candles on his birthday cake yesterday during a celebration in Anaheim. Today on his birthday, well-wishers can use #WithCompassion on social media to spread messages of peace and kindness. #DalaiLama
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Vikki Vargas contributed to this report.