His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet is 77 today. He was born on July 6, 1935, in a small village in eastern Tibet. Since 1959, the Dalai Lama has lived in Dharmsala, India. He fled Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

About the time The Beatles went to India to study Transcendental Meditation with the Indian guru Maharishi, I became interested, like so many others, in the study of comparative religions, peace and love. Maybe not exactly in that order.

In our time, the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and dare I say Nelson Mandela, have all set sterling examples of how to stand for your convictions without purporting violence. These are but a few of the more famous role models for anyone giving lip service to the idea of making the world a better place.

Someday, perhaps, the people of Tibet (and Nepal) will all be free to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday without restriction. Someday, but not today. Fear of protests and uprisings still prevail in those regions, and the freedoms we in America so often take for granted are but a longed-for dream.

So let me wish a joyous Happy Birthday to Tenzin Gyatso, and may you be blessed by the knowledge that in your 77 years, you have had an immeasurable positive influence on the world. May we all be so blessed.