The Dalai Lama spoke passionately about the need for schools and universities to give a moral education to children as he appeared at Glastonbury Festival for the first time.
Despite the rain, crowds gathered to hear the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader speak on a small platform near the healing fields.
It was very touching and very movingGlastonbury regular Merle Hansen
The audience spontaneously burst in to a rendition of “happy birthday” ahead of the 79-year-old’s birthday next week.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner said he had seen a young and old enjoying the festival, calling it “ festival of people, not politicians and governments”. Talking about the “man-made” problems across the world, he said: “Existing education systems are often orientated by the material value, external values. This problem is first created here. That’s the source of problems.
“There must be awareness of the importance of inner value. I think from kindergarden up to university level it is much better to include some moral education.”
He said they should be secular principles, which do not give preference to one religion over another, and can be implemented at all schools. In a light-hearted moment, when an audience member asked what he would do if he was not the Dalai Lama for the day, he said he would like to be a tractor driver on a farm in his home village.
The Chinese government said it was strongly opposed to any organisation which gives the exiled spiritual leader a platform.
A foreign affairs ministry spokesman expressed fears he could use the visit for the purposes of “conducting anti-China secessionist activities in the name of religion”.
But the Dalai Lama earlier dismissed the criticism as a “usual response”.
Glastonbury regular Merle Hansen was among the thousands who descended on the field to hear the Dalai Lama speak. “It was great, absolutely wonderful. It is absolutely perfect timing, so nice to see so many people here. It was very touching and very moving,” she said. “He is definitely the most talked about act at Glastonbury.”
Camper Ian Hamilton added: “You have to ask yourself why are people here? “They are here because of what he embodies, what he represents, which is love, forgiveness and harmony and happiness for the planet and the species.”
Later, the Dalai Lama walked on to the main Pyramid stage during a break in Patti Smith’s set.
The singer encouraged the crowd to sing happy birthday and presented him with a birthday cake, which he cut on stage.
Last night The Who were due to close the festival, taking campers back to the days of 1960s rock and roll. Other highlights yesterday included Lionel Richie, Alt J, Paul Weller the Chemical Brothers.