The 14th and current Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, celebrates his 81st birthday on July 6 — well, that's his 81st year as far as this lifetime is concerned!
The Dalai Lama line, which dates back to 1391, is said to consist of the same spiritual being reincarnated over many generations. Taking into account past lives, that would make the highest spiritual and political leader in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism about 626 years old!
Since the 17th century, the revered religious figure has overseen the Tibetan government from the city of Lhasa. After Tibet was taken over by China in 1959, the current Dalai Lama was forced to flee to Dharamsala, India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is now run.
While India remains his home base, the Dalai Lama has traveled extensively around the world. Here are just a few of the intriguing people he has met along the way.
The Dalai Lama with Lupita Nyong'o, Jeremy Renner and Eva Longoria at an event at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.
The Dalai Lama poses for a photo with the family of the late Steve Irwin — Terri, Bindi and Bob.
The Dalai Lama whispers into the ear of Archbishop Desmond Tutu while visiting Brussels, Belgium.
Prince Charles poses for a photo with the Dalai Lama at the Clarence House in London.
The Dalai Lama sits with the late Pope John Paul II as the pair look through His Holiness' book "Opening The Eye Of New Awareness."
The Dalai Lama and actress Sharon Stone greet each other at a speaking engagement in Los Angeles, California.
The Dalai Lama walks with Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi prior to a meeting in Prague.
The Dalai Lama greets U.S. actor Richard Gere at a speaking engagement in Long Beach, California.
The Dalai Lama meets with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C.
The Dalai Lama takes the stage with Russell Brand at a youth speaking event in Manchester, England.
The Dalai Lama speaks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and then Speaker of the House John Boehner during a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
The Dalai Lama and Carla Bruni, wife of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, attend the inauguration of a Buddhist temple in Roqueredonde, France.
The Dalai Lama arrives with former U.S. President George W. Bush at an awards ceremony where the spiritual leader was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in the Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C.
Editor's note: This story was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated with new information.
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