Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, spent his 70th birthday in exile.  The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959. In an interview with the Voice of America Tibetan service, he said his best birthday present would be for people to practice compassion.

In India, recently, thousands of exiled Tibetans braved heavy rains to celebrate the birthday of their spiritual leader.

The Dalai Lama and more than 100,000 Tibetans live in exile outside of Tibet.

China invaded Tibet in 1950 and then brutally crushed a Tibetan uprising in 1959.  Men, women and children were killed, and monasteries were destroyed. Since China has controlled Tibet the government has sought to repress Tibetan language and culture.

In a Voice of America interview, the Dalai Lama noted that he has lived as a refugee for the past 46 years.  But, he says, he has two reasons for not losing hope or being discouraged.

"First is that the people of Tibet have an unwavering faith and trust in me, and secondly, the teachings of the Lord Buddha help me to maintain my mental balance.  I never become hopeless or desperate.  I always have this thought:  whatever I do, I do it for the benefit of others," he said.

The Dalai Lama said the basis for happiness is compassion, and that inner development is more important than wealth or the external environment, even in exile.