As some readers know the Dalai Lama at his appearance in Albany which many believe was a paid appearance gave a white khata scarf or sash to Clare and Sara Bronfman and Keith Raniere.
As many others know, Raniere and his organization NXIVM/Executive Success Programs offers scarves or sashes to member/students based on a ranking system not unlike martial arts where the highest rank is black the lowest is white.
Tibetan khatas are usually white symbolizing the pure heart of the giver. Khatas can be presented at any festive occasions to a host or at weddings, funerals, births, graduations, arrivals and departure of guests etc.
The Tibetans commonly give a kind acknowledgment of “Tashi Delek” (meaning good luck) at the time of presenting.
The Dalai Lama is known to offer khata scarf as a gift which symbolizes purity of intention and the beginning of the relationship.
It is ironic however that Raniere is the only one in NXIVM who has a black scarf since no one else in all these years has reached the exalted state he calls unification – and yet the Dalai Lama gave him a white scarf.
IN martial arts a black belt is held by one who can hurt another. The Dalai Lama offered Raniere white- the symbol in Raniere’s ranking system of a beginner.
The khata signifies the pure heart of the giver i.e. his Holiness the Dalai Lama. It says nothing about the purity of the receiver. It signifies the beginning of a relationship not that the relationship will endure. My guess is the Nxians brought the Khata’s with them to have blessed and returned (offering for respect & gratitude below). There is a whole ritual to it.
How to Offer a Khata
Offering a scarf may seem to be a very simple gesture but in Tibetan traditions it has its own significance and protocol and is governed by tradition. To present a Khata, you first fold it in half length-wise. This represents the interdependence of each other. Then when you offer the scarf to a person, you offer the open edges facing the person you are giving; the folded section will be towards you, which represents your open pure heart, with no negative thoughts or motives in the offering.
There are two general purposes for offering Khatas, with greetings and well wishes being common to both:
RESPECT/GRATITUDE. For holy sites, honored monks, teachers, dignitaries and elders, the scarf is given with folded hands near your forehead, with a humble bow before them, with head bent over and palms joined in respect. You never put the Khata over their neck in this situation. In most cases the giver will receive his or her Khata back from the given, as a token of blessing back to them, especially when you visit high lamas and teachers. It is custom to put Khatas over statues, thangka painting, pictures of reincarnated Rinpoches and altar spaces. A Khata offered to H. H. the Dalai Lama and received back by a Tibetan personally will be cherished and preciously kept as it is now a very special blessing, a talisman and protector. It may never come back into recirculation from that Tibetan again. It is also flown and put on Prayer Flags before one hangs them as a sign of your prayers being sincere and pure, also as on offering to the gods for swift accomplishment of prayers and wishes.
AFFECTION/CELEBRATION. This is for special events, like marriage, birthdays, New Year, farewell and safe journey, welcome home, honor celebration of events and happenings, death ceremony and other day to day events in life’s journey. On these occasions you can offer khatas around the neck of recipients provided they are not from the first category, or lay it over the body, in the case of someone who is deceased.
“…khata scarf as a gift which symbolizes purity of intention…”
In other words, when The Dalai Lama put such a scarf on Raniere, it became the most sincere thing on that body.