The Dalai Lama appeared onstage with Clare and Sara Bronfman on May 6, 2009, at the Palace Theatre in Albany, NY.
Nixvm leader Keith Raniere was in the audience and went on stage to be greeted by the Dalai Lama after the lecture.
HBO’s 9-part docuseries, The Vow, takes us behind the scenes to show what transpired in part to get the Dalai Lama to come to Albany and lecture for a largely Nxivm audience.
In 2016, two years before Raniere was arrested, I broke the story of how the Dalai Lama received a sizeable appearance fee for coming to Albany. Raniere and the Bronfmans try to buy the Dalai Lama
When I was working as a consultant for Nxivm, I was informed that the Seagram’s heiresses Clare and Sara Bronfman offered the Dalai Lama the sum of $1 million to make his appearance.
The Dalai Lama at first consented to appear for a four-day visit and to join Raniere in a number of public activities in Albany. This sparked a great deal of controversy. The Albany Times Union found it newsworthy that the Dalai Lama would agree to appear with the Capitol Region’s notorious local cult and it caused an uproar.
The Dalai Lama canceled his appearance.
Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman and Clare Bronfman rushed to Dharmsala, India, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile, to persuade him to change his mind.
Whether it was Raniere’s winning ways, or the promise of an additional donation by the Bronfman sisters, the Dalai Lama was persuaded to come to Albany. He consented to make a single appearance for a lecture.
After his appearance, Nxivm used this fact in their promotions and recruitment efforts, saying the Dalai Lama endorsed Nxivm and Raniere.
This has become part of the narrative about Nxivm and the Dalai Lama – and is sometimes used to impugn the Dalai Lama.
It not entirely fair or true.
Of course, the Dalai Lama took the donation. He shares a common enemy with the US – the Communist Chinese government. He has to maintain what is left of the Tibetan government, of which he is the secular and religious leader and has to maintain his monastic followers, and against a constant campaign by the Chinese government to destroy him and subsume Tibet in spirit as they have done with their land.
The survival of a Tibet in exile costs millions per year.
But the Dalai Lama did not endorse Raniere.
In their motion for bail for Raniere, back in 2018, his attorneys told the judge that “Raniere is an ethicist. His ethical teachings, which have focused on raising the level of humanity within each person, have been a source of help and inspiration to thousands of people. He has been recognized by no less than the Dalai Lama.”
Contrary to what his attorneys claimed, the Dalai Lama did not really recognize Raniere in a favorable light.
The Dalai Lama appeared in Albany, on May 6, 2009, at the request and at the expense of Clare and Sara Bronfman.
He spoke before a mainly NXIVM audience of about 2500 people.
He discusses Keith Raniere and Nxivm at 44:00 minutes into his lecture.
The following is the transcript of the Dalai Lama “recognizing” Raniere. [My comments and clarifications are in bold and brackets]:
The Dalai Lama was asked a question as to why he canceled his original trip to Albany.
Dalai Lama: “Oh. Firstly I received an invitation [from the Bronfman/Nxivm to come to Albany] that, in principle, I accepted. Then I received some request that I should not go there because of this [Raniere/NXIVM] is controversial; some allegations. [The allegations came out in news stories in the Albany Times Union and elsewhere].
“Then we carry further investigation. Then, finally, including this organization’s teacher [Raniere], and his, some friend, [Nancy Salzman and Sara Bronfman] came to see me in Dharamsala and I discuss, I observe, basically, they are carrying some kind of movement about ethics.
“Then, as I mentioned earlier, it is my moral responsibility to support any movement by any person who carry, who are working for ethics. Because in today’s world many problems essentially [are] our own creation. Nobody want[s] more problems, but due to lack of ethics, lack of principle, this unwanted manmade problems happen. Whether politician, whether businessman, whether a religious person, whether anyone, moral principle is very essential – like backbone.
“So, therefore, I felt, I feel it is my moral responsibility, but, at the same time, these allegations [against Raniere existed].
“So when I met them personally in Dharamsala, I told them very friendly, very openly, ‘As far your sort of work for promotion of ethics, I fully support. Is my moral responsibility, but, at the same time, those allegations [against Nxivm] you must make very clear. If you have done something wrong, you must accept, you must admit, and change, make correction. If you [have] not done [anything wrong], make clear all these allegations, truthfully, honestly, openly, transparently.
“Then some media – I [am] always telling media people, ‘media people should have long nose, as long as–
[At this point the Dalai Lama was interrupted by the NXIVM audience who burst into laugher and applause. They thought the Dalai Lama was criticizing the media, calling the media liars – when he said ‘long nose’ of the media – they assumed he meant as in Pinocchio. Nxivm was not friendly with the media. But, as we shall see, that’s not what the Dalai Lama meant.]
“Wait, wait, wait [applause dies down]. As long as an elephant nose, and smell, in the front and behind. That’s very important. And [the media should] make clear to the public what’s going on. Whether with the politician or with the mayor [Albany Mayor Jennings was onstage with him] or religion’s people, the bishop [RC Bishop Hubbard was onstage with him] or myself, [the media] must sort of watch and make clear, and inform public, provided it must be very honest, unbiased, objective, that’s important. Sometimes, say, one company financing a newspaper – then newspaper report [is] a little bit biased. I think not as biased as Chinese propaganda. But sometimes you see a little sort of biased sort of version also is happening. That must be avoided, must be honest, truthful.
“So, now I think in front of, I think the public, I want to to tell the media people, ‘please carry continuously, all these spots where you have some doubt [including about NXIVM, carry out a] thorough investigation.
“And those concerned people’s side [Raniere and NXIVM] ‘Also make clear. All your work must be transparent.
“So, that’s my view. So, I feel, no problem, come here, meet people, and talk. Because of some criticism [of NXIVM] remain distance? Not much use. Come face to face and talk, friendly, bluntly. Truth always win. So, more talk, more investigation [into NXIVM], truth will become more clear clear, clear, like that. So, that’s my answer.” [applause].
Of course, it is not the Dalai Lama’s fault that Raniere was not transparent.
The media investigated, including myself. And some eight years later I broke the branding and blackmail story which led to the mainstream media doing a lot of reporting on the matter.
I will leave it to the reader to ascertain whether Raniere’s DOS program pubic branding and his collection of blackmail material on women members is in consonance with the Dalai Lama’s recognition of him.
Yes, the Dalai Lama recognized him and, in time, truth became clear, clear, clear.