Shortly before the Dalai Lama’s appearance in Albany on May 6, 2009, [see Fact Checking Nxivm Stories: Did the Dalai Lama Endorse Keith Raniere and Nxivm?], Clare and Sara Bronfman funded the publication [Ethical Publishing LLC] of a 352-page hardcover book entitled “The Sphinx and Thelxiepeia” by Keith Raniere and Ivy Nevares.
Prominently noticed on the cover of the book is that there is a foreword by the Dalai Lama.
The book did not enjoy great sales. In fact, I observed hundreds of copies of the book sitting in boxes at Nxivm headquarters at New Karner Road. They were supposed to be sold at Vanguard Week but the response was tepid.
I have a copy of the book, given to me by one of the executive board members of Nxivm. I have not had a chance to read it and do not have it handy, so I cannot tell readers what the book is about.
Online, I could not find any information about the contents of the book.
According to someone who read it several years ago, the book is a collection of essays by Raniere that were previously published in a Mexican magazine, which I believe was Conocimiento Magazine.
An example of one essay, which is not necessarily contained in the book, is an essay published in Conocimiento called Sympathy for the Devil.
As for the two names in the title of the book, the Sphinx is a mythical being with the head of a human, and the body of a lion with the wings of an eagle. In the Greek tradition, the Sphinx has the head of a woman, who will kill and eat those who cannot answer her riddle. She makes an appearance in Oedipus. Thelxiepeia is one of the Sirens, seductresses that seduced men with their voices causing them to crash their ships.
Both of these two female mythological creatures are malevolent to men.
The reason for the title is not clear since the book is apparently not a book about Greek mythology.
The foreword by the Dalai Lama, so prominently mentioned on the cover is some 360 words. Nowhere does it mention Keith Raniere or Nxivm by name.
It is not known if the Dalai Lama actually wrote the foreword or knew about it. It is not uncommon for very popular and busy public figures to have their work ghost-written.
It is possible that the Lama Tenzin Dhonden, the Dalai Lama’s special emissary in the USA, approved and perhaps wrote the foreword and approved the inclusion of the Dalai Lama’s name.
It was supposedly written on April 13, 2009, about three weeks before the Dalai Lama’s public appearance in Albany, which was sponsored by the Bronfman sisters via their newly incorporated World Ethical Foundations Consortium and accompanied by a reported seven figure donation to the Dalai Lama.
It is also possible that the foreword was written by Raniere himself or one of his minions.
Here is the complete foreword from the book “The Sphinx and Thelxiepeia,” under the byline of the Dalai Lama:
Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
We human beings are naturally intelligent and we also have some freedom and flexibility of thought and action.
This wonderful intelligence is one of our unique human qualities. However, whether we use it properly or not depends on our motivation, and our motivation should be guided by truth and transparency. Humane values and ethics give our lives meaning. Science and technology expand our ability to understand and change life.
Today, our impact on the natural environment has grown to the point that we are doing damage to the planet as a whole. We can no longer think of economies and societies as separate. In our global community they are increasingly interdependent and our actions affect not just ourselves, but our neighbours throughout the world as well.
Now, more than ever, it is important that we examine the impact of our actions on each other as individuals, peoples, countries and inhabitants of this planet. Exercising our critical faculties in the ethical realm entails taking responsibility for both our acts and their underlying motives. If we do not take responsibility for our motives, whether positive or negative, the potential for harm is much greater.
The moral value of a given act is to be judged in relation both to time, place, and circumstance and to the interest of everyone involved now and in the future. It is conceivable that a given act is ethically sound under one particular set of circumstances, but that at another time and place and under a different set of circumstances it may not be.
The authors of this book present readers with a challenge. In seeking to contribute to building a compassionate, ethical humanity they often discuss recognized problems from unfamiliar angles. In the part of the world from which I come, there is a well known adage that even when offered gold, the wise test it, beating it and burning it to ensure its value before accepting it. This means that rather than take any advice on trust, we should think about it and ask ourselves if it is useful. If we decide it is, then the sensible thing is to put it into practice.
April 13, 2009.
There is some evidence that the hand of Raniere, who called himself an ethicist, is behind this foreword. We read about “Humane values and ethics,” of “Exercising our critical faculties in the ethical realm,” and of “building a compassionate, ethical humanity.”
These are Raniere phrases.
Also right out of Raniere’s playbook is the situational ethics argument, which he used, to much effect, in his arguments on the harm of statutory rape sometimes being caused more by society’s condemnation than the adult who has sex with a child :
As the foreword attributed to the Dalai Lama states, “The moral value of a given act is to be judged in relation both to time, place, and circumstance… a given act is ethically sound under one particular set of circumstances, but that at another time and place and under a different set of circumstances it may not be.”
Finally, Raniere was sometimes fond of using the word “adage” [he sometimes pronounced it “ah-daage”] and it seems he may have even possibly invented adages, such as his so-called Christian adage “the greater the light, the more the bugs” which we find him quoting in his “I have had people killed for my beliefs” video.
In the foreword, the Dalai Lama has an adage of his own to offer: “In the part of the world from which I come, there is a well known adage that even when offered gold, the wise test it, beating it and burning it to ensure its value before accepting it.”
This may very well be a Tibetan or Indian adage, though I could not immediately find it online.
Of course, it is not written as an adage, which is a proverb or short statement expressing a general truth.
Is this an adage, “When offered gold, the wise test it, beating it and burning it to ensure its value before accepting it”?
In any event, the world was offered gold in the form of the precious teachings of the Dalai Lama as it appeared in the foreword of Raniere’s 2009 book.
The wise must test it, before accepting that it is the words of the Dalai Lama. And even if the Dalai Lama wrote the foreword, do his words have any intrinsic value? After all, he wrote, “the authors of this book [Raniere/Nevares] … contribute to building a compassionate, ethical humanity.”
There are those who might disagree with the premise that Raniere contributed to building a compassionate humanity. However, if the Dalai Lama actually wrote the foreword, he apparently thought so at that time. Raniere’s present followers would agree.
Ironically, many of Raniere’s followers back in 2009, including his co-author, Ivy Nevares, as well as some of his harshest critics today, such as Mark Vicente, Sarah Edmondson, Camila, Kristin Keeffe, Karen Unterriener, Alejandro Betancourt, and literally hundreds of others, would have heartily agreed.
Today, they no longer think Raniere was trying to build a more compassionate humanity. It is not known what the Dalai Lama presently thinks.