Join our Mailing List

"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Details light on Dalai Lama visit

April 2, 2009

Emissary OK with event's connection to personal growth group NXIVM
By BRIAN ETTKIN, Staff writer
Times Union (Albany, NY)
March 29, 2009

The Dalai Lama is a busy man. Take a look at his
upcoming appearance schedule, posted on his
official Web site, http://www.dalailama.com/.

Between April 24 and Dec. 2, the 73-year-old
spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism with a pop
star aura will be globe-trotting from the United
States to Europe, from India to Australia,
lecturing on peace, compassion and Buddhist teachings.

What isn't on that schedule is any mention of his
planned five-day visit to Albany.

Organizers say that from April 18 to 22, the
Dalai Lama will appear for the inaugural events
of the World Ethical Foundations Consortium,
presented by the Ethical Humanitarian Foundation.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, April 19, he will speak at the
Times Union Center about the importance of
compassion and ethics in today's world. Tickets
for this event went on sale March 14.

Bob Belber, Times Union Center general manager,
wouldn't say how many tickets have been sold, but
he said he expects to sell at least 7,000.

EHF trustees and event organizers, Sara and Clare
Bronfman, announced earlier this month that they
have also planned a series of panel discussions
and other events at the University at Albany
featuring the Dalai Lama. UAlbany spokesman
Michael Parker said the school is renting out
space for, but not hosting, the events.

Details have been slow to develop for the campus
visit and the group has not updated its Web site,
which at presstime still stated: "Details
regarding schedule and tickets will be available
by March 25, 2009." That date has come and gone.

Repeated calls in recent days from the Times
Union to Clare Bronfman and to Lama Tenzin
Dhonden, a Tibetan Buddhist monk and the Dalai
Lama's emissary, in an effort to firm up these
details and find out why the Albany dates are not
included on the Dalai Lama's online schedule have
not been returned. Neither has e-mail to the
Dalai Lama's headquarters in India.

Most of the Dalai Lama's upcoming U.S.
appearances are sponsored by universities and
Tibetan cultural organizations. For instance,
from April 30 through May 2, a slate of
Boston-area events are being sponsored by Harvard
Medical School, the Tibetan Association of Boston
and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
where the Dalai Lama will be on hand to
inaugurate the university's new Dalai Lama Center
for Ethics and Transformative Ideas.

But the announcement in January that the Dalai
Lama would visit Albany as the guest of the EHF
raised eyebrows. That's because of the
affiliation among the Bronfman sisters, EHF and
NXIVM, which is also known as Executive Success
Programs. NXIVM is a Colonie-based company that
conducts personal-growth training courses.

Detractors say NXIVM (pronounced Nex-ee-um) is a
cult-like organization. Critics include former
participants and cult experts. NXIVM has been the
subject of a number of stories in the media since
its founding in 1998. Former participants have
alleged that NXIVM training involves
psychologically damaging mind-control techniques.

The EHF's "conceptual founder" is Keith Raniere,
who also is the founder of NXIVM. Prior to
starting NXIVM, Raniere ran a company called
Consumers Buyline that was forced to close after
investigations by 23 states and two federal
agencies alleged it was a pyramid scheme. He
reached a monetary settlement with New York state, but admitted no wrongdoing.

During a meeting on March 21 with a Times Union
reporter, Sara and Clare Bronfman, and Lama
Tenzin Dhonden, explained how the Dalai Lama decided to come to Albany.

Sara Bronfman said before she ever joined NXIVM
she had a vision of bringing together world
leaders and people of influence who share
humanitarian values to create a better world.

Clare Bronfman said she also had a vision of
"bringing His Holiness together with Keith
(Raniere), believing that we may have certain
tools that His Holiness would think would be good and beneficial for humanity."

Mutual friends arranged for Sara Bronfman and
Tenzin Dhonden to meet on separate occasions in
Sun Valley, Idaho, where she requested an
audience with the Dalai Lama, Sara and Tenzin
Dhonden said. Bronfman told Tenzin Dhonden that
the Dalai Lama might find NXIVM's tools useful.

"She was being very honest," Tenzin Dhonden said,
referring to Sara Bronfman's disclosures to him
during their initial meetings about the negative publicity NXIVM has received.

Before granting her an audience, Tenzin Dhonden
visited NXIVM's Colonie headquarters for a week
in January 2008 as part of a background check. He
observed courses and spoke with coaches and
participants, he said, and found them to be "very happy, friendly and sharing."

Tenzin Dhonden said neither he nor anyone else
representing the Dalai Lama has actually participated in NXIVM courses.

The Bronfmans and Tenzin Dhonden said that news
reports, along with the cult researchers'
evaluations of NXIVM programs, were sent to the
Dalai Lama's office in India. Tenzin Dhonden said
he'd "briefly" read some newspaper and magazine
reports on NXIVM. While he was observing NXIVM
training in 2008, he said, he did not interview
any former participants or NXIVM critics.

"I have my own intellectual resource, capacity,
to know persons, to feel persons," Tenzin Dhonden
explained. "I can pick up like that, very easily."

After Tenzin Dhonden's 2008 visit to NXIVM, Sara
and Clare Bronfman and Nancy Salzman, the
president of NXIVM, were granted an audience with
the Dalai Lama and expressed their desire to
bring the spiritual leader to Albany.

Brian Ettkin can be reached at 454-5457 or by e-mail at bettkin@timesunion.com.

Ticket prices

While ticket prices -- $52, $82 and $112 -- may
seem steep for the Dalai Lama's Times Union
Center appearance on April 19, they are similar
to those being charged at other Dalai Lama
appearances in the United States. Tickets for the
Dalai Lama's appearances on May 2 at Gillette
Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., sponsored by the Tibet
Association of Boston range from $22.50 to $200;
tickets for a May 3 appearance in New York City
sponsored by the Tibet Fund cost $35, $50, $100.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank