SEATTLE—The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has issued a statement clarifying a recent media report alleging that the Tibetan spiritual leader had received a US$1 million donation from the controversial NXIVM* organization in the United States in 2009. The Daily Mail,** a British tabloid newspaper, reported on 24 January that the His holiness had received the donation in connection with a 2009 personal appearance in Albany, New York.
The official clarification, in part, reads:
We wish to categorically state that His Holiness the Dalai Lama never takes an honorarium or fee of any sort, nor does he require that any payment be made to charities or organizations, as a condition of his making a personal appearance. Therefore, the reported allegation has no basis. Neither His Holiness the Dalai Lama nor the Dalai Lama Foundation ever received the alleged $1 million in connection with His Holiness’s appearance in Albany. (The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)
In May 2009, the Dalai Lama, a highly sought after public figure, gave a speech in Albany at an event organized for the World Ethical Foundations Consortium, at the invitation of NXIVM. At the time, His Holiness praised the group for its work on global ethics, but he also addressed allegations against the group, as noted in the recent statement, calling on “the media to investigate the allegations made about the NXIVM organization and its founder, and was quite clear that the truth should be exposed.” (The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)
In October 2017, The New York Times featured an article describing NXIVM, which is based in Albany, as “secretive,” and quoting a former member of the organization, who characterized the organization as a “cult.” The following month, Tricycle reported that Tenzin Dhonden, a Tibetan monk who described himself as the Dalai Lama’s “personal emissary for peace,” was removed from his senior role in the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The removal was at least in part due to his connection with NXIVM, according to Thubten Jinpa, the Dalai Lama’s longtime translator. (Tricycle)
In the Daily Mail story, which stated that NXIVM “brainwashes and brands women,” whistleblower Frank Parlato is quoted as saying that the leader of NXIVM, Keith Raniere, “Wanted a ‘higher power’ endorsement and the Dalai Lama was perfect.” Other officials at NXIVM then made connections with Dhonden to arrange the meeting. These connections led to what Parlato claims was a sexual affair between Dhonden and a member of NXIVM, “NXIVM members have said they had seen Lama Tenzin at Sara’s house coming out of her bedroom, it was an open secret that they were having an affair, everyone was talking about it. Keith would call him Sara’s ‘husband.’” (Daily Mail)
Tricycle also reported that the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama did not issue an official statement about Dhonden when he was removed, and no statement about his status or connection to NXIVM has been made in relation to the recent donation allegation.
Tenzin Dhonden is the founder of the non-profit organization Friends of the Dalai Lama (FODL) and is still listed on its website as “personal emissary for peace to His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” as well as FODL founder and board chair.
Parlato has repeatedly detailed the allegations against NXIVM and Dhonden on his own website, writing: “Everyone in NXIVM knew the monk [Dhonden] was a fraud. NXIVM used him to get the Dalai Lama to come to Albany and endorse the cult leader, Keith Raniere. The Dalai Lama was too wise to fall for this and DID NOT endorse the cult or its leader.” (NYup.com)
* Pronounced “nexium.”
** The Daily Mail has been widely criticized for unreliable, poor quality journalism, and for its sensationalist editorial stances on issues such as immigration, LGBT rights, and unemployment, among others.
Clarification in response to the Daily Mail Story of January 24, 2018 (The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)
EXCLUSIVE: Dalai Lama was paid $1 million to endorse women-branding ‘sex cult’ after secret deal between Buddhist’s celibate U.S. emissary and his Seagram billionaire ‘lover’ (Daily Mail)
Inside a Secretive Cult Where Women Are Branded (The New York Times)
Tenzin Dhonden, Dalai Lama’s Gatekeeper and “Personal Emissary for Peace,” Replaced as Executive Secretary (Tricycle)
Dalai Lama Secretary denies $1 million paid to speak for Raniere; Yet Dalai Lama Trust founded 10 days after Albany speech with $2 million in donations (The Niagara Reporter)
Report: Dalai Lama received $1M from Albany ‘sex cult’ accused of branding women (NYup.com)