By BRIAN ETTKIN, Staff writer
The Dalai Lama had been scheduled to appear today through Wednesday in Albany. He canceled those appearances because of negative publicity connected to the sponsoring organization, a Dalai Lama representative wrote in an e-mail Friday.
Yet days after scrubbing his April appearances in Albany, the Dalai Lama agreed to give a public talk May 6 at the Palace Theatre sponsored by the same organization, the Ethical Humanitarian Foundation (the World Ethical Foundations Consortium is an EHF initiative).
Lobsang Nyandak, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas, explained the Dalai Lama's change of heart in an e-mail:
"A delegation from the World Ethical Foundation Consortium recently met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala to discuss His Holiness's proposed visit to Albany, which adverse publicity had caused to be postponed," Nyandak wrote. "The delegation expressed sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused by their association with the Albany plans. They took the opportunity to clarify the background to the allegations that had been made against them and explained that their basic outlook is rooted in a proper sense of ethics based on truth, contentment and giving help to those in need.
"His Holiness expressed his appreciation of their views and suggested that if the allegations against them are unfounded, as they claim, they should exert themselves to clear their names. Otherwise, they should admit their mistakes and undertake not to repeat them in future.
"His Holiness emphasized the necessity of acting truthfully and transparently in whatever you do.
"Taking everything into consideration, His Holiness feels committed to supporting the expression of worthy ideals. Therefore, he has agreed to visit Albany on May 6th where he will give a public talk."
The EHF's and WEFC's co-founders, Sara and Clare Bronfman, the Seagram liquor heiresses, are affiliated with NXIVM, a Colonie-based company that conducts personal-growth training courses. Keith Raniere, the EHF's and WEFC's "conceptual founder," is the founder of NXIVM.
Critics say NXIVM (pronounced NEX-ee-um) is a cult-like organization that employs psychologically damaging mind-control techniques. Raniere's supporters say those accusations are unfounded. Numerous media accounts in recent years have pointed to the controversy surrounding Raniere and NXIVM.
Asked if the EHF, the Bronfmans, NXIVM, or its subsidiaries was making a charitable contribution to the Dalai Lama or a cause of his choosing, Nyandak wrote no, "nor does his Holiness charge fees or receive offerings for any events that he takes part."
Any proceeds from the Dalai Lama's appearances are "used for charitable and other purposes as per His Holiness' guidance," Nyandak wrote in a second e-mail when asked for clarification.
Clare Bronfman, the WEFC's event organizer, didn't immediately return calls to her cellphone Friday.
Sean Allen, the marketing manager for the 2,800-seat Palace, said he expects ticket information to be available early next week.
Brian Ettkin can be reached at 454-5457 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.