The Dalai Lama was paid $1 million to travel to America to endorse a controversial ‘sex cult’ that brainwashes and brands women, DailyMail.com can reveal.
The religious leader was paid to speak at an event hosted by NXIVM – a self-help organization described by former members as a ‘sex cult’.
The deal saw the Dalai Lama speak to 3,000 followers of NXIVM and place a khata – a traditional ceremonial Tibetan scarf – around the neck of the group’s founder, Keith Raniere.
Raniere’s supporters described the visit by the Buddhist leader as a ‘victory’.
Former computer programmer Raniere founded NXIVM in 1998, as a ‘personal and professional development program’ which he sold as Executive Success Programs, alongside his business partner, ex-nurse Nancy Salazman. It is pronounced ‘nexium’.
The ambitious group holds seminars and training programs for people ‘concerned with developing their skills’ and claims to have worked with more than 16,000 people in 30 countries.
But in recent years NXIVM has been exposed as a ‘sex cult’ with several former members lifting the lid on its dark side.
Some members are allegedly blackmailed, branded and beaten with paddles and at least two Hollywood actresses are among 70 to 80 women ‘trapped’ in the group.
Raniere also has a group of wealthy female recruits – including Seagram heiresses Sara and Clare Bronfman – who have plowed millions of dollars into NXIVM’s unorthodox practices.
Now DailyMail.com can disclose the extraordinary steps NXIVM execs have taken to further the NXIVM cause worldwide.
The pièce de résistance of their grand plan to make NXIVM a global brand was to convince the Dalai Lama to speak at an event they were hosting in Albany, New York in 2009.
The plot involved wooing the Tibetan Buddhist leader’s American aide; expensive gifts and foreign travel; an alleged steamy affair with the heiress to a drinks fortune, and claims of broken vows of celibacy.
It raises questions over exactly what the Dalai Lama was told before he appeared at the event in NXIVM’s hometown, and whether he was duped into giving a powerful propaganda victory to an organization under increasing scrutiny for its treatment of women.
DailyMail.com has learned that the deal was set up by the Dalai Lama’s self-styled ‘personal emissary of peace’ to the U.S., Lama Tenzin Dhonden. He was replaced last month amid accusations of corruption.
The Dalai Lama Trust removed Dhonden as its executive secretary, pending an investigation, following claims that the monk abused his position as a gatekeeper to the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
According to court testimony Dhonden and Sara Bronfman were ‘closely associated’ and Dhonden agreed to help promote NXIVM.
The monk arranged for Bronfman and her sister Clare Bronfman as well as Nancy Salzman, president of NXIVM, to travel to Dharmsala in India to meet with the Dalai Lama.
There they expressed their desire to invite His Holiness to Albany to meet controversial NXIVM leader Raniere and offered to make a suitable contribution to the Dalai Lama for his worthwhile causes.
DailyMail.com understands that offer exceeded $1million.
But, according to sources, what had been planned as a four-day trip to the U.S. visiting prestigious colleges alongside Raniere was suddenly cancelled after local media in Albany, N.Y., highlighted the Dalai Lama’s upcoming visit to the ‘cult’.
Triumph: The endorsement of the Dalai Lama included writing a foreword to a book by Keith Raniere
Concerned over the negative media attention, the Buddhist leader decided against the visit and publicly announced the trip was canceled.
But it is understood that the Bronfman sisters later flew back to India, this time with NXIVM leader Raniere in tow, in a bid to convince the religious leader the press coverage was inaccurate.
Following the meeting the Dalai Lama agreed to attend a one day event during spare time in a scheduled trip to the U.S. which was centered on visiting Harvard University, in Massachusetts.
Bronfman called the u-turn a success in a post on her blog. ‘After an onslaught of negative articles and powerful local personalities voicing their lack of support for his proposed visit, His Holiness postponed until the truth became evident,’ she wrote.
‘In the end the truth prevailed, but in the process we lost participants, money and good faith.’
In a YouTube video of the event held at the Palace Theater in Albany on May 6, 2009, Raniere can be seen in the audience on the front row as the Dalai Lama speaks.
Sara Bronfman and sister Clare can be seen up on stage alongside the Tibetan Buddhist leader.
However, the event seemingly backfired for NXIVM when the Dalai Lama, during a question and answer, was asked about his canceled visit.
The 81-year-old said of Raniere and NXIVM: ‘If you have done something wrong, you must accept, you must admit, change, make correction. If you have not done (anything wrong), make clear all these allegations (are untrue), truthfully, honestly, openly, transparently.’
Then he asked the media to investigate Raniere and report the truth of their findings.
Despite the rebuke, sources claim the visit was seen as a significant ‘endorsement’ by senior NXIVM members.
Raniere was even called on stage and His Holiness placed a khata – a traditional ceremonial Tibetan scarf – around his neck in what was seen bt NIXVM as a powerful symbolic gesture.
And on April 13 2009 the Dalai Lama wrote and signed off on the foreword for a book co-authored by Raniere called The Sphinx & Thelxiepeia.
After the visit Sara Bronfman wrote on her blog that the visit was a ‘victory for us’ and that she was proud to have been part of this ‘great feat’.
Her sister Clare wrote on her blog: ‘His coming brought about a certain contradiction: what is written about NXIVM, Keith, Sara and myself in the press – being labeled as a cult – and a world leader showing his support for us after thorough investigation.’
According to court documents, Raniere has ‘swallowed up’ more than $150 million of the Bronfman sisters’ fortune.
What’s more Sara Bronfman, it appears, was instrumental in securing the Dalai Lama trip for NXIVM.
According to court documents seen by DailyMail.com it is alleged the Dalai Lama’s aide Dhonden – who as a Buddhist monk took a vow of celibacy – was having an affair with Bronfman at the time the deal was struck.
In fact Dhonden, 53, became so close to Bronfman, 41, that she allegedly purchased a house for him in Half Moon, New York.
He is also believed to have spent time at her condo in Colonie, upstate New York, as well as her Manhattan condo in Trump International on Central Park West, which she sold in 2014 for $8.8 million.
If Bronfman did indeed buy Dhonden a property it raises further questions over his role with the Dalai Lama Trust and how he benefited from the deal with NXIVM.
A former publicist who worked for NXIVM in 2007 and 2008 has told DailyMail.com that Sara Bronfman first met Dhonden, known as Lama Tenzin, in Idaho in 2007.
‘Sara told Lama Tenzin that the Dalai Lama might find NXIVM’s tools useful,’ he said
‘He visited Sara in Albany and met NXIVM members including Keith [Raniere] in 2008. Keith thought that the Dalai Lama should come to Albany since his teachings were consonant with his own.
‘He wanted a ‘higher power’ endorsement and the Dalai Lama was perfect. Sara and Clare worked on the deal for over a year, and I was told by high ranking NXIVM officials that they donated a million dollars to the Dalai Lama Trust to make the visit happen.’
Parlato alleges that Sara Bronfman quickly became intimate with Dhonden while trying to win him over.
He said: ‘He’s clearly not a true monk because we all knew he was having an affair with Sara and it was ill disguised.
‘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’.’
Susan Dones, a former top ranking member of NXIVM, alleged that ‘cult’ members were aware that Bronfman and Dhonden were romantically involved.
She told DailyMail.com: ‘They traveled together to California, to Seattle, to Silver Bay, and Necker Island.
‘They were clearly a couple, but this was hidden to outsiders, and probably the Dalai Lama, since Lama Tenzin was supposed to be a monk, and he would have been defrocked if they found out.’
Parlato says Dhonden traveled with Bronfman to visit Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson at his luxury resort on Necker Island in the Caribbean.
Photos obtained by DailyMail.com show the monk cheek to cheek with Bronfman and posing with actress and NXIVM member Allison Mack.
Another shot shows the monk hugging Bronfman’s mother Georgiana Bronfman, who is married to British actor Nigel Havers.
And in another photo a smiling Bronfman poses with their host Branson.
According to Parlato, Bronfman broke up with Dhonden some time after the Dalai Lama’s visit. She has since married another man.
Parlato is currently embroiled in a legal battle with NXIVM after being fired after disagreeing with how the group was run.
He was the first to make claims about the cult’s allegedly sordid activities on his website The Frank Report and says the reality is terrifying.
The women’s-only group led by Raniere is known as ‘DOS’, which Parlato says stands for ‘dominus obsequious sororium’ – Latin for ‘master over the slave women’.
He claims that to join, women are brainwashed into handing over blackmail-worthy material such as pornographic pictures or financial information.
Once they are a member – or ‘slave’ – they are allegedly encouraged to recruit new women into their ‘slave pods’, stop dating, and be on call 24 hours a day to their ‘master’.
If they don’t recruit enough ‘slaves’ or respond to their ‘masters’ fast enough, they’re beaten with paddles, Parlato claims.
New members are later taken by surprise, told to strip naked and then forcibly branded, according to Parlato.
They allegedly have to follow strict 500 to 800 calorie a day diets because leader Raniere prefers slimmer women and tells his followers that fat ‘interferes’ with his energy levels.
The controversial leader is also said to have a harem of women who willingly sleep with him, believing that they will ‘be healed’ by having sex with the 57-year-old – who they apparently call ‘Vanguard’.
The women are branded with the initials KR – after NXIVM founder Keith Raniere. NXIVM has chapters in the US, Canada and Mexico, and has tried to expand to Ireland.
They also attempted to recruit and hold indoctrination seminars in the UK. Former ‘cult’ member Dones said Sara Bronfman flew NXIVM teachers to Belfast, in Northern Ireland, on a private plane to try to get a NXIVM center established.
‘Because of Sara’s constant need to publicly worship Raniere, she was out of rapport with the people of Belfast who thought it was too much like a cult,’ said Dones.
‘The center was never established.’
NXIVM leaders deny the allegations that their group is a cult.
Since the allegations emerged Raniere has moved from his Albany, New York home to Mexico.
Sources say he fled to escape both the limelight of adverse publicity and the possibility of being arrested.
US law enforcement is reportedly investigating Raniere and is focused on allegations of blackmail and coercive practices including branding.’
Parlato, who has worked to expose the workings of the ‘cult’, said: ‘I have spoken to at least a dozen escaped members.
‘I have seen many texts including correspondence between a ‘master’ and a ‘slave’. I believe there are currently 70 or 80 women in the cult now – but not all of them have been branded.
‘You don’t get branded right away. The branding is done by surprise and without disclosure.’
Parlato said Raniere uses self-help courses to recruit rich, famous or good-looking women to his inner circle.
He said he was retained by NXIVM without a full picture of its acivities.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the Dalai Lama’s office for comment on the NXIVM event and Dhonden’s involvement, but received no response.
Calls and emails to Sara Bronfman and to Dhonden’s legal counsel were not returned.
It is not known what the outcome of the Dalai Lama Trust’s investigation is or whether they have reached any conclusions regarding Dhonden.
In recent weeks Dhonden, who lives in La Jolla, outside San Diego, California, has vigorously denied the corruption accusation, which was made by a Seattle-based philanthropist. He has not publicly responded to the other allegations.