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Reminiscences of Penor Rinpoche's Terrible Tulkus -- Burroughs and Seagal

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:21 pm
by Tara
Reminiscences of Penor Rinpoche's Terrible Tulkus -- Burroughs and Seagal
by Tara Carreon
6/11/19

Jetsunma was staying at Professor Lin's house in San Francisco just after she had been recognized as a tulku by Penor Rinpoche. Gyatrul Rinpoche set me up. He brought me into the kitchen to meet her. I stuck out my hand to shake hers, saying something like, "Nice to meet you, Catherine Burroughs," at which point she adopted a steely, nasty posture and replied, reciting each word with haughty emphasis -- "My name is - Jetsun - Ahkon - Norbu - Lhamo." She did not take my hand. It was an ugly moment. I replied with a smile, "I think I should go now," and departed. Gyatrul Rinpoche, who knew I could be relied on to voice unfiltered opinions, had obviously set it up to see how I reacted to this charlatan, and confirm what he knew already -- that she was a bottle of Ripple being passed off as fine Bordeaux, and even regular folks could see it. Of course, only I would say it. Penor Rinpoche's first "American tulku" fiasco.

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I first heard that Steven Seagal had paid Penor Rinpoche $50,000 for his tulkuhood from some people who were staying at his Lava Lakes Ranch in Mt. Shasta around the time the tulkuhood was happening. I want to make it clear that Buddhists at that time, and as far as I can tell the same is true in the present, were not into gossiping. As an example about the extreme neurosis people had about "gossiping," when Jetsunma came to Tashi Choling, one of her students told me the story about how Jetsunma had taken custody and control over the baby of one of her students. She told it in an awestruck way. That was the first time I had heard the story, and I replied that I thought that was a pretty strange thing for her to do. She went straight to Jetsunma and told her what I had said, and Jetsunma sent back a message that my speech was very harmful to my lama's health. She sent the message through Naomi Mattis (mother of Elizabeth Mattis -- Dzigar Kongtrul's wife) and President of our Los Angeles center (that was based in my house near the beach at 914 Fifth Street in Santa Monica -- now razed and replaced with a condo). Even though Naomi was given to currying favor with the heirarchy and elevating herself, she didn't seem to relish the task of ferrying poison from on high. But Jetsunma was not one to let go of a grudge, and hounded me for a couple of years -- sending messages through go-betweens about my need to purify samaya. A real presumptuous psycho, that woman.

I was the only one I knew who was not into having my speech suppressed, and especially not about things that were happening in the community, and even more about persons who were harmful to the community. To me, gossip is saying untrue, nasty things about people, and spreading these lies around. I had a conversation with Gyatrul Rinpoche about "gossip." He said the injunction against it means, "Only say nice things, like 'Your dress is so pretty.'" I said, "that sounds pretty boring." He just smiled. We loved each other quite a lot.

So when insiders started talking about Steven Seagal having paid $50,000, a ridiculously small amount to pay for the entitlement, like corporate bandits who reap millions in tax breaks by taking Congressmen on a junket to the Bahamas, those insiders were breaking all their usual rules against "gossiping." Obviously, the rumors got back to Penor Rinpoche, which caused him to issue the statement in 1999 that it wasn't really true. But he didn't precisely deny it, so maybe it was. "Neither I nor any of my monasteries have received or sought any sort of substantial donation from him." This begs the question, "What is a 'substantial' donation to you?" If he had really wanted to enlighten us, he could have, should have said, "Anything under $50,000 is not 'substantial' to me." But instead, he left it vague.

This is hardly the speech of someone who values clarity. Like most Tibetan lamas, Penor Rinpoche simply asks us to take his word as law, and leave it at that. (Gyatrul Rinpoche was an exception -- I often disagreed with him, and he never shut me down.) When Penor Rinpoche says, "The first time I recognized a tulku, I was ten years old.... based on my own feelings .... that recognizing him as a tulku will be of benefit to others as well as to the Buddha dharma." His own "feelings"? I think this is a man who values himself too highly. Since when do our "feelings" count overmuch for anything, especially when we are 10 years old, and especially when placing someone in an important social position? Steven Seagal sat on our highest throne, the one Dudjom Rinpoche sat on, with his enormous feet sticking out (shoe size: 14), while Gyatrul Rinpoche sat on a pillow on the floor. And as far as "benefiting others as well as the Buddha dharma" -- is it beneficial to the woman or the dharma when he rapes her? Steven Seagal has been outed as a huge sexual abuser, maybe not on the level of the Sakyong or Sogyal, but in ordinary terms, definitely an abuser.

And as a person who has long seen the deficiencies of the Tibetan lamas' understandings of psychology, and the mind in general, and additionally as a student of media violence, I really objected to his statement that, "Some people think that because Steven Seagal is always acting in violent movies, how can he be a true Buddhist? Such movies are for temporary entertainment and do not relate to what is real and important." Movies definitely do relate to what is real and important, especially in a Buddhist sense, in that violent movies tend to make us more violent. "Thank you Penor Rinpoche for validating all of my ideas of your 'teacher' deficiencies."

Re: Reminiscences of Penor Rinpoche's Terrible Tulkus -- Burroughs and Seagal

Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:06 pm
by Tara
Statement by H.H. Penor Rinpoche Regarding the Recognition of Steven Seagal as a Reincarnation of the Treasure Revealer Chungdrag Dorje of Palyul Monastery
by Penor Rinpoche
1999

In February of 1997 I recognized my student, Steven Seagal, as a reincarnation (tulku) of the treasure revealer Chungdrag Dorje. Since there has been some confusion and uncertainty as to what this means, I am writing to clarify this situation.

Traditionally a tulku is considered to be a reincarnation of a Buddhist master who, out of his or her compassion for the suffering of sentient beings, has vowed to take rebirth to help all beings attain enlightenment. To fulfill this aspiration, a tulku will generally need to go through the complete process of recognition, enthronement and training.

Formal recognition generally occurs soon after a tulku has been identified, but only after other important lineage masters have been consulted. The newly identified tulku does not take on any formal responsibilities at the time of recognition.

The next step of enthronement may or may not occur for a tulku, depending on the circumstances. Enthronement formally invests the tulku with the responsibility of furthering the activities associated with their particular tulku lineage. Thus, if there are specific teachings and practice traditions associated with their lineage, and if there are perhaps monks, nuns, monasteries, retreat centers, lay communities and so forth for which the tulku traditionally takes responsibility, then the tulku is formally vested with those responsibilities at the time of enthronement. In the event that an enthronement ceremony is conducted, it may take place soon after recognition or some years later. If the tulku is too young to assume their responsibilities upon enthronement, others may be entrusted to take on those responsibilities until the tulku is ready.

Finally, a tulku needs to complete a formal course of training which includes years of study and meditation. This training reawakens the tulku's powers of insight and compassion and develops their skillful means for helping others. It is only after such training that a tulku is ready to take on the role of a teacher.

In the case of Steven Seagal, he has been formally recognized as a tulku, but has not been officially enthroned. He has also not undergone the lengthy process of study and practice necessary to fully realize what I view as his potential for helping others. When I first met him, I felt he had the special qualities of a tulku within him. According to the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) of the Buddhist tradition, all beings have within them the potential for becoming Buddhas. With Steven Seagal I perceived this potential to be particularly strong as accords with being a tulku. In the past, whenever I have met someone that I feel is a tulku, I have always consulted with other masters of the Nyingma lineage such as Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and other senior lineage holders. Similarly, after my experience of meeting Steven Seagal, I consulted with another important Nyingma master and with his concurrence, recognized Steven Seagal as a tulku.

With regard to the particular circumstances of Steven Seagal's recognition, while it is generally the case that tulkus are recognized young in life, this is not always so. For example, the great master Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö remained unrecognized for many years while he was an ordained monk at Kathok Monastery. He was over 30 years old, perhaps 35, and had completed his monastic education when he was recognized and enthroned as the first reincarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Wangpo. In his case, he had devoted his life to study and practice and was thus prepared for taking on the full responsibilities of being a tulku at the time of his recognition.

Prior to my recognition of Steven Seagal I myself recognized another tulku late in his life. Kalsang Yeshe Rinpoche, a monk originally from the Palyul branch monastery of Shibo in Tibet and later at Namdroling Monastery in India, was recognized and enthroned in 1983 at the age of 51. He too had spent his life studying Buddhism and meditating before he was recognized as a tulku. Because he had cultivated his potential through many years of diligent study and meditation, he was able to become a teacher and is currently the head of our Palyul Center in Singapore. So, in short, in the Tibetan tradition there is nothing unusual about recognizing a tulku late in their life. In fact, the recognition of a tulku who has been born in the West is especially likely to occur later in their lifetime because it will generally take much longer for all the conditions that are necessary for such a recognition to come together.

Steven Seagal has been recognized as a reincarnation of the 17th century hidden treasure revealer (tertön) Chungdrag Dorje (khyung brag rdo rje) of Palyul Monastery. Chungdrag Dorje founded a small monastery called Gegön Gompa near his native village of Phene in the Kutse area of Derge in Eastern Tibet. Though there are no monks there now, the small monastery building still exists and is well known in the area for its beautiful religious wall paintings.

As a tertön, Chungdrag Dorje rediscovered teachings and sacred objects hidden by Padmasambhava in the eighth century. Such treasures (terma) were concealed with the intention that they would be discovered and revealed at a later date when the circumstances were such that they would be of particular benefit to sentient beings. Texts of the teachings discovered by Chungdrag Dorje have apparently not survived the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Sacred objects discovered by Chungdrag Dorje include an unusually shaped bell, a phurba (ritual dagger), the syllable 'A' carved in stone and pigments used to create the sacred wall paintings in his monastery mentioned above. Several of these objects have been preserved and are still kept at Palyul Monastery today.

In the Nyingma tradition it is said that there are a hundred main treasure revealers and an even greater number of secondary treasure revealers. Among the latter it is not uncommon for the line of their teachings to eventually lapse. Though they were beneficial during the time they flourished, for various reasons some tertön teaching lineages have ceased. This would seem to be the case with Chungdrag Dorje.

Now with regard to Steven Seagal, he was born centuries after the death of Chungdrag Dorje. It is not uncommon for there to be a lengthy span of time between the death of a master and the appearance of his or her subsequent reincarnation. My own tulku lineage is an example of this. There was a 130 years hiatus between the death of the First Pema Norbu in 1757 and the birth of the Second Pema Norbu in 1887. This is common in all the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. As for how these gaps come about, while tulkus are understood to have vowed to be continually reborn to help beings, it is not necessary for them to take rebirth in a continuous sequence of lives in this world. It is believed that they can be reborn in other world systems where they continue their compassionate activities, returning only later to this world system. This is how such lapses in tulku lineages are understood in Tibet.

As for Steven Seagal's movie career, my concern is with the qualities I experienced within him which relate to his potential for benefiting others and not with the conventional details of his life which are wholly secondary. Some people think that because Steven Seagal is always acting in violent movies, how can he be a true Buddhist? Such movies are for temporary entertainment and do not relate to what is real and important. It is the view of the Great Vehicle of Buddhism that compassionate beings take rebirth in all walks of life to help others. Any life condition can be used to serve beings and thus, from this point of view, it is possible to be both a popular movie star and a tulku. There is no inherent contradiction in this possibility.

As the head of the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma School and more recently as the Head of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, I have had the responsibility of recognizing numerous tulkus. The first time I recognized a tulku, I was ten years old. This tulku was the incarnation of the great Khenpo Ngaga. He is still living in Eastern Tibet and continues to strive, to this day, to promote the welfare of others. Since that time until now I have recognized over one hundred tulkus. In addition I have overseen the training and enthronement of over thirty khenpos (learned scholars) and I am responsible for the welfare of the many thousands of monks belonging to the Palyul tradition. My concern in seeking to nurture these tulkus, khenpos, monks, as well as sincere lay people, has been to benefit all sentient beings. It is out of this intention that I have recognized tulkus in the past and will continue to recognize them in the future as appropriate.

In the case of my student Steven Seagal, I initiated the decision to recognize him as a tulku based on my own feelings about him. Neither I nor any of my monasteries have received or sought any sort of substantial donation from him. What is important to me are the qualities I have seen in my student. For this reason I feel confident that recognizing him as a tulku will be of benefit to others as well as to the Buddha dharma.

Whenever there is a new incarnation born or recognized, I personally feel very happy because it is like you have one more brother or sister. I take delight in such occasions as they seek to further compassionate activity for others. Being recognized as a tulku is an acknowledgment of one's potential to help others. Such recognition does not mean that one is already a realized teacher. The degree to which tulkus have been able to actualize and utilize their potential depends upon how they have been able to use their past circumstances and how they currently use their present circumstances to develop their potential. Each tulku must work to develop themselves to the best of their ability. The essential point is that a tulku should strive to help others in whatever life situation they find themselves. It is out of such an aspiration to help all sentient beings that I have recognized many tulkus in my life and it is with this motivation that I recognized Steven Seagal as a tulku. If all beings seek to have this motivation, what need will there be for controversies and confusion over the motivations of others?

Re: Reminiscences of Penor Rinpoche's Terrible Tulkus -- Burroughs and Seagal

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:03 am
by Admin
There is a lesson for everyone in Penor Rinpoche's recognition of Steven Seagal as "Chundrag Dorje," a Nyingma terton who discovered ritual objects, sacred pigments, and hidden teachings over a hundred years ago, and remains a revered saint in the Palyul Nyingma pantheon of which Penor Rinpoche is the head. First, it casts into doubt the validity of a holy man's "feelings" that someone has a head-start on sanctity. Penor’s statement says:
When I first met him, I felt he had the special qualities of a tulku within him. According to the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) of the Buddhist tradition, all beings have within them the potential for becoming Buddhas. With Steven Seagal I perceived this potential to be particularly strong as accords with being a tulku.
Second, it shows that someone dispensing a credential like “incarnate Bodhisattva” should not rely on the candidate’s own claims about his resume – for example, by believing Seagal’s claims that he has studied Buddhism intensively, which is the only basis on which he could be compared to a 51 year old Palyul teacher:
Penor wrote:Kalsang Yeshe Rinpoche, a monk originally from the Palyul branch monastery of Shibo in Tibet and later at Namdroling Monastery in India, was recognized and enthroned in 1983 at the age of 51. He too had spent his life studying Buddhism and meditating before he was recognized as a tulku. Because he had cultivated his potential through many years of diligent study and meditation, he was able to become a teacher and is currently the head of our Palyul Center in Singapore.
Third, it shows how misleading it is for the lamas to embellish the credentials of tulku-candidates by referring to the virtuous acts of their alleged prior incarnations, as Penor did with respect to Seagal:
Penor wrote:As a tertön, Chungdrag Dorje rediscovered teachings and sacred objects hidden by Padmasambhava in the eighth century. Such treasures (terma) were concealed with the intention that they would be discovered and revealed at a later date when the circumstances were such that they would be of particular benefit to sentient beings.
Fourth, it shows how a long explanation that addresses straw-man objections can provide the impression of a response to criticism, while actually simply evading it, as Penor did by addressing the gap between Chungdrag Dorje’s last incarnation and Seagal’s twentieth century provenance, implying in the process, that Seagal had spent the last 130 years in a Pure Land:
Penor wrote:Seagal … was born centuries after the death of Chungdrag Dorje *** these gaps come about [because they are] reborn in other world systems where they continue their compassionate activities, returning only later to this world system.
Fifth, it shows how lamas can make inconvenient facts disappear by branding them “conventional details,” that “do not relate to what is real and important,” like the unreal, unimportant detail that Seagal has made a fortune teaching people that brutal violence is the best way to solve problems:
Penor wrote:Some people think that because Steven Seagal is always acting in violent movies, how can he be a true Buddhist? Such movies are for temporary entertainment and do not relate to what is real and important. It is the view of the Great Vehicle of Buddhism that compassionate beings take rebirth in all walks of life to help others. Any life condition can be used to serve beings and thus, from this point of view, it is possible to be both a popular movie star and a tulku.
Sixth, it shows how lamas use their “compassionate intention” to gild all of their actions with the veneer of infallibility:
Penor wrote:My concern in seeking to nurture these tulkus, khenpos, monks, as well as sincere lay people, has been to benefit all sentient beings. It is out of this intention that I have recognized tulkus in the past and will continue to recognize them in the future as appropriate.
Seventh, it shows that sacred credentials like “tulku” are reduced to meaningless status-trinkets by awarding them to people who clearly lack basic qualities of humility, decency, and kindness, by making spiritual maturity an optional characteristic:
Penor wrote:Being recognized as a tulku is an acknowledgment of one's potential to help others. Such recognition does not mean that one is already a realized teacher. The degree to which tulkus have been able to actualize and utilize their potential depends upon how they have been able to use their past circumstances and how they currently use their present circumstances to develop their potential. Each tulku must work to develop themselves to the best of their ability.
As we now know, Seagal has been accused by many women of sexual assault and rape, using methods exactly like Henry Weinstein:
Newsweek wrote:Upon arrival, Guerrero and Rhodes were greeted by Seagal, who answered the door clad only in a silk robe. He ushered them into a side room, where he sat in an oversized, ornate chair on a platform (“We called it ‘the throne,” says Guerrero) and asked Guerrero to read her scenes. When she finished, Seagal, who was also a producer on the film, Fire Down Below, said, “You're fantastic! Tell me about yourself.”

“I drove home feeling pretty good about the audition,” Guerrero recalls, “and that same day my manager called. ‘Steven wants to offer you the lead,' she said, ‘but you have to go back to his home for a private rehearsal tonight.'”

Guerrero declined. The lead role of Sarah Kellogg in that film went to Marg Helgenberger (of CSI fame), but Guerrero was given a small part. On the day she arrived on set, she spotted Seagal talking to male crew members. From Guerrero's perspective, it seemed like a scene out of high school. “He was looking at me and then he'd say something to them and there'd be laughter,” says Guerrero, who was listed in the film's credits as “Blonde Beauty.” “Finally he approached me and asked, ‘Would you like to go into my dressing room?'”

Once again, Guerrero declined. She has never seen Fire Down Below and as far as she knows, her scene was cut. “When I read about Harvey Weinstein, the reports of him appearing in a robe triggered me,” she says. “That's exactly what Steven Seagal did. I found out later that he was notorious for this.”

‘TAKE OFF YOUR DRESS’: HOW MEN IN HOLLYWOOD, FROM STEVEN SEAGAL TO HARVEY WEINSTEIN, TREATED WOMEN FOR DECADES
It may have been the bathrobe that triggered Ms. Guerrero, but it’s “the throne” that should trigger Buddhists. This photograph shows the celebrity rapist sitting on a throne of equal height with the presiding lama at the enthronement of the new Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche:

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And this photograph shows him sitting next to Penor Rinpoche on his own throne, receiving obeisance from devotees:

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As we know, a number of putative tulkus have been accused of using their Buddhist credentials to seduce, assault, and silence women. Steven Seagal’s “seduction” methods include using bodyguards to hold women against their will, and on at least one occasion while serving as a Deputy Sheriff in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, using a gun and his police authority to hold a woman prisoner for six days:
Washington Post wrote:Nguyen claims she was kept against her will for six days at a secluded Louisiana home where Seagal and his family were allegedly staying. When she finally escaped, she claims Seagal chased after her with a “flashlight with a gun attached to it.”

Nguyen’s lawyer, William Waldo, told CBS News’ Crimesider that Nguyen did not call police because she believed they would listen only to Seagal.

“Mr. Seagal is the police,” he said. “She is in a remote area of Jefferson Parish. It is in the middle of nowhere and he is the police.”
Seagal's status as "the police" was the result of his ability to create a sick blend of entertainment and law enforcement in his reality show "Lawman," in which he practiced the manly art of chasing down black people accused of crimes:



The secret behind Seagal's effectiveness as a show-biz lawman? Sanctity! Dragging the Dharma in the mud by using it to legitimize police machismo? Thank Penor Rinpoche for this new spiritual low:



After Ms. Nguyen sued (click here to read original complaint), Jefferson County allowed Seagal to retire from “service” as a deputy, and didn’t open an investigation on the incident.

The list of Seagal’s female victims is extensive:
Washington Post wrote: In fact, Seagal has been accused of similar behavior by too many women to count. He was sued for sexual harassment by another of his assistants in 2001. Multiple women have also accused him of inappropriately asking for or offering sexual massages (sound familiar?), including Blair Robinson, granddaughter of Ray Charles. Robinson was hired as Seagal’s assistant, then quit after her first day when she said it became clear that sexual favors would be part of the job. Another woman accused him of putting his hand down her pants, then refusing to remove it until she screamed. During the filming of Seagal’s movie “Out for Justice,” four female staffers quit after alleging sexual harassment, including one “sexual attack.”
After the blowup in Jefferson County resulted in the cancellation of Seagal’s reality-show “Lawman,” that featured him breaking into houses to arrest black people, Seagal moved his home-invasion activities to Phoenix, Arizona, where convicted-felon-pardoned-by-Trump ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio welcomed him to ride in a tank that crashed through the wall of a man’s house to arrest him for “cockfighting” when all he was doing was raising chickens:



Violence against women, violence against minorities, hobnobbing with fascists? It’s all in a day’s work for a Tibetan Tulku, whose international reach took him to the Phillipines in 2017, where Seagal praised murderous dictator Rodrigo Duterte, after Duterte praised his plan to make a movie in the island nation about – of course – killing drug dealers:
Duterte told Seagal that “movies are a reflection of life” and “reiterated his strong stance against illegal drugs because it enslaves people to a form of synthetic chemical.”

Duterte has been involved in a deadly drug war since taking office last June, and on Wednesday ordered that all drug operations be left to the drug enforcement agency, amid unprecedented scrutiny of police conduct in the brutal crackdown that has left thousands of Filipinos dead.

Earlier this week, Seagal said at a news conference in Manila that he didn’t think the Philippines was “a dangerous place.”
“It’s a place that’s up and coming with the new leadership,” the Philippine Star reported him as saying.
Seagal and Putin are also friends, and Seagal put their friendship on a firm footing back in 2014 by appearing onstage with violent Russian biker gang that gave him a trophy of a man with a gun.
Think Progress wrote:Long considered an amusing, if slightly troubling, carnival sideshow to Russian politics, the Night Wolves are a motorcycle gang known for their outlandish historical reconstructions and fervent devotion to President Vladimir Putin.


We’re familiar of course with how gurus who behave badly often escape to their home country, like the Sakyong fled to Nepal after the Buddhist Sunshine Project cast an unwelcome ray of light into his corrupt lifestyle, and Sogyal fled France for parts unknown after his key students outed him for being a gluttonous rapist with an insatiable appetite. Well, thanks to Seagal’s close friendship with Vladimir Putin, Seagal now enjoys dual citizenship in Russia.

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Seagal, like his stage persona, is a multi-faceted man. He put out a blues record with a cut entitled “Alligator Ass” (don’t ask me why – I didn’t listen past the first forty seconds), and in 2017 published a novel entitled “The Way of the Shadow Wolves: The Deep State and the Hijacking of America,” with an introduction by Joe Arpaio. The novel was ghost-written by an eighty-year old who won the mayorship of Payson, Arizona by 325 votes, so when this pair writes about world politics, you know they’re speaking from a place of authority. A review on Vulture attempts a plot summary, that involves a self-projection of Seagal as the novel’s protagonist, “John Gode,” a Native-American lawman who gets kissed by wolves, pulls guns on ghosts and runs with “the Shadow Wolves,” a federal law enforcement unit of Indian officers who track smugglers here south of Tucson, and discovers the dreaded security hole in our southern border:
Vulture wrote: Gode discovers a different kind of “bad hombre” coming over the border: OTMs, or “other than Mexicans,” who are actually Middle Eastern people in a terrorist caravan (reminder: this was written two years ago). Gode cracks the case using his preternatural connection to the spirit world as well as just finding a shit-ton of Korans all over the desert.

Everything Wrong With Trump’s America Was in Steven Seagal’s Only Novel
Reviewer Kathryn Doyle wraps up her review with some thoughts that might have been helpful to Penor Rinpoche before he made this violence-loving, sex-obsessed, fascist-worshipping shitbag into a bogus Bodhisattva:
Kathryn Doyle wrote: It’s difficult to say for sure what really happens in this book or how it ends. It is a poorly written story from a deluded mind. *** What Seagal has done here is take the next step in the evolution of the written word, and define a new era of art in general. *** He gives us something beyond the unreliable narrator: an unreliable author. He has never asked himself, “What is real?” and doesn’t feel the need to start now. He accepts a world that doesn’t make sense and creates a fictional space by breaking rules he doesn’t even see. It’s a lovely kind of self-hypnosis: to create your own truth and believe it utterly. *** To lie to yourself without realizing it.
Let's not leave ourselves open to charges of unfairness to this putative tulku, though. We can let him have the last word. Check out his response to a BBC interviewer when she asks him about what he has to say about the allegations of sexual assault against him:


Re: Reminiscences of Penor Rinpoche's Terrible Tulkus -- Burroughs and Seagal

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:22 pm
by Tara
Penor's denial that he received any "substantial" donation from Steven Seagal reminds me of this denial by the Dalai Lama that he didn't receive $1 million to endorse NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere (a denial most likely written by Alexander Halpern, the Dalai Lama's lawyer, too). I would take apart and highlight the Dalai Lama's squishy language, except Frank Parlato of the Niagara Falls Reporter has done such a good job already. You don't usually see this kind of skeptical reportage. Except that it looks like he got a few dates wrong, and therefore his conclusion is wrong. The way I look at the documents, the Dalai Lama Trust actually started doing business on April 15, 2009, and submitted its charity application on May 4, 2009, so they were all set up and ready to accept the $2 M donation from Clare and Sara Bronfman when the Dalai Lama appeared on May 6, 2009, and gave Keith Raniere the white scarf. It's perhaps relevant that on the charity application, they indicate that as of May 4, 2009, they had not solicited any donations, even though they state they will be soliciting donations in the future. And Lama Tenzin, who was overseeing the trust fund, was having an affair with Sara Bronfman.

But it's another instance of a Tibetan lama being accused of receiving money to endorse a questionable spiritual leader. I think they did this all the time in Tibet, recognizing some important man's son as a tulku in exchange for money. And making important marriages with the religious establishment as if they were the aristocracy. As far as I know, Dudjom Rinpoche's second wife was the daughter of a Tibetan general. She wore a huge diamond ring on her hand. It was large enough to make this one banker go "Wow." But asking for money in exchange for dharma has been a regular practice of theirs, so receiving money to recognize some guy as a tulku is not really outside the realm of probabilities.

But comparing the Bronfman donation of $2 Million to the Dalai Lama with Steven Seagal's paltry $50,000 to Penor Rinpoche, I can certainly see how Penor would describe this donation as "not substantial."
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
by Frank Parlato
January 27, 2018

The Dalai Lama’s secretary has denied the Dalai Lama was paid $1 million by Clare and Sara Bronfman to endorse cult leader Keith Raniere. That may be true. He might have been paid $2 million.

The Dalai Lama’s secretary, Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, wrote:
Clarification in Response to the Daily Mail Story of 24 January 2018

The 24 January 2018 Daily Mail article by Ryan Parry regarding an appearance by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at an event held in Albany, New York in 2009 contains incorrect statements and untrue allegations.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. As reported in the Daily Mail, during His Holiness’s talk in Albany in 2009, he called 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.
It is true, the Dalai Lama asked the media to investigate Keith Raniere. But whether he received money or not is another issue. Let’s parse the above statement a little:

The Dalai Lama’s secretary said the Dalai Lama “never takes an honorarium or fee of any sort”.

A donation is not a fee or an honorarium.

The secretary said: “nor does he require that any payment be made to charities or organizations, as a condition of his making a personal appearance.”

Again, the secretary says a payment was not required. But he does not say a donation was not made by Clare and Sara Bronfman.

The Dalai Lama appeared in Albany on May 6, 2009 and he gave Raniere a white scarf onstage.
He allowed the Bronfman sisters to sit onstage with him. {For readers unaware, Keith Raniere heads a cult called NXIVM, which brands women on their pubic region with his initials and requires them to give him nude photos of themselves and other damaging material in case they reveal the secrets of his cult.]

The Dalai Lama may have received a donation that was understood to be an “unconditional donation”, not connected to his speaking engagement in Albany.

He may have agreed to speak in Albany and they may have agreed the donation was unconnected to his speaking so, therefore, it not ‘connected’ to his appearance.

The Dalai Lama’s secretary does not deny that the Bronfmans donated money. The Secretary said, “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.” [emphasis mine].


I get it: He did not receive the $1 million ‘in connection with His Holiness’s appearance’ but, again, the secretary does not say the Dalai Lama did not get $1 million [or possibly more] from the Bronfmans.

He only states the Dalai Lama did not get $1 million ‘in connection with his appearance’.

It may have been what is called an ‘unconditional donation.’


http://rapeutation.com/dalainxivm.1a.gif
Dalai Lama in Albany NY. Also seen are Clare Bronfman and Sara Bronfman

Now let us look at some coincidences:

The Dalai Lama spoke in Albany on May 6, 2009.

The Dalai Lama Trust was founded May 16, 2009. [10 days later].

http://www.dalailamatrust.org/

https://www.charitiesnys.com/RegistrySe ... 91673198EF}
Registration Statement for Charitable Organizations
New York State Department of Law (Office of the Attorney General)
Charities Bureau - Registration Section
120 Broadway
New York, NY 10271
www.oag.state.ny.us/charities/charities.html

Form CHAR410

Part A - Identification of Registrant

1. Full name of organizaiton: The Dalai Lama Trust
2. c/o Name: N/A
3. Mailing address, City, state or country and ZIP: 241 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016-6305
4. Principal NYS address: 241 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016-6305
5. Fed employer ID: 264635814
6. Organization's website: N/A
7. Primary contact: Lobsang Nyandak, Trustee, tel: 212-213-5010; fax: 753-630=6776; email: Inzayul@igc.org

Part B - Certification - Two Signatures Required

We certify under penalties of perjury that we reviewed this Registration Statement, including all schedules and attachments, and to the best of our knowledge and belief, they are true, correct and complete in accordance with the laws of the State of New York applicable to this statement.

1. President or Authorized Officer/Trustee: Lobsang Nyandak, Secretary, 05-04-09

[No second signature as required]

Part C - Fee Submitted
Part D - Attachments -- All Documents Required
Part E - Request for Registration Exemption
Part F - Organization Structure
1. Incorporation/formation
a. Type of organization: Trust
b. Type of corporation: __
c. Date incorporated: 02/23/2009
d. State in which incorporated: New York State

2. List all chapters, branches and affiliates: N/A

3. List all officers, directors, trustees and key employees
His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, First Chairman, 241 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016-6305
Lobsang Nyandak, Secretary, 241 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016-6305
Yodon Thonden, Trustee, 241 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016-6305
Tenzin Taklha, Trustee, 241 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016-6305
Jamphel Lhundup, Trustee, 241 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016-6305

4. Other Names and Registration numbers: N/A

Part G - Organization Activities
1. Month the annual accounting period ends: 03
2. NTEE code: N/A
3. Date organization began doing each of following in New York State
a. conducting activity: 04/15/2009
b. maintaining assets: 04/15/2009
c. soliciting contributions: N/A

4. Describe the purposes of your organization: The Trust is founded to fund and provide financial support, through grants and donations, for the activities of individuals and institutions belonging to, associated with and working for the welfare of the Tibetan community and other needy persons around the world, the study, preservation and promotion of the culture and heritage of the ancient civilization of Tibet in its many facets including but not limited to its history, religions, arts, crafts, architecture, medicine and way of life, and the promotion of education, human health and welfare and provision of basic human needs for all people.
5. Has your organization or any of your officers, directors, trustees or key employees been
a. enjoined or otherwise prohibited by a government agency or court from soliciting contributions? NO
b. found to have engaged in unlawful practices in connection with the solicitation or administration of charitable assets: NO
6. Has your organization's registration or license been suspended by any government agency? NO
7. Does your organization solicit or intend to solicit contributions in New York State: YES
8. List all fund raising professions (FRP) that your organization has engaged for fund raising activity in NY State: [blank]

Part H - Federal Tax Exempt Status
1. If applicable, list the date your organization: *The Dalai Lama Trust has not yet submitted its 1023 application to the IRS, but it is in the process of drafting its application and will be submitting it the near future.
2. Provide Internal Revenue Code provision: 501(c)(3)
See the Dalai Lama trust’s IRS return for 2009.
Image
8. Contributions and grants Current Year: 2,243,041.
See also: Dalai Lama Trust certificate of incorporation.

The IRS return shows $2.2 million in unconditional donations and royalties for The Dalai Lama Trust for 2009.

It could be a coincidence, but it is peculiar that the Dalai Lama appears in Albany on May 6, 2009 and 10 days later, The Dalai Lama Trust is formed in the USA – and gets $2 million plus in donations etc.

When I worked for NXIVM/Bronfmans, I was told by a high ranking NXIVM official that, prior to the Dalai Lama’s coming to speak [before he canceled the first time], the Bronfman sisters pledged to donate $1 million to him.

When he canceled, the sisters, plus Keith Raniere and Lama Tenzin, rushed to India to get the Dalai Lama to change his mind. I was no longer working for NXIVM. But I heard they offered the Dalai Lama another million [making it $2 million].
I never confirmed the second million and I never saw the checks.

It may be true the Bronfmans did not donate anything. But it seems far-fetched that the Dalai Lama came at his own expense to Albany and got nothing in return. And then a trust suddenly opens in the US just 10 days after his appearance?

What do you think?
**********************
Sara Bronfman’s Lover, Lama Tenzin, suspended by Dalai Lama over corruption claims
by Frank Parlato
October 31, 2017

Readers of Frank Report might recall that Sara Bronfman introduced the ‘Venerable’ Lama Tenzin Dhonden, the self described ‘Personal Emissary for Peace for the Dalai Lama’, to Keith Raniere around 2008.

The three worked together to bring the Dalai Lama to Albany in 2009 and reportedly Sara Bronfman and the Lama Tenzin, a monk, became lovers for a time.


According to the Guardian, on October 5, 2017, The Venerable Lama Tenzin, 53, was suspended as Secretary and Trustee of the Dalai Lama Trust. The suspension pends an investigation into allegations that Lama Tenzin extorted payments from A Washington State businessman in 2008.

Daniel Kranzler claims he was forced to pay Lama Tenzin as much as $250,000, some of it in cash, to prevent the Lama Tenzin from working to cancel the Dalai Lama’s appearance at the Seeds of Compassion event in San Diego.

Lama Tenzin denies the allegations. He maintains he received $50,000 in legitimate salary, plus expenses for his work. He retained Patterson Belknap, a New York City law firm, to defend against possible civil or criminal charges.

Attorneys for the firm said the event “occurred nearly a decade ago,” the accusations are “largely inaccurate and otherwise relate to conduct that is not unlawful, unethical, or even inappropriate” and were “designed to falsely and unfairly tarnish” Lama Tenzin’s reputation.

The case does raise two questions:

– Why did Kranzler wait nine years to come forward to claim he was extorted into making payments to Lama Tenzin?

– Why did the Dalai Lama suspend Lama Tenzin if the charges against him are so weak?

A Buddhist monk makes two vows: the renunciation of money and sex. While Lama Tenzin may or may not be guilty of the charges in Washington State, the record is pretty clear that he broke his vow of celibacy with Sara Bronfman.

***

Sara Bronfman met the Venerable Lama Tenzin Dhonden in Idaho in 2007. He visited the heiress in Albany in 2008. Sara encouraged Lama Tenzin to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Albany to meet and work with Keith Raniere. The Dalai Lama agreed to a four day visit in April 2009.

Clare Bronfman told the Albany Times Union she had a vision of “… bringing His Holiness together with Keith, believing that we may have certain tools that His Holiness would think would be good and beneficial for humanity.”

The Venerable Lama Tenzin told the media, “With the ethical tools developed by Keith Raniere, and the presence, wisdom and guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we have the essential ingredients to transform our society.”

It wasn’t long before the Venerable Lama Tenzin was transformed by Raniere’s ethical tools, it seems:

Lama Tenzin went with Sara to Necker Island for a NXIVM seminar.

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Sara Bronfman at Necker Island.

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Lama Tenzin with Sara’s mother Georgia Bronfman.

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Lama Tenzin with Raniere-disciple Allison Mack, at Necker Island.

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Sara with her host on Necker Island – Sir Richard Branson.

According to a transcript of a March 24, 2015, recorded telephone conversation between Barbara Bouchey and Kristin Keeffe, two ex-harem members of Keith Raniere, as filed in the court records of the People vs. Barbara Bouchey [Note: The case against Bouchey was dismissed because of the perjury of Clare Bronfman]:
Kristin Keefe: [Do] you know who Sara was having an affair with? Lama Tenzin.

Barbara Bouchey: Well, that was obvious.

Kristin: She was sleeping with Lama Tenzin, then she was sleeping with Emiliano.

Barbara: Well, here’s the thing, Sara’s mother’s best friend caught Sara and Tenzin in the hot tub canoodling.

Kristin: That was, what’s her name, Sue White?

Barbara: Yeah, they weren’t having sex, but they were in the hot tub in a hot-necking embrace. So, I mean, you could tell. I’ve showed up to her house a couple of times and the two of them come out of that bedroom.

Kristin: Yeah, I’ve seen him come out of the… bedroom. It wasn’t even a secret. Keith use to say to her in front of other people, how’s your husband?

Barbara: Yeah, I know, honestly.
Clare announced to the media that the Dalai Lama would appear in Albany for four days of talks and meetings in colleges, side by side with Keith Raniere. It would culminate with a lecture by the Dalai Lama on Sunday, April 9, 2009, at the Albany Times Union Center.

Stories in the Albany Times Union, the Albany Student Press, The Daily Gazette and Metroland reported people’s astonishment at the coupling of the Dalai Lama with Keith Raniere.

The Albany Times-Union reported that, despite the stature of the Dalai Lama as a religious leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Skidmore College and Raniere’s own Alma Mater, Rensselaer Polytechnic, declined to host the event.

A Rensselaer spokesperson explained, “While we have the highest respect for the Dalai Lama and his teachings, we chose not to accept the invitation based on a variety of considerations.”

The University of Albany agreed to rent out one of their arenas with a condition, “that by no means were we going to allow NXIVM to be part of our relationship with the Dalai Lama. NXIVM and the organization were not going to have any part with dealing with our students, or advertising or recruiting,” according to U. Albany’s vice president for development, Fardin Sanai.

Daniel Weaver, writing in the Schenectady Gazette, wrote “Keith Raniere has been involved in controversy for the last 20 years. He’s been the subject of lawsuits and investigations. He has initiated numerous lawsuits, many of which appear to be frivolous. He also harasses people…. He is hardly a poster boy for humanitarianism, peace and ethics; and his invitation to the Dalai Lama to speak makes one question the motive of the invitation.…. Raniere has not utilized compassionate ethical methods and solutions to address problems. Keith Raniere has brought anything but peace to the Capital Region.”

Following the negative publicity, the Dalai Lama canceled his appearance.
Times Union Publisher George Hearst spoke with a representative of the Dalai Lama. Afterward, Hearst said in his newspaper, “There’s enough stuff out there that (they) don’t need to expose His Holiness to this kind of risk.”

For NXIVM, this was a PR nightmare.

Sara wrote on her blog:
The highly paid media campaign designed to destroy our company, or any person or entity related to it, reared its ugly head at the news of [The Dalai Lama’s] visit. We had naively believed people would be excited about his visit and that our community would put their pettiness aside to unite for this momentous occasion. We were wrong. His visit was met with fear and cynicism and some of our local media sources worked ardently to destroy the honor faster than we could build it.”

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Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman in the audience when the Dalai Lama appeared in Albany.

Raniere and Nancy Salzman flew to India to see the Dalai Lama and brought Sara and Clare with them. The Dalai Lama agreed to deliver a single lecture. He was coming to the US for a Harvard University sponsored speaking engagement and could spare a couple of hours in Albany.

Sara called it a success.
“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,” Sara wrote on her blog. “In the end the truth prevailed, but in the process we lost participants, money and good faith.”
The press announced the rescheduling, noting that the Dalai Lama event moved from the 7,500 seat Albany Times-Union Center to the much smaller 2,800 seat Albany Palace Theater.

When questioned if there was any financial incentive from the Bronfmans connected with the Dalai Lama changing his mind about appearing in Albany, Lobsang Nyandak, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas, told the Times Union that the Dalai Lama would not receive money for his trip. When asked for clarification, he said that whatever money was received would be “used for charitable and other purposes as per His Holiness’ guidance.”

Reportedly, two days before the Dalai Lama’s appearance in Albany, the Dalai Lama Trust was registered in New York State.

Image
The Dalai Lama with Lama Tenzin.

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On May 6, the Dalai Lama spoke at Albany’s Palace Theatre to a crowd of about 2600.

Onstage, the Dalai Lama presented Sara and Clare with white silk scarves, called “kataks,” which, according to Tibetan culture, symbolize purity.

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The Dalai Lama appears onstage with Clare and Sara Bronfman.

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On stage with the Dalai Lama. How much it cost the two heiresses for this moment is anybody’s guess.

Seated cross-legged on a chair, the Dalai Lama spoke about compassion for an hour and a half.

When the time came for questions, the Dalai Lama was asked about his canceled, then re-scheduled, visit.

The Dalai Lama replied as follows:
Oh. Firstly I received an invitation that, in principle, I accepted. Then I received some request that I should not go there because of this is controversial; some allegations.

“Then we carry further investigation. Then finally, including this organization’s teacher [Keith Raniere], and his, some friend, {Nancy Salzman] came to see me in Dharamsala and I discuss, I observe, basically, they are carrying some kind of movement about ‘ethics.’

“Then, as I mentioned earlier, it is my moral responsibility to support any movement by any person who carry, who are working for ethics. Because in today’s world many problems essentially our own creation. Nobody want more problems, but due to lack of ethics, lack of principle, this unwanted man-made problems happen. Whether politician, whether businessman, whether a religious person, whether anyone, moral principle is very essential, like backbone.


“So, therefore, I felt, I feel it is my moral responsibility, but, at the same time, these allegations [of Mr. Raniere being an unethical person].

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Keith and Nancy listen attentively to the Dalai Lama.

“So when I met them personally in Dharamsala, I told them very friendly, very openly, ‘As far your sort of work for promotion of ethics, I fully support. Is my moral responsibility, but, at the same time, those allegations you must make very clear.

Image

If you have done something wrong, you must accept, you must admit, and change, make correction. If you not done [anything unethical], make clear all these allegations, truthfully, honestly, openly, transparently.’

Image

“Then some media, I always telling media people, ‘media people should have long nose, as long as (audience laughs and applauds)

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The NXIVM audience laughs when the Dalai Lama said the media should have a 'long nose.' I believe they thought he meant the media had the long nose of Pinocchio. But he asked the audience to stop laughing and explained he meant the long nose of the elephant.

… wait, wait, wait… [applause dies down] as long as an elephant nose and smell, in the front and behind. That’s very important. And make clear to the public what’s going on. Whether with the politician or with the mayor or religions people, the bishop or myself, must sort of watch and make clear, and inform public, provided it must be very honest, unbiased, objective, that’s important. Sometimes, say, one company financing a newspaper then newspaper report a little bit biased. I think not as biased as Chinese propaganda. But sometimes you see a little sort of biased sort of version also is happening. That must be avoided, must be honest, truthful.

Image

“So, now I think in front of, I think the public, I want to to tell the media people, ‘please carry continuously, all these spots where you have some doubt, thorough investigation.’

“And those concerned people’s side: ‘Also make clear. All your work must be transparent.'”

Image

“So, that’s my view. So, I feel, no problem, come here, meet people, and talk. Because of some criticism remain distance? Not much use. Come face to face and talk, friendly, bluntly. Truth always win. So, more talk, more investigation, truth will become more clear clear, clear, like that. So, that’s my answer.” (applause).

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The Dalai Lama makes a seemingly prophetic utterance when he says that transparency will make truth about Keith Raniere clear.

At the event’s conclusion, the Dalai Lama greeted Raniere on stage and placed a katak around his neck.

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The Dalai Lama places the white scarf of purity on Keith Raniere

After the lecture, Sara wrote on her blog:
“As we stood in the rain to say goodbye to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he touched each of our cheeks and held our faces next to his with the words ‘thank you’ and ‘see you again.’ Tears started running uncontrollably down my cheeks.… his visit was a privilege we fought for….. It was a long road, and one paved with hardship, adversity, and tremendous growth…. However my hope for humanity was restored by possibly the greatest leader of our time…. who has a strong enough sense of himself not to seek external security, and who conforms to truth as his standard …. It was a victory for us, for this region and for humanity. I feel proud to have been a part of this great feat.”
Clare wrote on her blog.
“Due to the ongoing struggle several of my closest friends and I have (had) here in Albany – how we have been portrayed in the media – his visiting and message was particularly moving. 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.”
The Dalai Lama asked the media to investigate Keith Raniere.

The New York Post, Vanity Fair, Forbes, The New York Observer, the Nation, and the Albany Times Union reported many things previously unknown to the public.

This included allegations of statutory rape; efforts to hide the paternity of his son; a lovesick letter he sent followed by veiled death threats to his ex lover; and that, according to allegations contained in court records, the Bronfmans, following Keith Raniere’s advice, lost more than $150 million in bad real estate and commodities investments, and detailed Bronfman-Raniere’s history of litigation. The Times Union called NXIVM a “litigation machine.”


According to sources, Keith told his followers that the Times Union paid women to lie on the record.

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Keith Raniere tells followers ‘the brighter the light the more the bugs.’

Earlier this year, the Frank Report broke the story about the human branding and blackmail scheme of Raniere. The New York Times then turned that into a worldwide story.

Hundreds of media outlets have since stuck their long noses into the Raniere camp. The smell has been piquant.
**************************************
Revealed: Dalai Lama’s ‘personal emissary’ suspended over corruption claims: Tibetan monk who is gatekeeper to the Dalai Lama in the US strongly denies allegations he demanded improper payments
by Katherine Ellison in San Francisco and Rory Carroll in Los Angeles
October 27, 2017 03.00 EDT

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The Dalai Lama (right) with Tenzin Dhonden in Idaho in 2005. Dhonden, 53, has been suspended from the Dalai Lama Trust pending an investigation. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

For more than 15 years, Tenzin Dhonden has stood between the Dalai Lama and multitudes of US philanthropists, celebrities, scholars and officials eager for even an instant in the revered Buddhist leader’s presence. In his red and saffron robes and gleaming bald pate, the smiling Tibetan monk, widely known as Lama Tenzin, has introduced himself as the Dalai Lama’s “personal emissary for peace”.

Yet the monk has now been suspended as secretary and trustee of the Dalai Lama Trust, a charitable organization chaired by the Dalai Lama, pending an investigation into allegations from a prominent Seattle-based technology entrepreneur who claims that, between 2005 and 2008, the monk abused his role to extract unjustified payments from him.

The Dalai Lama is said to have expressed “deep disappointment and concern” over complaints about his gatekeeper, which include the allegation he demanded payments in return for ensuring the spiritual leader appear at a major event in Washington state.

Dhonden, 53, strongly disputes the allegations. In a move that shows how seriously he regards the potential impact of the claims against him, the quiet monk, who is respected in Dharamsala, the hill town in India which hosts the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, has contracted Patterson Belknap, a major New York City law firm to defend him.

Attorneys for the law firm said in an email that the allegations against their client relate to events that “occurred nearly a decade ago, are largely inaccurate and otherwise relate to conduct that is not unlawful, unethical, or even inappropriate”. They added in the email the allegations have been “designed to falsely and unfairly tarnish” Dhonden’s reputation. A source close to the monk said any payments he received were for legitimate work done and business expenses.

Those lawyers are now locked in a behind-the-scenes battle with Daniel Kranzler, the Seattle businessman and philanthropist who claims that for several years he felt pressured into making payments to the monk, including some he alleges were made in cash to avoid leaving a trace.

Kranzler first relayed his concerns to the Dalai Lama during a face-to-face meeting over the summer, according to two other people present at the meeting. He has also laid out his accusations to the Dalai Lama in two letters, both of which have been seen by the Guardian.

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The Dalai Lama in London. Many relied on Dhonden for access to the spiritual leader. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Dhonden was not present at his San Diego home, a ground-floor apartment, during a visit this past weekend, and there is some suggestion he may be in India. The Dalai Lama Trust, which has a website that still lists Dhonden as its “venerable” secretary, has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

For more than two weeks, the Dalai Lama, and other figures close to the Buddhist leader, also held their silence, declining to respond to multiple requests for comment. However on Tuesday, the Dalai Lama’s personal secretary confirmed in an email that Dhonden has been suspended since 5 October, adding that the monk has been asked to respond to the allegations “in order to reach a conclusion” over the accusations.

It is a difficult predicament for Dhonden, whose star has been on the rise since 1991, when he arrived in the US and taught meditation and counseled terminally ill patients. In 2000, he founded a not-for-profit organisation called Friends of the Dalai Lama, based in La Jolla, California, near San Diego, which he still controls. Over time, Dhonden became the Dalai Lama’s de facto emissary, a position that led to frequent contact with some of the Buddhist leader’s many rich and well-connected supporters.

Many, but not all, relied on Dhonden for access to the Dalai Lama. “Everything I have to approve,” he told the San Diego Union Tribune in a 2015 interview. “There are many requests, demands coming to me.” The same article quoted admirers who praised Dhonden’s “equanimity” and “pure goodness”.

It is little surprise that Dhonden has, along the way, established connections with some of the Dalai Lama’s most high-profile US admirers – Kranzler said he introduced the monk to Steve Jobs, the singer Dave Matthews and other well-known artists and rich businesspeople interested in Buddhism. Dhonden may also have made enemies of some in the US over his ability to control access to the spiritual leader.
W​​e had no choice not to give in to what we clearly saw as blackmail

-- Daniel Kranzler, businessman and philanthropist
Concerns have recently been expressed by some other American Buddhists, for example, about the monk’s judgment following an 80th birthday celebration Dhonden organized for the Dalai Lama in California in 2015.

The event, held in Anaheim, south of Los Angeles, featured a giant golden cake, testimonials by minor celebrities and dancers in tight body suits who circled around the spiritual leader while a lotus flower-shaped contraption lowered other dancers from the ceiling.

Richard Grace, a Napa vineyard owner who has been friends with the Dalai Lama for more than 20 years, was in the audience, and was horrified. “How does anybody think that’s appropriate?” he said. “It was insulting.”


Grace, a former marine officer, blamed Dhonden.

Upon hearing friends and acquaintances also criticise the monk’s performance as emissary he resolved to alert the Dalai Lama – a task complicated, he said, by Dhonden loyalists in Dharamsala he claimed had insulated the spiritual leader from such complaints.

Grace contacted Marty Krasney, the director of Dalai Lama Fellows in San Francisco, who shared similar concerns.

The duo then enlisted Kranzler to join them at a meeting they arranged to convey their concerns to the Dalai Lama while he was speaking at the University of California in San Diego. The in-person meeting was, they believed, a rare chance to circumvent Dhonden’s influence over the spiritual leader’s information flow.


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The Dalai Lama and his emissary Tendzin Dhonden (far left) during a blessing ceremony. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

The meeting was scheduled for 10 minutes but ran more than an hour, according to those present.

Grace said the allegations of financial impropriety left the Dalai Lama “slack-jawed” with surprise – a description echoed by Krasney and Kranzler.

The most serious of those allegations relate to a large public event featuring the Dalai Lama that Kranzler’s charitable nonprofit, the Kirlin Foundation, organised in 2008 called Seeds of Compassion.

In Kranzler’s first letter to the Dalai Lama, which was sent in July, he said said it was only after his planners had reserved seats for 150,000 attendees and committed to several million dollars in expenses that Dhonden allegedly threatened to cancel the Dalai Lama’s trip unless he received additional payments.

Kranzler claimed the monk demanded “very substantial payment in various forms” for the event to go ahead, adding: “We had no choice not to give in to what we clearly saw as blackmail.”


The letter contained a breakdown of those alleged payments. Some were said to be documented in checks and bank deposits, while others, Kranzler alleged, cannot be traced because the monk “asked to be paid in cash to avoid records”. In all, Kranzler alleged in the letter, he paid Dhonden more than $250,000 in connection with the Seeds of Compassion visit. He further alleged it was only after the event ended and Dhonden asked him to buy him a $850,000 house to continue to arrange events with the Dalai Lama that “I said ‘enough is enough’”.

The source close to Dhonden said he had never owned a house of such value, and any payments he received were for legitimate work.

The San Diego meeting with the Dalai Lama, and ensuing letters detailing complaints about his emissary, were rare exceptions to convention around the Dalai Lama, said Robert Thurman, a Columbia University professor of Buddhist studies, who co-founded the Tibet House in New York and is one of the Dalai Lama’s closest US collaborators.

“It is considered a breach of etiquette to bring up unpleasant matters to the Dalai Lama,” Thurman said. That custom, he added, “leads to whistleblowers not being rewarded”. Thurman said the Dalai Lama never profits from conference talks or appearances, never even taking honorariums.


Ultimately, the Dalai Lama may now be required to decide whom he believes: his long-serving monk or a trio of American Buddhists now questioning his integrity. The case may also rest on the Dalai Lama’s interpretation of any documented payments to his emissary, and whether or not he believes they were justified.

A source close to Dhonden who asked not to be identified said the monk received far less than the $250,000 Kranzler claims he paid them, and insisted the payments he did receive were for legitimate work setting up the Seattle event.

The source said Dhonden received approximately $50,000 in salary in 2007 and 2008 for event preparations, plus legitimate expenses, but no clandestine cash payments. The source also asked why Kranzler only came forward this summer, nine years after he claims he was strong-armed into making these payments.

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‘It is considered a breach of etiquette to bring up unpleasant matters’ ... the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. Photograph: Ashwini Bhatia/AP

That question was addressed in Kranzler’s second letter to the Dalai Lama, which was sent earlier this month, after Dhonden’s lawyers mounted a strong defense of their client.

Kranzler said in that second letter that he “held his silence” for almost a decade “because in my own simple inept Dharma, I felt that it was inappropriate to speak ill of someone”. He changed his mind, he said, after he was “asked by a number of people in the community that support your wisdom and message of compassion, as well as several individuals in the Private Office of Your Holiness, to ‘tell the truth’.”

Ron Rabin, the executive director of the Kirlin Foundation at the time the alleged payments were made, said he had no knowledge of any under-the-table cash payments and had no direct conversations with Dhonden about cancellation of the event.
These false allegations, raised after nearly a decade, are an attempt to unfairly tarnish Lama Tenzin’s reputation

-- Statement from Tenzin Dhonden
However, Rabin said he was told by Kranzler at the time that the monk, who was not involved in the day-to-day organization of Seeds of Compassion, was threatening to cancel the event unless he received payments. He said the foundation concluded the monk was “the direct line to His Holiness” and “in that sense we had to keep Tenzin happy”.

Asked by the Guardian why he would have made payments to the monk if he believed they were inappropriate, Kranzler replied that had he not paid the money “the Dalai Lama wouldn’t have come to Seattle and thousands of lives wouldn’t have been changed”. He added: “If the cost of that was to pay the man, so be it.”


But it is clear that Dhonden, who has a reputation for being a humble and soft-spoken monk, is determined to fight back against his accusers.

“These false allegations, raised after nearly a decade, are an attempt to unfairly tarnish Lama Tenzin’s reputation,” a representative for the monk said in a statement to the Guardian. “Lama Tenzin has lived a modest life, working tirelessly to organize public events, that have enabled millions to connect with the mission of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”

The statement added that “any concerns” have “already been refuted by documentation” provided to the Dalai Lama Trust, adding: “We are confident that the truth will reveal itself and there will be a positive outcome.”

Additional reporting by Julia Carrie Wong