A Force For Good

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

1 minute

Episode two of the second season of the HBO-series The Vow—which focuses on the criminal trial against Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman and other NXIVM members—includes new footage of Raniere, Salzman and Sara Bronfman with the fourteenth Dalai Lama.

The footage was shot before or after the Dalai Lama’s appearance in Albany, NY at a conference in support of NXIVM in 2009.

Nancy Salzman’s voice-over makes clear what that footage meant to illustrate:

“Keith wanted us to get to the highest areas of entertainment. The highest areas of government. The highest level of every area of human endeavor. I thought that if people could understand each other, and the human struggle, we could resolve any problems, any problems in the world. And for people to believe it was just a big scam of a sex cult… it’s so horrendous.”

Clearly, to this day, the Dalai Lama’s involvement with NXIVM serves to boost the morale of (former) members by suggesting that ‘together’ they were a force for good—once upon a time.

I see no basis for this.

In real life, the Dalai Lama’s involvement with NXIVM—against the explicit advice of his American entourage—served to steal a march on a small group of former members and reporters who were seeking to expose it at that time.

By lending his name and prestige to serve NXIVM’s cause right then and there, the Dalai Lama actually undermined these victims’ effort to raise awareness within the judiciary that it was a cultic, abusive organisation—conduct of his that fits a pattern.

In 2020, Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison for sex trafficking and other crimes, effectively a life sentence. In 2021, Salzman was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for her role in the organisation. The Dalai Lama has yet to apologise for his service.

Originally posted as a series of Tweets on October 25, 2022 (with slight edits for clarity).

About the author

Rob Hogendoorn

Investigative reporter and academic researcher Rob Hogendoorn (b. 1964) began researching the reception of Buddhism in Western society and culture in the early 1990s. His modus operandi remained the same ever since: independent, inquisitive and provocative.