Albany, New York - As His Holiness is set to speak here in the Capital Region, the City of Albany is making sure he gets a dignitary's welcome.
"You're talking about a high profile individual. Obviously security is a concern," said Albany Police Department Spokesman Jimmy Miller. "But it's something that we've done before. We're working with the Department of State as well as the State Police to coordinate everything."
The Dalai Lama originally canceled a visit here scheduled for last month, reportedly upset over negative publicity surrounding the organization sponsoring the event, the World Ethical Foundations Consortium and its founder, Keith Raniere. Raniere, who attended RPI, also founded the for-profit company NXIVM, which, according to its website, teaches personal development.
"I see NXIVM as potentially dangerous," said cult expert Rick Ross. "In my opinion, NXIVM parallels the three primary criteria that one would consider for defining a cult.
Ross says he's been studying cults for more than 20 years. He says NXIVM’s methods have been described to him by some of its students as brainwashing.
Dalai Lama sponsor spurs critics
The Palace Theater in Albany will welcome the Dalai Lama Wednesday for a public talk. The Dalai Lama has his share of followers. He's been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Gold Medal. But his visit to Albany does not come without critics. Our Britt Godshalk explains.
"And I think that the Dalai Lama, by appearing in Albany, is allowing his reputation, his image, to be used in conjunction with that company by its founder Keith Raniere and I think that's a mistake," Ross said.
But if that's really true, why would His Holiness choose to come to Albany after all? No one at the World Ethical Foundations Consortium responded to our request for comment. Ross points to the consortium's co-founders, Clare and Sara Bronfman, heiresses' of the Seagrams fortune.
"They have a great deal of money. It is my understanding the Dalai Lama will benefit," said Ross. "So there will be money that will be given to his charities and though those charities may be worthy causes, I think it's wrong for him to appear in this particular event."
The office of the Dalai Lama in New York City did not respond to our request for comment.
His talk, entitled "Compassionate Ethics in Difficult Times" will be held at the Palace Theater in Albany, with a simulcast at the Egg.