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Dalai Lama Center Responds to Public Outcry Over Lululemon Partnership

in Business of Yoga, YD News
The Dalai Lama with Lululemon CEO

The Dalai Lama with Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin

Just a few weeks ago the Dalai Lama Center and Lululemon rocked the proverbial internet airwaves when they surprise announced their new partnership. Fandom (of either party) aside, the news caused a collective flipping of lids as people tried to make sense of the collaboration with many left wondering, Is Lululemon turning over a new positive leaf? Or a desperate one? Are they trying too hard and too much too soon? Is the Dalai Lama selling out? What kind of luon will he wear?

The maelstrom of responses not only flooded social media, but Lululemon’s own website, one of the places where the announcement was made, and the consensus was not good. The news was also posted to the Vancouver-based Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education’s website, where it was recently followed up with a statement in response to the confusion, and in some cases, outrage over the newly forged partnership with the also Vancouver-based, LLL. Said partnership will see a Lulu donation of 250,000 Canadian dollars ($221,900 US) every year for the next three years to fund the expansion of the DLC’s “heart-mind” education initiative to promote positive social and emotional development for children worldwide – basically compassion training in the process of seeking scientific validation.

The statement, which was posted October 25, addresses the yogernet’s general concern for a conflict of interest, but dismisses any criticism of the Dalai Lama as being “mischaracterized,” making it a point to clarify several times that they are a charitable organization bearing the Dalai Lama’s name but that they, and their funding partnerships, are independent from the man himself (even if the Dalai Lama himself is hanging out and being snapped in photos with the Lulu CEO).

Geoff Plant, Chair of DLC Board of Trustees explains in the statement:

We are proud that our organization bears the name of the Dalai Lama because our work is inspired by His Holiness’ secular call for heart-mind education, but we operate independently, and are accountable to our Vancouver- based Board of Trustees. It is therefore not our practice to seek approval from the Dalai Lama’s Office for new partnerships or funding. The Dalai Lama’s Office was not involved in the donation and was unaware of the arrangement.

To reiterate, they are called the Dalai Lama Center, but damned if the Dalai Lama himself knows what the hell is going on when it comes to fundraising for the organization bearing his own name and likeness. And apparently it’s not that important.

The money and partnership will go towards “expanding ‘the village’ that it takes to raise generations of compassionate, kind, and resilient children by creating adequate supports around them,” according to a spokeswoman for the DLC. And with the help of Lululemon, as the brand’s CEO Laurent Potdevin said in a statement, together they have “a unique opportunity to further inspire a compassionate, mindful generation.” However, if you ask us, a company with a laundry list of heinous marketing, demonstrating the opposite of mindfulness, and a body-shaming, cult leader-ish founder who still runs the show, is not exactly who we’d tap to help inspire the next generation of compassionate individuals. But that’s just us. And maybe the Dalai Lama, who really knows?

Full statement from the DLC below:

Statement on recently announced partnership with lululemon athletica

Recent statements in social media have mischaracterized the partnership between the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education and lululemon athletica.

We are an independent charitable organization based in Vancouver. The formation of effective partnerships with other organizations and businesses is a long-established practice of the Center.

Our recently announced partnership with lululemon athletica is a wonderful example of how alignment of our visions can engage and empower healthy communities. This generous donation will support a variety of initiatives – all rooted in scientific research on heart-mind-body – allowing us to expand our work globally, beyond BC.

We are proud that our organization bears the name of the Dalai Lama because our work is inspired by His Holiness’ secular call for heart-mind education, but we operate independently, and are accountable to our Vancouver- based Board of Trustees. It is therefore not our practice to seek approval from the Dalai Lama’s Office for new partnerships or funding. The Dalai Lama’s Office was not involved in the donation and was unaware of the arrangement.

Geoff Plant,

Chair of DLC Board of Trustees

image via Lululemon

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8 comments… add one

  • Thanks Jennifer and YD! I feel better now!!!!

  • Life sometimes in the yoga world gets stranger and stranger!
    Let’s see what new bedfellows emerge in the zeitgeist.
    One could say trying too hard sometimes is worse than doing nothing.

  • Denise

    Wow, just wow..so all along this center which claims it is not really answering to the Dalai lama even though they use his name are in actuality operating outside his domain?? So strange. I feel if someone is using my name to form bonds with corrupt corporations, I ought to know about it, and that being said, when I found out..I’d likely be quite quick to take my name off their building. Still wondering why his holiness hasn’t come forward about this (how has no one told him??).

    Sorry, but this still feels wrong somehow.

  • Denise, of course you are right. Misrepresentation is wrong in any form. I personally could not rationalize the Dali Lama himself partnering with a corporate entity. That is what I understood was the case. To find that this was once again a misrepresentation however it became that, made more sense. In today’s world we all have to continue to question that which doesn’t align.

  • Drima

    The Dalai Lama is a fraud who sadly no longer has his peoples best interests at heart. The evidence is overwhelming.

    Did you know, he has made a religious ban which has caused massive disharmony in the Tibetan communities?

    Families have been torn apart by this ban and people are fearing for their lives having been put on the Central Tibetan Authorities ‘hit list’. The Tibetans who demonstrate against his ban risk their lives as either they are on hit lists or no doubt will be put on them for demonstrating. They are shunned by their families and friends who fear reprisals from the Dalai Lamas suppporters. There are signs on shops windows saying certain members of the Tibetan community may not enter. As well as this Shugden practitioners (who do the practice that he has banned – or try) are excluded from positions in Tibetan government, can’t access education or medicines. These are just a few examples of a whole range of travesties which the Dalai Lama could stop in one moment with just a few words. All he needs to do is to lift this ban which is a violation of both human rights and religious freedoms. Why would he not do this?

    I urge you to look into this. The suffering he has caused because of this is horrible.
    More info

    http://arebuddhistsracist.com/index.html
    http://internationalshugdencommunity.com

  • Mango

    Is this really an issue?

    1. The world is filled with establishments that take their names after people who they revere, dead AND alive (of which there are Dalai Lamas in both states). Sri Krishna Sweets, iHanuman, Sivananda Yoga, Martin Luther King Jr High School, Washington DC. I see no reason that an organization who supports the betterment of society and adheres to the teachings of a leader they respect should not be able to honor him by including his name WITHIN their lengthy title. It’s not subversive misrepresentation, it’s REALLY COMMON, and people are just trying to find something to complain about.

    2. Lululemon is an overpriced clothing company with a string of ignorant and rude leadership, and invisible pants. They are NOT NORTH KOREA. The money wasn’t earned through international arms deals or smuggling cocaine. It didn’t come from conflict diamonds. They don’t sell slaves. If they want to pledge to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to spreading the ideas of compassion and mindfullness worldwide, then a charity organization shouldn’t be criticized for accepting the offer of sponsorship.

    The webosphere seems to be responding with: “We don’t like Lulu, we don’t like the name of this organization, and we don’t like that there is money exchange happening between them.” Well, guess what! You don’t have to! They aren’t forcing you to suddenly like Lululemon because they donated money. Whether they are doing it because they care, or they are doing it for publicity, or whether they have just signed into binding contract with the devil: it actually Doesn’t Affect You At All. Even if you buy their pants, it still doesn’t affect you. The only people it affects are the people that (hopefully) will benefit from the additional funding of their educational directives.

  • It is informative post.

  • It added to my knowledge. Thanks.

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