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Dharma Connect: The Dalai Lama and lululemon

If you were to go lululemon.com today, you'd see a photo of the Dalai Lama with a quote from His Holiness: "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." Presumably, pricey yoga clothes are not in the same category.

Am I being snarky? Yes. lululemon athletica inc. on Tuesday announced that it is partnering with the Dalai Lama Center "on a variety of initiatives including researching the connection between mind-body-heart, sharing the work globally, and expanding the reach of the Center's Heart-Mind education initiatives."

The company will donate $250,000 Canadian in each of the next three years to support the center's work.

Is that a good thing? Quite likely.

"At the Dalai Lama Center, our mission is to educate the hearts of children by informing, inspiring, and engaging the communities around them. We...look forward to working together to promote 'education of the heart,' which results in more peaceful, secure, engaged and compassionate children," said Fiona Douglas-Crampton, president and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education.

The center, a secular, non-political, not-for-profit organization, was established in 2005, cofounded by HHDL and Victor Chan.

Still, seeing the Dalai Lama on a website identified as "yoga clothes and running gear for sweaty workouts" gives me pause. There's no indication that they'll be offering a line of running tights with HHDL's face on the butt, or that he'll start showing up in slightly see-through yoga pants, but it feels icky to have his image, bowing, on shop.lululemon.com. Click on the "learn more about our partnership" link and you get to a page headlined, "psst! we're in a new relationship."

lululemon is a company in need of good will. Its co-founder stepped down last year after saying that the company's clothes weren't intended to work on women with large thighs. But the way they're handling their "new relationship" doesn't make me like them more.

It reminds me of the corrupt Thai police official in John Burdett's books who makes donations at the local temple to buy merit so he can go on behaving badly.

What do you think?

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Dalai Lama Center Responds

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.


thanks, Kim

good to know. although ... it was the Dalai Lama's face on the lululemon website.



I love Facebook, but the past few months I've noticed that most of what is posted are opinions opinions opinions - with very little fact or reflection (and I'm guilty as charged in this regard).

This story appeared several times in my feed today, each posting filled with outrage and/or disappointment with HHDL. I'm not sure how I feel about it, or if it matters how I feel about it, but it seems good that profits from lululemon are spent on something worthwhile. Also it's possible that the outcome of this association may be beneficial and be helpful to people. Who can know?

Thanks for this thoughtful post, dear Nancy!

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