Statement from Gabor:
To all those who have expressed your shock and dismay at the thought that I, or any program I am associated with, has anything to do with Yogi Bhajan, his organization 3HO, or with any Kundalini Yoga group:
First, I thank you for posting your concerns. In response, please know:
1. I am fully aware that Yogi Bhajan was a spiritual charlatan, an exploiter, manipulator, profiteer, and sexual abuser. He belongs to a long line of opportunists who turn their spiritual power into a means of feeding their egoic desires, causing untold harm to their vulnerable followers. Such people are to be found in many lineages, both Eastern and Western, and more such instances are uncovered each year—for example, Shambala most recently. For those interested in my exploration of this phenomenon, please see the YouTube discussion with spiritual teacher Adyashanti: https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/video/emotional-and-spiritual-maturity-gabor-mate-and-adyashanti (the discussion about trauma begins at about 42:00, of spiritual leaders exploiting their followers, at c. 50:00)
2. I have never had any personal connection with or interest in Bhajan’s organization. I am also neither a practitioner nor teacher of Kundalini Yoga, nor an advocate for it. Although I do (in a modest way) follow a yoga practice, I don’t find Kundalini practice personally inviting, hence am in no position to recommend it. I am also in no position to advise against it. Many people find it helpful, as I have witnessed.
3. My good friend Sat Dharam Kaur, a Kundalini teacher, helped to develop Compassionate Inquiry. Thanks to her devotion to CI and her organizational skills, over the past two years CI has been studied by well over one thousand health care practitioners in seventy-seven countries. Sat Dharam has experienced the practices of KY personally life-sustaining, hence was all the more agonized and appalled when the truth about her teacher Yogi Bhajan’s crimes was revealed. She has publicly said so. I acknowledge Sat Dharam’s integrity in recognizing the harms done by a teacher she had, at one time, revered. I have no judgment on her decision to continue her particular yoga discipline.
4. Kundalini is not a formal part of CI. Sat Dharam offers optional breath and related exercises to participants on a completely voluntary basis. No one is demanded or expected to follow these—I certainly do not, as I make clear to participants. Many are grateful for these yoga exercises; many other CI participants do not choose to take part in them.
5. In no aspect of Compassionate Inquiry is Yogi Bhajan or his organization ever mentioned positively or recommended; on the contrary, we have publicly spoken to our students about his deplorable actions. In my view, the leadership of his organization—despite their public avowals in wake of the scandal and despite their stated intentions, however well-meant—have still not taken full responsibility for their long-time blindness and coverup. I believe they have lacked the emotional maturity and strength to do so.
6. Sat Dharam will make her own response, as she has already done elsewhere. She is someone I completely trust.
7. I am open to continuing this dialogue with anyone wishing to engage in it.
Thanks again for your attention, participation in this discussion, and above all, for your commitment to the truth.
Statement from Sat Dharam Kaur:
Thank you for sharing your dismay and concern that Gabor should be associating with someone, such as myself, who practices kundalini yoga and was once a student of Yogi Bhajan.
Like you, I was shocked, disgusted and horrified when I learned of his actions, and the cover-up by individuals within the organization. I understand the pain of betrayal, loss and disillusionment.
My own journey had me examine my relationship to a teacher and teachings, my motivations for spiritual practice, and to evaluate the effects of that practice. That lead me to the realization that the greatest teacher is within me (and each one of us) and that the relationship I have with that teacher is what matters most. I continue to cultivate that relationship and am guided by it. I also recognize that I feel much better, more connected, whole, energized, intuitive and at peace when I practice kundalini yoga than when I don’t. It works for me. To allow a dead man’s actions or anyone else to take that sustenance away from me would be a disempowerment and disservice to myself. Kundalini yoga existed long before Yogi Bhajan. It does not belong to him or any organization, but to those who choose to practice it.
I do not represent an organization. I am myself – someone who has chosen to live as a Sikh and align with a set of values and a discipline that was modelled by Guru Nanak, and includes equality, inclusion, acceptance, non-dualism, faith, devotion and a search for truth.
My efforts to support Gabor’s work come from a desire to:
1. Recognize the trauma I experienced as a child, the coping strategies I employ, and the parts of myself that I suppress.
2. Help others to know themselves better, and be more compassionate towards themselves, through the use of Compassionate Inquiry.
3. Create a global network of Compassionate Inquiry Practitioners so that we can help people heal from trauma before they act out to hurt themselves or others
4. Bring this work into organizations and institutions so that society as a whole becomes kinder, more aware, and responsible.
There is a tremendous need at this time for humanity to heal, accept differences, take responsibility for our actions, beliefs and projections, and move towards repairing what has been dysfunctional, broken, distorted, disconnected and unsustainable. It is fulfilling for me to work within myself and with others to help facilitate this.
Sat Dharam Kaur