Videos on abuse in Buddhist communities

The following videos, recorded during the 16th Sakyadhita Conference in 2019, are useful for understanding:

– the kinds of abuse that have happened
– in monastic and non-monastic settings
– in both Asia and in the West
– the typical responses of organisations to those who are abused
– and the process that communities go through as abuse is revealed.

“Personal Reflections on Rigpa and the Aftershocks of the Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche.”

“Silent No More! Critical Review of Sexual Exploitation in Buddhist Practice
— A Monastic Perspective”

PY is not a “Rinpoche”

We would like to inform the public that Yeung Leung Fong AKA Peter Yeung / Young (PY) has recently begun to style himself as “Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche”.

I was a direct witness in 2011 when an ex-follower familiar with Tibetan Buddhist traditions and customs caught him out for attempting to claim himself as a “Rinpoche”, and clarified the matter with senior officials of the Palyul Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist tradition which PY claims to be affiliated with. PY has waited for years to retry this by keeping his distance from Palyul. And with only the most brainwashed or uninformed followers left with him, PY is emboldened into believing that no one, not even the administration of the Palyul can hold him accountable for claiming this honorific.

The use of the title “Rinpoche” in the Tibetan Buddhist context is highly specific, it is either bestowed by higher spiritual authorities, by consensus of the Buddhist community, and never self-anointed. An in-depth explanation can be read in the previous post by ex-Pathgate member anon27: Peter Yeung’s use of the title “Rinpoche”.

PY will claim that his followers wanted to call him “Rinpoche”, as was the case over the years with “Sifu”, “DaShi”, “Dr”, “Venerable”, “Lama”, even the outrageous combination “Sifu Rinpoche”, but ex-followers have realised that these names were not willingly given to PY by his followers; they were manipulated, intimidated and coerced into using them, until they stuck, and then presented as norm to newcomers. This is one of the reasons why PY isolates his followers from the wider martial arts and Buddhist community and even the Palyul community, because they will discover that PY has been using these titles fraudulently.

By referring to himself officially as a “Rinpoche”, PY is in effect portraying himself as some special reincarnate being, to deceive unsuspecting, usually Western followers into believing that he is one. This is not only fraudulent, but also highly disrespectful to recognised and enthroned Tulkus in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Ex-followers easily recognise that this is PY’s decades-long pattern of giving himself undeserved honorifics. It is fortunate that with the power of technology, we are able to track PY’s history of self-aggrandisement from 2005 onwards. I invite everyone to examine the information carefully and come to your own conclusions:

Using as example the earliest archived version of PY’s profile on Pathgate’s website, one can see multiple obvious and subtle bogus claims. Ex-followers will also recognise the frequent usage of terms like “deemed by many”, “referred to”, “known to”, “renowned for” to deceive followers into believing that he is more widely recognised than he actually is.

PY’s profile reads impressively, but is in reality littered with fabrications, exaggerations, glaring omissions, and “subtle massaging of the truth” to gross misrepresentations:

“Director of Palyul Sangha International”.
This is a complete fabrication – it’s like claiming one is the “Director of Roman Catholics International”. Yes, there is a global Palyul sangha, but it is not in any way “directed” by PY.

“Long time disciple”, “personal attendant”.
In traditional biographies of Tibetan Buddhist teachers, there is clear information on where, when and with whom they studied with. Most even state where and when they were born. PY, on the other hand, provides little detail and no timeline of his background and training progression. He does not reveal the years he followed Penor Rinpoche, not even to long time followers. When on the occasion he was asked directly, PY’s responses has been vague and cryptic, sometimes angrily retorting, “how long have I NOT been with His Holiness!?”

One would expect an authentic teacher to be transparent about these details, but PY omits them to prevent people from knowing he is not actually authorised to represent Palyul to teach. By piecing together evidence and testimonies from ex-followers, we now know that PY lied his way into Penor Rinpoche’s inner circle by posing as a professional photographer, and spent at most 10 years with him, and never in the sort of closeness as PY made it out to be. PY may have indeed attended to Penor Rinpoche on several occasions, but surely did other ordained and lay followers when circumstances call for it. This simply means that PY was close in proximity, not close in relationship. It does not represent an endorsement of PY’s spiritual realisations, and it does not represent an authorisation to teach.

In case one hasn’t realised, PY is a layperson but wears the Tibetan monastic robes. PY claims to be a Ngakpa practitioner, and has worn its red and white robes in the past; but as with most of his claims, have no evidence to back them up – in this case – ordination from Palyul. Non-monastic practitioners, at least in the Palyul Tradition, “on completion of certain levels and requirements of Dharma study and practice are ordained Ngakpas in the Tibetan Buddhist order.”

“Extensive instructions” and “transmissions”.
Quoting karmabiting:

“[PY] states that he has received all kinds of major empowerments and initiations. That is true, but so did anyone who paid for the [one month] retreats. He also lists his various dharma names and titles, and explains their meaning. They are quite impressive. But anyone who has been on the Tibetan Buddhist path for long can reel out a hefty list of impressive titles and names. That is the custom.”

PY’s followers are misled into believing that these transmissions and instructions are close to impossible to receive, when most of them have always been available yearly in official Palyul centres in Europe and the US. It is apt to reiterate here that PY isolates his followers (which includes ordained monks and nuns ordained from Palyul’s Namdroling monastery) from the actual Palyul community. Instead, he runs his own “retreats” from his home city in the UK, brainwashing followers with plagiarised content retrieved from the internet.

“Recipient of three Honorary Doctorates (PhD)”.
PY omits where, when and how he received these degrees, and eventually, removed these mentions from his profile. Well, the PhDs are from here:, and one can decide for themselves if it is a credible university.

In contemporary society, a PhD is “an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field”. It takes years of dedication to complete. On the contrary, PY received these degrees after hosting a friend from the US. They can only be described as “bogus PhDs” or “fake doctorates”. On the same note, the “World Outstanding Leadership Golden Award” and “World Tai Chi Internal Power Highest Gold Award” were given by the same “Dr. Chiang” who ran all of the so-called “American Asian Federation”, “the International Martial Arts/Kung Fu Federation”, and the “World Chinese Medicine and Herbs United Association” and gave PY the degrees.

“Pioneer of Education”.
PY ran the so-called “Classical Chi Kung Study” for several years and then stopped it abruptly, charging extortionate amounts of money which was used to fund his globe-trotting and more importantly, to buy his way into Palyul’s good books. Ex-follower anon27’s testimony here reveals that

“…despite PY saying there would be exams and tests, there never were. The way he taught it was also a lot of waffle. It took me years to realise that without any kind of testing, none of us knew if we were “doing it right”, there was no sense of advancement, and PY didn’t have to actually teach anything! This meant nobody really learned anything more than if they had picked up a book, but we were paying top dollar of course. It was all martial arts with supposedly esoteric Chi Kung.”

“International Champions of Chinese Martial Arts”.
anon27 also recalled that:

“…the medals were won by a small group of early students, at various events, but these included many of PY’s own events!! I am one of the medal winners. Those medals mean absolutely nothing, they’re total bullshit, handed out like sweeties, mainly for just turning up.”

This is left to the last because it is the most significant in uncovering the fraud PY commits as a supposed Buddhist teacher. PY uses the term lama to refer to himself as a teacher/guru. And his followers, mesmerised by the exoticism of the Tibetan Buddhist imagery and rituals, the supposed supernatural powers of PY, and the presence of monks and nuns around him, believe him to be one. It appears very convincing, one has to admit.

However, in this age where the authenticity of teachers can’t be trusted simply based on appearances and by what they say, concrete evidence of their qualifications is vital. In Namdroling monastery, khenpos and lamas are enthroned yearly and receive authorisation and assignments to teach. PY has never enrolled in Namdroling’s shedra, the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute (NNI) to become a Khenpo after nine years of education, and has never completed the 3-year 3-month 3-day retreat to qualify as a Dorje Lopon. Shockingly, PY claims same status as these practitioners who had dedicated years to their education and practice, and calls them his “Dharma brothers”. He boasts about being praised regarding his scholarship being similar to that of a Khenpo, and that cryptically hints that “some lamas complete their retreat in the world.” This goes to show the level of audacity that PY possesses to maintain his guru persona. PY is in effect, claiming that he, who is not a tulku, is so realised and “spontaneously accomplished” that he can be exempted from Palyul’s formal education system, when even recognised high tulkus of the tradition all go through years of the prerequisite studies and training.

Over the years, PY brainwashes his followers to buy into the belief that paper qualifications are irrelevant in determining the quality of a real teacher. In fact, PY has been observed to disparage scholars and academics countless times, with what can only be described as an attitude of contempt. This is an insult to all contemporary educators and educatees in general; and more specifically in Palyul, to the legacy of the 3rd Penor Rinpoche and the dedication of thousands of NNI graduates.

With no formal education to back him up, PY fabricated his legitimacy by ingratiating himself with Palyul through financial sponsorship and projects. While these are meritorious acts, this only makes PY a generous sponsor, but not a lama, and definitely not a Rinpoche. He claims closeness with the 3rd Penor Rinpoche, but this makes him the occasional personal attendant and bodyguard, but, again, not a lama, and definitely not a Rinpoche.

The Palyul community is huge, diverse and occupied; most are unaware of PY’s activities outside of the monastery. Many, including senior figures, are well-intentioned but uninformed monastics who assume PY is one of them because he wears the monastic robes, not realising he was never ordained and never educated in the tradition. They are also grateful to PY as a sponsor for projects, unaware of the source of his money and his unethical conduct outside the monastery.

The handful of insiders who are indeed aware of PY’s misconduct have shunned him, or abide by the Tibetan etiquette of silence in response to complaints, or are unable to criticise PY openly because he skilfully hides beneath the banner of Penor Rinpoche and “lineage blessing”. The lineage hierarchy is not taking more assertive measures because Pathgate is not under the jurisdiction of Palyul.

Therefore, it is up to ex-followers who have experienced first-hand the magnitude of the deception and abuse, to come forward with our accounts and call out PY on his misconduct. We are motivated to stop further abuse and mind control of innocent students who genuinely wish to improve their lives. In the context of Buddhism, this is to prevent the Buddhadharma and its authentic lineages be brought into disrepute. It is in accord with the Dalai Lama’s exhortation, Western Buddhist teachers’ consensus, and personal advice I have received from senior figures in Palyul.

In short, PY is not a venerable, not a lama, and not a Rinpoche. Followers and ex-followers should take heart from the realisation that they are/were not bad students; rather, they were deceived, exploited and abused by an imposter.

PY the martial arts teacher

Many thanks to anon27 for his comprehensive debunking of PY’s supposed claim of superiority and teaching ability in martial arts (and by extension, Buddhism), in response to a question from me. It is important and beneficial for ex-students’ recovery. Text has been slightly edited to correct typos and maintain anonymity.

Dear anon27,

In the [CEI] forum you stated that PY failed as a martial arts teacher.

In PY’s defence, he constantly brings up the medals his students won in competitions. And he would talk about his travels, his connection to the Wu Style Taichi lineage masters and Internal Arts teacher. So we were led into believe he had a very successful time in martial arts and he left at his peak, because he found out education is the way to go. This is the same for his time as a dance teacher in university.

In your [20] years with him, what would be a more balanced or accurate portrayal to help us break some of the above programming?

Thank you,

Hi dear karmicwind,

This is a good question!

What we always have to remember is that PY is a master of blending fact and fiction.

Exactly like his current students believe they’re getting the secret, real Buddhism, his martial arts students believed they were getting “the real deal”. We all spent a lot of time and money on it, so we were invested in making it seem worthwhile, and making him out to be someone special. It served us to big him up.

PY has studied Buddhism, has spent time with HH Penor Rinpoche … but where is PY’s proof of endorsement? Nobody has ever seen it.
It’s like a person attending a course but not getting a certificate, then claiming because he was there, he knows it all. It’s just not credible, and actually proof he doesn’t have that endorsement.
Same with martial arts.
He claims the Lama robes, yet didn’t do the required course of study. This is objective fact. I think it’s the same with martial arts.

Also to remember, like with the Buddhism, if a student does practice, even under a fake teacher, we will get results.
PY claims those results are down to him.
They are not.
Anyone doing meditation and prayer will advance on the path.
Anyone practicing martial arts will get better at them.
The key point is: in martial arts, none of his students are recognised teachers.
After all this time, and PY’s supposed amazing ability and success, there would be a whole series of schools set up. This is what happens with other teachers.
How is PY therefore measuring “success”? What achievements can he point to? None.
Where are all these so-called medal winning students? Why is there NOBODY recognised anywhere that was a student of PY’s in either dance or martial arts?
Why doesn’t he say where the medals were won? Just “oh yeah, lots of medals”. It’s like Donald Trump.

I never heard PY taught dance, only that he studied it. Maybe he taught a bit.
From the little I heard, Newcastle Uni basically kicked him off the campus as a martial arts teacher because after a while they realised he was dangerous.
For a long time, when PY “taught at Newcastle Uni”, he was in fact just teaching on a patch of grass that happened to be on Uni grounds. He wasn’t associated with NU in any way.
He did teach for some time in one of their halls … but that’s a case of him paying them rent every week to use it, it wasn’t endorsement or association.
That he gives that impression is another indicator that he’s lying about something.

1.  I had a very good long term friend who is a student of Master Lam Kam Chuen.
Master Lam worked for Hong Kong (HK) Customs, has done TV series on Chi Kung, and has a very high reputation with proper official people, both in the martial arts world and in the wider world.
Master Lam is from HK, knew PY directly, and knows his reputation back in Hong Kong.
Master Lam was very negative about PY (in the indirect Chinese way, and also surprisingly directly), and this friend of mine told me it was well known in Master Lam’s circle that PY left a trail of destroyed students behind him.
This friend and I stopped being friends because he basically thought I was stupid to keep following PY.
Sadly, it took me years to figure out he was right.
You can contact Master Lam to ask about PY – maybe pose as a naif student asking for a reference. You’ll see what response you get.

2.  When I said he was a failed teacher I meant:

PY couldn’t make his living from it, because only few students would stay with him (us brainwashed ones).
Everyone with real interest or experience in Martial Arts left very quickly, often having been attacked by PY, both physically and mentally.
That’s why he moved into religion. He needed a better income stream, and a better cover.
Also, that his martial arts students never became really good, even after years and serious dedication.
In the same way that PY sabotages our Buddhist practice by introducing lies and a lot of fear, he sabotaged our martial arts practice. This way, we constantly struggle to advance, which makes it look like PY has achieved amazing things. He makes it 1000 times more difficult than it needs to be, so we all think “wow, if it’s this difficult, PY must be amazing”.
Do you see what I mean?

3.  I’ve not seen one person achieve anything like PY’s claimed level of expertise in Martial Arts.
Even Kunzang’s form is pretty shitty for someone who has been dedicated for 25+ years.
PY just doesn’t share what he knows, if he does actually know what he claims to know.
This means he is a fake teacher, even if he does know what he claims to know.
Interestingly too, no teacher who does have extraordinary ability in martial arts says they do. They don’t advertise it.
PY is the only one to have videos of void power on the web, in fact PY’s only claims to ability is based on believing he has “supernormal powers”. If we look at him, and his martial arts, without the “supernormal powers” element, suddenly we see he is in fact, very average.
Same with Buddhism – if we take off his robes, what do we see?
An obese bully who acts in a very nasty way to all his students.

4. Look at the comments under the YouTube videos.
All real martial artists say PY is simply ridiculous.
If PY’s martial arts powers were real, he could earn millions of $ in Mixed martial arts, or training MMA. He doesn’t, and never has.
This is evidence his skills are fake, and that he cannot teach.
He says it’s because that doesn’t interest him, but that’s like me saying “oh yeah, I could be a rock star, but it doesn’t interest me”. In the real world, that’s bullshit. Either be a rock star, or don’t talk about it.
He claims he could do anything better than anyone else in Buddhism and martial arts … but spends his time hidden away in Newscastle, teaching a bunch of zombies, who after many years of being his students are still very poor human beings and who display very little ability of their own.
This just isn’t real. If PY could do what he says he can do, he would have a much higher profile, and recognition.

5.  Look at these links:
a. []

The Chinese perspective on PY’s martial arts:
Sample: “Lama Dondrup Dorje, in the above video is … continuously misrepresenting Chinese culture, and brain-washing Westerners into following nonsense and believing in religiously inspired mythology. None of this Lama Dondrup Dorje expression is real. … non-Chinese people fall for what Lama Dondrup Dorje is teaching. The people in this video are the victims of a ‘cult’ mentality … These people are brain-washed to act in a manner that Lama Dondrup Dorje requires … How crazy all this seems from a genuine Chinese cultural perspective … Lama Dondrup Dorje and his misled ‘Taijiquan’ students, represent delusion in action, and displays how suitably motivated individuals can throw themselves around a padded floor, if the psycho-physical climate requires it.”

b. []

Sample: “[Peter Young’s video is] an interesting example of an unusual, but by no means ‘supernatural’ phenomenon. Music hall and vaudeville performers used the same principles back in the late 1800s, often presented as a demonstration of “human magnetism”; modern stage hypnotists and faith healers, likewise.”

c. []

Sample: “I can tell you an episode that in the gym where I learned became famous: [Peter Young] came to do an internship with us a Chinese teacher and wanted to show how people were flying with his Qi power; so my teacher gave him to try it with an experienced student (30 years of practice) ….
When in front of everyone he could not make him fly as he wanted (he did not move him an inch). Peter Young got very angry … He tried to find excuses of various kinds, but the truth was clear to everyone … go very cautious …. very very very …”

6.  The medals were won by a small group of early students, at various events, but these included many of PY’s own events!!
I am one of the medal winners. Those medals mean absolutely nothing, they’re total bullshit, handed out like sweeties, mainly for just turning up.
Those medal winners also included Michael C. [Surname redacted] – do you know who that is? If so, look at him, and see if you can believe he’s a successful result of many years of martial arts training.
Some of those early students were also really weird people … like many of the current students are now. If we met them outside the group, we would stay away from them. Even meeting them within the group, there are very few that I felt I wanted to know. From what you say, I suspect you felt the same. That’s another reason we don’t have lots of contact details of current and former students.
Real martial arts classes create strong long-term friendships. That’s a big part of it.
PY discourages friendships. This is very telling.

7.  When any of us students actually got any good at martial arts, PY would drive them away, because we started to beat him!
After a few years, I beat him. It wasn’t even that difficult. I was so surprised that I didn’t press my advantage, and let him win, because I was embarrassed to beat him. However, it was clear to us both that his skill was not as high as he claimed.
It was soon after that that he said he was abandoning martial arts because he moved into Buddhism as a higher form of practice.
If you take away the hypnosis / Darren Brown type stuff, then PY used to be able to move well, but that’s it. I think it was mainly his dance training, and his neurosis-driven focus.
This is one of the big reasons he stopped his students practicing martial arts. They were starting to reach the limits of PY’s ability, and he knew if he let them carry on, they’d see him for what he is.

8.  Because there is so much bullshit in the martial arts world, all respectable teachers are part of official bodies or are endorsed by other teachers. PY is part of no official body, and endorsed by nobody. This in itself is a very telling thing.
Where is PY’s proof of any lineage in Wu style?
If you look at Master Lam’s website, there’s loads of verifiable information on his lineage AND what his students / disciples are now doing.
PY has none of this – no lineage, and no inheritors. This is very telling.

9.  Many of the current students spent years training in martial arts. Then, suddenly, he stopped them. This is either a sign of a very bad teacher (“I’ll make you train for years, and pay huge amounts of money, then take it all away and tell you it’s all shit for some vague cosmic reason”); or of someone who knows that if the student continued, PY would be exposed as a fake, because the student would reach the limits of PY’s ability.

Objectively, it comes down to this:
Many people invested a lot of money and time in PY’s martial arts training.
None of them have achieved anything with it.
Therefore it was a bad investment.
Yet, he claims he is one of the most amazing martial arts guys in the world, and one of the best teachers in the world.
Therefore he is a fake.

I hope that helps!

Scientific research into abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities

Here is the recent paper by Dr. Anne Iris Miriam Anders from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich’s Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology:

Silencing and Oblivion of Psychological Trauma, Its Unconscious Aspects, and Their Impact on the Inflation of Vajrayāna. An Analysis of Cross-Group Dynamics and Recent Developments in Buddhist Groups Based on Qualitative Data.

Qualitative data was extracted from survey responses from victims and witnesses of abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities, such as Rigpa, Shambhala, Ogyen Kunzang Choling and Pathgate.

Abstract of the paper:

The commercialization of Buddhist philosophy has led to decontextualization and indoctrinating issues across groups, as well as abuse and trauma in that context. Methodologically, from an interdisciplinary approach, based on the current situation in international Buddhist groups and citations of victims from the ongoing research, the psychological mechanisms of rationalizing and silencing trauma were analyzed. The results show how supposedly Buddhist terminology and concepts are used to rationalize and justify economic, psychological and physical abuse. This is discussed against the background of psychological mechanisms of silencing trauma and the impact of ignoring the unconscious in that particular context. Inadequate consideration regarding the teacher–student relationship, combined with an unreflective use of Tibetan honorary titles and distorted conceptualizations of methods, such as the constant merging prescribed in so-called ‘guru yoga’, resulted in giving up self-responsibility and enhanced dependency. These new concepts, commercialized as ‘karma purification’ and ‘pure view’, have served to rationalize and conceal abuse, as well as to isolate the victims. Therefore, we are facing societal challenges, in terms of providing health and economic care to the victims and implementing preventive measures. This use of language also impacts on scientific discourse and Vajrayāna itself, and will affect many future generations.

Dr. Anders’ paper contributes to initial scientific investigation into the mechanics underlying the abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities and its impact on victims. It serves as an invaluable foundation for future research into this phenomenon.

The full paper can be read here.

Powerful Woman of Eternity

This is the testimony of “Chime”, who was a student from 2009-2012. Text has been edited for grammar and readability.

I met Peter Yeung (PY) and his entourage back in April 2009 in Athens where I was living at that time.

It was a very difficult period for me — I was sad and with no motivation in my life, a girl in her late 20s who was trying to find her place in the world.

I was fascinated from the beginning because PY gave me a lot of attention and seemed to care about me. I followed the lessons and got really into the whole Buddhist thing. During that period PY had starting teaching in Italy and asked me right away if I could go and translate his lessons from English into Italian. I thought “Wow! If he asks me to do something like this it means I have something special, I can get into his inner circle, I’m lucky…” and that’s how it all started.

In June 2009 I went to Italy for the first time with him and translated simultaneously the lessons, then I went in August to the last retreat held in Epidavros, Greece. I didn’t know what was going to happen there and on the first day I was shocked by the whole thing. I had decided to go with camping but it was really not for me. PY probably understood this and decided to offer me and another girl a gift: an apartment for us to stay for the whole period!

I became more and more fascinated by Buddhism, the lessons and all that I was hearing. I took refuge and received my Buddhist name: Chime Wangmo (Powerful woman of eternity).

Coming back to the real world it had become difficult because I was finding other people meaningless. Peter Young was becoming so influential in my life that my family began to get scared of what was happening. I dissimulated quite well and tried to be “normal” for them.

I didn’t have friends outside the Pathgate circle and was spending all my free time with its people, living with the monks and nuns, helping them at their centre, the organisation of the seminars, cooking etc.

The same year I went to the Winter Retreat in Newcastle, England for the first time and spent my Christmas there. After that, I was in Italy translating for PY, and was in England for Easter. Then everything changed during the retreat held in Athens in 2010.

I had a very big house in the centre of Athens and I don’t remember how this happened but he stayed in my place for the whole retreat and that’s how it began…

I can say I was really adoring him and he understood this and abused my state. We also started having a “relationship” and I was living a dream in those days, I was happy and feeling lucky I had him with me. This continued till winter 2010, when I was going to Italy with him, staying in the same hotel and with him at night, and him staying in my place In Athens.

(Editor’s note:
Q: “When you said “relationship” with PY, what do you mean? Did you and PY hold hands? Kiss? Have sex etc.?”
A: “Everything you mentioned.

Then I went for the winter retreat in 2010 and was hoping to have some private time with him like in other occasions. It was there that I saw his indifference and realised I actually meant nothing to him. I understood that he was just playing with me and that I was not the only woman. I was feeling frustrated and very sad because I understood this was normal for him and that after me, there would be others suffering the same fate.

I said to myself I had to give myself a time and leave all this, because I was becoming afraid that if I left the Pathgate entourage I would be cursed and ruined by his powerful means.

In Easter 2011 I met my actual husband and started going out with him. I understood what normal life was and wanted to find a way to escape Pathgate. I continued seeing PY in Italy, in my place in Athens, but I was really afraid of him and what could happen to me. I had to find a way to leave him and everyone.

In Autumn 2011 I decided to move back to Italy and live with the man who is now my husband. I said to PY I wanted to go back to Italy to help him create a centre in Italy like in Greece so he wouldn’t suspect anything. I moved in January 2012 and in early February there was a seminar in Milan. I didn’t invite him to my home in Milan and only went to pick him up at the hotel and translated his lessons.

It was then PY understood what was going on, and after the last day of lessons, he started screaming at me over dinner in front of everyone, and offensively saying that I was going to have a terrible future because I had lost the motivation and so on… I can’t remember everything he said. At the end he slapped my face in front of everyone.

I didn’t cry, tried to be calm and then went home. Before entering my apartment I cried in the car, called my mother who knew what happened, and I felt lucky to have at least her hearing me out and helping me.

It was the last time I saw PY.

I was free.

But I was scared he would interfere in my future, that he would do something evil to me or my beloved family.

I got pregnant the same year and lost the baby. After some examinations the result showed that the baby had Down Syndrome. I was shocked and thought this might have something to do with PY. I started suffering from panic attacks and went to see a psychiatrist. I took some medication for a few months.

Then I got married and now I have a normal happy life with two kids.

It’s only after years that I understood that PY’s influence was bullshit. Yet today, even if I feel free from it, I still check Pathgate’s website to see what is going on, and if he still teaches.

I want to share my story because I want to show women that the line between normality and getting involved in a cult is very subtle, and if you are in a difficult period, it’s very easy to be taken advantage of. Don’t be scared of what people tell you in there, nothing bad will happen to you. Buddhism is not like this. You can live a normal life after leaving.

Another Survivor Testimony

Reposting a recent message from another ex-student, with his permission.

Hi there,

Pretty random how I found [Pathgate Survivors] as I was looking for some incense. I was a student of PY from the late 90’s moving to live in Newcastle in 2000, I stayed there and experienced much of what had been described by others on your site until my “Buddha nature” spoke to me to leave in 2004, ironic as PY would have said this was pride talking… but literally was the only thing that saved me!

I was subject to many forms of abuse and because I had originally joined for the focus on martial arts I was repeatedly hit. Because of my practice I did well in his cult despite initially “breaking every vow possible” and being “destined to linger in hell for many lifetimes”.. this came from kissing another student… thankfully PY was there to “clear my negative karma” by systematically beating me..!

I would very much like to connect to others who I may know during my time there as they were truly great people who were so wrongly hurt.


The message speaks for itself, but to make it clear, several cult dynamics have been presented here:

  1. physical abuse, degradation and loss of dignity of student-victims.
  2. loaded language, in this case, “pride”, “vows” and “purifying negative karma”.
  3. fearmongering and shame-inducing by cult leader.
  4. delegitimisation and isolation of former members.

It’s great that we have, over the past year, been able to reconnect ex-students who had either self-isolated out of unwarranted fear and shame, or were forcefully isolated by Pathgate. We look forward to reuniting more of us.

Unrealistic Fantasy Toxic Bubble

The following is a testimony extracted from an email exchange with a former student “Kate” during the 2010s, reproduced with permission. It has been slightly edited for grammar and clarity. Victims’ names have been changed, details and dates have been redacted to protect their identities.

Hi “Christine”,

Ah, good that you have seen the [Cult Education Institute] forum, so many comments there resonate with what me and “Rachel” experienced.

In early 201? [date redacted] I made the mistake to place my trust in Loday (Marcus) and PY and believe that place was a safe environment to send Rachel for a short length of time for some respite. Instead of respite she was slowly indoctrinated and abused over a ten-month period, right up until our escape on [date redacted].

I best not go into too much detail into what she endured without her permission, but she might be able to tell you herself in time, she is still somewhat fragile from the ordeal, but she has made a remarkable recovery over the last two years.

Personally, I can tell you I visited Rachel in February, just for a few days. The next time I saw her was in July at the start of the Summer “retreat” — and I noticed there was a huge change in her, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on; she didn’t look well, but you, Christine made her smile and her mood lifted in your presence.

I had planned to stay for one week, however, Loday insisted I stay longer and emotionally blackmailed me with the threat of demons if I left. I wanted to leave but I wanted Rachel to come with me.

As I attended the “teachings” It slowly dawned on me that most of what was being said was disturbing. I also slowly figured out I was being lied to, spied on, under some sort of surveillance, blackmailed, expected to obey instructions/orders against my will, and so on.

One lunchtime in August/Sept I went to the library (in secret — remember library & books/reading were banned!) and I happened to bump into the recently “disrobed ani” who PY had thrown out. It was so very sad, she looked so different dressed in plain clothes with her hair grown out, her eyes were red raw and swollen — through crying. She was in a state, but did not disclose any info or confide in me. I did not let on I had seen and spoken to her — I only told Rachel. But I was thinking What The Blazes is going on here?!

To cut another long story short, just before that Summer “retreat” I had managed to secure a new rented home [details redacted] in [location redacted]. [Something serious occurred and] I was instructed not to return to my home to sort things out. So inevitably I was promptly served eviction notice from my landlord [details redacted]. Eventually, end of Sept, and without PY or Loday’s permission, I left Newcastle to go home only to find I was indeed homeless and everything was a mess.

Back home, I packed the boxes up and sorted out what needed to be done. I then returned to Newcastle to get Rachel out. Upon my return Loday was off hand with me, and I think he was told not to speak to me. The fact Loday had interfered in my life to such a degree to contributing making me homeless jolted Rachel into the stark reality of how dangerous, abusive and controlling these people were. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Loday told Rachel that me being made homeless was not a problem — it was karma, nothing to worry about! Loday continued to lie, break promises, snitch/report back to PY all information he could gather etc. As I’ve said before, I realise Loday is a victim and he was obeying PY’s orders with all he was saying and doing. Personally, I didn’t witness any actions of a real Buddhist. Loday was living in an unrealistic fantasy toxic bubble! But like everyone there, he was brainwashed.

Shortly after this, in October a weekend teaching took place and PY called me names (i.e. garbage), verbally abused me, humiliated me and berated me the whole day in front of everyone [details redacted] and threw a heavy stick at my head that slammed against the wall behind me. [Details redacted]

I phoned a friend of mine in [location redacted] to ask for a £25 loan for diesel for my car so that we could secretly pack my car up and quietly escape. I needed the loan for diesel to drive us to [location redacted], because ALL our money had been taken by them — their financial abuse. We had almost completed the task of packing my car up, and one of the Ani’s smelled a rat, and discovered we were preparing to leave. She tried to coerce Rachel to stay, telling her to sit down and wait for PY to return from his trip abroad, she said it was “important to at least listen to PY or ask permission to leave with his blessing”. Yeah, can you believe that! Anyhow, I was in a rush to go, so I bundled the last things in the car and then I ushered Rachel into my car and off we went.

When we reached [location redacted], Rachel found a safe place with the help of an ex-student, and I had to live in the back of my car for seven months over the freezing cold winter, (due to their financial abuse we were so broke it took a while to get on my feet) BUT freezing and starving to death in my car was better than being with that bunch of perpetrators. Eventually, after 7 months of my car, I secured new housing.

Soon after moving to [location redacted], an ex-student told us of their dreadful experiences with PY. We also got in touch with INFORM who were helpful, they were familiar with PY and others had given statements to them about what they had endured. 

It was a series of events to realise this was a sham, and that criminal offences were taking place, and that we were victims of PY and his brainwashed followers.

[Details redacted]

As I have said, what I have written here is the tip of the iceberg, there is SO MUCH more, it is the simple short version, and I have mentioned the episodes that triggered my survival instincts that we had to get safe, we were being brainwashed, manipulated, and relentlessly abused etc.

I hope this has helped you grasp some understanding of why we escaped. 


EDIT: Added comments and analysis by anon27:

Wonderful to hear about Kate and Rachel’s escape.

Karmicwind has very correctly identified common methods of abuse at Pathgate in bold.

An interesting theme that comes across is that PY’s victims are brainwashed into believing that when bad things happen in life, they are not to be addressed or thought about in any grown-up, intelligent or realistic way.

This is part of PY’s very clever trap:
PY’s victim-students begin to live unhappy lives because they are following PY’s corrupt teachings.
When they notice their lives are getting worse, they get told not to worry, it’s actually good because this is “bad karma” coming out.
They get told their lives are getting worse because PY is helping them release bad karma from their “mindstreams”, gathered from “many lifetimes”.

The lie here is particularly extraordinary, a hallmark of PY’s capacity for abuse:
The reality is their lives are getting worse because of PY … not because he is “healing them from past karma” somehow, but because he is actually, simply, making their lives worse!
PY abuses them into living in a degrading and degraded manner, and tells them it’s good for them.

This is why his long-term victim-students are so dangerous to others.
They have fully bought into the idea that being unhappy and having a crap life is a sign of progress.
As per Kate’s testimony, they do their utmost to convince others of this lie, and the main reason is so they don’t have to face the reality of the toxic fantasy bubble they live in.

All of them, PY and his victims, are in fact highly motivated to draw others into their unrealistic fantasy toxic bubble.

When their lives are getting really bad, and their friends and family are starting to really notice, PY’s student-victims are told that this is the moment to double-down, pay more money, and engage in more “magical” actions (which boils down to worshipping PY).
If they don’t do (and pay for) “more magic”, exactly as per Kate’s testimony, they are told things will get even worse for them: demons will get them!

PY and his victims always revert to “magic” (karma, demons etc.) to explain normal life events, and preach magic solutions to all of life’s challenges.
This is plain stupidity, and needless to say, not Buddhist.

Looking objectively at PY’s life, and those of his victim-students, we clearly see the effects of their magical thinking.
It’s super sad for all of us who had people we counted as friends there.

Moving beyond magical thinking is a big deprogramming challenge to escapees from this particular cult, as is evidenced by several testimonies on this thread, in different ways.

Science, Buddhism, every major religion, wisdom school, psychological school, and every person with a bit of intelligence and knowledge of the world also happens to agree that magical thinking is, to sum it up, total bullshit.

Magical thinking is psychologically infantile, which also perfectly fits with PY’s abuse of his victim-students into childish dependency, and PY’s own arrested development.

The old stories speak many times of authentic Buddhists having to win battles against “users of magic”.
Symbolically what they are talking about is that Buddhism represents the evolution of “being human” through the application of educated, thoughtful, caring, morally boundaried, discriminating intelligence.

Buddhism needs to evolve, and doesn’t have all the answers, but it has always been very clearly against magical thinking.
This is one of the reasons many scientists find Buddhism to be a credible system of thought. They may not agree with it, but they recognise the drive towards being realistic (working from the data) at the heart of Buddhism.

If you require information and/or support with regards to recovery from cults, here are several organisations you can contact.


DialogCentre UK

Cult Information Centre

Cult Consulting Australia