Uncovering cultic abuse by Peter Yeung aka Dondrup Dorje at Pathgate Institute

Full Statement of Concerns

This statement is prepared by ex-followers of Peter Yeung/Young aka “Lama Dondrup Dorje” from the so-called “Pathgate Institute of Buddhist Studies” based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. Some of us were long-time committed and devoted followers who have left or forced out of his community due to his pattern of unethical conduct over the past 30 years.

Following revelations about the misconduct of other Tibetan Buddhist teachers in recent years, we recognise that it is our responsibility to bring to public attention that Tibetan Buddhism is being misrepresented by this supposed teacher. We are bringing to light the real harm he has caused, and continues to cause to his followers past and present.

We are deeply concerned about the following:

1. Peter Yeung’s aggressive, controlling, narcissistic, manipulative, deceptive and hypocritical behaviour; resulting in the physical, psychological and emotional abuse, along with the sexual and financial exploitation of followers:

  1. Under the pretext of “wrathful compassion”, he engages in verbal abuse such as constant criticism, shouting, shaming, humiliation of followers, usually in public.
  2. He displays a blatant disregard for confidential information shared with him by followers; instead he often weaponises the information by exposing them in classes, embarrassing the followers.
  3. Under the pretext of “karmic consequences”, he constantly instil guilt and fear in followers. He often weaponises the health of followers and their loved ones to scare them into compliance.
  4. Under the pretext of “karma purification”, he physically assaults followers, such as punching, choking and shoving. He does this to children as well, and also instructs parents to hit their children as a form of discipline.
  5. Yeung engages in sexually predatory behaviour towards female followers. He selectively grooms young and attractive female followers through normalising close proximity and physical touch, typically through massages. Grooming also takes the form of indoctrinating followers to believe that it is a blessing to have sexual relations with a lama, and that there are consequences for refusing an instruction to engage in sex with him.
  6. Simultaneously, his “teachings” and personal views reflect a long-standing pattern of sexism and misogynism.
  7. He conflates his personal opinions with the “correct perspective” or “truth”, and characterises his arbitrary decisions and actions as being “appropriate”.
  8. He communicates in a sanctimonious manner, frequently boasting about having superior knowledge, insight, and practice. He constantly alludes to possessing supernatural powers, and being blessed by unseen forces.
  9. Yeung indoctrinates his followers to believe he can “see what they are thinking and doing” (telepathy); in actuality, he spies on them through their daily journal submissions, which typically includes reports on interactions with one another. In cases when he is revealed to be inaccurate, he would gaslight followers to think that “he knows them better than they know themselves”.
  10. Yeung claims to provide perfect advice and instructions to whoever seeks them; in actuality they are often vague, contradicting, and has a track record of causing more chaos and confusion.
  11. He discourages his followers from reading Buddhist texts, and having contact with or learning from other teachers.
  12. Yet he himself plagiaries “teachings” from the internet, sometimes from unreliable sources. He translates the content spontaneously during classes, which is consistently experienced as unnecessarily lengthy, confusing and inaccurate. He then deflects responsibility for followers’ lack of understanding and progress, claiming his “teachings” are too profound, or that the followers “lack merit” to understand.
  13. Despite insisting that his classes are always new and fresh, he frequently rehashes old material and stories.
  14. Under the pretext of being a “modern lama”, classes frequently degenerates into him engaging in meaningless timewasting activities such as trivia quizzes, singing, acting, self-aggrandisement, denigrating and abusing his audience.
  15. He plays gatekeeper to Buddhist teachings unnecessarily; even basic classes requires his “permission to attend”. He also “holds the teaching hostage”, often threatening “not to teach” if followers “do not behave”.
  16. Under the pretext of “teaching at all times”, he demands to be the centre of attention even during casual situations, dominating conversations with self-promoting stories, gossip, complaints and grievances, scolding followers, and perpetuating false narratives. He criticises those who does not give him the attention for “lack of respect” and threatens them with “consequences for distracting attention away from the lama”.
  17. He surrounds himself only with “yes-men”: sycophantic behaviour from followers is regarded as “faith and devotion”. Non-conformity, dissent, basic feedback and valid inquiries are dismissed as “conceit”, “obscuration” or “thinking too much”.
  18. Under the pretext of “every teaching is like a one-way train ticket”, he encourages, and approves of followers’ excessive attendance of his classes, local and overseas, at the expense of their financial wellbeing.
  19. He manipulates followers to give up careers, family commitments and other priorities and devote themselves to him.
  20. His “good deeds”, while seemingly impressive, are often experienced as, or observed to be contrived, calculated, ostentatious, imposing, intrusive and overbearing; it does not reflect true generosity. Moreover, it is observed that he uses his “generosity” as a bargaining chip to demand loyalty and obedience from followers, to ingratiate himself with institutions, and to secure favours from beneficiaries.
  21. He fosters an environment of isolation and mistrust among followers; triangulation and undermining of friend and family relationships is commonly observed.
  22. He misremembers details and fabricates narratives about people and events; he then gaslights or coerces others to agree, and criticises those who tries to correct him.
  23. Those who does not conform to Yeung’s agenda are directly or indirectly forced out of the community by his physical, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse.

2. The harmful effects on his followers and ex-followers:

  1. Instead of compassion, wisdom and joy, there is a pervasive atmosphere of fear, confusion and unhappiness.
  2. Long-term brainwashing has impaired followers’ capacity to think for themselves and function normally.
  3. Indoctrinated to believe that any form of emotional expression is “sentimentality”, and that “all thoughts are fantasy”, followers exhibit mental dullness, flat affect, and often appear to be in a trance.
  4. Indoctrinated to believe Yeung has healing powers, some followers avoid modern medicine and completely rely on his advice and supposed healing powers for their health; this has been observed to work only to a limited degree as a placebo, but in most cases prolong their medical conditions.
  5. Indoctrinated to perceive symptoms of physical and mental health illnesses as a “karmic purification” process, they prolong unnecessary suffering, and even congratulate one another for falling ill.
  6. Followers do not realise their poor mental and physical health are a direct result of Yeung’s long term abuse; instead, they are criticised by Yeung for continually being sick because they are “not practising”.
  7. Indoctrinated to believe that even basic social connection among followers is “disturbing one another’s minds”, there is a distinct lack of trust and openness amongst followers.
  8. Indoctrinated to perceive everything not Pathgate-related as “mundane”, followers become more isolated from mainstream society, families and friends over time.
  9. Many are manipulated into giving up their careers and depleting their finances. They are pressured into providing free labour for Pathgate and many exhibit signs of burnout.
  10. They become increasingly dependent on Yeung who progressively controls more and more aspects of their lives.
  11. Followers who leave the community are often psychologically and emotionally traumatised. Many require psychological rehabilitation or psychiatric treatment. We received multiple reports of mental breakdowns and suicide ideation.
  12. When followers leave, Yeung engages in character assassination, painting them as “obscured” and evil. He instructs current followers to shun them and indiscriminately divide even long-term friends and family members. As a result, most found themselves isolated with little or no social support.
  13. Ex-followers who have reached out to us reported very negative experiences with him. The commonality of their experience is striking.
  14. Ex-followers are often fearful of speaking up, having being indoctrinated to believe in karmic retribution of doing so. Some even reported experiencing psychic/astral attacks.
  15. Current and ex-followers suffer from ongoing mental health issues, some of which are severe e.g., psychosis.

3. Questionable qualifications, offences, and lack of accountability:

  1. Peter Yeung claims to be a long-time disciple of the late Holiness Penor Rinpoche and therefore affiliated to the Nyingma Palyul Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. However, there is no evidence of him receiving formal training and being recognised as a teacher, other than unverifiable anecdotes that come from Yeung himself.
  2. Yeung does not appear to have any official authorisation from his claimed Tibetan Buddhist lineage to teach. Previous emails to Palyul and Namdroling Monastery requesting for verification of Pathgate and Yeung’s authenticity remain unanswered.
  3. The official website of the Palyul Lineage and its official list of affiliated global centres does not include Pathgate Institute’s centres. We also note that there are multiple Palyul Centres in the UK and Europe.
  4. Yeung is a layperson but often wears the Tibetan monastic robes, which he calls the “lama robes”. Eyewitnesses confirm Yeung received these robes in a honorary capacity, and not because he was ordained as a monk. They further allege that this only happened through Yeung’s ingratiation and manipulation of the Palyul hierarchy.
  5. There is no evidence of Pathgate Institute being registered as a charity or religious organisation, despite claiming to be both. We note that the bank account provided by Pathgate for “donations” appears highly irregular. Pathgate and Yeung have been reported to, and investigated by the local tax authority for possible tax offences.
  6. We note that Pathgate does not even provide a proper address, other than a PO Box. The actual properties used by Pathgate members were investigated by the local authorities for statutory overcrowding and illegal building modifications in 2019.
  7. There is a established history of Peter Yeung overstating his qualifications and misrepresenting his affiliations with organisations, such as claiming to be a Rinpoche and having three PhDs.
  8. There is normalisation of a culture of questionable donations and gift-giving, with followers indoctrinated to believe this is to “generate merit”. They are encouraged to devote excessive time, energy and resources towards Peter Yeung’s sybaritic lifestyle, most notably in food, alcohol and luxury brand items.
  9. There is a complete lack of accountability in Pathgate’s financial affairs. Even though there have indeed been charitable contributions, many of them appear to be exaggerated or unverifiable.
  10. In contrast, there is a established track record of donations being channelled towards Yeung’s personal usage, such as lavish meals, shopping, often for the purpose of “love-bombing” vulnerable followers or impressing potential recruits; these are framed as “skilful means” and “making connection with sentient beings” so followers are conditioned to turn a blind eye to such behaviour.
  11. Yeung travels overseas to obtain income through his “teachings”, but has never provided honest declarations to immigration authorities. He has been investigated and denied entry into at least one country for visa-related offences.

While we acknowledge that Yeung has contributed to charitable causes and has introduced people to Buddhism over the years, it can never justify the harm he has caused directly and indirectly to followers and ex-followers, all of which we have experienced and witnessed first-hand. Furthermore, the weight of the evidence suggests that the “good deeds” performed by Yeung do not stem from benign motivation.

Yeung is not teaching Vajrayana Buddhism to his followers, and as far as we know, none of his followers have taken any formal tantric vows (samaya). It is therefore our conclusion that we have been abused in the name of “Guru Yoga”. Moreover, the weight of the evidence gathered suggest that Yeung should not even be considered a teacher, but a charlatan.

(Last updated: 14 February 2022)

2 thoughts on “Uncovering cultic abuse by Peter Yeung aka Dondrup Dorje at Pathgate Institute

  1. Well written … seems like another lineage franchise gone wrong even if its not associated formally you get no support. The amount of Tulku’s put forth by Penor RInpoche that turned into frauds … many. The whole Tulku system is a like a ponzi scheme and so anyone can set themselves up and eventually try to get a high title, or just tell their followers to throne them. The damage – i have lived through it after leaving Rigpa but its better to be out and rebuild from where-ever you find yourself and yet its important to find other students and help remove their isolation.

  2. As someone who comes from ‘the toon’ I witnessed first hand this dude abusing gullible students at the university. It is there he developed and honed his brainwashing skills. Not happy with bilking them he moved onto old women. Little known fact – in the early days before he was a dance teacher then martial arts expert (learnt from kung-fu books) he had a video rental store. The store was bust by the police for selling porno movies. Guru Dong indeed…

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