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

Statement of Concerns

This statement is prepared by former followers of Peter Yeung/Young, also known as “Lama Dondrup Dorje,” from the “Pathgate Institute of Buddhist Studies” in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. We, as long-time committed and devoted followers who have either left or been forced out of his community, feel compelled to shed light on his consistent pattern of unethical conduct spanning over three decades.

In the wake of the growing awareness surrounding misconduct by Buddhist teachers, it becomes imperative for us to address the misrepresentation of Tibetan Buddhism by this purported teacher. Our objective is to shed light on the actual harm he has caused and continues to cause to both former and current followers.

We express deep concern regarding the following:

  1. Peter Yeung’s abusive and exploitative behaviour encompasses aggression, control, narcissism, manipulation, deception, and hypocrisy, inflicting physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, and financial harm upon his followers:
  • Harsh Coercion: Disguised as “wrathful compassion,” Peter Yeung subjects his followers to verbal abuse, employing constant criticism, shouting, shaming, and public humiliation as coercive tactics.
  • Breach of Confidentiality: Peter Yeung demonstrates a flagrant disregard for confidential information shared by followers, often exploiting this knowledge by exposing individuals in classes, thereby causing embarrassment and distress.
  • Manipulative Fearmongering: By invoking “karmic consequences,” Peter Yeung perpetually instils guilt and fear in his followers. He further exploits the health of followers and their loved ones, leveraging it as a means to coerce compliance.
  • Physical Assault: Justifying his actions as “karma purification,” Peter Yeung physically assaults followers, resorting to punching, choking, and shoving. Shockingly, these abusive behaviours extend to children, as he also encourages parents to discipline their children through physical violence.
  • Sexual Predation: Peter Yeung engages in sexually predatory behaviour towards female followers, selectively grooming young and attractive individuals by normalizing close proximity and physical touch, often through massages. Grooming tactics also involve indoctrinating followers to believe that engaging in sexual relations with a lama is a blessing, while instilling fear of consequences for refusing such instructions.
  • Sexism and Misogyny: His teachings and personal views consistently reflect a long-standing pattern of sexism and misogyny, perpetuating discriminatory attitudes and treatment towards women.
  • Arbitrary Authority and Self-Righteousness: Yeung blurs the line between personal opinions and ultimate truth, presenting his arbitrary decisions and actions as inherently “appropriate.” He communicates in a sanctimonious manner, frequently boasting about possessing superior knowledge, insight, and practice. He often claims to possess supernatural powers and receives blessings from unseen forces.
  • Manipulation and Intrusion: He indoctrinates his followers to believe that he possesses telepathic abilities, falsely claiming to “see what they are thinking and doing.” In reality, he spies on them through their daily journal submissions, manipulating their trust. When confronted with inaccuracies, he gaslights followers by asserting that he knows them better than they know themselves.
  • Contradictory and Confusing Guidance: Despite claiming to provide perfect advice and instructions, Yeung’s teachings are often vague, contradictory, and chaotic, leading to further confusion and turmoil.
  • Discouragement of Independent Study and Learning: He discourages followers from reading Buddhist texts and engaging with other teachers, fostering dependency on his teachings and restricting access to alternative sources of knowledge.
  • Plagiarism and Inaccurate Translation: Yeung plagiarizes teachings from the internet, sometimes from unreliable sources. His spontaneous translations during classes are consistently lengthy, confusing, and inaccurate. He deflects responsibility for followers’ lack of understanding, attributing it to the profundity of his teachings or followers’ supposed lack of merit.
  • Repetitive Content and Meaningless Activities: Despite claiming novelty, Yeung frequently rehashes old material and stories. Under the pretext of being a “modern lama,” his classes often devolve into meaningless timewasting activities, including trivia quizzes, singing, acting, self-aggrandisement, denigration, and audience abuse.
  • Manipulative Control and Attention-Seeking: He unnecessarily plays gatekeeper to Buddhist teachings, requiring permission to attend even basic classes. Under the guise of “teaching at all times,” he demands to be the centre of attention, dominating conversations with self-promoting stories, gossip, complaints, and false narratives. He criticises those who do not give him attention and threatens consequences for diverting attention away from himself.
  • Cult-like Atmosphere and Suppression of Dissent: Yeung surrounds himself with sycophantic followers, dismissing non-conformity, dissent, basic feedback, and valid inquiries as conceit, obscuration, or excessive thinking. He creates an environment of isolation and mistrust, undermining friendships and family relationships.
  • Manipulation of Devotion and Sacrifice: He manipulates followers to abandon their careers, family commitments, and personal priorities, urging them to devote themselves entirely to him.
  • Superficial Generosity and Control: While projecting an image of generosity, Yeung’s actions are often contrived, calculated, imposing, intrusive, and overbearing. He uses his supposed generosity as a bargaining chip to demand loyalty, obedience, and favours from followers and institutions.
  • Fabrication and Gaslighting: He misremembers details and fabricates narratives about people and events, coercing others to agree and gaslighting those who attempt to correct him. He creates an environment where dissent is suppressed and constructive feedback is met with criticism and dismissal.
  • Abuse Leading to Forced Exclusion: Those who do not conform to Yeung’s agenda are subjected to direct or indirect forms of physical, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, leading to their forced exclusion from the community.
  1. The harmful effects on his followers and ex-followers:
  • Atmosphere of Fear and Confusion: Instead of fostering compassion, wisdom, and joy, a pervasive atmosphere of fear, confusion, and unhappiness permeates within Yeung’s community.
  • Impaired Cognitive Functioning: Long-term brainwashing techniques have severely impaired followers’ capacity to think independently and function normally, suppressing their critical thinking skills.
  • Mental Dullness and Flat Affect: Followers, indoctrinated to believe that emotional expression is mere “sentimentality” and that all thoughts are mere “fantasy,” exhibit signs of mental dullness, a flat affect, and often appear to be in a trance-like state.
  • Reliance on Supposed Healing Powers: Indoctrinated to believe in Yeung’s healing powers, some followers forsake modern medicine and rely solely on his advice and alleged healing abilities for their health. However, this approach has been observed to offer limited placebo effects, often prolonging their medical conditions.
  • Perception of Illness as Karmic Purification: Through indoctrination, followers come to view symptoms of physical and mental illnesses as part of a supposed “karmic purification” process. As a result, they inadvertently prolong unnecessary suffering and even congratulate each other for falling ill.
  • Lack of Awareness Regarding Abuse: Followers remain unaware that their deteriorating mental and physical health directly stems from Yeung’s long-term abuse. Instead, they are criticized by Yeung for their persistent illnesses, being accused of “not practicing” diligently enough.
  • Loss of Trust and Isolation: Followers are indoctrinated to believe that basic social connections disturb one another’s minds, leading to a lack of trust and openness among them. They perceive anything outside of Pathgate as mundane, resulting in increased isolation from mainstream society, families, and friends.
  • Manipulation and Vocational Sacrifice: Many followers are manipulated into giving up their careers and depleting their finances. They are coerced into providing free labour for Pathgate, leading to signs of burnout.
  • Increasing Dependence and Control: Followers become increasingly dependent on Yeung, who progressively gains more control over various aspects of their lives.
  • Psychological Trauma and Emotional Struggles: Leaving the community often leaves followers psychologically and emotionally traumatized. Many require psychological rehabilitation or psychiatric treatment, with reports of mental breakdowns and suicidal ideation.
  • Character Assassination and Social Isolation: When followers leave, Yeung engages in character assassination, labeling them as “obscured” and evil. He instructs current followers to shun them, leading to the indiscriminate division of long-term friendships and family relationships, leaving ex-followers isolated with little to no social support.
  • Consistent Negative Experiences: Ex-followers who have reached out report highly negative experiences with Yeung. The commonality of these experiences is striking.
  • Fear and Psychic Attacks: Ex-followers are often fearful of speaking up due to indoctrination regarding karmic retribution. Some report experiencing psychic or astral attacks, further exacerbating their fear and distress.
  • Ongoing Mental Health Issues: Both current and ex-followers continue to suffer from ongoing mental health issues, including severe conditions like psychosis, highlighting the enduring impact of their involvement with Yeung and Pathgate.
  1. Questionable Qualifications and Lack of Accountability
  • Unsubstantiated Claims of Lineage: Peter Yeung claims to be a disciple of the late Holiness Penor Rinpoche, associated with the Nyingma Palyul Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. However, there is a lack of evidence to support his formal training and recognition as a teacher, aside from unverifiable anecdotes originating solely from Yeung himself.
  • Lack of Official Authorization: Yeung does not possess any official authorization from his claimed Tibetan Buddhist lineage to teach. Requests for verification of Pathgate and Yeung’s authenticity sent to Palyul and Namdroling Monastery have gone unanswered.
  • Absence from Official Lineage Affiliations: The official website of the Palyul Lineage and its global list of affiliated centres do not include Pathgate Institute’s centres. Notably, multiple Palyul Centers exist in the UK and Europe.
  • Questionable Use of Monastic Robes: Despite being a layperson, Yeung frequently dons Tibetan monastic robes, referring to them as “lama robes.” Witnesses attest that Yeung acquired these robes in an honorary capacity rather than through ordination as a monk, allegedly achieved through his manipulation and ingratiating behaviour toward the Palyul hierarchy.
  • Lack of Charitable or Religious Organisation Registration: There is no evidence of Pathgate Institute being registered as a charity or religious organization, despite its claims to both designations. Additionally, concerns arise regarding the irregularity of the bank account provided by Pathgate for “donations.” Local tax authorities have received reports and initiated investigations into Pathgate and Yeung for potential tax offenses.
  • Opaque Address and Illegal Building Modifications: Pathgate does not provide a proper address beyond a PO Box, justifying it as a means to maintain a low profile. Local authorities investigated properties associated with Pathgate members in 2019 for statutory overcrowding and illegal building modifications.
  • Exaggerated Qualifications and Misrepresentations: Peter Yeung has a history of overstating his qualifications and misrepresenting his affiliations with organizations. He has made false claims of being a Rinpoche and holding multiple PhDs.
  • Questionable Donations and Materialistic Culture: Pathgate fosters a culture of questionable donations and gift-giving, with followers indoctrinated to believe it generates merit. They are encouraged to devote excessive time, energy, and resources to support Peter Yeung’s sybaritic lifestyle, particularly in the realms of food, alcohol, and luxury brand items.
  • Lack of Financial Accountability: Pathgate demonstrates a complete lack of accountability in its financial affairs. While some charitable contributions have been made, many of them appear to be exaggerated or unverifiable.
  • Personal Use of Donations: There is an established track record of donations being used for Peter Yeung’s personal expenses, including lavish meals, shopping sprees, and indulgences aimed at “love-bombing” vulnerable followers or impressing potential recruits. These behaviours are rationalised as “skilful means” and making connections with sentient beings, conditioning followers to overlook such conduct.
  • Visa Offenses and Dishonest Declarations: Yeung travels overseas for income-generating “teachings” but has failed to provide honest declarations to immigration authorities. He has been investigated and denied entry into at least one country due to visa-related offenses.

Conclusion and Summary:

In conclusion, while Peter Yeung has made charitable contributions and introduced people to Buddhism, these actions cannot justify the extensive harm he has caused directly and indirectly to his followers and ex-followers. Our personal experiences and firsthand observations confirm the detrimental impact of his actions. Additionally, the evidence suggests that Yeung’s purported “good deeds” may not stem from genuine intentions.

It is important to note that Yeung is not effectively teaching Vajrayana Buddhism to his followers, and there is no indication that any of his followers have taken formal tantric vows (samaya). Based on the weight of the evidence gathered, we conclude that we have been subjected to abuse under the guise of “Guru Yoga.” Moreover, considering the evidence, it is our assessment that Yeung should not be regarded as a legitimate teacher but rather as a charlatan.

(Last updated: 18 May 2023)

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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