You are here

Questions & Answers Regarding An Olive Branch Report

Are there any further investigations being planned as a result of this report?

     There is currently no plan to conduct additional investigations. Many of the questions and concerns that arose during the         investigation but that were beyond the scope of An Olive Branch’s report will be addressed through the Compassionate          Reconciliation process. Going forward, the organizations will evaluate whether additional steps will need to be taken to            resolve those concerns. In addition, during the An Olive Branch investigation, An Olive Branch referred concerns that fell          outside the scope of the investigation to the Office of Ethics and Professional Standards (EPS) or the Office of Dharmic        Counsel (ODC), which is the inhouse legal office that serves the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation and its related nonprofits. EPS      and ODC will handle those concerns to the extent necessary to resolve them.

Were Yogi Bhajan’s staff and secretaries asked about the allegations?

     An Olive Branch reached out to staff members and secretaries, and others contacted An Olive Branch directly.

What is being done for the reporters of harm?

     Free and anonymous counseling is available for all reporters of harm. The outside firm offering this assistance, Concern, can be reached at www.concernhealth.com or at 800-344-4222. The Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC) is creating a program of Compassionate Reconciliation that will apply the principles of restorative justice to heal the fractures in the community as we move forward, including reaching out to those who have been harmed and work collaboratively with them to find a mutual way forward. A professional consultant is currently being selected to work with our global community, including reporters of harm, to design and implement such a program.

Were there men among the reporters of harm?

     The identities of everyone who participated in the investigation were kept confidential, so outside of An Olive Branch it is not known whether there were men among the reporters, or how many.

What are the qualifications of An Olive Branch?

     An Olive Branch’s training and experience was what qualified them for this investigation. During the course of the SSSC’s due diligence in selecting an investigator, An Olive Branch was found to meet the critical requirements to be trusted enough to complete the task, including having:

  • Experience understanding the issues unique to spiritual or religious-based organizations.
  • Experience investigating claims of sexual misconduct.
  • Demonstrated relatability to reporters of harm as well as witnesses.
  • The ability to instill confidence that all individuals in the matter will be treated with sensitivity and care.
  • Service as an impartial third-party, unconnected with the SSSC organizations, lawyers, or law enforcement.

     All of An Olive Branch’s consultants have careers in fields that make them well-qualified for the work required for this independent investigation. As professional mediators and facilitators, An Olive Branch’s consultants know how to listen deeply and ask probing questions to tease out important details and distinctions in what people say. They also have graduate-level training and experience in gathering and analyzing qualitative data — data gained through interviews, observations and other sources — making them competent to conduct the investigation and synthesize their findings into a report. Their research backgrounds enable them to ask questions that are guided by social science knowledge, insight and practice, while their project management skills and experience support large-scale inquiries such as this one involving nearly 300 participants. Moreover, these consultants have performed similar investigations for two other organizations in the past, demonstrating their ability to do the work necessary in this matter.

     An Olive Branch originated as a nonprofit program of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania Private Detective Act of 1953 requires private detectives in Pennsylvania to have a license to perform many tasks, including activities that fall under a very broad definition of a “private detective business.” That definition includes an investigation for the purpose of “obtaining information with reference to … the credibility of witnesses or other persons.” To obtain a license under the statute, an individual must generally have three years of prior law enforcement experience and meet other requirements.

     The District Attorney’s office in each of Pennsylvania’s counties is responsible for enforcing the licensing statute in its county. Several weeks ago, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office received a complaint about An Olive Branch’s activities and opened a file on the matter. Reportedly, the District Attorney’s office independently investigated An Olive Branch’s activities and also met with SSSC’s local counsel. After considering, among other things, that it did not appear that anyone in Pennsylvania was being investigated and that none of the activities under investigation occurred in Pennsylvania, the District Attorney’s office concluded it had no legal interest in An Olive Branch’s investigation and advised local counsel that it had closed its file.

     So while it is true that An Olive Branch does not have a license issued under Pennsylvania’s Private Detective Act of 1953, law enforcement in Pennsylvania is aware of and has familiarized itself with the nature and scope of An Olive Branch’s investigations and does not intend to take any action concerning An Olive Branch’s licensing status.

What will happen with questions and concerns that did not fall within the scope of the An Olive Branch report and were passed on to the SSSC? Will there be any additional investigations?

     The organizations acknowledge that questions and concerns have been raised that fell outside the scope of the An Olive Branch investigation and report. The organizations will be considering the issues raised closely and will determine what, if any, further steps need to be taken. No additional investigations are planned at the moment.

What about the schools and children reporting harm?

     For the last several months, work has been underway to address the concerns raised related to our school and youth programs. This work has included a series of listening forums as well as counseling for individuals reporting harm related to our school programs. That work is ongoing and will continue through the Compassionate Reconciliation process.

Is the report available in other languages?

     Yes, the report is available in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German and Russian.

Were the witness' statements and identities verified for authenticity?

     An Olive Branch did not receive any anonymous complaints; each participant was required to identify themselves to An Olive Branch. An Olive Branch’s consultants followed best practices for conducting this type of investigation. They listened carefully to the reporters of harm, witnesses and all others who participated in the investigation. They tested the credibility and motives of everyone they interviewed, sought corroborating or refuting evidence and witnesses, and prepared a complete account of what they learned during the course of the investigation.

How was Yogi Bhajan defended?

     Of the interviews and statements taken by An Olive Branch that related to the scope of their investigation, 140 were “supporters of Yogi Bhajan and refuters of the allegations,” compared to 96 “reporters of harm and others providing input about Reporters’ credibility.” The report quotes the supporters of Yogi Bhajan and even concludes that, “Conclusions about the likelihood of his misconduct need not deny or erase the good that he extended to many who overcame destructive habits in their lives and/or found a pathway to a deeper relationship with God. The fact that he offered these gifts to some followers cannot and need not be denied.”

Were people offered money to participate in the An Olive Branch investigation?

     No, our organizations did not offer anyone money for speaking to An Olive Branch. Following best practices, the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation made available to anyone claiming to have been harmed, whether they spoke to An Olive Branch or not, an anonymous counselling service for up to $1,200 worth of counselling with Concern.

Will public apologies be given by the institutions, or the broader community, to those reporting harm by Yogi Bhajan?

     The Compassionate Reconciliation process will explore the possible ways to create opportunities for healing and to address the needs of those who were harmed.

Are there any reporters of harm who are still involved with the organizations and/or teaching or training?

     As the identities of everyone who contacted An Olive Branch are kept confidential, we do not know who the reporters of harm are.

 

Kundalini Yoga

Which aspects of the teachings are Yogi Bhajan's design and which are from a traditional Kundalini Yoga lineage or traditional Sikhism?

     We know the exact origins of only a few of the kriyas, exercises and meditations, but we know that yoga has always been a syncretic process. Whether any particular practice was amalgamated by Yogi Bhajan or came through Yogi Bhajan or was taught to Yogi Bhajan exactly as he taught it, we remain focused on the legacy of this practice — the shared experience that shows us that these practices are effective. Given the verbal nature of much yogic teaching, we may never know the origins of many practices.

Will there be further research into the origins and lineage of Kundalini Yoga? Will there be further scientific or academic research into the benefits of Kundalini Yoga? What other sources for Kundalini Yoga exist beyond Yogi Bhajan?

     Yes, KRI and 3HO do plan to continue to research the origins and lineage of Kundalini Yoga. However, a more pressing concern is conducting additional research into the benefits of Kundalini Yoga, which can help gain more widespread acceptance of these practices. You can access the research that has been done on the benefits of Kundalini Yoga, and stay up to date as new studies are published, on the Research page of the KRI website.

How will Kundalini Yoga relate to Yogi Bhajan in the future?

     The Teachings themselves will continue to be preserved and verified by KRI. No changes are planned to KRI’s work in that context, nor with the kriyas. How Kundalini Yoga will relate to Yogi Bhajan in the future is primarily a personal question for each teacher and trainer to answer authentically. Before the allegations and report, there was a wide range of ways that teachers related to, and spoke about, Yogi Bhajan. Going forward, there will probably also be many different ways people relate to Yogi Bhajan.

How will the organizations handle individuals altering the teachings from how Yogi Bhajan gave them?

     KRI and 3HO do not support altering the teachings from how Yogi Bhajan taught them.

How do I connect to the Golden Chain if I no longer connect with Yogi Bhajan? Is the Adi Mantra to join with Yogi Bhajan? Are there any considerations about changing it?

     The Golden Chain has two aspects. It is personal and non-personal. It is linear as well as nonlinear. It is somewhat like our concepts of lineage and legacy. The linear quality relates to your relationship with your teacher. The laws are twofold: how you relate to your teacher is how your students will relate to you and that you must be greater than your teacher. The nonlinear aspect is that there is a confluence of thousands of years of wisdom from spiritual teachers that is a link, an access point that is available to you for your relationship with your own infinity. KRI will continue to teach by tuning in with the Adi Mantra. Tuning in with the Adi Mantra (Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo) is not specifically tuning in to Yogi Bhajan personally. The Adi Mantra connects us to the infinite, creative, all-pervading consciousness and to the subtle inner wisdom of our own Inner Teacher. It connects us impersonally to the wisdom of all the teachers that have gone before us, and it helps us show up impersonally for our own practice or as a teacher to be there for our students without our ego. 

Are the Teachings being reviewed? Would that include kriyas and meditations? Aspects of humanology?

     The kriyas and meditations are not being reviewed. We will examine their sources, where we are able to, but we do not feel that proving their provenance is necessary for continuing to practice and access the benefits. The more “philosophical” aspects of the Teachings have always been open to interpretation and have never been forced on anyone as a belief they must adhere to. We do plan to be more open than we were to questioning and making sure that practitioners and trainers all know that adherence to a specific philosophy is not necessary in order to be a Kundalini Yogi.

Are we going to see new Kriyas?

     KRI and 3HO are not expecting to create new kriyas.

Will Sikhism continue to be a part of the teachings?

     The role of 3HO and KRI are to promote the teaching and practice of Kundalini Yoga. We acknowledge that there are definitely connections and overlaps between Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma, and there will continue to be a section about that overlap as part of KRI’s Teacher Training programs. It has always been very clear that you do not have to be a Sikh to practice or teach Kundalini Yoga.

 

Teaching and Teacher Training

What will happen to the trademark: "Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan"? Will teachers and trainers who still want to continue to teach "Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan" be permitted to do so?

     Using this trademark will be optional for now--so those teachers and trainers who want to use it can, and those who don’t want to use it do not have to.

What will be happening with the Kundalini Yoga manuals and Teaching Training? Will the image of Yogi Bhajan on the cover of the level 1 manual still be used? How will the teaching of humanology be approached?

     KRI will continue to teach what was brought forth by Yogi Bhajan, and the same kriyas and practices that have helped thousands of people in the past will continue helping them in the future. The books will continue to be sold, and teacher training courses will continue to be taught. KRI continues to examine how to improve our presentation of the teachings to best reach and uplift today’s students. KRI is editing the Level One teacher training manual, “The Aquarian Teacher,” to make many updates and improvements, including having more of the focus be on the teachings. KRI is also working with all Teacher Trainers to continually improve the trainings to make them even more impactful than they have been. The humanology chapter, as well as other chapters, of “The Aquarian Teacher” is being re-written. This new version of the manual will be available in two versions — one with Yogi Bhajan’s picture and name on the cover and one without. Each teacher trainer can choose which of the revised manuals they want to use or can choose to use the old manual.

How will we ensure consistency of response among independent yoga studios and teachers?

     Some teachers will accept the conclusions of the An Olive Branch report, and others will not believe those things. As long as teachers adhere to the teachings, people are welcome to draw their own conclusions. Our practice has always been about openness and acceptance, not any dogmatic system of beliefs that must be accepted.

How do I talk to my students when I am unsure of the authenticity of Kundalini Yoga myself?

     Many people are experiencing a lot of pain, confusion, doubt, and/or uncertainty right now, and there is no “right” way to move through these feelings. Some people may need to take a pause from their teaching. Others are able to share their personal journey with their students in a way that is still uplifting and supportive. KRI and 3HO are offering various avenues of support (Zoom calls, online webinars, a write-up on “A Yogic Model for Grief Recovery,” FAQs, etc.) to help you find your own relationship with the information about Yogi Bhajan contained in the report from An Olive Branch.

Is there a move to be more sensitive to trauma in the teachings?

     KRI has offered some free webinars to support teachers in increasing their sensitivity to this important topic. For example - “How Yoga Works in Trauma Recovery - the Scientific Foundations”.

What processes and resources exist to address teacher/student ethical issues within the Kundalini Yoga community?

     Our nonprofit organizations include the Office of Ethics, Professional Standards and Conscious Conflict Resolution (EPS). We work closely with this office to deal with any reports of teacher abuses of power – or any other unethical behavior. If you have experienced misconduct by a teacher of Kundalini Yoga, you can contact the 24/7 reportline at 1-888-805-4888, or visit the EPS website to know your rights and receive assistance. In 2019, EPS published The 10 Rights of a Kundalini Yoga Student, which we encourage all teachers and studios to share with students. Doing so is a very important step and publicly declares how our teachers are held accountable. EPS is working with an outside expert to review its policies and procedures and implement any recommended improvements to continue to ensure that all members of the community have a clear and safe path to report harm and have ethical misconduct addressed promptly, fairly and effectively.

Will the Code of Ethics be addressed and/or rewritten?

     Yes. Prior to the allegations, there was already a plan in place to revise and improve the Code of Ethics. It is very important that we have a shared code of ethics that holds all teachers accountable. KRI is working with the dedicated Office of Ethics and Professional Standards (EPS) on this updated version of the Code of Ethics and on continually improving the process for handling all complaints.

 

Future of Organizations

What is the stance of 3HO and KRI towards Yogi Bhajan?

     Our organizations acknowledge that people experienced harm via Yogi Bhajan, and we simultaneously acknowledge and are grateful for the Teachings he brought and shared. It will take many more months before a new way of talking about Yogi Bhajan and about our past emerges from our collective community. We will remain in conversation with the community as our understanding deepens and evolves.

What is the future of Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice, and the European Yoga Festival?

     3HO will continue to hold Summer and Winter Solstices. There will be no in-person Winter Solstice in 2020 due to COVID-19, however there will be an online summit. We do not yet know when we will again be able to gather in-person or how the nature of the events will shift when we do, but we look forward to continuing to receive community feedback and dialogue as we envision the future of these events.

     For 3HO Europe and the European Yoga Festival, the pause we had to take this year due to COVID-19, has given us a space to re-evaluate the frame of the festival. The EYF management team wants its community, in its diversity, to be more at the center of the festival. The EYF also feels the need to go back to its roots of a family-like event. The EYF envisions a community gathering where we can all share our vision of who we want to be, as a community involved in its organization.

Will Yogi Bhajan's image and quotes continue to be used?

     This is currently under discussion.

Are the various organizations, non-profits, and SSSC going to be aligned in their relationship to YB going forward?

     The SSSC envisions a strategic planning process to follow the Compassionate Reconciliation process. While the strategic planning process is still in the planning stages, we expect it will include participation from all of the legacy organizations and input from the global sangat.

What is the future of White Tantric Yoga? Will it continue to be part of our practice? Will it continue to be required for certification in Level One?

     White Tantric Yoga is a separate organization from 3HO and KRI, and they are examining how they will move forward in the future. Our understanding is that it will continue as a practice for anyone who chooses to participate. KRI is considering making it optional rather than required for a Level One teaching certificate.

How are the organizations taking responsibility for what occurred?

     The efforts made by the organizations since the Collaborative Response Team’s work began demonstrate taking responsibility for the reports of harm and other concerns that have been raised. An Olive Branch’s investigation and report are part of taking responsibility, as are the ongoing work of the Listening Tour and the Compassionate Reconciliation process.