“The kind of conversation I am interested in is one which we start with a willingness to emerge a slightly different person.” - Theodore Zeldin
April 30, 2021
Dear Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma Communities,
We are happy to provide this biweekly update on our work with the Compassionate Reconciliation Project. Our team is preparing to welcome all Compassionate Reconciliation Commission Advisory Teams, in a special online Summit early next month. Meanwhile, we had the privilege of facilitating group dialogue sessions over the past two weeks – one with a group of National Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association Leaders (April 15), and the other during the Spring Khalsa Council Meeting this past weekend (April 23 & 24). Courageous participants in both meetings shared and listened with honesty and compassion about their experiences with painful tensions being felt across the community.
There is a tremendous strength apparent within the community. Many members have spent years cultivating personal characteristics that can contribute to the success of this work: strong emotional grounding; self-discipline; an orientation toward growth and conscious evolution; a willingness and eagerness to serve the greater good; attitudes of faith/surrender toward circumstances that are outside of personal control; persistence to address and overcome personal tragic or traumatic experiences; and the ability to dwell in paradox and uncertainty. We have been struck by the aptitude and willingness of community members for genuine dialogue when given appropriate structure.
Dialogue is very different from debate. It involves deep listening, a degree of vulnerability, and a willingness to be affected by what we learn from others. It is focused not on winning, but on building understanding for mutual gain. Dialogue is a tool, and like any tool it is not appropriate for every situation, such as when significant trauma is present. But the choice for dialogue is always available to us in our relationships. Entering dialogue in any setting requires personal preparation. Here are a few simple principles we have found useful in preparing for dialogue around issues of conflict:
5 Principles of Engaged Listening in Conflict
A question to consider: what if the real choice in conflict were not about which side of an issue to argue for, but instead a choice about whether or not to ‘side’ with the path of dialogue?
Yours in kindness, compassion, and gratitude,
Catherine Bargen, Matthew Hartman, Cara Walsh, Aaron Lyons, and our extended Just Outcomes team
Sign up here to receive regular updates from Just Outcomes about the Compassionate Reconciliation Project. By signing up you will receive updates about Compassionate Reconciliation only.
 Credit: Carolyn Schrock-Shenk
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
-Margaret J. Wheatley
April 16, 2021
We are happy to provide this biweekly update on our work with the 3HO, Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma communities. For background about the Compassionate Reconciliation Project, please feel free to visit the project website here. This week’s update will focus on the role of the Compassionate Reconciliation Commission that is currently in formation. Thank you for your time and interest in reading this update.
What is the Compassionate Reconciliation Commission?
Some of the opportunities of a collective, transformative process like the Compassionate Reconciliation Project include:
The Compassionate Reconciliation Project that is currently underway within the 3HO, Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma communities considers how to achieve these types of goals. The Compassionate Reconciliation Commission (CRC) is the vehicle by which these goals will be discussed, nuanced, altered and brought into action, with Just Outcomes’ support.
April 2, 2021
We are happy to provide this biweekly update on our work with the 3HO, Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma communities. For background about the Compassionate Reconciliation Project, please feel free to visit the project website here. Thank you for your time and interest in reading this update.
A Word About Trust
One of the opportunities of Compassionate Reconciliation is to build (or re-build) relationships of trust. In this update we would like to explore the issue of trust, which can be simply defined as a belief in the reliability and integrity of others.
The surfacing of varied experiences of harm within your community has brought about deeply painful questions about trust for a great many people. For some this is a crisis of trust in Yogi Bhajan/Siri Singh Sahib as a spiritual teacher. For others it is about trust in organizational leadership, or in the foundational norms of the community. Some have experienced a crisis of trust at an interpersonal level: among Sangat members, co-workers, friends, and within families. Many are sitting with inner conflict and unsure about what to trust within themselves.
For some, the crisis of trust occurred long before this current moment. They have long awaited signals and actions from the community and its organizations that could signify a recognition of, and reckoning with, harms that occurred in the community. Others have left the community on their own accord or have experienced being compelled to leave.
In this context there are naturally many questions about the trustworthiness of the Compassionate Reconciliation process itself. Whose interests is it meant to advance? Is it really intended for authentic dialogue and change? Will it privilege harmony over meaningful justice? Will I/we be silenced or have a voice?
The Compassionate Reconciliation Project (CRP) is of importance to many people within the 3HO, Sikh Dharma and Kundalini Yoga communities. As this work begins to build momentum in the community, we at Just Outcomes have heard requests for more frequent updates. In response to your feedback and in the spirit of transparency, we will now be providing a brief communication to the community every two weeks. Please note, this will be the last broadly distributed update directly from us (Just Outcomes); if you would like to continue receiving Just Outcomes’ direct communications about the CRP, please opt in by clicking on the link at the bottom of this letter. Thank you for your interest in this process and dedication to your community. This communication – and all such updates to follow – comes directly from Just Outcomes. We continue to remain in close contact and engaged with the SSSC Board and other affiliated organizations-- they will continue to distribute their own targeted communications when/as needed.
Just Outcomes and the Compassionate Reconciliation Project
Just Outcomes is working with your community to develop a just and compassionate response to the harms and needs currently surfacing within the community. The work is guided by principles of inclusion, repair and transformation. We are building this process in partnership with your community.
The immediate focus of the CRP is to:
We hope this finds each of you in good health as we begin the new year.
Hopefully you have received our previous communication in mid-November, introducing our role in the Compassionate Reconciliation process that your community is embarking upon (if you did not, you can view the letter here). Our work has continued to progress over the past number of weeks since then, and we are happy to provide you with this update on what has been happening and where we are headed next.
At this early stage of our work, we have been focusing on the following areas:
The Compassionate Reconciliation Commission
As mentioned above, one of our main tasks has been to assist in the development of a sustained and diverse Compassionate Reconciliation Commission (CRC). This commission will serve to lead the Compassionate Reconciliation Project (CRP). We have worked closely with the ICRC over the last many weeks to help understand the broader composition of the community and its interest groups, and to build a structure for the CRC which can give voice to all aspects of the community. Through this process, we have proposed to create a structure consisting of series of Advisory Teams working alongside the core CRC, as follows:
As you may be aware, Just Outcomes has been invited to provide our support and guidance to the Compassionate Reconciliation Project. We appreciate that this is a difficult and painful time for many people within your community, and we are humbled and honored to support you in taking these courageous steps forward.
During this difficult time, our goal is to support you in working together to strengthen and rebuild the fabric of relationships within this community. We hope that our accompaniment in this time may be in service of the strength and resilience already deeply present among you.
To those who have experienced recent or historical harm within this community, we honor your voices and hope that the work ahead may provide you with meaningful options and pathways toward recovery and healing.
To those experiencing the pain of disconnection and loss of trust with others in your community, we hope that this will be a process of discovering clarity, understanding and growth within relationships. We respect the journey of each person in making sense of this time. Each one of you holds an important place within this work and must be included in writing the next chapter in the life of this community.
Sat Nam Dear Members of our 3HO, Sikh Dharma, and KRI Community,
As a community built on a shared vision of service, righteous action and goodwill to all, we are facing a time of challenge and polarization. The pain and division that our community is currently experiencing necessitates that we work together to find a place of understanding and healing. Towards that end, we are beginning a program of Compassionate Reconciliation based on the principles of restorative justice, conflict transformation, and other modalities. We hope to include all facets of our community in this effort, as each person is important and all voices need to be included to truly be successful.
We have engaged a team of restorative consultants to help guide us through this process. To find the right team of consultants, the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC) created an interim commission with members from the SSSC and our legacy organizations to research the work that has been done in the area of restorative justice and conflict transformation. After vetting 17 teams from around the world, and conducting 12 interviews, three teams were selected for a second round of interviews before making a final decision. We are very happy to announce that our final choice, Just Outcomes, has been hired to help facilitate the Compassionate Reconciliation efforts for our community.
Just Outcomes is experienced in supporting communities who are responding to harmful and difficult situations. They will work with us to create a meaningful approach to the issues that we are facing. These include helping those who reported harm, resolving the issues that divide our community, and finding lasting and just solutions. This will not be a superficial process, and therefore will not be a quick process. We expect to be working with this effort for the next one to two years and we are committed to investing the time and energy required for this work to be successful.
Sat Nam dear members of our 3HO, Sikh Dharma, and KRI Community,
This year has proven to be challenging in more ways than one. As we joined the world in bracing for a pandemic, our own organization had to face the difficult situation of allegations of abuse. As a religious organization with a commitment to high ethical standards, we took formal and immediate steps to address the claims, commission an independent investigation from An Olive Branch, and publish the findings for all to review and understand.
The conclusions drawn from An Olive Branch’s report were shocking. However, we must recognize that valued individuals in our community have experienced harm and that the report’s conclusions have contributed to divisiveness within the community. In order to move forward, we must work together to understand one another and find a way to heal personally and as a whole. Therefore, we are embarking on a program of Compassionate Reconciliation to restore and preserve our teachings and way of life for the long-term. This process will be lengthy and complex, but it is critical to our future.
We want to help you understand the path forward as well as well as encourage all to support and engage with the Compassionate Reconciliation process as it is developed and implemented. We have prepared a series of questions and answers to provide more detail about the program’s purpose and the steps ahead:
Why are we embarking on a program of Compassionate Reconciliation?
Dear Members of our 3HO, Sikh Dharma, and KRI Community,
Sat Nam. With the release of the report from An Olive Branch, the next substantive task before us is to turn our attention to the process of healing. As stated previously, the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation and our related organizations are committed to taking action to address the findings in the report, to assist all reporters of harm and to promote healing in our community. We approach this huge task with an open heart and a sincere desire to reach out and move forward with the process of healing and reconciliation.
We have embarked on a program of Compassionate Reconciliation based on the principles of restorative justice, mediation and other healing modalities. We are currently interviewing and vetting a number of the most respected restorative justice experts throughout the world to assemble a team with specific qualifications that meet the needs of our community. We place the utmost importance on three main areas:
Dear Members of the Sikh Dharma, 3HO and KRI Communities,
Sat Nam. Early in 2020, multiple allegations concerning sexual misconduct by our founder Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji (Yogi Bhajan) came to light. As a non-profit religious organization with a commitment to high ethical standards, the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSC) took formal steps to address the allegations. We directed the formation of a Collaborative Response Team (CRT), which was tasked with responding to the allegations in a transparent and timely manner. The SSSC then commissioned an independent organization, An Olive Branch (AOB), to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations. As the allegations were made posthumously, efforts were made throughout the process to ensure that Yogi Bhajan’s students and supporters had the opportunity to speak on his behalf. Neither the SSSC, the CRT, nor any of our affiliate organizations have had any influence over An Olive Branch’s process or its report. The SSSC Board would like to express our deepest gratitude to An Olive Branch and to all who participated in this process.