These lines constitute the reply that we offer to the campaign of untrue and slanderous remarks that the newspaper JP triggered on 23rd May, 2009.
We insist that this reply will be published in its entirety, and that our right to reply will be respected within a fair dialogue. The full version of this reply appears on www.natha.dk. We hope that JP will have the fairness to publish this reply, giving it the same attention that they have given our critics without giving us the chance to reply until now.
We wish to clarify from the beginning, that we are open to discuss spiritual matters which are more difficult to understand, but we do not consider that placing lies and slanderous remarks in a debate, as JP has done, brings any good aspect into the discussion. Even from the title, the journalist from JP proves a sheer ignorance of some principles and launches a double mistake:
1. Using the phrase “sex-sect” in relation with the name of Natha. Natha is not a sect and this statement must be immediately corrected.
With some elementary research many relevant sources that state quite clearly what a sect is and is not could have come to the attention of the journalist. Moreover, the most ridiculous aspect is that there is a specialist report related to Natha, which refers to the same subject as researched by Karl Erick Nylund. Dr Nylund is a priest and doctor of theology and is arguably Sweden’s foremost authority on sects. Following his investigation, Dr Nylund concluded that Natha and MISA are not sects and as such they have nothing in common with the structure of a sect. Dr Nylund found ‘..in the MISA case, we can find none of the criteria defining manipulative sects…MISA is a yoga movement where the participants aim at self-perfecting and improving their state of health and harmony through a lacto-vegetarian diet and yoga techniques.’
To read the full report by Dr Nylund, please visit http://www.gregorianbivolaru.com/sweden-3-2.php. On the following link you will find the report on MISA and Natha by the Swedish sociologists from Skop Research. Their report was one of the main pieces of evidence in the extradition trial of Gregorian Bivolaru ruled by the Supreme Court of Stockholm on 11th – 12th October 2005. Some of the conclusions in their report are that MISA and Natha are not sects but organizations with an open social structure and an open ideology. “Considering the interviews we had in Denmark, we can absolutely draw the conclusion that the yoga practitioners want to be part of the society. There is no reason for them to get isolated. They even expressed their wish to include yoga as part of the public education, such as university courses - mutual wish for yoga schools or other alternative medicine organizations.” To read more about this report, visit http://www.gregorianbivolaru.com/sweden-3-3.php.
How could a journalist make such serious allegations without doing the minimum research? This information is readily available on the internet. The use of the phrase “sex-sect” in connection with Natha is a grave mistake and must be immediately corrected. The status of Natha Yogacenter is a ‘People Enlightening Association’.
2. The second mistake that we ask to be immediately corrected is the placing of Natha in the category of organizations which focus on sex. Tantra is a millenary spiritual science that, among other things, offers the possibility for a human being to use, in a spiritual way, our inborn sexual potential! Natha teaches Tantra courses in which the subject of sexuality in its spiritual aspect comprises only a small part of the teaching. Therefore, to place Natha in the category of organizations which focus on sex is akin to saying that a high school is a sexual education institution just because sexual education is in the school curriculum. Through this typecasting, it is obvious that their intention is hostile. To clarify this matter, we add to the appendix, for the curious ones, a curriculum of an entire year of Natha’s course material for our Intensive Yoga course (what a serious investigative journalist should have found himself). In this way you will be able to form your own opinion about whether or not you consider if Natha deserves to be labeled as a “sex organization”. (Link in appendix 1).
Another serious mistake is that although the investigation took place over several days, the journalist didn’t find time and still hasn’t found time! to ask Natha for their side of the story. If he had have done so, he could have avoided implicating himself in the personal revenge acts of some ex-members of the association. If he had only contacted Natha as the ethical code of journalism obliges him to do, all the aforementioned mistakes could have been easily avoided. The yoga school was first contacted on Friday afternoon when the board of Natha could no longer gather to prepare a reply. Moreover, upon being contacted by Natha’s P.R. representative, the journalist declared that he wouldn’t use Natha’ s opinion in this edition anyway, and that MAYBE later, in another edition he would do this. We are very curious to see if this reply will be accepted in the spirit of correct and balanced communication.
Another serious mistake is the reference to the Dialogue Centre as experts on the subject. Simple research would have revealed that, among others, Michael Rothstein, Danish sociologist of religion, affirms that “The research of Dialogue Centre has nothing to do with science of religion... in reality Dialogue Centre was never anything more than a Christian community under strong and authoritative leadership.” Read the article in Kristelig Dagblad at: http://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/artikel/14029.
Through their actions this organisation have shown themselves to be more deserving of the title, Monologue Centre instead of Dialogue Centre, as they formed their statements about NATHA WITHOUT HAVING ANY CONTACT WITH NATHA AND WITH THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTIVITIES IN THE YOGA SCHOOL. All their statements are only manipulations of some slanderous remarks which have been gathered from the media, in particular the Romanian media, without even having the common sense to make the minimum effort to address the school that they so assiduously attacked. A simple verification of the sources, which is a fundamental part of the ethical journalistic process would have made it clear that the Dialogue Centre are champions of the slanderous monologue, and they have a particular penchant for indiscriminately attacking yoga schools.
We did some research to help the JP journalist and here are some of our significant and shocking discoveries:
In 1990, before Natha Yogacenter even existed, Dialogue Centre wrote a letter to the Danish Parliament in which they spoke against any public funding of any yoga centres in Denmark. Self proclaimed crusaders, Dialogue Centre have since then been working proactively to stop public funding of any yoga school in Denmark, claiming that they are indeed not objective in their viewpoints. In 2004 Dialogue Centre published the article “Natha – a Holy path to God or Prostitution?”, written by Tom Thygesen Frederiksen (the same source quoted in the current JP article). When Natha complained to the press authority, Tom Thygesen Frederiksen defended himself with the following statement: “Dialogue Centre and its paper, Den Nye Dialog, is by its own statutes, and also publicly, a forum based on an opinion that is founded on a traditional Christian standpoint and has a critical relationship to new religious movements. This is the premise for the article and the activities of Dialogue Centre”. Yet, on May 23rd, JP is publishing the same views of the same person presenting it as an “expert” opinion, even though he himself openly states he is not objective. Also the newspaper, Kristeligt Dagblad, has published an extensive article about Dialogue Centre, written by journalist Leif Kiil Soerensen on 20th December, 2006, in which Dialogue Centre is criticized and given the name ‘the Monologue Centre’. Here is the link: http://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/artikel/14029:Kirke-tro-Dialogcentret-kritiseres-for-ensidighed.
We would like to emphasise that when NATHA requested the support of Koebenhavns Kommune, this request was made publicly and this request was also posted on our website. This fact drew the attention of those from Dialogue Centre who immediately made serious allegations about the school, allegations which tried to stop the Kommune’s support. This shows both the openness of our school that has nothing to hide - by publishing the intention just before receiving these funds on the site - and the role of redeeming, that the Dialogue Centre unjustifiably assumes. These attacks launched then by Dialogue Centre contain, strangely enough, exactly the same lies which are now circulating with the help of JP. Significantly, Dialogue Centre launched these attacks without bothering to make a single phone call to Natha, to communicate (HAVE A DIALOGUE) with someone from the management of the yoga school. We regret that this attitude has also been “contaminating” the JP journalist.
In the light of these statements made by Dialogue Centre, Koebenhavns Kommune conducted an investigation into the yoga school. Following months of investigation, they gave Natha the status of “association for enlightening people”. How is it possible that after a few years the same campaign, using the same arguments which proved to be false once, is again taken into consideration? Simple verification would have brought to light all these aspects and avoided this situation in which the work and leisure time of hundreds of people is pulverized by the slander of a “Discrimination Centre”.
A simple examination shows that all the sources quoted by Orla Borg are of questionable reliability. Another example of this is the “ex-member of Natha” Kim Schmock, who is accusing Natha of being involved in providing sex-services. Yet Mr Borg omits to mention some relevant information about this source: Kim Schmock has an ongoing legal dispute with the school, in which he is trying to steal from Natha a property valued at 4-5 million kroner, and he hopes through his unfounded accusations to gain public support for his purpose. For several years he has harassed and aggressed several of Natha’s yoga students, sometimes even to the point that the police had to intervene. It is clear that this person is biased and has much to gain financially by attacking Natha, therefore his statements cannot be trusted. However, Mr Borg does not mention these facts at all, instead he quotes Schmock as a reliable source. This information can be found on Natha’s website and could have easily been discovered by the journalist. If he had contacted Natha he would have been informed of this. We can only conclude that either the journalist did not properly investigate the story, and therefore he should not have made such accusations, or he knew of Kim Schmock’s background and chose to ignore it, still using him as a reliable source and intentionally withholding his background from the readers and in doing so, committing an act of manipulation.
Use of key words such as WARNING in the beginning of the article is part of the classical methods used to manipulate the mob. The statements which say that Natha is an organization that earns money from sexual activities are unfounded and constitute serious slander. The fact that Natha offers courses where people can learn, among many other things, also how to spiritualize the intimate life, does not mean that it offers sexual activities. Therefore, this statement must be corrected as it is not true.
We want to bring to your attention that the lies the journalist refers to in the title “Sex, Lies, and Yoga Courses” are the only the ones included by the journalist in his articles. In order to say that someone is lying, one needs to prove that the statements are not correct. Yet in the article none of Natha Yogacenter’s statements are presented, therefore, the term lies cannot be applied to the school. Instead the statements of so-called witnesses and specialists are included and in the following we will demonstrate that the presented statements are not true and therefore they are LIES.
JP tries to show their concern for the citizens by using the headline “WARNING”, yet we ask where JP’s concern really lies since they did not verify any of the statements in the article, for concern for the same citizens!
The intention to manipulate the opinions of the citizens is obvious in the use of the persona “JESPER” who desires to remain anonymous out of fear for his future and for his career. However, if this man is upright and what he says is true, what kind of career can be jeopardized by such an upright attitude which exposes the lies and manipulation (maybe except a political career and only in some cases). The journalist tries to insinuate that the yoga school would represent an obvious danger – we emphasize that innuendo is a masked form of slander. This case is underlined by the anonymous aspect of Jesper’s character. The same innuendo appears several times during the set of articles from JP and represents a serious slender to all honest and open men, who practice yoga or who teach yoga in this school! Statements as : “WARNING” , “naive danes are in danger…”, “what is hiding behind the appearance?”, “dialogue centre warns”, “risks to become enrolled”, “I highly warn”, “everything is based on a lie”, are a clear indication of this intentional strategy.
Being clearly a deliberate gesture of inducing a state of fear and obscurity upon the Natha yoga school, we ask ourselves what lies behind such a bad intention which doesn’t belong to the methods of a professional such as the journalist from JP?
In connection to this mysterious Jesper, the quotation of an anonymous source as the basis for serious allegations is unethical because it does not allow the accused to ever be able to verify the truth of the claims of the anonymous accuser. Remaining anonymous he can hide his hidden agenda. If someone accuses another he must also be available to be questioned. Since we do know who this Jesper is we can affirm that all of his remarks have no validity because of a very strong personal dependency relationship that the ‘Jesper’ has with some of the teachers in the school. We do not want to expose him and for this reason we find it irrelevant to explain the story behind this. Considering that due to his anonymity we will never be able to refute any of his claims, JP should either completely remove any reference to him or else they should reveal his true identity.
Another serious statement that we ask JP to correct immediately is that Natha Yogacenter is an organization that promotes prostitution. It is naïve for a journalist to believe that you can attribute such a statement to an anonymous character, and to believe you are absolved of all responsibility. The statement is so absurd that we don’t consider doing anything more than to ask for its immediate removal! We remind Mr Borg that the title of investigative journalist, to which he aspires, obliges him to verify the statements that he publishes, even if they come from anonymous sources, especially in the case in which the opinion of the other party is not checked at all! Since these statements are not demonstrated by any facts they should be rectified immediately.
Another serious violation of the truth is the entire series of lies regarding the financial situation of Natha Yogacenter. We understand that this financial crisis affects many, but we do not understand this as a reason for manipulation. The statement that money from the Kommune ends up in the same “box” as the money coming from the so-called sexual activities is, once again, a tendentious insinuation, which is based on a lie that was repeated several times throughout the articles. Natha had never made any income from offering of sexual services! In the yoga school sublime sexuality has always been openly discussed as a chapter in people’s spiritual life. Efficient methods through which the sexual experience can be refined and spiritualized for spiritual benefits have even been taught - however it is a big leap from here to sexual services or prostitution - and the journalist jumped to conclusions on purpose.
Moreover, the attempt to confuse the life and individual opinions of some private persons with the activity of an organization is a typical discrediting action, usually used in politics! Has Mr Borg mistaken the section of the newspaper in which he writes?
Here we do not discuss the fact that many years ago a teacher (even if he is a coordinating teacher), decided to make a movie in order to illustrate a millenary Tantric method or whether or not the fact that it was artistically successful. The movie and its making has never been a secret and therefore we cannot speak of it as being an attempt to mislead public opinion. The intention to insinuate that these private actions are a characteristic of the yoga school is scandalous. We respect the private choices that each person makes in life and we encourage each individual to live according to their principles. Such statements show a serious lack of knowledge about yoga since the science of yoga cannot be judged by what some yogis do in their personal life. This intentional confusion aims to suggest that Natha Yogacenter is promiscuous so as to argue that the granting of funds from the Kommune was a wrong gesture. How come the investigating journalist did not discover that among Natha’s students there are medical doctors, students of reputable universities, famous actors, renowned sexologists, psychologists and musicians? The method used by the journalist is one in which you find a particular aspect which could be considered to be true from a certain perspective and then generalising this aspect in an abusive way, thus applying this aspect to other aspects which the journalist wants to demonstrate – in this case presenting Natha as a firm for sexual services. If he had asked us, we would have been at his disposal to provide complete information about the school’s financial status and as a result the investigation would have been truly complete. In this case, probably the investigation would not have ended with the scandalous results that Mr Borg successfully obtained by using this simple method of manipulating public opinion.
This series of lies is completed by the following lie which completely distorts the possible outcome of the trial regarding the 21 yoga teachers in Romania. As a result of the “investigations” made by Mr Borg, he finds the 21 yoga teachers accused of “prostitution, trafficking of women and tax fraud”, when in reality the trial is about the following accusations: human trafficking and constituting such a group. The only aspect taken into account was the way ‘karma yoga’ (voluntary work done in a spiritual way) was interpreted by prosecutors within the Romanian law. The indictments don’t contain any sexual accusations or references to prostitution. The only reference to prostitution or women trafficking is to be found in the Romanian tabloids, none of these ever being proven or the subject of a trial!
Is Mr Borg incapable of differentiating between a juridical source and a source from a tabloid??
Without needing to discuss the truth of the accusations from the Romanian authorities, it is clear that the investigating journalist is distorting the facts.
For more information and a wider perspective on the case regarding the 21 yoga teachers from Romania, we recommend to watch the following video. This is a very interesting short film containing interviews with 3 persons: 1. Jens Peter Bonde, member of the European Parliament; 2. Lisbeth Kirk, chief editor of the EUobserver; 3. Ulla Sandbaek, priest, ex-member of the European Parliament. Two of these persons have made their own investigations into the case and have reached to the conclusion that the accusations produced by the Romanian authorities are without any basis and are abusive towards the yoga school. A third person (Lisbeth Kirk) brings critical information against the justice system in Romania.
Attentively following the unfoldment of the events in connection to MISA Yoga School in Romania (The abuse of MISA by the Romanian government even became a subject of discussion in the European parliament and is one of the reasons why Romania, as a new member of the European Union, received warnings from the European Forum regarding Justice) we cannot help but notice a strikingly similar procedure! Calumnies are thrown out to the press without any prior investigation, the accusations are based only on the opinions of ex-students (only 2 of them) and of groups with a clearly preferential agenda…no, we are not describing here the Natha case in the Scandinavian press, but the MISA case in the Romanian press, in order to show the striking resemblance. The only difference is that in Romania the government dared to make physical abuses against yoga practitioners. Hopefully, we will not see that in Denmark.
If we are to follow the plan that is shaping up through this campaign, the next step is to find one angry parent, who lost his or her child in the sect, even if the child is in his second youth or maybe even close to retiring! Let us see if what follows in this campaign will put us in the position of prophesizing, by making this anticipation, or it will prove us that our country is more mature and that here we truly know how to integrate all cultures and human aspirations in a superior spirit of mutual understanding.
To conclude, all these specifications give us the right to ask JP to make the necessary corrections. Their mistakes bring grave material and spiritual prejudices towards Natha Yogacenter.
On Behalf of Natha Yogacenter
Maria Porsfelt, Chairman
Sahaj Porslund, Press-responsible
natha.net, July 15th 2009