Frederick Lenz

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Frederick Philip Lenz, III, also known as Rama (Sanskrit: राम) and Atmananda (Sanskrit: आत्मानन्द; February 9, 1950 in San Diego, California – April 12, 1998) was a spiritual teacher who taught what he termed American Buddhism, including the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, Vedanta, and Mysticism. Lenz also was an author, software designer, business man, and record producer.


Childhood and adolescence[edit]

Lenz was born February 9, 1950, at Mercy Hospital in San Diego, California. At the age of three, he and his family moved to Stamford, Connecticut. He spent the rest of his childhood and teenage years there, attending schools in the Stamford area.[1]

Lenz's father, Frederick Lenz Jr., worked as a marketing executive and later went on to become the mayor of Stamford from 1973 to 1975. His mother, Dorothy Gumaer Lenz, was a housewife and a student of astrology.[1]

After high school, he spent a short period of incarceration in a low security camp near San Diego for possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor offense which was later removed from the court records by way of a dismissal.[2][3] He then traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal and encountered a Tibetan Buddhist monk who informed him that in the future, he would help millions of people and carry on the teachings of a lineage that had almost disappeared.[4]


Lenz graduated from Rippowam High School in 1967. He later attended the University of Connecticut, where he majored in English and minored in Philosophy.[5] He was inducted as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society in 1973[6] and graduated magna cum laude.[7]

After college, he won a competitive State of New York Graduate Council Fellowship enabling him to continue his studies. He earned a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy from State University of New York at Stony Brook.[5] His doctoral dissertation was on "The Evolution of Matter and Spirit in the Poetry of Theodore Roethke".[8]

Spiritual teachings[edit]

Lenz said that the core of his teachings was contained in his books, Snowboarding to Nirvana and Surfing the Himalayas, the latter was a national best-seller. The singer Tina Turner noted that she keeps a copy of Surfing the Himalayas in her prayer room.[9]

Lenz's work, including his teaching and projects, focused on modern spiritual enlightenment through the application of Eastern religious principles. The main themes of his teachings in American Buddhism included the engaged practice of meditation, living and working in the world, and the enlightenment of women.

Lenz instructed students on methods for living more productive, fulfilled lives. He was an advocate of computer science and other mentally challenging professions as a means of achieving mental clarity.[10][11]

Lenz stated he first went into samadhi, or a state of spiritual absorption, at the age of three.[12][13] In his books Surfing the Himalayas and Snowboarding to Nirvana, he stated that traveling to sacred locations heightened his experiences in meditation.[14]

Beginning in 1972, he became a student of Hindu guru Sri Chinmoy, who gave him the name "Atmananda," meaning "rejoicing in the soul."[15] In 1981, after moving back to San Diego, he ended his association with Chinmoy and founded his own teaching center called Lakshmi.[15][16]

"Self-discovery is the essential core of all of Rama's teaching", according to Zoe Nicholson.[17] "The principle is simple; that inside of each woman and man is the Self, Nirvana, Eternity. It has been covered with layers of conditioning, lifetimes of tendencies and fear of the unknown. Through the practice of Self Discovery all these layers are peeled back eventually revealing one's true nature: perfect pure light."[17]

Lenz is quoted as saying, "It's necessary for you to have a strong base ... the economic independence to live a life of beauty and meditative seclusion. The strength and freedom to live a life of oneness."[18] and that, "Money is energy in today's world. A great deal of the teaching that I do is about your ability to achieve financial independence."[19] He taught that having money was one way to help others. Throughout his 27 years as a teacher, he offered free public meditations where he introduced thousands of people to meditation, some of whom became students.[20] After filling out college-style applications, some people became students (not all were accepted).[21] Lenz advised prospective students to listen to various teachers and then to trust their own intuition and intelligence before making a choice.[21]

At the end of 1982, he adopted the teaching name of "Rama," stating that he was not the historical Rama but rather represented a warrior quality implied in that name.[22] He said he remembered all of his previous reincarnations, including his life as a high priest in Atlantis, and as a teacher in ancient Egypt, India, Japan, and Tibet.[23]

His students wrote that they witnessed him perform miracles, or siddha powers, including levitation, teleportation, disappearing, turning rooms to molten gold light, projecting light from his hands, and transforming into an old, bearded Asian man before their eyes.[22] He often took his students on field trips to the deserts of Southern California and to Disneyland where a number of these events were witnessed.[22] Lenz stated: “I like miracles. They inspire me. Miracles cause you to believe, to have faith in the unseen, to look further into things, deeper into things. Miracles are the fun of enlightenment. When a teacher does a miracle – an enlightened teacher – and someone sees it, they’re astonished. Suddenly they have faith in what the teacher has to say about self-discovery and spirituality and enlightenment.”[24]

Core teachings[edit]

These core teachings are taken from public talks he gave in the 1980s and 1990s:

  • "Enlightenment is a timeless void. It's an emptiness that's filled with the most excellent light. That light is suffused through every part of your being. It is your being. There's no sense of separation between yourself and the light. There's no self but the light. That's enlightenment – timeless, stillness, perfection."[25]
  • "Only a pure heart, a completely pure heart can house eternity. Your heart has to be absolutely pure. You can only want that which is absolutely good. You have to live in goodness all the time, and nothing else can matter. There can be no thought of self, no apartheid in the inner world. No discrimination. It's only with that absolute humility and purity that you can make friends with God because otherwise you're just too busy with all your desires".[26]
  • "What is self? What lies beyond self? Self is the perception of perception. Beyond self there's no perception of perception. That's the riddle. The only way to answer the riddle is to go beyond perception and, of course, then there's no answer because there's no perception, there's only silence."[27]
  • "In meditation, in selfless giving, in anything that lends nobility to the soul, we rise beyond the limitations of our self-created illusions and we become perfectly what we are".[28]
  • Career success is using daily work—schoolwork, work in the world, work at home, doing the laundry, all physical tasks, cleaning the car, any kind of work, and specifically career itself—as a way of advancing one's mental state.[10]
  • "The mindset used in computer science is very similar to the mindset we use in Zen and in the more advanced stages of self-discovery. Programming will aid a person in developing their mind and will aid their meditation, in my opinion… The mental structures that are used in computer science, particularly in working with relational database and artificial intelligence, are very similar to exercises that are done in Buddhist monasteries."[29][30]
  • Women exemplify, from a spiritual point of view, power. The power of the kundalini energy, the energy of life, flows through them in a very different way than it does through a man, innately. In a fallen world, in a world of fear and darkness, men have reacted very negatively to the power that is inherent in women. Rather than realizing that that power is also indigenous to themselves, that they have the same power, only it manifests in other ways, men have rejected that power and sought to convince women of the exact opposite, that they are powerless. They have done this through sexual repression, economic repression, political repression, social repression, ideological repression and spiritual repression.[10]

Software designer[edit]

Lenz recommended careers in computer science. Many students became skilled programmers and went on to form their own software companies, with Lenz as co-designer and thought leader. These companies included AutoSys (sold to Platinum Technology in 1995), CS10000,[31] Vayu Web,[32] and Eagle Ray Project Management Software (sold to Primavera).[33][34][35]

Music career[edit]

Lenz was the producer for the rock band, Zazen, which produced 31 albums in 13 years.[36][37] The group also released several music videos.[38] Lenz was also co-composer of the album Ecologie (credited under "Rama")[39] and the soundtrack for 704 Hauser.[40]

Criticisms and controversy[edit]

Lenz received criticism from the sect-monitoring movement.

A small number of Lenz's students became involved with several sect watchdog groups, including the CAN (Cult Awareness Network) and deprogrammers (in particular, Mark Blocksom[41] and Joseph Szimhart, who is accused of kidnapping and imprisoning several of Lenz's students).[42][43]

Death and his estate[edit]

Lenz drowned in the bay next to his home on April 12, 1998, the victim of an apparent suicide.[44] He stated that his death was a protest against how spiritual teachers are treated in America.[4] He left a gross estate of approximately $23 million.[45] His will was a matter of dispute between the National Audubon Society and his estate, which was settled by a donation to the National Audubon Society,[45] and the creation of the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism, which at the time was headed by Lenz's accountant, Norman Marcus (executor of his will) and Norman Oberstein, his attorney. This act fulfilled provisions of the will necessary to apply the funds from Lenz's estate to the creation of the Lenz Foundation.[45] Claims by two persons who contested the will were withdrawn and dismissed.[46][47] His estate was settled in 2002. The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism has engaged in substantial grant making activity (over to $7 million to date) to approximately 140 American Buddhist organizations from 2003 onwards.[48] As part of the settlement with Audubon, a gorge was named for Lenz at the Sharon Audubon Center in northwest Connecticut.



Frederick Lenz published eight books between 1979 and 1997.

  • Lifetimes: True Accounts of Reincarnation, 1979, Fawcett Crest, New York (ISBN 0-449-24337-0)
  • Total Relaxation: The Complete Program for Overcoming Stress, Tension, Worry, and Fatigue, 1980, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis (ISBN 0-672-52594-1)
  • Meditation: The Bridge is Flowing but The River is Not, 1981, Lakshmi Publications, Malibu, CA, Revised 1983 (ISBN 0-941868-00-1)
  • The Wheel of Dharma, 1982, Lakshmi Publications, Malibu, CA (ISBN 0-941868-01-X)
  • The Last Incarnation, 1983, Lakshmi Publications, Malibu, CA (ISBN 0-941868-02-8)
  • Insights: Tantric Buddhist Reflections on Life, 1994, Interglobal Seminars, New York (ISBN 0-9642196-7-0)
  • Surfing the Himalayas, 1995, St. Martin's Press, New York (ISBN 0-312-14147-5)
  • Snowboarding to Nirvana, 1997, St. Martin's Press, New York (ISBN 0-312-15293-0)

Audio talks[edit]

From 1982 to 1992, Lenz created over 120 audio recordings. The topics of the talks covered a wide range of titles, including "Meditation", "Tantric Buddhism", "Career Success", "Women and Enlightenment", and "Psychic Development".[49]

These talks were recorded as nine audio sets, six of which were also published in book form:

Films and video recordings[edit]

  • Tantric Buddhism with Rama 1993 (ASIN: B002VAMPA0)
  • Canyons of Light & Cayman Blue 2011 (ASIN: B006FBYL)
  • Signs of a Rebel Buddha (starring)[50]


Frederick Lenz produced numerous music albums.[36]

  • Canyons of Light (ASIN: B000003IO1)
  • Cayman Blue (ASIN: B000003IPU)
  • Ecologie (ASIN: B000003IPD)
  • Ecstasy (ASIN: B002V41STS)
  • Enlightenment (ASIN: B0000026DSN)
  • Light Saber (ASIN: B0060032E0)
  • Mystery School (ASIN: B0019F04FG)
  • Retrograde Planet (ASIN: B00VNUIMG)
  • Samadhi (ASIN: B0027XIPBY)
  • Samurai (ASIN: B000BRXRNO)
  • Tantra (ASIN: B002VAKR52)
  • Techno Zen Master (ASIN: B006003U)

Further reading[edit]

  • American Buddhist Rebel: The Story of Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz. Liz Lewinson. 2016. ISBN 978-1611532562.
  • American Zen: The Wisdom of an American Zenji. Y. Ohta. 2009. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1449560799.
  • Art of Rama, The: Interviews with Direct Students of Rama. Marsha Pritchard. 2011. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1461052999.
  • Last Incarnation, The: Experiences with Rama in Southern California. Compilation. 1983. Los Angeles. The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism. ISBN 0-941868-02-8.
  • Passionate Heart, The. Zoe Nicholson, Lune Soleil Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0972392822.
  • Road Trip Mind. by Uncle Tantra (Barry Wright). 2001. Online Only (click footnote for link).[51]
  • Take Me For A Ride: Coming of Age in a Destructive Cult. Mark Laxer. Outer Rim Press 1993 ISBN 978-0963810830[52]
  • Unplugging the Patriarchy. Lucia Rene. 2009. Williamsburg, VA. Crown Chakra Publishing. ISBN 978-0982377628.
  • Worlds of Power, Worlds of Light. Jenna Sundell. 2013. Electric Bliss Publishing. ISBN 0615909345.


  1. ^ a b Insights: Talks on the Nature of Existence, p. 299
  2. ^ Smith, Merrit (5 October 1972). The People of the State of California vs. Frederick P. Lenz III: Modified Order. Superior Court of the State of California. The above-entitled matter coming on this date for hearing and it appearing to this Court that good cause exists for a modification of the Order of Probation heretofore made on August 6, 1969 for three years following conviction for Possession Marijuana (11530 H&S) Now, therefore, it is ordered that said Order be and the same hereby is modified in that the defendant's offense of Possession of Marijuana be reduced to a misdemeanor.
  3. ^ James, R.B. (10 May 1971). The People of the State of California vs. Frederick P. Lenz, III: Order Dismissing Accusation Against Probationer. Superior Court of the State of California. This matter coming on this date for hearing and it appearing from the report of the...crime of Possession of Marijuana (H&S 11530)...It is further ordered, adjudged and decreed that the above-entitled action, and the Accusation filed therein be, and the same is hereby, dismissed; and the said defendant is hereby released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which the said defendant was convicted.
  4. ^ a b Lewinson, Liz (11 May 2017). American Buddhist Rebel: The Story of Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz (3 ed.). Torchflame Books. pp. 22–24. ISBN 978-1611532562. By December, 1969, Freddie had saved enough to book a multi-stop flight. He figured he could stay at youth hostels once he arrived. ... When he arrived in Kathmandu, the teeming town was packed with sadhus and Western hippies from many nations... The lama said he had been waiting a very, very long time for Freddie, longer than this lifetime. He told Freddie that in the future he would be a great teacher in the West and that Freddie would carry on the teachings of a lineage that had almost disappeared. That he (Master Fwap) was passing along these teachings to Freddie. Master Fwap predicted that Freddie would become the new lineage-keeper who would revive the teachings and help millions of people.
  5. ^ a b "Frederick P. Lenz III; Author, Commune Leader". Los Angeles Times. 1998-04-15. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  6. ^ Cowan, Susanna (2021-02-16). "Members: Pre-2007 | The Phi Beta Kappa Society - Epsilon of Connecticut". Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  7. ^ Insights: Talks on the Nature of Existence, p 299
  8. ^ "THE EVOLUTION OF MATTER AND SPIRIT IN THE POETRY OF THEODORE ROETHKE. A Dissertation presented. Frederick Philip Lenz. The Graduate School - PDF Free Download". Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  9. ^ Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (18 October 2018). "Tina Turner: By the Book". The New York Times.
  10. ^ a b c Dr. Frederick Lenz. "Why Don't More Women Attain Enlightenment". Narkive Newsgroup Archive. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  11. ^ Lenz, Frederick (2020). "Computer Science". Tantric Buddhism, Living Flow. ISBN 9781974811218 Check |isbn= value: checksum (help).
  12. ^ The Frederick P Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism
  13. ^ "American Buddhist Rebel: The Story of Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz (Book One) (Paperback) | The Book Stall". Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  14. ^ Lenz as Author
  15. ^ a b "SPIRITUAL SCIENCE MUSEUM". Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  16. ^ "Certificate of Dissolution". 1987-04-15. Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  17. ^ a b Ann Nicholson, Zoe (2003). The Passionate Heart. Lune Soleil Press. ISBN 0972392823.
  18. ^ On the Road With Rama
  19. ^ "Career Success". Rama Meditation Society. 1992. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  20. ^ [1] ("Zen", "On the Road", "Tantric Buddhism")
  21. ^ a b "Self Enlightened Masters". Yoga Journal. 1985-07-01. pp. 72–74. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  22. ^ a b c "The Last Incarnation: Experiences with Rama in California" (PDF). Lakshmi Publications. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  23. ^ "Atmananda Past Life Resume". issuu. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  24. ^ Lenz, Frederick P. (2002). The Enlightenment Cycle, Miracles. The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism. p. 142.
  25. ^ Lenz, Rama – Dr. Frederick: Tantric Buddhism, page 87. The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism, 2003.
  26. ^ Lenz, Rama – Dr. Frederick: Insights: Talks on the Nature of Existence, page 127. The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism, 2003.
  27. ^ Lenz, Rama – Dr. Frederick: Tantric Buddhism, page 355. The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism, 2003.
  28. ^ Lenz, Rama – Dr. Frederick: Insights: Talks on the Nature of Existence, page 283. The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism, 2003.
  29. ^ Zen Tapes, “Career Success,” published by The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism, 2002, page 190.
  30. ^ The Enlightenment Cycle, “Career Success,” published by Mystic Buddha Publishing House, 2016, page 114.
  31. ^ Olsen, Florence (1998-10-19). "Expert systems tool lends helping hand to managers -". GCN. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  32. ^ staff, CNET News. "Who said you can't learn from TV?". CNET. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  33. ^ "Primavera P6 History". Ten Six Consulting. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  34. ^ "Primavera acquires Eagle Ray wing". 1999-05-04. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  35. ^ "About Rama". Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  36. ^ a b Lewinson, Liz (11 May 2017). American Buddhist Rebel: The Story of Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz (3 ed.). Torchflame Books. p. 6. ISBN 978-1611532562. Between 1986 and 1989, they released 14 albums. By 1997, a total of 31 albums were created.
  37. ^ Music - Road Trip Mind by Uncle Tantra
  38. ^ Zazen Music Video: What is Dancing? on YouTube
  39. ^ Ecologie - Joaquin Lievano | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved 2021-04-04
  40. ^ Leszczak, Bob (2018-09-14). Single Season Sitcoms of the 1990s: A Complete Guide. McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-3198-1.
  41. ^ "Declaration of Mark Blocksom - Quartex site". Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  42. ^ CESNUR - Appendix A - Sampler of Deprogramming Cases
  43. ^ Kenyon, J. Douglas (2008-02-11). Forbidden Science: From Ancient Technologies to Free Energy. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-59143-997-4.
  44. ^ "Frederick Lenz III Death Certificate". Scribd. Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  45. ^ a b c "Receipt, Release, Agreement & Account (Summary Statement) (Notarized Sept 2001) | Will And Testament | Private Law". Scribd. Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  46. ^ "Stipulation and Consent to Withdrawal of Petition (Diana Jean Reynolds)" (PDF). The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism. 23 November 1999. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  47. ^ "Stipulation and Consent to Withdrawal of Petition (Deborah Lenz)" (PDF). The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism. 15 November 1999. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  48. ^ "Grant Activity". The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism. 2018.
  49. ^ The Frederick P Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism
  50. ^ "Signs of a Rebel Buddha - Documentary Film". Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  51. ^ "Road Trip Mind by Uncle Tantra".
  52. ^ [2]"Take Me For A Ride: Coming of Age in a Destructive Cult" by Mark Laxer

External links[edit]