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Rama (a.k.a. Frederick Lenz 1950-1998)
Zen Master Rama was Frederick P. Lenz, Ph.D. (in English literature) and businessman (Advanced Systems, Inc.). Lenz parlayed his knowledge of Hinduism and Buddhism into a cult. In the early 1980s he started calling himself after Rama, an avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu. He started giving seminars in 1982 in Malibu, California. Eventually, thousands of people would pay as much as $5,000 per seminar to be enlightened by this self-proclaimed guru, psychic, and miracle worker. Here is what one of his followers said he learned from his master: "Spiritually advanced people work with computers because it makes a lot of money. The more money you make, the better you meditate" (Clark and Gallo 1993, 102).
Rama used a variety of so-called mind-control techniques to seduce his disciples. He had his subjects stare at him for long hours until they would hallucinate and "see" Lenz begin to glow or change shapes. Lenz told his followers that having these "visions" meant they were psychic.
Rama seduced many of his female followers by telling them that he only has sex with women who have a rare sort of karma. He also told women that having sex with him would elevate them to a higher plane of consciousness. It is hard for a skeptic to believe that such a line would work with any woman, but apparently it does.
Rama took religious freedom and tantric gullibility to new heights in his book Surfing the Himalayas: A Spiritual Adventure (1997). There he tells us of his adventures "snowboarding through Tantric myetiolem" and offers such bits of wisdom as
Ultimately, thinking is a very inefficient method of processing data...
The relational way of doing things is to move your mind to a fourth condition, a condition of heightened awareness. In a condition of heightened awareness, you elevate your conscious mind above the stream of extraneous data -- out of dimensional time and space, so to speak -- and you meld your mind instead with the pure intelligent consciousness of the universe.
Bob Frankenberg, Chairman and CEO of Novell, claims the book "entertains and enlightens" and calls it "a wonderful contrast of Eastern spirituality and Western pragmatism." Phil Jackson, coach of the Chicago Bulls, said the book "Brings levity and humor to a subject often relegated to a mundane, boring prospect." The book became a best-seller. Within a year Rama published another cult classic: Snowboarding to Nirvana.
Unfortunately, all his Tantric wisdom couldn't save him and the day before taxes were due in 1998, Rama drowned in Conscience Bay near his residence in the exclusive Old Field section of Setauket on Long Island, New York. Rumor has it that he was stoned when he fell off the dock. An unidentified woman described by police as ''incoherent'' was found to be in Lenz's house at the time his body was recovered by police divers. Lenz was 48 at the time of his death. Cult expert Joe Szimbart claims that Lenz was suffering from liver cancer and committed suicide by overdosing on Phenobarbital (Skeptical Inquirer, July/August 1998). The Suffolk County Medical Examiner's office said it was Valium. Either way, Rama snowboards with the fishes.
books and articles
Clark, Nancy and Nick Gallo, "Do You Believe in Magic? - New Light on the New Age," Family Circle, February 23, 1993.
Ramalila - "dedicated to Rama's students, past, present and even future!"