Re: 'Free Meditation'..might be a front for Frederick Lenz Rama Cult
Date: July 06, 2018 06:23AM
Just to give a bit more information about what I recall from the group between about 1992 - 1998--since the press coverage doesn't tend to focus too much on that period. I suspect that any new recruiting drive will/is being modeled closely on what happened back in that era so it might be good for people to know what happened in that earlier era so they know what to avoid if they see a similar pattern cropping up today:
By late 1991/early 1992 the Lenz group had shrunk to about 200 disciples/students from a peak of over 1,000. There are a number of reasons why the group was on the wane: bad press convincing some members to drop out; exponentially increasing "tuition" fees forcing some members out because they couldn't keep up; abuse including sexual abuse of students causing them to leave; slow recruiting of new members; frequent moves from city to city which some disciples didn't want to make; and Lenz himself would frequently kick people out in droves for reasons known only to him. In early 1992, therefore, Lenz decided it was time to reinforce his numbers once again and put a huge new effort into recruiting. I was one of about 600 people recruited during this effort, and it was to be his last really big recruiting effort before he died.
So in early 1992, Lenz sent his students in groups from New York (where most were then living) to about six or seven other cities in the country to start recruiting drives. These cities were deemed to be "power spots" where prospective recruits with "personal power" might live. Lenz only wanted new students with "personal power" (ie a good income or the potential to earn a good income that they would then turn over to him). I was part of the group that was recruited in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco area. Other cities that were part of the recruiting drive were Boston, Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles and a couple of others. I believe there was also some recruiting going on in Portland OR which was especially secretive even by the usual Lenz secretive standards.
The first contact with the group was usually to see a flyer posted on a bulletin board, a telephone pole, a wall, etc. Usually whenever one flyer was posted, many would be posted, so if you happened to be in the area where Lenz students were postering, you couldn't really miss their flyers. These flyers typically advertised free meditation classes, with a variety of benefits promised such as "Career Success" or to "Empower your Life". They generally included one important restriction: you had to be between ages 18-29. The upper limit was because of an astrological belief in the Saturn return: the Saturn return (about age 29) seems to mark the astrological end of youth and the beginning of full fledged adulthood, and Lenz wanted people who were still fairly young and malleable. The minimum age was 18 because people needed to be 18 to sign contracts as they would soon be asked to do. Another factor, I strongly suspect, is that he wanted potential female recruits to be young but above the age of consent.
The flyers would never mention Lenz, although they would sometimes mention obscure organizations that would later turn out to be fronts for Lenz. They generally advertised free meditation classes at a university campus, a new age center, a community center, or something similar. If you attended the meditation class, they would generally teach meditation for a couple of hours. The classes would be led by students of Lenz--Lenz himself would never appear at these introductory classes--and they would generally not mention any connection with Lenz or, at the most, keep any connection very low key. The meditation itself was not a problem; I've always found that the meditation techniques taught by Lenz and his students to work well, with it being the associated baggage that is a problem. After each class, they would generally hand out a tape by Zazen (a band that turned out to be affiliated with Lenz) to meditate to and get everyone's contact info.
The contact info was so that they could screen people for recruiting into the Lenz organization, although they didn't explain this at the time. After each class, though, they would privately contact each person who was deemed a good potential recruit for Lenz. People they thought wouldn't fit--or who looked like they were outside the 18-29 age range--just wouldn't be contacted any further with no reason being given. However, Lenz himself traveled to each of the recruiting cities about once a month to meet with new recruits for about 1-4 nights per city per month. The people who attended the intro class who were deemed good recruits would be invited to the next meeting with Lenz himself in that city. A bit more information would be provided to those people although by no means complete disclosure.
If the new recruit was invited to and accepted the invitation to meet Lenz himself, they would find out that the meeting with Lenz would have a somewhat different format. These meetings took place at considerably more upscale locations such as dinners at the Four Seasons or Fairmont hotels. There was generally a cost associated with these dinners, although the recruiter often offered to pick up the cost the first time. There was a "the first one is free" philosophy but this got recruits used to the idea that these events wouldn't be free forever.
At the dinner or meeting with Lenz, Lenz would generally alternate between light hearted banter (he could be quite funny when he wanted to be) and intense meditation. The meditation again used the Zazen music but this time recruits would keep their eyes open and focus on Lenz. People were generally in a highly suggestible state by this point and would report things like seeing Lenz surrounded by golden light or turning into various other forms that Lenz was quick to describe as his past lives. The idea was to reinforce, under what amounted to heavy hypnosis, the idea that Lenz was something more than an ordinary human being--that he was a rare form of enlightened being with unique powers to help the potential recruits (or, it was also often added, to hurt them if they got on his bad side).
This basic monthly cycle--of public introductory sessions followed by much more intense seminars with Lenz himself--continued from early 1992 through mid 1993. Many people decided he was a charlatan and quit attending, but increasing numbers in each city found themselves regular attendees at the monthly seminars with Lenz. This was generally the honeymoon phase of the initiation process. Lenz generally (but not always) presented himself as being in a good mood at these monthly events, and pleased with his new students. After a certain period it was no longer free, but fees were kept quite modest. I also believe (but being male have no way of being 100% sure) that Lenz exercised more self discipline than usual during this period when it came to initiating sexual relationships with new female recruits. He had received considerable bad publicity in this area in the past, and I believe was smart enough to exercise enough self control to avoid any new bad publicity in this area until the recruiting drive was successfully concluded. However some of the recruiters--both male and female--did engage in sexual relations with their recruits. But I think Lenz himself was more self disciplined than usual in this area of his life during that period.
There were other signs that, despite the generally positive, euphoric mood there were some problems going on. At two separate events, police had to be called resulting in some people leaving the events in handcuffs. Lenz made light of these arrests, saying that life was wonderful but every so often you had to put the velociraptors back in their cage (this was just after the release of the original Jurassic Park).
Around mid 1993 a significant change to the pattern was introduced by Lenz. He announced that he was phasing out these monthly meetings in all cities (except New York) and if people wanted to continue to meet with him they would need to move to New York. The older students (the ones who'd been disciples from before 1992) would need to move to Chicago. By this point a lot of the recruits were hooked on Lenz. They'd been attending these monthly seminars for some time where all kinds of hypnotic suggestions were made suggesting that their future in this life and all future lives depended on Lenz. And they didn't want to give that up; plus Lenz had instilled the idea by this point that to lose contact with him would have terrible consequences.
So a lot of the new people did move to New York, although some others did drift away rather than making the New York move. Of course part of the purpose in getting people to New York was so that Lenz could distance them from their existing support networks. He had already taught us to be "inaccessible" (to hide behind voice mail and PO box numbers so no one could contact us directly) and the move to New York was the next step in all of this. By late 1993, most people who were going to make the move were in New York. The mood remained mostly positive during the early part of 1994.
However as 1994 progressed some changes were evident. For one thing the dollar cost of "tuition" for the newer students were starting to rise. We still weren't paying anything close to what the really long term members were paying, but costs were rising. Around this time Lenz, who had always pushed his students into computer programming careers, started focusing less and less on meditation and more and more on making big bucks through various software startups that he was trying to found.
The mood in the group became less innocent and more troubling around this time too. There is one factor that I believe was in play but I cannot prove. I believe around this time Lenz started sleeping more frequently with the newer female recruits, and this caused a lot of damage on various levels in the social structures within the group. Although I cannot prove this, it makes sense to me that this would have happened. The newer female recruits were now in a new city, removed from their original social support networks and now more dependent on the social support provided by the Lenz group. With these women now in a more vulnerable position, it makes sense to me--given what I know about Lenz--that he might have chosen that point to take advantage of their situation.
In any event, around this time (1994-1995) Lenz was trying to start a variety of software ventures. I got involved or tried to get involved with a number of such efforts. However none of these efforts were very successful. Lenz would often start stuff and then shut it down a few months later without giving it a chance to succeed. There was always a certain amount of money surrounding anything Lenz did, because he continued to receive large sums of "tuition" from his students and so could throw a certain amount of money at any project he wanted to generate a bit of buzz. But Lenz seemed to be limited to generating buzz, not success, for his projects. Around this time I personally began to lose interest in the whole thing. It was hard to be committed to a guy who didn't seem very committed to his own projects, and who was costing me ever increasing amounts of money. And with the reduction in focus on meditation (and the increase in focus on money) the hypnotic hold that Lenz held, at least for me personally, started to wane. So I personally took some time off from the group with my reduction in interest.
Although I was not involved directly, I am aware that a lot of focus during the 1995-1996 time frame was in trying to sell another of Lenz' software products, CS/10,000 by Client Server Connection. Lenz was starting to ramp up this sales effort just before I left. And a Lenz student made considerable efforts (unsuccessful) to sell this product to my company during this period. Sales of this CS/10,000 product were intended to make everyone in the group rich and facilitate their move to a Caribbean island to live in luxury. Instead, Lenz ended up interviewed in 1996 on NBC Dateline. The interview was an embarrassment. Lenz' students have often been accused of using fake resumes to move their careers forward. In the Dateline interview, Lenz' own resume was exposed as a fake. He claimed numerous clients among Fortune 500 companies and to have sales in the millions of dollars, but couldn't name a single client. When really pressed, he eventually mentioned Bank of America and the military as clients. When contacted, Bank of America, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force all denied having done business with Lenz. The Marines acknowledged a small purchase of $8,000--a very very modest start that was a far cry from the millions in revenue Lenz was claiming and that would be required to facilitate the move to the Caribbean that he was promising his students. Again--the interview was a big embarrassment.
It seems to me that shortly thereafter Lenz started winding down his life. Around the same time, Lenz' favorite dog Vayu died and Lenz seemed to also have trouble recovering from that. I came back to the group for some but not all of his events in 1997. By this point I'd noticed that a lot of his key people--his closest long term students--had left, whether by being kicked out or having left in disgust, I do not know. Some of his events in 1997 included trips to the Caribbean and what he called a Kalachakra empowerment, but he seemed to have lost the willpower to undertake really big projects. He recommended that his students start web based businesses, but the only effort I saw arising from that was a porn site run by some of his female students.
In Feb 1998 I saw Lenz for the last time. I recently took note of the fact that this was right during the first ever Winter Olympics to include snowboarding as a sport--another of Lenz' efforts during the 1994-1997 period were a couple of books which focused on snowboarding as a path to enlightenment. He announced in Feb 1998 that he was taking a long break from teaching--although was continuing to accept tuition payments. About seven weeks later he was dead in what was officially ruled a suicide.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/06/2018 06:24AM by DharmaLion2003.