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On Grieving for God

Dr. Frederick Lenz, III, died Easter Sunday.

He held many contradictory roles in his 48 years. An English doctorate. The chief disciple of Sri Chinmoy. A simple meditation teacher. One of twelve living enlightened masters. The Buddha for our time. A "world-class" snowboarder. A self-help author. The incarnation of Vishnu/Rama.

Just what does one do when God dies?

Some will place him on yet a higher level of deification, as memory fades and legends fill in -- perhaps awaiting his rebirth.

Or, like the Hare Krishnas, Lenz's inner circle of Brian Roe, David Laxer, and Terry Quirk may name themselves "successors." If so, will their cooperative venture fare better, or will it too end in cut-throat guru gun-running and child abuse?

Perhaps a strong former student, kicked out by Lenz for exhibiting a tad too much personal magnetism, will begin gathering students. One thinks of Roger Cantu (, who has been giving seminars in Dallas/Fort Worth and California.

Others will drift into other similar groups, looking for other similar answers from other similar teachers in other similar high-demand environments.

But if Srila Prabhupada's Hare Krishnas, the Rajneeshis, or David Koresh's followers are any indication, very few will pause, re-evaluate Lenz's teachings on the "invincible," "impeccable" teacher in light of his apparent murder or suicide, and simply leave.

Whether con man or incarnation, Lenz's death is an occasion for grief for thousands of students, not hundreds as the media reports. Over 20 years, he played out the same cycle many times. Gather a thousand students, then disperse all but the most loyal when public attention got hot. Repeat the cycle, with a slightly different public face a few years later: meditation teacher, entrepreneur, cosmic musician, whatever.

What this event is not is an excuse for a festival of self-congratulatory "we told you so's" among former members of Lenz or any other high-demand group.

It is an opportunity for a celebration of what we have in common.

Maybe he was Rama. Maybe he wasn't. Maybe his students -- and all we students of all our gurus -- saw lights and wonders. Maybe we didn't.

What we felt in our hearts was real. And perhaps we all need to grieve for the passing of what was some form of spiritual experience.

At the very least, what we "worshipped" was what was best about ourselves: our passion, our intelligence, our compassion, our creativity, our dreams.

Let's not any of us lose that in our common confusion and pain.

John M. Knapp
Executive Director,

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Creation has two sides: intelligence, which is the cause of everything, and the manifestations of intelligence, which are the physical and psychological features of the everyday world. Because Transcendental Meditation directly approaches intelligence, rather than the manifestations of intelligence, it solves problems by introducing harmony and well-being at the most basic level, and not by dealing with problems themselves. That's why it is so effective.

Consider this example: The gardener supplies water to the root of a tree. That water, that nourishment, then reaches all parts of the tree - leaves, branches, flowers, fruit - through the sap. We can think of the sap as analogous to intelligence and the green leaves or yellow flowers as analogous to the manifestations of the intelligence. The leaves and flowers are the intelligence of the sap, after it has been transformed. So intelligence - like the leaves and flowers of a tree - appears as the many different forms of manifest life. Those manifestations include every aspect of existence, from the material and physiological, through the psychological, intellectual, and spiritual. All of those features of life come from transformations of intelligence. In meditation, we directly meet this essential intelligence. Therefore, we have the possibility of nourishing all of its other levels, and thus all levels of manifestation, in a way that is harmoniously related to the whole universe.

How is Transcendental Meditation different from the various other forms of meditation?

Maharishi: The basic difference is that Transcendental Meditation, in addition to its simplicity, concerns itself only with the mind. Other systems often involve some additional aspects with which the mind is associated, such as breathing or physical exercises. They can be a little complicated because they deal with so many things. But with Transcendental Meditation there is no possibility of any interference. So we say this is the all-simple program, enabling the conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence.

Transcendental Meditation ranges from active mind - or performing mind - to quiet mind - or resting mind. In this resting mind, one has purity and simplicity, uninvolved with anything other than the mind, uninvolved with any other practice. In Transcendental Meditation, because we deal only with the mind, we nourish all expressions of intelligence.

The mind meditates, gains Transcendental Consciousness and brings about transformation in different fields of manifestation. All fields of life, which are the expression of intelligence, are nourished or transformed and made better through experiencing Transcendental Consciousness.

The mind, of course, is always concerned with other aspects, such as the physiology of the body, the environment, and the whole universe for that matter. But since Transcendental Meditation deals only with the performance of the mind, from its active states to its settled state, it remains unconcerned with those other aspects, though it deals with them all, because intelligence deals with them all. -- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, unknown interview, copyright presumably held by Maharishi Vedic University, The Maharishi Foundation, or another group within the TM family.

Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Categories of cults that are recruiting successfully today include:

Eastern meditation: characterized by belief in God-consciousness, becoming one with God. The leader usually distorts and Eastern-based philosophy or religion. Members sometimes learn to disregard worldly possessions and may take on an ascetic lifestyle. Techniques used: meditation, repeated mantras, altered states of consciousness, trance states.

Religious: marked by belief in salvation, afterlife, sometimes combined with an apocalyptic view. The leader reinterprets the Scriptures and often claims to be a prophet if not the messiah. Often the group is strict, sometimes using physical punishments such as paddling and birching, especially on children. Members are encouraged to spend a great deal of time proselytizing. (Note: included here are Bible-based neo-Christian and other religious cults, many considered syncretic since they combine beliefs and practices). Techniques used: speaking in tongues, chanting, praying, isolation, lengthy study sessions, many hours spent evangelizing, "struggle" (or criticism) and confession sessions.

Political, racist, terrorist: fueled by belief in changing society, revolution, overthrowing the "enemy" or getting rid of evil forces. The leader professes to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Often the group is armed and meets in secret with coded language, handshakes, and other ritualized practices. Members consider themselves an elite cadre ready to go to battle. Techniques used: paramilitary training, reporting on one another, guilt, fear, struggle sessions, instilled paranoia, long hours of indoctrination. -- Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Lalich and Tobias, Hunter House, 1993.