Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I would not take money from the Frederick Lenz Foundation.

That's my opinion, of course. The reason I say this has to do with comments on this thread.

One point on that thread that was raised was "It's hard to raise funds" for Buddhist sanghas and there is no doubt that is true. But it's not impossible. In Portland we have been doing the Portland Buddhist festival for a few years now with local contributions. Part of the proceeds of this blog goes to that. But regardless, I think it's time we in America grew up and vowed not to take funds from groups that intentionally misrepresent the Dharma. And on that last point, I think this manifestly obvious from the the Lenz Foundation's site itself.

Take this bit.

So sit back and relax for the next 45 minutes or so, and let's talk about psychic development. How you can escalate your level of awareness with patience, practice and a good sense of humor. What to expect, what to avoid. How to know what you don't know. Psychic development.

There are two ways to come by money in this world. One is to inherit money. The other is to make it, to acquire it. If you inherit money, you can squander it and lose it. You can use it, or you can make more money. You can also start with no money and acquire money and get richer and richer, or you can acquire it and lose it. Once you know how to make money, even if you lose it, it's easy to do it again.

So in the world of psychic development, some people come by their psychic development through a kind of inheritance. It has to do with reincarnation, of course. In a prior lifetime, they developed their awareness field by the practice of psychic development exercises, meditation, zazen, things like that. And that state of mind stayed with them. They are that state of mind. They were born with these psychic sensitivities.


 This is an appeal to one's greed, plain and simple.  Or take this one:

One of the funny things about awareness, within that framework, is that it never assumes it will end. And in a way it does, and in a way it doesn't. When we're alive, we never picture ourselves dying, yet someday each of us dies. Someday in a room somewhere, perhaps a hospital room, in an automobile, perhaps outdoors, you will leave this world. You won't be here anymore and everything that you've known will fade from your view, and it will happen at the darndest time. You will be quite convinced that it couldn't be happening then, and yet you'll be powerless to stop it. Then another kind of continuity occurs, and that's the continuity that is beyond death.

Death is a doorway, but it's a very small, thin doorway, and only a portion of our being can walk through that doorway. The rest stays behind and is lost or transformed into something else. At the time of death, we walk through a doorway and our spirit, which is very thin, slides through into another world, another existence, another experience.

But for now, we are here. We are in this world. And in this world, there are limitations - and no one likes to be limited. We all want freedom. We all want to be limitless. Limitations exist in the mind. Freedom exists in the mind. Heaven exists in the mind. Hell exists in the mind. There are objective circumstances and situations. You can be in jail. You can be free. You can live in a country with restrictions on travel. You can live in a country where they don't restrict your travel. But happiness, awareness, consciousness has little or nothing to do with physical restrictions.

There are ten thousand states of mind, ten thousand planes of awareness. Most people spend their entire lives confined to a few of these states of mind. Let's imagine them in a scale going from the left to the right. Let's say that number one is all the way over on the left, and let's say that number ten thousand is way over on the right. Number one is very dark; it has almost no light in it at all; it's hard to distinguish it from complete darkness. Number ten thousand is bright light. It is hard to distinguish it from light, yet there's a subtle difference. And there are gradations in between - 9,999 to be exact. 
 This is also an appeal to greed. I could go on here, but hopefully my point is made. Lenz described himself as follows:

My career - I'm a teacher. I teach people the arts of enlightenment - how to become conscious, powerful, successful, at peace with themselves; how to move from one world to another, through different dimensional planes, and to explore and experience the different parts of this vast creation; how to become selfless; how to become everything or nothing, or just to be the moment; how to reach that still point between the turning worlds, where everything is one, or to play in the multiplicity. I'm a trainer. I train people at different levels, depending upon their interest and their natural talents for studying perception and the various arts related to perception - one of which is Zen Buddhism. 

 He was never certified in any Zen Buddhist lineage, his concept of enlightenment here is not based on what any Mahayana Buddhist would identify enlightenment to be, (and moreover, what he "taught" was not in any way an objective of Mahayana Buddhism itself - which aims to help all all beings transcend suffering).  It is hardly Theravadan as well.

The Frederick Lenz foundation sells materials which are deceptive in that they do not square with any kind of skillful means the Buddha and his successors have advocated, and the objectives of Frederick Lenz's teachings were based on the three poisons.  For that reason I'd put distance between myself and the Frederick Lenz Foundation.


Sabio Lantz said...

Here, here ! Discernment in all things. Well put.
Mind you, I put little weight in lineage stuff, but even it is at least one of many check to add weight to discernment and to that extent I would include it. But I think you hit it right on:
This gig certainly sounds like greed decked out in New Age clothing for marketing purposes.

Kyle said...

So odd, I pick on socially engaged Buddhism and people flip out, I pick on Lenz and crickets. I guess there is nothing they an defend about Lenz nor his dirty money or their wacky ideas about Buddhism.

Mumon said...


Thanks for the comment. Lineage down to a particular person may or may not tell you much, although as a Rinzai guy I can tell you that much of what passes for "Zen Buddhism" in the West is only one side of it. I am quite amazed at how some "names" in Western Buddhism promote a Zen Buddhism that doesn't have much knowledge of the deep roots of Zen Buddhism, or even the difference between Soto and Rinzai (and many take the Yasutani blending of the two as the only expression of Zen). That's neither here nor there with regard to Lenz except to say that his words are ignorant of either approach.


I was kind of amazed at the flavor of the response re: Glassman, i.e., "How can you say that about such a good man?" It really illustrates one aspect of the psychology at play. And to be honest, I can appreciate that psychology, since it is at play in my attitude towards Eido Shimano (who at least has finally admitted transgressions).

Duff said...

Well put, Mumon. The teaching on death is particularly strange given how Lenz died--his triple suicide attempt (him, his girlfriend, and his dog--girlfriend and dog survived).