Saturday, January 06, 2007

On Grieving for God, Part I

Note: You may also wish to read Part II, and Part III.

As part of a series on my struggle to regain my spirituality after leaving TM, I reprint below an article from the old Written originally in response to the death of New Age Guru Frederick Lenz, it may have bearing on the spiritual hole many of us felt after leaving TM. And it may look ahead to the death of the Maharishi -- which is only a matter of time.

Dr. Frederick Lenz, III, died Easter Sunday [1998].

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.

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