Cover only.jpg

American Buddhist Rebel: Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz

This award-winning biography of the early teaching years of Rama ‐ Dr. Frederick Lenz (1950 ‐ 1998) immerses you in a journey of joyful self-discovery.

Celebrate as Rama emerges from a whirlwind of teenage rebellion to become a dedicated student, a popular teacher, and an icon of American enlightenment.

Along the way, based on hundreds of interviews with hundreds of students, colleagues and contemporaries, you will learn, as I did, about the commitment required to truly teach.

One thing I discerned early on was that Rama was a teacher to the core. He was always teaching. He identified viable, leading edge means to bring Americans/Westerners to enlightenment.

In this biography, you will soon discover that Rama was not the Santa Claus version of enlightened teachers. He was funny, literate, engaged, stern, innocent, articulate, prescient. He regularly pushed people beyond their limits because he saw that they would achieve a breakthrough that would energize and brighten their life and meditation practice.

In this biography, I use Rama's own words and the insights of people who observed Frederick Lenz's powerful approach to Buddhist transformation -- not just his own -- yours.

- Reviews -

This book is full of heart and wisdom. It is a clearly written, fascinating story of an extraordinary individual, the lives he affected, and the potential he showed the world for waking up. It was a wonderful read.
— Yael Shy, Director of The Mindfulness Project at New York University
A vivid account of Liz Lewinson’s personal relationship with the dynamic contemporary yogi, Rama. Born Frederick P. Lenz, this elusive young man leaps off the pages of her book, showing that magic and enlightenment are available to everyone, right here, right now. She shares the twists and turns of his remarkable journey with warmth, detail, and openness. This book sheds new light on an untold chapter of American Buddhism.
— Judith Simmer-Brown, Professor of Religious Studies, Naropa University
I enjoyed this book immensely! I read it in one sitting. Just couldn’t put it down. My mind went back to the day in an obscure village in Costa Rica (well over a decade ago) when I picked up a dusty copy of Surfing the Himalayas while vacationing. Although Rama had already transitioned, I received a direct transmission from him! Shortly afterward, I searched for a teacher and began the Buddhist path, ultimately becoming a monk. Currently at a crossroad, I have again received insight and encouragement. The Dharma, through Rama’s biography, spoke clearly to me.
— Venerable Dr. Pannavati, Bhikkuni, Co-Abbot, Embracing Simplicity Hermitage
I was fascinated, moved, and inspired by this clear and compelling biography of Rama. I found myself very drawn to this true Crazy Wisdom guru who offered so much to his students and who, like all great gurus, also suffered at the hands of those who could not recognize the value of his bodhisattva offerings.
— Margaret Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science and many other books
This biography by Liz Lewinson is a passionate, moving, and experiential glimpse into a remarkable teacher who helped his students discover a better life and enlightened awareness while they lived in the everyday world. A page-turning book to be read again and again.
— Leslie Harris, Executive Coach
I truly enjoyed this book. My husband and I knew Rama for a long time as a friend, not a teacher. This book was an excellent read and I learned so much more about Rama’s physical and spiritual being and more about his Buddhist history. It’s very fast reading, moving and so interesting. I truly recommend it!
— Linda Marcus
‘Rama’ in this case is one Dr. Frederick Lenz, American Buddhist and teacher; and the biography of Dr. Lenz is recommended for any who want greater insights into his life and Buddhist belief in general.

Dr. Lenz’s actions in promoting his teachings and mission and expanding his students are documented in a vivid account based on the author’s personal interactions and those of others involved in Rama’s circle: “This year, in 1982, what we’re doing together, besides just having a generally good time, is trying to get you to walk through the doorways to eternity. Because each time you walk through those doorways your perfection will manifest in a new and exacting way. . . . What I’m trying to do is to have you not be pedestrian or plebeian with this study. That is to say, we’re not simply studying how to get high in a new way. You’re studying existence itself, to become it.”

From his journeys across the country to spiritual revelations, social challenges, and changes, this is filled with insights on Rama’s perspectives and approaches to spiritual growth: “He likes us for the being that he sees can emerge after our layers are peeled back. He does not expect us to be holy, just honest.”

It is this blend of Rama’s wisdom and his life journey in teaching groups and individuals across the country that makes this biography so unique: part travelogue, part spiritual reader, and part biography, it’s a celebration of his life and perspectives as much as it is an account of how American Buddhism spread across the nation.
This book is filled with unique, perceptive insights.
— Diane Donovan, Midwest Review of Books
This is a fascinating read about the man that Dr. Frederick Lenz turned out to be. Author Liz Lewinson provides an insider’s view of the man - the development of his values as well as his personal highs and lows in the transmission of his teachings. There are amazing stories of natural phenomenon, his sense of humor and love of music to help transform human consciousness. He spoke a lot about meditation and I loved his description of advanced meditation as “Having a wonderful sense of humor, particularly about yourself and your own situation, yet not simply laughing but working to change and improve things, even though, at times, it seems impossible.” Well worth reading!
— June Ryushin Tanoue, Co-founder of Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago
If a fully self-realized being walked the streets of America today, would anyone take notice? What would such a being undergo to reestablish their Enlightenment in this life? Blue Skies Buddha provides a riveting investigation into this complex Koan by chronicling the life of Rama – Dr. Fredrick Lenz. The product of hundreds of well-documented interviews of firsthand eyewitnesses, Gaze in My Direction is the most complete written record I have seen describing the research-and-development aspects of Buddhist Vajrayana and Zen. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the living-breathing-evolving dynamics of the Self Discovery process.
— Mo Howes, Author of Three Storms of Tantric Zen
If you are genuinely interesting in Buddhism, Vedanta, or mysticism this book is a treasure of thoughtful quotes by the Ph.D. Guru Dr. Frederick Lenz. If none of that stuff interests you, it is still a great journey through the spiritual self-help renaissance of the late 20th century. Rama once predicted that Liz Lewinson, the author, would be his biographer. I think her detailed and driving storyline would have exceeded his expectations. So if you want to escape all the worries of the modern age, let this book transport you to the vibrant core of new-age America and beyond.
— James Forgy, President, Relational Database Consultants Inc.
This biography of Frederick Philip Lenz, III, Ph.D., also known as Rama and Atmananda, is written by a woman whose spiritual practice was profoundly formed by him. It traces the first part of his life, including his youth and his time as a follower of Sri Chinmoy as well as the founding of his own institutions.

Rama taught what he termed American Buddhism with a mix of Zen, Tibetan, Vedanta, and other forms of mysticism. Among other things, Lewinson recounts miracles witnessed by various individuals and has interviewed many people for their take on Rama.

Essentially, this is a biography of a fascinating human being who claimed–and is believed by many – to have been both an enlightened teacher and the culmination of many past lives.
— Meredith Sue Willis, Books for Readers

MORE REVIEWS on Amazon can be found here, and even more reviews plus blogs and information about the book are here.