American Buddhism as taught by Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz - is a form of Buddhism that is right for people who want to live a life fully committed to spiritual evolution and illumination while simultaneously using career and all aspects of the western lifestyle to achieve enlightenment in this life.
American Buddhism doesn't reject modern living in western culture, but rather integrates the premises of meditation and mindfulness with living a full, rich life of excitment and fun. Discovering your true nature as a spiritual being is available to you by immersing yourself in meditation and self discovery within the culture to which you've been born.
Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz stated, "You can live in the world and have all the myriad experiences that life has to offer, and yoke your awareness field to the planes of light, and eventually to nirvana itself."
Buddhism can and has adapted to the culture and settings of many lands and times. See Frederick P Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism website for other forms of American Buddhism.
Rama, as an enlightened American tulku, adapted and evolved the teachings of Buddhism to enable his students to gain awareness on the path to enlightenment in this challenging and over-crowded time. Rama found ways for modern seekers to break through conditioned limitations and achieve new levels of clarity and bright states of awareness while living and working in the world.
Some of the main components tenets of American Buddhism as taught by Rama include:
Meditation is essential. It is the path to Enlightenment. It takes humans out of a fixation on the physical and into a realization of lucid states of mind and the limitless nature of existence. Rama taught how to achieve and maintain a high state of mind and strong awareness of eternity - the force from which everything comes forth and to which everything returns - through the regular practice of meditation. Rama did not advocate one technique; he taught many ways to meditate. He advised that if you get stuck in your practice (meaning you can't stop thought for increasingly longer periods of time), then try another way to meditate. All of the teachings of American Buddhism are desighed to lead to experiences of going beyond thought and limitation through meditation.
Mindfulness is the twin practice to meditation in that it is meditation practiced as you go about your daily activities. It's a practice that is focused on translating the light, power and silent awareness experienced in meditation, into the moments and decisions of everyday life. When the light and awareness that comes from daily meditation is focused like a laser beam onto everything we do in life, work, play, relationships, then we will make right choices, choices that continually bring us to higher awareness and greater understanding. And this is essential to gaining greater awareness, control, power and silence to enhance our lives and keep meditation on a revolutionary track.
Career can be used as a great contributor to a meditative lifestyle. A career that challenges the mind can be useful in strengthening it, and thus, in experiencing higher meditations. Rama liked computer science because, similar to the teaching of monks in Tibetan monasteries, it requires holding many concepts in the mind at once. Professions such as law, medicine and science are also challenging professions that strengthen the mind. "The degree of success that you attain in all of your physical, mental and spiritual undertakings," Rama said, "is dependent upon the strength and clarity of your finite mind and your ability to access your infinite mind. If you meditate you will be able to find new ways to utilize your career and the routines of daily life."
Money is fine. Like anything, it's the intent you bring to gaining and using money that matters. Rama said that money is the new power line of the 21st century. He did not advocate a poverty or begging bowl mindset. He said, "If you need more money, make more money." Having money, for a 21st centrury Buddhist monk (anyone who meditates) means having the ability to live a life of refinement and beauty that enhances your meditation practice. It means having the freedom to live a quiet, monastic lifestyle in a meditative setting, to drive a safe car, to be able to afford giving to the Dharma, and to refresh and rejuvenate your life and spiritual practice by traveling to places of power.
Sexuality is fine. Sex is part of life. Rama encouraged his students to follow their own inclinations - gay or straight, celibate or not. The point is not to be fixated or obsessed, either with sex or celibacy. As long as sex is elevating your state of mind and improving your life and your practice, it's not an obstacle to progressing on the path. Celibacy is also fine and can provide a nice respite.
Maintain a strong and healthy lifestyle. Physical strength creates energy, and it takes energy to meditate well. Rama encouraged students to be fit and to work out in order to clear out the aura of the world. He enjoyed running, scuba diving, hiking, snowboarding, dancing and other fun physical activities. He called this the zen of sports and athletics. Rama recommended martial arts (for anyone it was appropriate for) because of the mental and physical discipline involved, and the practicality of knowing how to defend oneself. Rama suggested that it's important to find a martial arts teacher that is skilled but humble who understands that the martial arts are intended as arts of defense.
Rama created talks, books, music and videos that convey the luminosity and truth of enlightenment. Ultimately, Rama's brand of American Buddhism is a transmission of the light of the superconscious from an American enlightened teacher - Rama - to you, the modern student. The study provides you with all the tools, awareness, strength and love to grow and evolve, to achieve self mastery, to continually experience the buddha within.