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Rae Chorze Fwaz & the Rama Lineage

During his teaching career, Rama ordained us as monks of the Rae Chorze Fwaz lineage of American Buddhism. In his book, Surfing the Himalayas, he introduces the enigmatic Master Fwap as the last living descendent of the Rae Chorze Fwaz, a Tantric Mystery School. Buddhist scholars have been quick to point out there are no records of such a lineage and even the words do not appear in any Asian language. However Rama did not pick these words just because they sound cool and mysterious.

Rama created this combination because he loved language and puzzles. While I’m convinced Master Fwap was a composite character based on one or more influential teachers he met, I believe Rama carefully chose the name he bestowed upon our Lineage and left it as an Easter egg for us to find. Thanks to some insatiable curiosity, Google, and internet users around the world, we now know the name Rae Chorze Fwaz has a deeper meaning.

(Note I am using “we” in the general sense. Sometimes I look at things sideways and see what other don’t. Also, keep in mind Rama had an outrageous sense of humor which would make us laugh hysterically and contemplate deeply all at the same time. So, stay with me here…)

If we break it down, we learn “Rae” is a Spanish word meaning to scrape or level off, or to refine. “Chorze” is a Polish word meaning chorus or choir. “Fwaz” is a Haitian Creole word meaning phrasing. (By the way Fwape is also a Haitian Creole word!) A literal translation of Rae Chorze Fwaz is “Level off Chorus Phrasing”; a looser and perhaps easier understood translation is: “Refine the Choir’s Singing.”

As I and others study Rama’s teachings and compare what he offered with the Buddhist traditions that have survived over the centuries, we see Rama clarified the essence of the methods which lead to Enlightenment. He ruthlessly stripped away the rituals, which according to Buddha is the third fetter that keeps us from Awakening. Rama spoke plainly about the practices while transmitting the unspoken teachings. He used words Americans could easily grasp and implored people to experiment with the techniques he offered so they could have their own insight and experiences with Light. Put quite simply, through his work as a teacher, Rama Refined the Spiritual Choir’s Singing, making the Path accessible to everyone.

Those of us who are ordained into the Rae Chorze Fwaz also have the opportunity to take this translation as an instruction to continue to refine our sangha and our phrasing as we practice and share the Pathway to Enlightenment.

Through the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism he created, Rama shared this idea of refinement. Instead of leaving his estate to fund a new religious order in his name, he specified the money should be used to promote all forms of American Buddhism. By supporting other schools, he created a unique structure through which the chorus of Buddhist practitioners can interact, compare and refine terminology, and learn from each other. During Rama’s time, Buddhism was (and still is) in its infancy here in the United States. Through many conferences and grants, Rama’s Foundation has set the stage for Buddhism as a whole to participate in this concept of Refining the Choir’s Singing for the benefit of all beings.  

Although most of us introduce ourselves as being part of the Rama Lineage – after all, it’s much easier to pronounce! – perhaps with this translation, more of us will embrace our true name of Rae Chorze Fwaz, if only in our private practice. We can use Rae Chorze Fwaz as a reminder that the pathway to Enlightenment Rama taught is one of refinement of ourselves and refinement of our expression of the Light which we truly are.

How do you Refine the Choir’s Singing in your practice and life?


Rae – Spanish to English

Chorze – Polish to English

Fwaz – Haitian Creole to English

Another fun fact about “Rae”
Urban Dictionary entry for Rae:

A person who turns your negativity and stigma into the opposite. Very attractive, sexy, considerate, adorable, hopeless romantic (but you should be too so it’s ok) humble and a perfectionist. Rae’s have good insight and will always tell you the truth about anything whether you like it or not; you realize it was good f or you and that they’re right. This person will always make you a better person and you cannot help but to love everything about them, even the imperfection, they are just that great. A homie, lover, friend 100%. From:


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Published inBuddha Lessons / MindfulnessRama


  1. Rosleen Reynolds Rosleen Reynolds

    Excellent news! I always wondered what that meant. It makes perfect sense and is so like Rama. ???

  2. Brian Brian

    Our tribe sings with dharma in our hearts. Even as the music of joyous singing fades over distance, the perfect clear light radiates in all directions, eternally.

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