When Cindy Rasicot moves to Thailand with her husband and son, she finds herself adrift in a foreign culture, unprepared for the challenges she encounters there. On an impulse, she signs up for a conference where she meets Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, a Thai Buddhist nun, who leads her on a spiritual journey from which there is not turning back. Set against a backdrop of glittering Thai Buddhist temples and the friendly smiles of the Thai people, this compelling memoir reminds readers that when we go forward with a truly open heart, faith, forgiveness, and love are all possible. None of this would have spelled ordination necessarily, but for Cindy it eventually did. Find out how she came this close to tossing it all but found herself and her diving light instead in the presence of Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni. It’s an emotional, psychological, and spiritual journey set in the simple beauty of Thailand. Heal yourself through her quest perhaps on Dropping In, or, start your own~
a) Cindy Rasicot is a retired Marriage Family Therapist. Her life has been a spiritual journey that took on new dimensions when she and her family moved to Bangkok, Thailand for three years. There, she met her spiritual teacher, Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, the first fully ordained Theravada nun?an encounter that opened her heart and changed her forever. This deepening relationship led to writing her memoir, Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand, which chronicles her adventures along the spiritual path.Leave a comment for radio show guests
Have you ever stopped to think about yourself and your story? If someone were to write your memoir what would it say? We all seek some level of authenticity but have trouble removing the labels and finding our whole story. Welcome to Dropping In with Diane Dewey. In this program we’ll explore diverse stories on identity to help determine what is truly yours. Now here is your host Diane Dewey.
Diane: Welcome to Dropping In, everyone. We’re here to talk with Cindy Rasicot about healing the wound with your mother. And now in the case of COVID-19 that may be Mother Earth for us. Welcome to this. Welcome to the show, Cindy.
Cindy: Thank you so much. I’m pleased to be here.
Diane: It’s so nice to have you. Your book is called, Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand. It’s a story of a suburban California wife becoming ordained as a Thai Buddhist nun in Thailand, no less. So I think the big question is, how does this happen? When we’re going to find out from Cindy, and let me give a little background Cindy, if you don’t mind for your book, Finding Venerable Mother, which is a great read.
When Cindy Rasicot moves to Thailand with her husband and son, she finds herself adrift in a foreign culture, unprepared for the challenges she encounters there. On an impulse, she signs up for a conference where she meets Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, a Thai Buddhist nun, who leads her on a spiritual journey from which there is not turning back. Set against a backdrop of glittering Thai Buddhist temples and the friendly smiles of the Thai people, this compelling memoir reminds readers that when we go forward with a truly open heart, faith, forgiveness, and love are all possible.
Finding Venerable Mother is her first book and it’s published by She Writes Press this May. So, Cindy, I just hear I really had to grab my book of Dow which says that the Dow of heaven has no favorites, it’s always siding with the one who has a pure heart. So, thank you for your journey and your recounting of it, it’s not easy to do, you really took us to places that I think were tough emotionally and spiritually and physically and will get to all of that.
But, I think your first obstacle was actually inside of you, your own head. You had a lot of negative voices as well all do and I think women were especially susceptible to it. You had a strong inner critic and although you have a lot of positive energy, physically you were a dancer and you’ve always been very mindful of exercise, you’re quite fit. These inner critics one out at times and your glass was half empty, you’ve suffered from depressions. And I wondered, has this changed with your inner transformation and becoming a Buddhist nun?
Cindy: Definitely! I should say that regarding ordination, just so people are clear what Dhammananda offers is what’s called a temporary ordination so I don’t want to get off topic here. But it’s just that you go in for three weeks take on the robes, shave your head, take on the vowels, but when you finish that three weeks, you go back into your regular lay life. So, I don’t have congregation or anything like that. It’s a spiritual transformational experience for me, personally but and in my practice. But it just deepened and enhanced my practice, I didn’t take any further than that.
Diane: So, you’ve expired, your ordination is expired? But, you’re still here to talk to us and tell the story.
Cindy: I’m sorry!
Diane: No, you don’t be sorry.
Cindy: That’s right.
Diane: If it’s the journey you know, if the journey is the destination, you’re still we’re all still on the on the path right? And you’ve taken the journey.
Cindy: That’s right.
Diane: You’re here to report about that. But I wonder if it did make you overall enhance your sense of well-being?
Cindy: Definitely, definitely. And I should say a little bit about the critical voices before I go into the next stage. Those were sort of ingrained as we all have experiences with our own mothers and I should say that I think that the at the foundation of our core is women and our identity is the relationship with our mothers, that mother-daughter relationship is key to our own sense of well-being and identity. So I had carried that all through my life.
And basically when I met Dhammananda, she became almost like a surrogate mother to me, her name in Thai is on me, which means venerable mother. And in the time and relationship that we had together, she basically became like a mother to me, and I like a daughter to her. And I had never experienced what I call unconditional love and acceptance, someone with a truly open heart, who was able to love me fully and wholly for who I am.
And that was, honestly what helped me transform. And it was so powerful for me that when in, we came back from Thailand, we lived there for three years from 2005 to 2008. And when we came back, I really missed Dhammananda. And although I continue talking to her via email, and occasionally Skype, I decided I want to go back six years later. And that’s when I found out she was doing the ordination ceremony in December, I went back in January of 2014. And in December, she was doing the ceremony and I got so excited about it, I wanted to honor her and pay tribute to my teacher. And when I went through that experience, it was like, if I can take a minute to describe that, there’s a ceremony where all the women and I was the only non-Thai speaking woman, and 122 women, they were all basically Thai. We walked up to her, you bow before your teacher, and she takes a lock of your hair, and cuts it.
It’s a ceremonial beginning to the head shaving, which is part of getting rid of mental defilements, like greed, anger and delusion. But when I vowed, I wasn’t feeling anything, and all these other women were crying, and being really emotional, I thought, “What’s wrong with me?” But then, as I approached her, I think had probably numbed off the feeling because it was like this damn broke through. And all of a sudden, I was sobbing before her and kissing her hands.
And it was like, you know, that kind of uncontrollable sobbing that I had as a kid when I would, really let go. And it was an opening into my heart that I believe had been closed for a long, long time. And it was closed for a reason, because my mother was rather harsh, critical, she just wasn’t a nurturing mom. She wasn’t able to do that. So basically, I was able to, let’s see, how could you say, undo maybe, or open up that whole channel that had been closed for so long.
And I was came out of that experience, rather, like elated, and I was just glowing. And even though I shaved my head, there was, I didn’t mind how I looked, was a little strange, because they shave your eyebrows, which I wasn’t prepared for. But other than that, I really liked myself with a shaved head. It was like a sense of relief. It was a sense of freedom. And you might even say freedom from some of the expectations and roles that we all have placed on us as women. So yes, I think that comeback change.
Diane: Yes, you really. I think you really unburdened and you unburdened yourself of a lot of things, I would add the male mother relationship is also a significant, it’s just got different characteristics. And that’s a whole another story. But I do believe that our relationship with our mother, no matter what gender we are, is the most significant, and you really came to such a touchstone in the book with that, and I think that that generation that, I, my likewise had a mother who at times was quite, I would say, critical, and I think it was partly that generation.
I mean, there was a very high expectation that we should all perform better. You know, we’re going through industrial America, and the next thing was to just keep elevating and upwardly mobile. People were meant to be just getting better all the time. So that’s what we were supposed to be doing. And at the sacrifice sometimes of our sense of self, so our sense of self-worth. And I think I wonder about it in terms of we’ve talked about archetypes on this show, and there is an archetype of a nurturing mother. And somehow, collectively, it’s embedded in our memory, what a mother is, quote, “supposed to be like,’’ supposed to be accepting of us as we are. And it’s something that we know about without having to know about it from experience, so that if you have a mother who’s abusive, or even verbally abusive, you’re aware of that, because you’re aware that something else is supposed to exist, you don’t know how that information got there.
But when you went to Thailand, and you shaved your head, and just for listeners to know, it’s the photographs are in the book. So there’s a great photograph of Cindy glowing, as you just said, eyebrow less and shaved head. You’re quite a bit taller than the venerable mother. But your look, you are looking elated. And you at the same time took off your wedding ring, right for the ceremony?
Cindy: Oh, that’s right. Yes. It was sort of a funny, funny thing I asked. I’m still in communication with Dhammananda, of course. And I sometimes go back and ask her, she asked for my wedding ring, before the ceremony began, because I went a couple of days early, just to get kind of adjusted to the time change. And I asked her later, “Why did you do that?” And she said, “I don’t remember, I don’t know.” But my feeling was, as I looked back on it, that she was trying to unburden me.
There are certain, I liked what you said about archetypes. And there are archetypes and roles that we carry as women that are certain. For me, what I internalized was taking care of, doing for others, being at the behest of others. And I think, on some level, she was trying to unburden me from that, so that I could come into a deeper awareness and experience of myself with all without necessarily social expectations and trappings that those sometimes can inhibit us.
Diane: Right? And the roles, right, the role of wife, the role of mother, and sometimes, we’re quite, we’re consumed by our roles, we have to do this because we’re the wife, we’re meant to do this because we’re the mother. And, you know, it’s almost like, time is finite, and our energies are also finite. So if we’re devoting all of our energies to other people’s needs, then we’re not meeting our own that’s just stands to reason.
So, you went to a place both physically and spiritually, mentally, where you were free to pursue something which wasn’t easy to be free enough to pursue. I have to, I have to give, I think this just hangs in the air when we’re talking about this perfectionistic voice that a lot of us have inherited from our mothers who meant very, very well and thought that they were doing the what the mothering job was.
Ann Lamont says, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people, it will keep you cramped, and insane, your whole life.” I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is, you will die anyway. And a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do it a whole lot better than you and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.
Cindy: Wow, that’s a really powerful quote. That’s wonderful. I’ve never taken it to the extension of death. But that certainly makes sense.
Diane: Right. We’re trying to control things we’re trying to control. What it happens, it’s not possible. So that’s from bird by bird, some instructions on writing in life, by Ann Lamont.
Cindy: That’s a great book.
Diane: Yeah. So in your history…
Cindy: Oh, go ahead.
Diane: No, if you were triggered, tell us.
Cindy: Well, I did have a thought when you were talking about our mother’s generation. I wanted to say something about my mother. And she did come through the depression and she went to law school in the 1930s. So we have a sample of a woman who maybe didn’t fit the archetype as you were saying, or the socially expected norms at the times that she lived in. And she was at the top of her class.
And as she related it, a few years later, the man in her class wouldn’t talk to her because they were so miffed about the fact that she was number one. But when I grew up with that, as a role model, there was such a high level of striving and achieving that was so unusual, even for those times that I kind of felt like, I don’t think I can ever match that. I mean, she was larger than life in some way.
Diane: When we come back from the break, we’re going to find out so much more, don’t go away. We’ll be right back with Cindy Rasicot, author of Finding Venerable Mother.
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Diane: Welcome back, everyone. We’re here with Cindy Rasicot, the author of Finding Venerable Mother: a Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand. It’s a beautiful sweep through that lovely country. And through the emotional terrain of healing the wound with the mother. Cindy, you were telling us about your own mother, who was an extraordinary pioneer. It sounds like because not many women of her age. Got a law degree for example.
Cindy: Right. Yeah. Basically, I think she was kind of an early role model for pioneering women who wanted to advance in the professional career. And it was, I think she was way before her time. And so, as a mother, she always seemed a little bit unreachable, unattainable to me because she was so somewhat high on a pedestal. Like where I was, where other mothers were room mothers and baking chocolate chip cookies. My mother was always reading and had her nose in a book, which I appreciate it later. But as a young child, I sort of wanted someone who could get down on our hands and knees and play with me at my level. That’s not wasn’t who she was.
Diane: Maybe, there’s also the dynamic of she actually didn’t get to practice law, right? There was another, you know, a lot of women made sacrifices during that period where, whoops. And you know, unbeknownst to them, you know, their children basically suffered for it, because things were not in balance for themselves. You know, they’ve gone through all this training, but then, it’s a lot to ask, ask to say, well, that law degree, right now, you’re going to be tending to the needs of your husband and family.
It’s hard to do. I think, they made a lot of sacrifices, and maybe one too many, in terms of with all of that. When you were little, I thought you were a fascinating little girl, I thought you at age four, you asked the question to your brother, who was age five at the time, “Where is God? And I thought to myself, this is precocious, and he answered, “Everywhere.” And that was a pretty good answer. But it seems to me as though and correct me if I’m wrong. It seems to me you wanted some proof. You were looking for evidence. \
And you were looking for this kind of physical manifestation of God and love. And perhaps that quest even lingered subliminally, all your life until you encountered Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, that you became your venerable mother and who ordained you’ll be a temporarily in Thailand. Do you think there was always a quest going on in your life?
Cindy: Oh, definitely. I got chills when you said that. Yeah, it was basically you’re spot on. I was always searching for that larger connection that benign being. And I must have known on some level that for me it was out there. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have asked the question. But I couldn’t find it.
Diane: Right. Everybody else is going on assumptions. And I think you wanted to feel it, probably, visually feel it. And I think that might go some ways in explaining the difference. But you know, what’s great, I think, because you have this point of view of skepticism. You know, as a result, you’re not really taking in everything, you know, verbatim. You’re not taking people’s word for it, you’re questioning, you’re doubting.
And that’s a really kind of unhealthy outlook, you get to Thailand, and you write in the book that, faith doesn’t come easily to many of us, at least not to me. But we can create it, you found through simple prayer, our hopes, our dreams, and our despair, all rests in the arms of our divine maker. And I think like that’s a big statement. That’s a big statement. And what did you really mean by that, you’re creating faith through prayer?
Cindy: Well, it’s a great question. I think that there’s an element of the unknown in faith, and that I walk to the precipice of it. And I have to, at some point, take a leap, a leap of faith, and that expression, sort of. Because if I try to come from my rational mind of questioning things, I would never be able to satisfy myself. And I think it also goes to the matter of the heart, that when we come from our hearts, rather than solely from our intellect, we feel the connection, we want the connection, we harbor that affection for the greater good.
The commonality, the inner connection. And when thinking about it, that is an act of faith. It goes with what I said, I think, at the end of the book, where I said, “When we go forward with a truly open heart, I think faith requires a willingness and an openness.” And that is not always present when I’m questioning or analyzing.
Diane: Then you’re in your head.
Cindy: That’s right.
Diane: Right, then what you’re striving for. What you were seeking to was the feeling of being connected. And I think right now, it’s such a relevant concept, because, of course, we’re struggling to remain connected to one another. And I think that, I wonder, there’s a lot of information out there people are praying now more than ever, that they’re you know, first of all for a vaccine. And second of all, just, I wonder if it isn’t just to get outside of ourselves and to try to make some kind of a communal connection. And it’s really, it’s fascinating to me, you do talk about faith, and that our dreams and our hopes, rest with this divine maker and I wonder, there’s a lot of variations on that and I love that you’ve kept it to states of mind because, I’ve been following Black Lives Matter attentively.
I listen to the funeral of George Floyd with the Reverend Al Sharpton and there’s an unfortunate part, I mean of course, faith is a huge component of African American culture. And, that is extremely uplifting and even the song, the voices, which is not unlike chanting and Buddhism, but there’s comes to a point where he was talking about the stack of bills that’s on your counter, and you have to put your faith in God.
You know I think to myself with, that’s unfortunate, because God isn’t going to help the stack of bills on your counter, you have to take responsibility for those outcomes, whereas you’re really talking more about our perception of the stack of bills. I can do it, you know, I can take these steps. And that that’s the sort of divine intervention there. Do I have that right? Do you think it’s more intentional?
Cindy: That’s of course a question of clarification. I’m not understanding the word sec. I couldn’t understand was it sacra, you said that something on the counter.
Diane: Oh it’s a stack of bills, so this is like a physical, like the mail is come, your mail, your post mail, it’s full of bills from the electrical company that credit card company car. And, it’s just there was a gospel refrain and I’m really I’m not trying to be derogatory, but there’s a certain part of faith, where I think one of the reasons that people have a hard time taking that leap. Is the notion that faith is going to solve each and every problem, including ones that frankly, I’ve probably created my own, if I’ve got the stack of bills there.
Cindy: I know what you’re just saying.
Diane: Or my life unfortunately, I’m disadvantaged, and I can’t. I’m at a point where I am not of a privileged position where I can hope to even come to a point where I can support my living, my house, and my family, those things are very real and systemic problems, they’re not necessarily the ones that you put in the hands of faith, that’s what I’m saying.
Cindy: Right. Okay, thank you. Then I think that there are real, there’s real cruelty and acts of hostility and situations that, first of all, I’ve never experienced so that would be my white privilege. So I claim that fully. And I think it’s an, not a but, I think in the realm of faith. It explores the question of, can I go beyond that to affirm, even in the face of the cruelty and the harshness and look towards a larger framework. I don’t, I can’t speak from obviously a position I’m not in, I don’t have that experience. But the question of faith, I think is a different one. And if we look at it from a religious perspective, if we look at the human being. What we’re essentially wanting and craving is to make meaning, and have a sense of belonging in our life.
Cindy: And I think that’s in essence kind of what religion is all about. So, even with the person who has come to that. Look, it comes down to the essential question. Am I going to go forward in hatred or am I going to go forward with a willingness?
Cindy: And I certainly can’t answer that for other people.
Cindy: My experience is not that a George Floyd or his family so, I wouldn’t even claim to do that but I think it’s a deeper question that we wrestle with in our souls and matters the soul. I think that’s what I was trying to say earlier matters of the heart may go into a realm that’s deeper and beyond our intel, the understanding of our intellect.
Diane: Right. And I think that you have point.
Cindy: You really have some deep question.
Diane: Well, you’ve raised some great issues, and you know the concept of injustice and I have to think about Dr. Martin Luther King, you know I have a dream. This is the active use of faith, to put forward a positive vision, so that it’s part of what you were talking about our hopes and our dreams. That’s where faith comes in because it’s how we deal with the injustice that we’re experiencing. And as you say, I can’t speak to it from personal experience, but I could speak to it as a woman at a different level.
And I can find compassion for it as a result or just as a result of being a human being. And as you say, finding a sense of belonging with one another. So, I think you’ve really you’ve really touched on some very wonderful boundaries if you will. One of the evolutions out of your search is that I feel as though, you started taking responsibility for yourself, in a way that you no longer expected others to be doing unreasonable things, either that these expectations that were put on you, by your mother by society.
You also, we transmit them to others, right? Your teenage son, Bryce is with you in Thailand. Now, is he going to have, you were taking him to this charitable event, this altruistic experience? What is he focus on the cute girl? I mean, you finally came to it, right, that there were things that you had to take responsibility for. And I wondered about that in terms of your relationship with your husband as well, did that evolve through this searches?
Cindy: Yes, it did, and I should say post writing that book that I did, separate from my husband and went through a divorce. Although we’re still on very good terms. Yes. I think the individual the separation and individuation that I began and Thailand continued, I continued on that path, as you said in the beginning, it’s an ongoing journey. And, basically, a lot of what was what was happening in my marriage was, I wanted my husband to take care of me.
But then I could also blame him, because he didn’t meet my expectations. And part of what happened in the ordination experience, becoming deeper into myself was I realized, and it was true of my mother too. I think I was angry and blame her my whole life. I kind of moved out of what I might call a victim role or one where I was. By that I mean, blaming others rather than taking responsibility for myself fully owning that.
And coming into a deeper sense of, now wait a minute here. I responsible for my own happiness. I am responsible for my well-being. What is it that I want? In all honesty, what happened was, my husband and I were just going on different paths. I was going on a more spiritual path. He’s an avid sailor, he absolutely loves that. And I just was thriller with that, there was deeper issues going on which I don’t have time to go into, of course, but that was kind of the surface understanding it’s like a plant that bifurcated into two stems. First it was one stem and then it went off in two different directions.
Diane: Well if you don’t mind my saying, it’s throughout the book. I felt this possible tension or suspense about your marital relationship, because Dhammananda had also separated from her family in order to pursue her role as a spiritual leader.
Diane: And I wonder, well is this coming, is this because there is that tension? And I also wondered, we have a couple of minutes left in the segment, I wonder if you feel as though. If you feel as though sometimes those of us who have grown up with withholding parent and somehow we put that same thing out there we gravitate towards people who are having the same issues and are unresolved and are maybe withholding themselves?
Cindy: Definitely. Yes, definitely. I think we recreate that which we know, and that which we’re familiar with. And the beauty of life and inquiry, self-inquiry is that it is a journey, and we can begin to question and it change is possible.
Diane: Yes, that’s a beautiful thing. I do want to ask you, when we come back from the break and I think that it’s really lovely, thank you so much for sharing this. I didn’t know that about you and I’m sorry for the trauma of a divorce, but it sounds as though you’ve enabled yourself to now start a new chapter and we’re going to come back from the break and we’re going to hear about that. And then also, how this process really worked for you? And when we come back, we’re going to find out so much more about how it actually does work. Don’t go away, we’ll be right back with Cindy Roscoe, author of Finding Venerable Mother.
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You are listening to Dropping In, with Diane Dewey. We’d love to hear from you if you have a question or comment about the show, send us an email to DDewey@trunordmedia.com. That’s the letter D, Dewey at T-R-U Nordmedia.com. Now, back to Dropping In.
Diane: Welcome back everyone. We’re herewith Cindy Rasicot, and she is the author of a new book, Finding Venerable Mother. I’m going to give you a little spotlight on Cindy. She is a retired psychotherapist. Her life has been a spiritual journey that took her on new dimensions when she and her family moved to Bangkok, Thailand for three years. There, she met her spiritual teacher, Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, the first fully ordained nun, and that was an encounter that opened her heart and changed her forever.
The deepening relationship led to writing her memoir Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand, which chronicles her adventures along the spiritual path. And Cindy you’ve been talking about the need to belong, the need to connect, and that being a primary force in your search. I really believe that this is getting stronger all the time, as witnessed by the number of people who are meditating, who are connecting through yoga retreats, and is it a kind of answer to the consumerism and the all-out gourdness of Western life, strip mall after shopping mall, you went to a calmer, more tranquil place. Do you think that has a role?
Cindy: Right. I think that we’re all in a place, I think of what we’re being in as a giant pause and I was just writing an essay yesterday and it occurred to me that I’m kind of defining this moment in time a little bit. I want to, I don’t know if incorrectly is the right word or misguided, is the right word. I’m thinking of myself on being newly divorced and isolated as somewhat lonely, but if I begin to think of this time rather than isolation it’s one of the incubation.
One of cultivating and almost like brewing as if I’m getting ready, we’re getting ready. We’re remaking ourselves, we’re rethinking, we have to stop. We have to take a look at certain issues and I’m not saying everyone is inclined to do that, but we’ve come to a halt in many ways, and it’s our time. I think that’s our chance. It’s an opportunity to look at the issues that you’re talking about, and to refocus on what is important. What is important to us in our lives?
And I think we’re out of whack if I could say so, and I’ve always heard Dhammananda talking about consumerism that it takes us away from that which truly matters, the human contact, the human connection. And I also think that, in the United States it’s funny, I was just talking about this on my morning walk. That we are incredibly, individualistically, inclined, whereas if you look at other cultures in the world. They’re much more inclined to be community or communally oriented. So I don’t know what will come out of this time period, but I do look at it as one of incubation.
Diane: Well, I love that word incubation and I think you’re spot on. We are making a kind of correction hopefully and I think that the point of the United States being a place of survival of the fittest, I mean every Western culture country is developing consumerism there, that’s rampant unfortunately, you know sometimes when you get into a small village somewhere you’re happy because you’re relieved of all of that.
But I do think that you know what you’re talking about, we’ve got concerns now, COVID-19 has spelled out. One of the disasters that’s coming out of not taking care of mother earth, and that is something that we’re going to have to address. And if we are going to really create a correction that we are going to have to take a look again at carbon footprints, carbon emissions, and really make serious commitments to these things that are going to just defacto involve less consumerism, more joint effort, less individualism of I can do it, so therefore, I can do it even if nobody else can do it.
Not necessarily, I think we’re going to have to pull together, you’re absolutely right. And I think that it is a time when we could come out of this potentially better, let’s just keep that thought. I really think that in some ways, when you were going through your ordination and you cried this river of tears. You were shedding old selves, and you were making way, you were mourning that old self that was falling away and Dhammananda said to you, it’s okay. People often cry when they first arrived, you build a wall around yourself, and that wall starts to crumble, you allow that soft you to come out. And that’s what I really wonder about. Isn’t it time for us to let the soft us, come out?
The one that really does want to connect to these things and not turn away from the concerns we really have. So it’s that recognition of, you know kindred spirits finally.
Cindy: Go ahead.
Diane: No, I was gonna say you went metaphorically and literally on this journey. So you’re back to tell us about these things, I think it’s marvelous timing.
Cindy: Right, right. And there was an, I want to add one thing to what you said, which is beautifully said that sometimes we just need to stop and experience the feeling, experience the pain, experience the loneliness. It is through feeling, and actually taking time to be present, which is what all this meditation and Buddhism and mindfulness is all about. That we come into connection with ourselves and only through connecting with ourselves deeper, I think we can make a deeper connection with others.
Diane: Absolutely. And I think not turning away, not being able to avoid because we can’t avoid very much right now, we’re stuck at home and we’re stuck with ourselves. So there’s a whole lot less that we can deny. In addition, when I read your book just weeks after the passing of my own mother. So there was a lot of resonance with that, and I feel as though, I had to sit with a lot, I have had to sit these weeks with a lot of grief and tend to remember in the sense of her, but I think the part about facing emotions versus covering them up is vitally important.
You say that you learned the paradigm of what it meant to be feminine and empowered because Dhammananda was both vulnerable and strong at the same time. Can you talk about how that dynamic works?
Cindy: Sure. First one is there, I’m sorry to hear about passing of your mother.
Diane: Thank you!
Diane: She’s lovely.
Cindy: Yeah. The thing that was so powerful for me is that, excuse me the word powerful there, in my growing up and my way of thinking, the male and the strong and kind of the heart and the fast and the clear and the bright, and almost the soundness of that was sort of imprinted on my mind. And then what I found with Dhammananda was, no wait a minute, there’s a whole power with the sense of vulnerability and kindness and compassion that carries a far more potent message for me than someone who is outwardly, so sure of themselves, are so smug, are so there’s a hierarchy that’s what I’m trying to say.
There’s a hierarchy in what I perceive to be our current culture with men in power positions, although of course this is changing. But what I saw so beautiful about Dhammananda was the truth in the feminine way, and the feminine way to me is one of truth and beauty through vulnerability. That’s not a message that I got as a child, tears and crying, and being sensitive, and feeling was all sort of, not taboo but poo pooed, and there wasn’t really room for that, in my experience growing up, nor necessarily.
Is there still wide acceptance for that in our culture, but you see more and more of that coming to be expressed. And women’s stepping forward in the me too movement, which really honors that sense of wounded and the powerful at the same time.
Diane: Well, it’s validating experience too, and the wound, which I think we weren’t allowed to talk about. I think that coming out, it’s not just the sense of justice, it’s the sense of validating and being witnessed is incredibly powerful and I want to come back to, you know, you were talking about being a questioner always and you know your sister Ellie was always the, she was the type A personality so there was a contrast there. You were kind of wandering in your mind and she knew and you know that it is a masculine, feminine equation. And I have to go back to you being a marriage counselor and therapist as well. Is there something to the idea of a wounded healer?
Cindy: Oh, absolutely. I think that the healers who have been most important to me in my life, are those that have lived through their own pain and their own trauma and come to accept and integrate that within their own being, so that they can better relate to the people who are going their clients. But I think a lot of, I think, to be alive is to experience as a human being. Which, that’s what we are, is to experience pain and suffering, and so in that sense I would say we’re all wounded healers, those of us who gravitate towards the healing professions.
Diane: Absolutely. And you talk about, how if your mother were alive today, you tell her how much you loved her, how much she inspired you, and how much she meant to you. And I totally relate to this Cindy. “I have had a very challenging relationship with my mother periodically and I feel exactly the same way now that she’s passed and the same thought you say about when I look back on my mother’s death and the way it happened, I realized she died exactly the way she wanted. She had a dignified death, and I was proud of her.” This is a quote from Cindy Rasicot in Finding Venerable Mother and I share those thoughts, I absolutely relate to that.
And I think that you do forget the political, you set aside the strum and wrong. And you remember the good, you start extrapolating the good and the kind of meaningful nuggets and that’s what you start to focus on. I think that this is a real great takeaway. We have just a couple of minutes to until break. But I wondered if you feel as though, this kind of, it’s kind of transcendent, right to come through this passage?
Cindy: Absolutely, and I love the word that you used earlier archetype, the hero and the heroines journey coming through the obstacles and the pain and the predicaments and the trauma, and to acceptance, I think it’s also part of this I might fit more simply of growing up, realizing that I’m a human being, she’s a human being, and being able to separate out and take her life in perspective. The brief time we have left, she was a child of immigrant parents, so there was a real tendency towards survival in her that shaped your character.
Cindy: Once I understood that, like you said, seeing her political, seeing her in her historical and cultural perspective, gave me more empathy.
Diane: More empathy, more compassion. And we’re going to close now. Cindy Rasicot, Finding Venerable Mother is a gift and thank you so much for being with us. You can find Cindy on Instagram, Facebook, Cindy Rasicot author, and when you’re going through life, just remember that we want to honor the compassion that we found through this quest. Pick up the book for your spiritual journey, and be well until next week. Thank you for listening.
Thank you so much for dropping in. Please join Diane Dewey again next Friday at 8am Pacific Time, and 11am Eastern Time on the Voice America Variety Channel. We’ll see you then.