Book Groups

I love to join book clubs on Zoom, Skype, and even speaker phone. If you would like me to visit your book club, please (link) send me a note with the date, the time you meet, and the time zone. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I’m on Pacific Time. Don’t forget to let me know which book you’re reading and how many people are in your book club.

Invite Cindy to Join Your Book Club

Discussion Guide

for This Fresh Existence

  1. Venerable Dhammananda’s mother, Venerable Voramai’s was also a trailblazer. Who are the influential women in your life, whether they are relations or simply women you admire. Why do they inspire you?
  2. Venerable Dhammananda and the author have a conversation about compassion and the often-complicated relationship between parents and children that can persist even when the “child” is grown. Did this chapter resonate with you? Why or why not?
  3. In Chapter 6, the author covers meditation. Do you have your own meditation practice (whether it is within the Buddhist tradition, or not). If you do, what are the challenges and rewards of your practice? If you don’t, has your curiosity been stoked to start one? Why or why not?
  4. In Chapter 8, the author reveals a personal rift between herself and a close friend. Have you experienced a similar situation with a friend in your own life? Applying Venerable Dhammananda’s teachings on forgiveness to your scenario, do you see your situation differently? If yes, how?
  5. The author discusses jealousy in Chapter 9. Whether you were already familiar with the concept of mudita or not, can you think of a time when you were jealous, and see how mudita can help soothe this situation?
  6. The meaning of the book’s title becomes clear in the chapter on loneliness. What does the term fresh existence mean to you?
  7. In Chapter 15, the author openly relates her fears and worries about aging and physical difficulties when she recounts a recent time she took novice ordination. Think back to a goal you were determined to accomplish. What helped you to meet any of the goal’s challenges? Could you relate to the author’s concerns in this chapter? Why or why not?
  8. What were your overall thoughts of This Fresh Existence? How did this book change you, if it did?

Discussion Guide

for Finding Venerable Mother

  1. How did Dhammananda provide the maternal love that Cindy needed? In your own life has there been a woman who has mentored you or showed you unconditional love and how has this person been important in your life?
  2. Dhammananda’s unconditional love for Cindy plays a huge part in helping Cindy to accept herself. Do you think unconditional love and forgiveness go hand-in-hand?
  3. How did Cindy overcome her anger for her mother and herself? What part did Dhammananda play in this process?
  4. How/Why is the Medicine Buddha important to Cindy in her recovery? What role does hope and faith play in healing? Can you give an example from your own life?
  5. In the process of taking care of others Cindy lost sight of herself. Have you ever had this experience?
  6. What parallels do you see between Cindy’s life and Dhammananda’s own struggle to discover her life’s purpose?
  7. Cindy went to Thailand supposedly for her husband’s career, yet this experience led her on a spiritual path. What does Cindy learn about the conditions necessary for personal transformation? Are we ever “ready,” mentally or spiritually prepared for transformation or does it just take us by surprise? Describe a situation in your life when have had a spiritual experience and what that was like.
  8. How did this book change you?