This Fresh Existence

Heart Teachings from Bhikkhuni Dhammananda

By Cindy Rasicot

Bhikkhuni Dhammananda defied convention to become the first woman fully ordained in the Thai Theravada Buddhist tradition. Dubbed “Rebel Monk” by the Thai press, she faced enormous opposition from the media, the public, and senior orthodox Thai monks. She has given a fresh existence to the ancient tradition. 

What makes this book unique is that it’s a story of beating the odds, courage and making history, in Bhikkhuni Dhammananda defying orthodoxy, and establishing the women’s lineage of Theravadin monastics in Thailand.

American author Cindy Rasicot became her student and disciple in 2005. This compelling book tells the story of Venerable Dhammananda’s remarkable path from TV personality, author, academic, wife and mother to ordained bhikkhuni. Cindy Rasicot writes beautifully of their relationship, and shares Bhikkhuni Dhammananda’s gentle wisdom and direct insights about how to live a more powerful and compassionate life. 

Available April 2024

Praise & Reviews

A beautiful dialogue with a wonderful and wise teacher. Dhammananda is a courageous pioneer, a nun who embodies blessings and points us to our inner freedom and compassion.

-Jack Kornfield author of A Path With Heart

We welcome this biography of Venerable Dhammananda Mahatheri, written by her close student Cindy Rasicot, which covers the life and challenges of the first Thai bhikkhuni, formerly known as Dr. Chatsumarn Kabilsingh. Included in this inspiring account are teachings by Ven. Dhammananda, showing her own clarity and depth of understanding. 

Actually, there was no one more qualified in Thailand to have taken on this historic role of restoring the Fourfold Sangha, as originally envisioned by the Buddha. Nonetheless, it took immense courage and innate dignity to receive this higher ordination for nuns in the face of the extreme criticism and personal denunciation that it evoked.

In the following years Ven. Dhammananda Mahatheri has trained generations of women in the monastic role and, despite ongoing opposition from high-level ecclesiastics, she has continued to inspire many women to go forth as bhikkhunis in the Theravadin tradition. We rejoice in her achievement and are grateful to the author for writing this important book.

— Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Author of the Heroic Heart, founder of Dongyu Monastery Gatsal Ling Nunnery, and co-president of the International Buddhist Conference

As told by her devoted follower, Cindy Rasicot, Venerable Dhammananda’s story is one of courage, patience, and most of all compassion. Tracing her journey from scholar and TV personality to one of the first ordained nuns in modern-day Thailand, Rasicot’s account of Ven. Dhammananda’s life paints an inspiring picture of the woman responsible for reviving the bhikkhuni order in Thailand.

— Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Life

Cindy has written an engaging and informative book about her beloved teacher Ven. Dhammananda, who through personal example has opened a viable pathway for Thai women to ordain as bhikkhunis in the Theravada tradition. We get a window into the considered thought, determination, and courage behind Ven. Dhammananda’s decision to take ordination in 2003, and her tireless efforts since then to support and train other Thai women to do similarly. Prior to ordination as a bhikkhuni, she took the Bodhisattva Vow, which perfumes her whole approach. In the chapters exploring topics such as anger, patience, forgiveness, despair, and loneliness, which draw on dialogues between Ven. Dhammananda and those who are turning to her for guidance, her honesty, accessibility, kindness, and empathy come across, as well as her forthrightness.

— Dharmacharini Anagarika Sanghadevi, co-founder Taraloka Buddhist Retreat Centre for Women, author of Living Together

Cindy Rasicot’s relationship with Bhikkhuni Dhammananda provides us with a precious opportunity to hear about Bhikkhuni Dhammananda’s extraordinary life, her teachings, and some of the challenges she faced as she helped pave the road for Theravada Buddhist women to ordain. Rasicot’s writing is elegant, sincere, profoundly inviting. With this book, we catch a glimpse of a remarkable teacher. What a wonderful contribution!

— Vanessa Sasson – author of Yasodhara and the Buddha and The Gathering: A Story of the First Buddhist Women

This Fresh Existence

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Finding Venerable Mother

A Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand

By Cindy Rasicot

When Cindy moves to Thailand with her family, she wasn’t looking for a spiritual teacher, it simply happened. Through a serendipitous encounter she meets a Thai Buddhist nun, Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, who leads her on a spiritual journey from which there is no turning back.

 Cindy’s memoir is a soulful story of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing through her loving connection with her teacher, Bhikkhuni Dhammananda. The book was a finalist in the International Book Awards, the Sarton Awards, Eric Hoffer Awards, and a #1 best seller in Spirituality on Amazon.

Praise & Reviews

“Cindy Rasicot’s loving account of her own transformation through knowing Bhikkhuni Dhammananda is a joy to read.”

Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness Is an Inside Job

“Beautifully crafted, miraculously evocative, and continuously inspiring, Finding Venerable Mother is, at its essence, a story about an intelligent modern woman’s deeply felt spiritual quest.”

Jasmin Darznik, PhD author of Song of a Captive Bird and the New York Times bestseller The Good Daughter 

“An intriguingly honest portrayal of an expat’s life altering personal growth in Asia.”

Kirkus Reviews

Finding Venerable Mother

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