I could talk about Rina Sircar for pages and pages in this blog. I met Rina, a Buddhist nun from Myanmar, my first quarter in grad school and have studied with her ever since. I say, "studied with her" even though she died around a year ago. She and her teachings stay with me. But her teachings went far beyond the exchange or words, ideas, or concepts and, as such, these teachings were preverbal, prethought, and therefore spoke in a way that were part of mutuality of participation that was experientially awakening even though I didn't fully appreciate what was going on the at the time. I'm going to try to capture this form of Rina's influence on me in three reflections.
Rina not only loved me unconditionally but loved me in exactly the way I needed to be loved in order that I might heal and grow. As such, her love for me evolved as I changed. And I changed in relationship with how her love penetrated the wounds and strengths that lie waiting in my heart for her tender energetic touch of light. This love was like a quietly flowing stream washing away the unhelpful sediments of my heart, no matter how lose or compacted those sediments were, revealing slowly but surely what might be considered to be truer values within.
When at meditation retreats offered by Rina, one of the things I did was to assist her from her room to the meditation hall, up and down some stairs, sometimes in the dark, before and after each session. I feel that I learned more about Buddhism from this simple proximity and physical touch than from any book I read or talk I heard about Buddhism from other teachers. It was a warmly unspoken transmission, tangibly conveyed, that emanated simply from her being.
I often anticipated her 'going to the other side,' wondering how I would respond to not having her in my life in a physical way. I wondered how hard I would grieve, how long it would take, what form the sadness would assume. When she died, I felt again the literal gentle lightness of her presence and my heart felt nothing but a radiant gratitude, completely free of any sadness, and though the radiance might have faded, the gratitude continues to beat a even, vibrant, and resonant rhythm.
Everything decent thing I have done professionally as a psychotherapist, spiritual care practitioner, or educator was touched in some significant way by Rina. Is this hyperbole? Absolutely not. How I listened and spoke, what I said, the silences, all sprang from seeds that she planted in this heart and mind.
Rina, wherever you are, thank you so much for all that you have given me.