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In Memoriam – Honoring our Dharma Elders
Sayadaw U Pandita, 1921 – 2016
Ruth Denison, 1922 – 2015
Pioneering teacher and remarkable Dharma elder Ruth Denison passed away peacefully in her home early in the morning of February 26, 2015, attended by a small group of friends and students. She was 92.
Born in what was then East Prussia, Ruth immigrated to California as a young woman and studied with major spiritual teachers in several traditions. Later she became one of only four Westerners who received permission to teach from Burmese master Sayagi U Ba Khin. Ruth led courses at IMS from the time we opened our doors in 1976 until her last teaching visit to the Retreat Center in 2011. She also founded Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center in Joshua Tree, CA, and was the first Buddhist teacher in the US to lead an all-women's meditation retreat.
Ruth’s fearless teaching style and sense of adventure inspired many of us. Through her strong emphasis on awareness of body sensations, she communicated to her students a deep understanding of the Buddha's teachings on the Three Characteristics – anatta (no-self), anicca (impermanence) and dukkha (life without wisdom, or suffering).
Read a profile of Ruth from IMS’s Insight Newsletter, Fall 2010 – A Dharma Life: The Extraordinary is Always Arising.
Sayadaw U Lakkhana, 1935 – 2014
Ven. Sayadaw U Lakkhana at IMS
Satya Narayan Goenka, 1924 – 2013
A 1971 retreat in India taught by Goenka-ji that was attended by IMS founders Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein.
Anagarika Munindra, 1914 – 2003
Anagarika Munindra passed away October 14, 2003. Affectionately known as ‘Munindraji,’ he was one of the significant teachers of IMS founders Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein, playing a pivotal role in the transmission of Buddhism from East to West.
Sharon Salzberg recalls, “When I went to India, at the age of 18, Munindraji was one of the first teachers I met. At one point he said to me, ‘The Buddha's enlightenment solved the Buddha's problem, now you solve yours.’ I found that the most inspiring statement, because it implied that I could in fact solve my own problem – the unhappiness and confusion that had brought me to India to begin with. The teachings of the Buddha say that no one else will accomplish our freedom from suffering for us, and that no one else need to, because we ourselves can actually do it.
“Once, someone asked Munindra why he practiced meditation. His students gathered around, expecting to hear an exalted, lofty answer. He simply replied, ‘I practice meditation to notice the small purple flowers growing by the roadside, which I otherwise might miss.’ When we start to notice the small purple flowers, we come to not only enjoy them for ourselves, but to wish that others might also see them, for their solace and enjoyment.”