January 1, 2015

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.