Ruth Denison

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Ruth Denison (September 29, 1922 – February 26, 2015)[1] was the first Buddhist teacher in the United States to lead an all-women's retreat for Buddhist meditation and instruction. Her center, Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center is located in the Mojave Desert, in Joshua Tree, California. She was also a teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. She sometimes taught at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California.

Spending her youth and young adult years in Germany, she was a fervent Nazi,[2] later imprisoned by the Russians. She immigrated to the United States. In the 1960s and 1970s, she was part of the alternative and counterculture scene.

She was one of four Westerners to receive permission to teach from Burmese master U Ba Khin, a layperson known for teaching vipassanā meditation.

Denison died on February 26, 2015, after suffering a stroke. She was 92.[3]


  • Dancing in the Dharma: The Life and Teachings of Ruth Denison by Sandy Boucher (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2005. hardcover, $25.95 ISBN 0-8070-7318-0)
  • Meetings with Remarkable Women: Buddhist Teachers in America by Lenore Friedman (Boston, MA: Shambhala, Revised and Updated Edition, 2000 ISBN 1-57062-474-7)

External links


  1. Denison, Ruth E., United States Public Records Index, familysearch 
  2. Boucher, Sandy, Dancing in the Dharma: The Life and Teachings of Ruth Denison, Beacon Press, 2005. 
  3. Ruth Denison, Western Dharma Pioneer and Vipassana Innovator, Dies at 92
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