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Buddhadharma : Summer 2015
summer 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 71 NINA wISe was a student of Ruth Denison’s for fifteen years and was authorized as a dharma teacher by Jack kornfield. She is the author of A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life. before the Internet, those of us who produced shows and taught workshops would march about town, staple guns in hand, and ruthlessly plaster our posters over other people’s posters, collectively creating paper-swathed phone poles like Christo sculptures. One morning, as I progressed with my flyers down Telegraph Avenue on my way to the Caffe Mediteraneum for a cap- puccino (a relatively rare beverage in those days), I noticed a poster for a meditation retreat taught by Ruth Denison. I’d been initiated into Transcendental Meditation years earlier and had been dutifully reciting my secret mantra to myself, by myself, for twenty minutes every morning and every evening no matter the circumstances. And I had benefitted from the soothing effects of my practice. But having eschewed the TM lectures and classes, I longed for a living teacher who could guide me into deeper realms of meditative bliss. I signed up for Ruth’s two-week silent retreat, packed a bag with my zafu and shawl, and caught a ride with two complete stran- gers who were kind enough to let me join them on the ten-hour journey to Dhamma Dena, Ruth’s rustic retreat center in Joshua Tree, California. Ruth’s Uncompromising Way Ruth Denison, a pioneer of vipassana in Europe and the United States, passed away in February at the age of ninety-one. Her longtime student nina wise remembers her as a compassionate and fearless innovator. PHOTO | nicKy graham