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Download: The Book Of Ruth: Sayings of Ruth Denison (pdf, 19.4mb)

Collected with devotion by Jain
Edited by Lucinda “Treelight” Green, Ph.D.
(More credits in ‘Acknowledgments’)

Original publication: 2005, Rocky Mountain Insight
Prepared for digital distribution by Jay Babcock, Joshua Tree, 2015

These offerings are compiled from notes taken over the years by Jain. They are not necessarily verbatim as Ruth spoke them, but are Jain’s best impressions of what Ruth was trying to impart. After Ruth had distributed the book to her students she re-read it and felt that there were some inaccuracies, but sadly, she did not have the time or inclination to edit them out. So, dear reader, any issues you might take with the dhamma contained in these passages are most likely a result of the note-taker’s inability to capture fully Ruth’s intentions, and not of Ruth herself. That said, those who have been privileged to own their own copy of The Book of Ruth have found great wisdom, comfort, and inspiration in these passages. It is our hope that you will as well.

For those readers who have not studied with Ruth, some parts of this book may be confusing. This is not a textbook that was assembled by Ruth herself to transmit her teachings to the general public, nor should it be considered her definitive work. In some ways, The Book of Ruth is exactly what its subtitle says it is: SAYINGS — a summary set of Ruth’s deeper teachings. Distillations, reminders. As such, some phrases might seem nonsensical or obscure. Remember that Ruth’s native language is German, but she often teaches in English and uses terms from the Pali language. Although her English is exceptional, she often shortcuts through phrases in a way that makes sense in person, where the words are coupled with gestures and follow-ups. In print, some of this is inevitably going to be lost.

With regards to the photographs: many of photographs are candid snapshots of Ruth; few of them are posed. If there is no caption with the photo, it is best to simply take it as it is. In other words, do not get lost in trying to interpret the photos as being symbolic in nature. The photograph that opens the book is Ruth in the zendo at her Dhamma Dena center in Joshua Tree, next to a painting of her vipassana master, the Burmese teacher Saya Gyi U Ba Khin. The dogs that appear in many photos were her beloved constant companions.

For those who are unfamiliar with Ruth’s teaching, it is probably best understood as a combination of U Ba Khin’s vipassana meditation technique, her teacher Charlotte Selver’s sensory awareness techniques, Theraveda Buddhist doctrine, and Ruth’s own studies, discoveries and innovations. In addition, through the decades, Ruth has constantly refined her teaching, routinely emphasizing one aspect or another of the technique to suit what she understands to be a student’s needs in that moment, in that place.

For more information more about Ruth’s life, a good place to start is the biography Dancing in the Dharma: The Life and Teachings of Ruth Denison by Sandy Boucher (2005, Beacon Press).

And on the web:
Ruth Denison

Dhamma Dena Vipassana Center (Ruth’s home)