Monday, November 8, 2010

Like the Sun

(Back from two and a half week retreat with Ruth Denison, at Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center, I am devoting the next few weeks to sharing Ruth's wonderful teachings.)

Ruth's Teachings on Loving Kindness.

I brought back with me the gift of Ruth's image of loving kindness as the sun that brings its warm rays to everything, regardless.

Sunrise at Dhamma Dena Vipassana Center
Here are my notes from her talks on metta (loving kindness):
Metta is love without distinction. You see that you can have you can have your heart open, even if someone acts in a bad way. You understand this person is behaving in such a way because he or she is suffering, and you extend compassion towards them, who have no precepts to guide them. You always keep a friendly heart, and you don't criticize yourself or others. I see every difficulty as a challenge for my practice to become stronger. You have to go very deep into that which is harmful, so that it becomes of benefit to yourself and others. Loving kindness does not sort out. It is even-minded. That does not mean you always say yes, but you don't blame and go into 'he could have done better'. Our rawness, our anger get transformed that way. 

From the Buddha's Discourse on Loving-Kindness:

"Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life even so let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings."
Ruth gaves us several metta practices:

One morning she asked us to use our time walking back from the zendo, "to unload that which is hindering your heart", while becoming aware of the sun's warm touch on our bodies.

Another time, during sitting meditation, she asked us to extend love from our center into all four directions, and then placing both hands on the heart, bringing that same love to ourselves.

The biggest love lesson, I got from watching Ruth every day, as she gave selflessly of herself, from early morning to late night. Giving to us, her students,  her teachings. Giving to impromptu visitors,  the gift of her wisdom. Giving to the animals in the desert, the coyotes, the rabbits, the quails, the squirrels, the doves, each their kind of food. Giving to the ones in financial needs,  free tuition, and sometimes even free rent. Giving the plants scarce water, recycled from our daily activities. Giving, giving . . . with joy always.

"This is a radical practice." - Ruth Denison

I left Dhamma Dena with a light heart, ready to give.


  1. Marguerite - So glad to have you back and it sounds like the retreat was absolutely wonderful! I love the lessons on compassion and loving kindness. I haven't experimented a lot with loving kindness meditation yet, although I think it will be coming up in some of the training I'm doing through the Shambhala Center. What I am absolutely trying to do is be more open...and with that, I have noticed greater compassion and even love.

  2. Marguerite,

    this stranger - I ;-) also wants to say that it´s fine to see you back & with so much joy, beautiful, & thanks

  3. Enjoyed the many postings you set up for us in your absence! Wonderful to read the first installment, of what I hope is many, on your retreat. Great photo too!

  4. Dear Nate, funny you mention being more open . . . one of Ruth's chants that I will share in a subsequent post, is about opening up. I delight in seeing your commitment to practice. May you continue, and may you dwell in loving kindness!

  5. Thank you, Doris for your warm welcome back! Yes, I am so glad. I am very fortunate to have been able to spend such a long time with such a wonderful teacher. I am only now starting to open up all the gifts I brought back with me. So many treasures!

    With much metta.

  6. Carol, thank you, it is nice to see your friendly name on the first day back. And yes, there will be many, many more posts to come about Ruth, including some videos of her teaching. I will have to go visit you (on your blog) as soon as things settle a bit.

  7. Every fiber in the body dances, such is warmth, penetrating, flowing in the blood vessels, nourishing. From the rays dancing on the skin it is there permeating far and wide outside. Sunshine lifts the spirits makes one feel aware=alive, as if one comes out of darkness,love

    I used the image of the sun this morning, without any prompting, it just came did its work and I went to write a test-the test went better than expected. I can say I had a cool head, a loving attitude and suddenly I was more attentive to what I handled, there was care and honesty, I see I cared about being honest and accurate in my answers ... and it helped!

    I also like the image of the Earth. Becoming the Earth; like the Earth accepts treasure and feces without being affected, so becomes the mind, so vast and so much more than the immediate incident that it remains not corrupted.

    Yeah, quite powerful, real.

  8. Thank you Pooja. I am so glad you have been able to appreciate and use this gift from Ruth.