We are a Vipassana Buddhist Center situated in the Mojave Desert of California, near Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park. It was founded almost forty years ago by pioneer Buddhist teacher Ruth Denison, one of only four westerners initiated as a teacher by the eminent Burmese meditation master Sayagyi U Ba Khin. The center is named for Dhammadinna, a female disciple of the Buddha renowned for her wisdom.

Mission & Values

Dhamma Dena Meditation Center is dedicated to supporting and awakening our capacity to love unconditionally and wisely. Through silent retreats, work retreats, self-retreats or as staff we orient towards building the strength to live our lives free of the clouds of anxiety, fear, obsessions, depression and confusion. We understand that the practice of transforming these energies benefits ourselves, our loved ones and our immediate communities, and ripples outward to the world. We care about ending ignorance and injustice in societal institutions and policies that sustains inequity, disenfranchisement, and the destruction of the earth. 

Dhamma Dena is committed to building accessibility by supporting all those who want to come to the center, those who are people of color, transgender, gay, lesbian, queer, gender non-conforming, those who have immigrated, those who live with physical disability, those with chemical sensitivity, and those without financial resources. We are dedicated to building beloved community where all parts of ourselves feel welcome and honored.

History of the Land 

Dhamma Dena is located on the ancestral, unceded and occupied territories of Newe Sogobia of the Western Shoshone and Yuhaaviat and Maara’ of the Serrano. The surrounding area of Joshua Tree National Park also includes the ancestral homelands of the Cahuilla, Chemehuevi and Mojave, all collectively known as the Great Basin peoples. The Great Basin Culture historically has extended as far north as what is now known as Wyoming, Idaho, and eastern Oregon, and throughout Nevada, California and parts of Utah and has been continuously occupied by the Great Basin peoples for nearly 15,000 years until the first European settlers invaded the region in 1847. The Yuhaaviatam clan (pronounced yuh-HAH-vee-uh-tahm) of the Maara’yam (pronounced MAH-ree-ahm) is now known as the Yuhaaviatam of the San Manuel Nation and is headquartered on the San Manuel Reservation located in the present day San Bernardino Mountains that can be seen just west of Dhamma Dena. The properties on which Dhamma Dena Meditation Center lies were acquired by Ruth Denison in 1977 as the United States federal government began to establish and expand what would become the world’s largest marine corp training base of Twentynine Palms into the Southern Mojave high desert. The border of the military base lies less than one mile north of Dhamma Dena. The military live-fire training operations can be seen and heard daily and are an inescapable reminder of the legacy of the colonial occupation of these unceded lands.

We pay deep homage to the original occupants and ongoing stewards of this sacred land.