A HEART BLOWN OPEN
The Life and Practice of Zen Master Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi
(A Spiritual Biography by Keith Martin-Smith)
Emotional Freedom for the Modern Seeker
An Ancient Science of Mind Receives an Upgrade
“This is the story of our time... an absolute must-read
anyone with even a passing interest in human evolution...”
— Ken Wilber, author of Integral Spirituality
“This is the legendary story of an inspiring teacher
mirrors the journey of many contemporary Western seekers.”
— Alex Grey, artist and author of Transfigurations
DENIS KELLY'S LIFE IS PART HUNTER S. THOMPSON, PART TIMOTHY LEARY, AND PART ECKHART TOLLE.
Mondo Zen, an updated form of Rinzai Zen (the “Zen of the Samurai”), was developed by Denis Kelly, whose Dharma name (spiritual name) is Jun Po Roshi (SAY June-Poh Roh-Shee). This is the story of his life, and how he worked to integrate the hard-won wisdom of a life of playfulness, depravity, loss, and liberating insight, leading to the creation of what what has been called the single greatest innovation in Zen in the last 500 years.
A HEART BLOWN OPEN takes us through some of the most well-known epochs in American history: a father scarred by two years in the Pacific Theater during WWII, post-Depression Wisconsin and the optimism of the 1950’s, the beginnings of the counterculture movement in San Francisco, the Vietnam War, and the culture of Free Love and Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) in the early 70’s. Denis Kelly becomes one of the most productive manufacturers of LSD in the first half of the 1970’s and, like many of his generation, becomes convinced the drug is the key to spiritual insight and deep societal transformation. By 1975 the DEA is close to arresting Kelly and he’s forced to go underground for nearly 6 years.
While on the run, Kelly meets and trains with some of the most notable spiritual teachers of the 20th Century — Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, K. Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, Chögyam Trungpa, Lama Anagarika Govinda, Eido Shimono, and others. He gradually begins to realize that while LSD can provide powerful insight, there is no substitute for the insight one gains in sobered and disciplined silence. After a year in prison and half a decade as a Zen priest and teacher, Kelly comes to the conclusion that, at 45 years of age, he is still an almost entirely conditioned being. The next 6 years are spent living in a Zen monastery, and when Kelly emerges a Zen master in his own right in 1992, his time of true learning is only just beginning.
Denis Kelly's life has been almost unimaginably full; a world traveler, seeker of wisdom, major LSD manufacturer, ascetic, holder of wealth and power, lover of women, homeless pauper, wanderer, soldier, father and husband, spiritual adept, yogi, federal prisoner, family deserter, hedonist, and Zen master. These contradictory currents of Kelly’s life illuminate what created one of the most controversial teachers of our time.
This story will not fail to amuse, entertain, and enlighten you. Follow Kelly on his path to liberation, but with plenty of stops in unexpected places along the way. Learn how he came to develop Mondo Zen, what has been called one of the most novel evolutions in spiritual practice in the last hundred years.
This is the Hero’s Journey for the 21st Century, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. And everything.
About Mondo Zen
“Let me state this as strongly as I can: the Mondo Zen Process founded by Zen Master Jun Po Denis Kelly provides a profound and effective method of seeing one’s true nature, greatly accelerating the process of waking up ... It is one the most important, creative, and novel additions to the meditation pantheon, highly recommended for the effect it has on spiritual growth and development.”
— Ken Wilber
Mondo Zen is based on Japanese Rinzai Zen, updated for the twenty-first century. Mondo Zen transcends the hierarchical/ authoritarian, gender-biased and constraining monastic aspects of traditional Zen. It includes a more practical, experiential “in the world” engagement of Zen. Relying only on direct personal experience, as taught by the Buddha himself, it does not allow mythic constructs or mental abstractions to complicate its philosophical orientation. It rejects ideas such as reincarnation, soul as personality, bardo realms, past lives, a creator, and other non-experiential beliefs. (from A HEART BLOWN OPEN by Keith Martin-Smith)
About Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi
Jun Po is an Emotional Freedom Expert and Modernizer of Rinzai Zen (the “Zen of the Samurai”). Interested in bringing his Rinzai Zen tradition into American culture without the Japanese cultural bindings, Jun Po left the monastery where he was recognized as a Zen master and founded the lay Buddhist Hollow Bones order, of which he is abbot. Denis Kelly did the work necessary to make the ancient philosophy of the Samurai Warrior relevant to our modern world, properly serving the emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of those of us who live in it.
His website is www.MondoZen.org.
About Keith Martin-Smith
Keith Martin-Smith was raised in the closed and self-assured world of Catholicism, but by his early teens felt alienated by it and the suburban America that surrounded him. He started out his college career as a mechanical engineering major, but science only led to more questions and an even stronger sense of separation from the world. He ended up with a degree in English and minor in journalism, allowing him to work as a freelance writer not bound to a particular location.
A profound crisis of meaning sent him on an odyssey that spanned ten years and three cities: New York, Philadelphia, and Denver. He searched for answers through post-modern philosophy and bohemia as the esoteric disciplines of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, Qi Gong, and Buddhism were reshaping his life.
In 2007, Keith met Jun Po Denis Kelly, and in 2010 was given the dharma name Kogen (Tiger Eye) and the title of sensei (teacher). Keith’s first collection of short stories — The Mysterious Divination of Tea Leaves, and Other Tales — was published by O-Books in 2009.
Keith lives in Boulder, Colorado. You can read more about him, including new works and offerings, at www.KeithMartinSmith.com.
News & Story Ideas:
Jun Po can speak to many topics including:
- Emotional Maturity in Relationships — Watch
Integral Life Video - What does a relationship look like when love is
truly present? Are things like jealousy, manipulation, and broken-heartedness
- What Anger and Shame Really Tell Us — Anger and
shame are expressions of our deep caring and fear. Emotional, verbal, and
physical violence, expressed as anger and shame, do not honor the depths of
what we are actually feeling.
- Regrets and Self-Forgiveness on the Spiritual Path —
Not being able to forgive ourselves makes it very hard to forgive others.
- The Path of the Maverick, the "Anti-Hero" —
High school dropout, counterculture icon, wealthy urban shaman — by
30 years of age, Jun Po was worth millions and completely outside the realm
of conventional society. In another decade, he would be broke, and living
as a simple monk. Never on a “normal” path, his life has been
one of extremes.
- Merging of Emotional Maturity with Spiritual Insight —
Spiritual insight can’t penetrate psychological shadow; psychological
shadow work can’t open the door to the ultimate freedom of Awakened
Mind, but used together they can create a fully liberated human being.
- How the Counterculture Succeeded... and Why We Don't Need LSD Anymore
— The effects of drugs like LSD turned on an entire generation to the
insights of the East; since the 60’s, a new consciousness has taken
hold of the West, transforming what it means to be spiritual.
- The New Spiritual Calling: Wake Up, Grow Up, and Show Up
— It’s no longer enough to wake up to spiritual insight; no longer
enough to grow up past our own conditioning and shadows; no longer enough
to just show up in our family, community, and world. Today, we are being called
to do all three.
- Modernizing Zen for the 21st Century, and the West —
Zen is wonderful at teaching profound spiritual insight, and emotional maturity
appropriate for 16th Century Feudal Japan. This second part has not sat well
with modern, liberated men and women — until Jun Po.
- On How to Stop Running from Life — Jun Po once ran
from the DEA for 5 1/2 years, living underground under assumed names. But
eventually he had to face the music, and accept the consequences of his action.
This is true for all of us, in 1,000 ways in our daily lives.
- The role of drugs in the context of spiritual practice
— Is it appropriate to use drugs in ceremony to deepen spiritual insight
and understanding? At what point does the use of external substances work
against a spiritual seeker?
- The pitfalls of the guru-student relationship —
Is it okay to sleep with students? Most people answer with a resounding “no”
or “yes”, but Jun Po offers a highly controversial, and nuanced,
- What Surviving Stage 4 Cancer Taught a Spiritual Master
— Jun Po thought he had life all figured out, until a diagnosis of Stage
4 throat cancer at 64 sent his life into a spiral. He emerged physically scarred,
but with a far deeper wisdom than before.
- Family Dysfunction as Life’s Powerful Teacher — Physical abuse, alcoholism, emotional blackmail — these were a few of the dynamics in the Kelly household. Jun Po learned to overcome his family’s faults, to find forgiveness, and eventually to have loving and meaningful relationships with his parents.
Keith Martin-Smith can speak to many topics including:
- Many of the topics above with or about Jun Po —
Keith is not only Jun Po’s biographer, but also a dedicated practitioner
of Buddhism in his own right, a Zen sensei (teacher), and an expert on the
pitfalls and benefits of a spiritual practice.
- Why a Spiritual Practice is Vital for Artists —
Writing, painting, composing, acting — these and other artistic activities
put us at in the middle of a confusing intersection of powerful egos, the
need for artistic acceptance, inspiration, surrender, loss and rejection,
and triumph and tragedy. Having a ground of being, a place within ourselves
where we take refuge and find empowerment, is vital.
- The Future of Art and Art Criticism — Fine art,
as anyone who has visited a museum of modern art can say, has fallen on confusing
times. What is art, who determines what and why something hangs in a museum,
and where is it all heading?
- Writing as a Martial Art — Why everything Keith needed to know about becoming a writer he learned through his 20 years of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu training and teaching.