Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Heart Blown Open

"A Heart Blown Open" is the title of a book by Keith Martin-Smith.  It is a provocative title, which is why I used it.  I read the Amazon Kindle version of the book.

This is a biography of Denis Kelly (now publicly known as Jun Po Kelly via his Rinzai zen teaching practice).  The author is one of his students.  Roshi Kelly is still living and teaching.

Denis Kelly is an abused child, an expert soldier, a renowned manufacturer of renowned LSD (clear-light, order of the Golden Frog) from the 60's and 70's, a mob driver, an ex-con, an industrial combustion engineer,  a yoga teacher in the lineages of BKS Iyengar & Patabi Jois, and a Rinzai zen teacher in the lineage of Eido Simano (Dai Botasu, Zen Studies Society in NYC).

His story is not over and the book suffers a bit because of that, but that's about all the criticism I have for it.  This is a remarkable book, not only for the remarkable story but for the remarkable way in which it was crafted.  I ran down the battery on my Kindle Fire so that it automatically shut-down twice while reading this book late into the evening.  I could not put it down.

This book is meaningful to me also because Roshi Kelly and I agree, heart-to-heart about the ethnocentric influences in zen, and buddhism in general, and how they serve to abuse what are called the three treasures of buddhism--the awakened beings, the teachings, and the practice community.  Roshi and I share a set of experiences from childhood related to unchecked violent alcoholism in our families, we share a view of LSD, and we share views about sexual conduct and relationship boundaries.

That is, I think we'd be friends.

I could go on and on about how much reading this book meant to me, but the truth I really don't know yet exactly what having read this book does mean to me.  Just as it seems the author (and subject) didn't quite know how to end the book...I don't know quite how to end this review

Something about that feels extraordinarily ordinary.  Really real.