Interviews + Reviews

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Buddhist Door: Kung Fu and the Path of Liberation
April, 2018
“For a long time, Sifu Keith Martin-Smith has had written on his office wall: Writer, Meditator, Martial Artist. This triad forms the core structure of his practice and offerings.

These modes of expression, awareness, and movement propel him in relating to the world. Meditation is never still—it involves effort, will, discipline, focus, and volition cultivated alongside surrender, in counterpoint. Outer forms contain the stillness of cultivation and witnessing inside the practice. Finding his voice as a writer, harnessing chi in kung-fu, and settling the mind in meditation all provide a basis for full human integration.”

Read here.

Embodied Facilitator: Zen vs. Kung Fu
April, 2018
”Kung fu teacher, Zen practitioner and author Keith Martin-Smith joins Mark for a bromantic chat about Chinese martial arts, Northern vs. Southern styles, beauty, wushu, the Shaolin Temple, Asian vs. Western teaching methods, Ken Wilber and integral theory (it gets a bit geeky), adult development and Spiral Dynamics, cleaning up vs growing up vs waking up, his fierce Zen teacher Junpo, abuse and shadow and the embodied writing. This was a yang one, and a fun one.”

Listen here. 


BOOK REVIEWS

Foreword ReviewsA Heart Blown Open

“If Denis Kelly’s life was made into a novel, no one would believe it, so the truth, told here as accurately as possible by author and fellow Zen Buddhist Keith Martin-Smith, must suffice: Kelly crossed every inner river, climbed every emotional mountain, slayed every psychological dragon, to arrive at a place of peacefulness.

Most of us imagine that a spiritual master would be a person of high moral integrity, likely celibate, and definitely vegetarian, someone who speaks in terse mysterious phrases and smiles a lot. Someone rather like the Dalai Lama, whom Kelly has met. Kelly had a habit, begun in grade school, of telling people in authority that what they said was “bull––” and he didn’t spare the Dalai Lama that assessment. The assertion generally resulted in shock and expulsion, but not in the case of the Dalai Lama, who just smiled and told Kelly that his spiritual insight wasn’t deep enough yet. Oddly, it was his tendency to blow up at authority that led to Kelly’s heart being blown open, and to his becoming a spiritual master himself.”

More…


Huffington PostThe Making of a Teacher

“Can a lad sometimes regarded as bad by his father, by a Catholic priest, by the Army, and by the Drug Enforcement Administration transform in the middle of life’s path into a Zen roshi and reinvent his tradition in ways that impress the brainy Ken Wilber, Mr. Integral? A Heart Blown Open by Keith Martin-Smith shows how it happened as it follows the life of Denis Kelly from a small Wisconsin city to the Bay Area in its glory years to a Buddhist monastery in upstate New York, with a stop in federal prison.”

More…

 

WestwordOn Writing A Heart Blown Open

Westword: How did you first become acquainted with Denis, and how did the idea for this book come about?

Keith Martin-Smith: I met Jun Po back in 2007, and I'd been in Boulder for a couple of years. And when I first met him, it was at this place called Boulder Interval, and he was part of a team of four of us, and there were maybe fifty people who came to this weekend gathering. I'd never met him before, didn't know who he was, and he went first to introduce himself. He had this introduction that was part sailor, part philosopher, part Zen guy. Using vulgar language, he said, "They call me Jun Po these days, and they call me a Roshi, and a couple of years ago I started fucking somebody I shouldn't have been fucking and almost ruined her marriage and my marriage and fucked up everything I'd been working for all these years. And I'm looking for a theory to explain what happened to me."

More…

The New Man: Rejection and How to Stop Holding Back  

“Author Keith Martin Smith is here to talk about his 300 rejection letters, avoiding risk and why no means “not yet.” Keith Martin Smith wrote the Junpo Denis Kelly biography A Heart Blown Open.On the making and challenges of the book .”

Listen…


PRAISE FOR ONLY EVERYTHING

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"Broken dreams shroud middle-aged Logan, once a promising novelist, as he stiffly settles himself into a nine-to-five corporate life. Logan marches forward with a beautiful and brightly positive fiancé. He writes marketing copy. He pays his bills. He lives in a well-appointed home.
      But Logan feels weighted by a past that might be an anchor or a lifeline…The novel pushes deep into the unsettling complexities of yearning for a true life. Freedom, talent and love shove themselves through modern life's relentless gauntlet of conformity and material success.
     Martin-Smith imbues Logan with a caustic earnestness, allowing him at times to be unlikable…he shows us the repercussions of Logan's actions, the lives hurt by the pursuit of one's own truth. Yet, at the same time, Logan's life reveals the absolute necessity of those actions.
     Confronting core existential truths about personal authenticity and integrity and freedom allows a person to open themselves to life no matter what comes. That realization is more than worth the price of admission to this excellent novel."
    — Greg Rideout, SPR Review   

“From the banalities of the corporate work machine to the devastating effects of random brutality, 'Only Everything' is raw, riveting, and relatable, and leaves a lasting impression, an indelible imprint, on the heart and psyche….”     
    — Sarah Beasley, author and columnist

“Now more than ever we’re challenging our career and relationship choices, power, sexuality, and our fantasies around success… But when we tear down the stories that gave our lives comfort, we can get lost in the uncertainty. We get to join a man on the ride as each layer of himself is ripped away. I’d suggest you wear a helmet.”
     —Tripp Lanier, host of the New Man podcast



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"Tragic, triumphant, and at times painfully self-disclosing, 'Only Everything' … knowingly and lovingly kicks the rust off long-forgotten passion and questions whose urgency we’d often rather forget: What makes art stay? Can love and art exist without each other? What’s worth risking for the life you’d die to live? This exploration of the American Dream’s more disheveled and melancholy cousin, the Artist’s Dream, illuminates the humble, heartbreaking path of transformation…” 
     — Angela Raines, writer, consultant, and collaborator on the award-winning The Art of Money. 

“…a rare gift of literary honesty, a treasure box of a story where dreams are the hidden character on every page, inside a man who hasn’t earned the life he wants because he hasn’t yet accepted the life he has. With dazzling insight and masterful prose, Martin-Smith takes us deep into the riddle of the human life, and we emerge far better for it…"
     — Robb Smith, CEO Integral Life  

"... a beautifully written story about a writer's journey, told with unvarnished truth about the stakes, the struggles and the sacrifice that come with the impulse to bring something larger than yourself into the world."  
     — Ross Hostetter, author of Keepers of the Field


"Written with extraordinary heart and skill, this book chronicles the making of an Integral Zen master. Jun Po's life has been as unpredictable as it has been astounding.  Jun Po's dedication to exploring his own psychological shadows in light of his own awakening consciousness is the story of our times, and is an absolute must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in human evolution, and it was brought together brilliantly by Keith." 
Ken Wilber, author of Integral Spirituality

 


"This is a legendary story of an inspiring teacher that mirrors the journey of many contemporary Western seekers. A flash of white light from psychedelic theophanies leads to a lifetime's pursuit of enlightenment under the Buddha dharma prayer flag."
Alex Grey, artist & author of Transformations, Sacred Mirrors, and The Mission of Art

 

 

"Martin-Smith keeps Kelly’s story rolling on a fast track, just as the man’s life has been lived—the women, the violence, the good times, the regrets, the fear, and loathing, all are recounted. There is something in this book for everyone: spiritual seekers and unrepentant sinners alike will find Kelly’s ride hilarious, frustrating, poignant, and thoroughly human. The result of the journey is a new unique form of spiritual practice that Kelly, now a cancer survivor in his seventies who leads international workshops, calls “Mondo Zen”—“the radical invention that brought Zen into the twenty-first century and fully into the West.”
Barbara Bamberger Scott, Foreword Reviews


"This book provides a provocative window into one of the more controversial Zen Masters of our generation, and will not fail to touch and inspire those who read it. Jun Po Roshi has lived a life of amazing fullness. Few have risen to such heights of notoriety and wealth in their youth and given back so much wisdom and service later in life. His greatest gift is his continuing effort to discover the best way to transmit the ancient wisdom of Zen into the 21st Century."
Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, author of Big Mind Big Heart: Finding Your Way

 

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"This is the real life saga of a true spiritual warrior. What is so fascinating about Jun Po Roshi's story is that it describes, at times with painful honesty, the challenges of warriorship in the strange new world of postmodernity. This biography is a time capsule colorfully and poignantly conveying the powerful emergence and evolution of a cultural revolution from the inside out." 
Andrew Cohen, founder EnlightenNext, author of Evolutionary Enlightenment

 

“An entertaining picture of Denis Kelly battling his demons and having a pretty good time doing it…” From Tricycle Magazine