Kung-fu and the Path of Integration with Sifu Keith Martin-Smith
I recently sat down over tea with Sarah C. Beasley, a talented writer and columnist, to talk about my path into Buddhism and my latest novel. It ended being a wide-ranging and easeful conversation that went into some tender territory for me.
I was interviewed by yoga teacher and professional troublemaker Mark Walsh on his embodiment podcast. We got into 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, abuse and shadow and embodied writing.
PRAISE FOR ONLY EVERYTHING
"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. With the narrative opening between the present and twenty-something Logan's life in New York City as he writes his first novel, we get bright future and bleak mid-life all at once, a jarring split-screen, with each side haunting the other. 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, slogging through the weight of the world. He drinks to erase the pain of unrealized dreams, but clings to a loosening grip on who he was and what he's had and lost. Martin-Smith doesn't flinch at the consequences of such brutal honesty. 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
"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
Praise for A Heart Blown Open
"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
"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
For Content Strategy
“Keith not only knows how to make a long story short, he knows how to do so on time and on-brand. That said, find your own damn copywriter. It took us years to find someone this good who isn’t a self-righteous prima donna.”
-- Mark Gallagher, CEO, BlackCoffee
“When I called Keith I was discouraged and uncertain if anyone would ever be able to help translate the abstract and theoretical vision of The Life Chart in a comprehendible way. I wanted it to touch real people in the real world.
I needed someone who understood complex philosophical and psychological concepts yet could break down these concepts in a simple manner. Who could be the translator for this vision. Keith delivered a smooth sophisticated translation that has energized and encouraged me.
I almost gave up on finding a way to communicate my message to the world; now I have a website and content I’m proud to share.”
-- Bill Wilder, Creator of The Life Chart
“Keith’s gift is simple: he is a brilliant writer. He has the uncanny ability to write your your ideas quickly. He listens and with efficient speed makes word choices that make it only too clear why you hired him.
“He has also cultivated a spiritual and psychological depth that can help anyone — good writer, bad writer — get to their bottom line. He is a great guy to work with–no drama, no issues, on time and eloquent.”
-- Debra Silverman, clinical psychologist and internationally-renown astrologer
"Keith brought a level of subtlety to what we were trying to do. I love how he anticipated our needs – which weren’t overtly stated — and was able to address them fully. I’m very pleased.”
- Cheri Daniels, Marketing Manager, The New York Times Syndicate
“Keith has an astute understanding of what is and what is not relevant to communicate. Effective, efficient and thoroughly professional. I would highly recommend him.”
- John Furey, Creator of the MindTime Project.
“WishGarden Herbs hired Keith as a consultant for our new website. Keith approached the work as if he were a member of the team.
"9 months later, our website has seen a 600% increase in visitors and transactions – and much of the credit can go to him. He was a consummate professional in all his aspects of his work and comportment and I am thrilled to give him my highest recommendation.”
-- Mark Schroeder, Chief Digital Officer, WishGarden Herbs
“Keith Martin-Smith is a writer of extraordinarily talent. He can take deep and complex subjects and, somehow, make them seem eloquently simple. He has the unique ability to tailor his writing in a way that enables specific groups to understand difficult subjects.”
-- Doshin Michael Nelson, Roshi and Founder of Integral Zen