Excerted from a review for: “A Heart Blown Open” by Keith Martin-Smith
The Life Story of JunPo, Denis Kelly Roshi:
I must start by explaining that I’ve known the central character in this story for 38 years. I found myself riveted by his presence the first night I met him at “Johnny’s” house when I was a mere twenty years old. He continues to guide and challenge me and all who know him these many years later.
Readers should judge the value of my remarks with the knowledge that I will do my friend the courtesy of writing nothing here that is less than an honest appraisal of both the story and the quality of the story telling. That said, it pleases me to say that I found this to be an excellent story written near perfectly.
From the beginning pages readers are reminded of the rigidity that was the American experience in the nineteen fifties and sixty’s. A man holding the intuition that real freedom was not to be had without a fight – was in for a fight. And so the story of Denis Kelly begins.
The majority of us didn’t get to Woodstock or live the street scene that was The Haight in San Fransisco, 1967. But these and other highlights are our heritage as members of the Boomer generation just as much as “Abraham, Martin and John”, Vietnam and Watergate.
However, in “A Heart Blown Open” we ride with an insider. We see a man – who for reasons that cannot be easily explained – a guy who was at the right place at the right time with the right mix of the “mean streets,” savoir faire and nascent transcendental intuition, such that he begins to look like more than just a clever opportunist – more like a gift we gave ourselves – Conscious Creativity knowing just what it would take to push the American experience off it’s static pedestal, tipping it back into the crucible of transformation.
Jun Po Denis Kelly is the most dangerous man I’ve ever known. And this, because he is free – unbounded by cultural conditioning. At the same time this is a man who embodies unselfish love and integrity such that I would not hesitate to place my money or my loved ones in his hands.
The value, the purpose of including words like these in a book review is to indicate for potential readers, the quality of the teaching that radiates from the book – from it’s beginning pages where we see echoes of our own experience and our worst nightmares – to the end where like a well composed sonata, all melodic, in this case, plot and thematic tensions are resolved with credibility and satisfaction.
I knew Frank – Denis Kelly, the younger, wilder man. Now I know Jun Po Roshi – Denis, the wiser man. I love them both. Readers will be introduced to a friend they have been waiting to meet as they turn the pages or even find themselves drawn to sit Sesshin at one of his retreats. Either way, all receive an introduction to the man and 21st Century Zen – the Mondo Process Jun Po has molded with deep respect for tradition and realism.
If you are “spiritually inclined,” read this book and you may find yourself inspired to actually Awaken! If you simply want to read a Really Great Story – read this book! And you too, may find yourself inspired… to Awaken.