Jun Po Denis Kelly began his Buddhist practice at Zen Center San Francisco in the early ’70s, later becoming a student of Eido Shimano Roshi in New York and subsequently a monk. He received his Zen Master recognition in 1992. Interested in bringing his Zen lineage (Rinzai tradition) into American culture without the Japanese cultural bindings, Jun Po left the monastery and founded the lay Buddhist Hollow Bones order, of which he is abbot. A yoga instructor as well, he traces his lineage to BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois. He established the Hollow Bones seven-day Zen retreats for the Mankind Project.
Written by Corey W. deVos
Jun Po Kelly Roshi exists at the crossroads between worlds. A living bridge between generations—both the sixties counterculture and the integral proto-culture, as well as 13th-century Japan and 21st-century America—he is taking a radically new approach to Zen that is uniquely tailored to the modern Western world. This process of spiritual and religious evolution is crucial for the survival of all the world’s religions, guided by the simple insight that spiritual illumination can occur at any developmental level, and that there should be some way to reinterpret eternal truths all the way up and down the spectrum of consciousness—from magic, to mythic, to rational, to pluralistic, to integral, and beyond.
When a spiritual tradition becomes strongly associated with a particular stage (usually the mythic-fundamentalist stage) it can be very difficult to work within that tradition when we’ve outgrown the psychological stage it is embedded in. This is why Jun Po’s work is so crucial—stripping the tradition from the teaching; leaving behind the mythic, imperialistic, and ethnocentric aspects of Zen; while exposing the naked and obvious truth that sits at the core. This sort of spiritual adaptation is already occurring within all the world’s great religious traditions, to varying degrees of success. It is by no means an easy process, as Jun Po mentions—timeless teachings are swathed in temporal garments, and the core truths can often seem inextricable from the cultural accoutrements that envelop them, making it very difficult for some traditions to thrive in new social contexts.
However, Zen (and Buddhism in general) seem to be considerably more adaptable than many other traditions, most likely because it focuses almost entirely upon ever-present states of consciousness, with particular emphasis upon some of the deepest states of radical emptiness, clarity, and transcendent unity; states which, by their very nature, are available to all of us—babies, boomers, and buddhas alike. It does not matter who you are, where or when you were born, or what language you speak—emptiness is emptiness is emptiness, wherever you find it. This makes Zen somewhat of a “universal donor” among the spiritual traditions, often described as more of a “philosophy of life” than a religion, contributing to Buddhism's successful migration and proliferation from culture to culture.
Jun Po Kelly Roshi’s story is itself endlessly fascinating, and when coupled with his radiant personality and gilded sense of humor, would no doubt make for a wildly entertaining and enriching film. More intriguing, his story echoes a narrative even greater than his own (as all great stories invariably do)—it is hard to think of anyone who better personifies the remarkable progression of American spirituality from the 1960’s until today, standing as he does with one foot firmly planted in the sixties counterculture, and the other in today’s Integral emergence. Pushing the essence of the tradition through the Integral framework, Jun Po is reinterpreting and reformatting ancient wisdom for today’s world, while retaining the fierce intensity and urgency of his Samurai precursors. He is sitting in the heart of the integral impulse, reconciling the ceaseless throb of evolution with the empty clarity behind this and every moment—the gentle but explosive sound of an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable subject.
For the Integral Community
By Jun Po Roshi
Mondo Zen™ is American Zen. It is integrally informed and integrally embodied Zen. It is a Third Tier, Integral Transformative Practice.
First, Mondo Zen™ catalyzes high cognitive, emotional and spiritual states of awareness (Upper Left Quadrant). Mondo Zen™ dialog processes accomplish this by removing, layer by layer, all thought and feeling perspectives that erroneously support ego view as our truest nature — and we are thereby allowed an experience of a non-dual state of consciousness.
Second, these high UL state experiences are invokedand reinforced through Upper Right Quadrant neuro-linguistic training. Because of this Integral UL/UR strategy, stage development evolves — and perspectives and perspective-taking evolve from egocentric to Kosmocentric.
For example, from and within this UL state of enjoyable, stable, bare witness consciousness we engage in a dialectical neuro-linguistic reformation which solidifies the embodied understanding of egocentric mind (UR). Subjective experience is made objective and visceral, and this supports stage development.
Third, the new understanding of Reality is clarified, articulated and experienced as new language and feeling. The new experience is claimed and ‘owned.’ Once this has occurred, new actions-in-the-world can and will take place. In other words, this profound insight into Reality is concretized. The clear, articulate understanding of the deep nature of mind is now able to be enacted in the world. This Mondo Zen™ process solidifies and translates the high state experience into more permanent and higher levels of stage development. It answers the essential question: What do these higher state experiences mean?
Mondo Zen™ not only encourages the embodiment and enactment of UR speech and behaviors — it also encourages inter-subjective and environmental enactments (LL/LR Quadrants). The ultimate Mondo Zen™ realization is Third Tier non-dual awareness (Turiyatita), spontaneously enacted throughout all Quadrants, all with all types and levels. The greater the clarification of meaning, the greater the ability to enact universal care and compassion subjectively and inter-subjectively!
We discover through Mondo Zen™ that we are experiencing life first and foremost from a non-dual cognitive and emotionally stable perspective. The troubled egocentric relationships that used to blind and confuse us suddenly become workable. We discover that we have grown several stages in development. In this way, the experience of non-dual takes on form and real concrete meaning in our lives. Through this penetrating non-dual experience, Mondo Zen™ promotes the manifestation of significance and freedom in our lives.
Because Mondo Zen transcends and includes all levels, it is not a religion but an essential practice for living an Integral, Transformative Life. Mondo Zen™ engages spirit, mental and emotional psychological depths, and body from the perspective of Third Tier.
If your spirituality is Christianity, Mondo Zen will enrich and deepen your Love. If you’re a Hindu, Mondo Zen™ will stabilize Samadhi. If a Taoist, Mondo Zen™ will open you to The Way. If a Buddhist, Mondo Zen™ will impart an experience of Shunyata (Radical Emptiness/Fullness). If you’re Zen Buddhist, it will give an experience and clear understanding of Dhyana or Zen, the marriage of wisdom and compassion. Whether you’re a warrior in men’s work, a woman of power creating a new world, a contemplative individual, a social or environmental activist, an executive, or an Integral scholar, Mondo Zen™ will enhance your clarity, energy and humor — with more penetrating insight and effectiveness in all circumstances.
Imagine you as this, Abiding as This, Being-in-the-World as This — and evolving the world as This.
This is TRUE FREEDOM. This is Mondo Zen™.