139. Kenny Johnson

Kenny JohnsonKenny spent over twenty years in prison and has been out of prison since 1997. He is a spiritual teacher and consultant to families and to those who have been out of prison and may be going to jail. He also just finished his soon to be released book, The Last Hustle, chronicling his years as a criminal and how he was transformed while incarcerated. Kenny has one passion and that is sharing the message that “God’s Grace Is Here Now.” Kenny’s spiritual awareness and other spiritual teachers insights have been published in the book, “The Awakening West”, by John Lumiere-Wins and Lynn Marie Lumiere.

“If there is anything worth serving, it’s this love. If there is anything worth being, it’s this love. If there is anything worth talking about it’s this love. If there is anything of real value it’s this love.” – Kenny Johnson

Kenny’s book: The Last Hustle

Kenny’s website, “This Sacred Space”

Interview Recorded 9/22/2012

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

16 thoughts on “139. Kenny Johnson

  1. In a moment of Grace – in a moment of Grace – all that is not true gets absorbed by what is…how beautiful was that surrender…and what a perfect example of giving back – not by a person – but by Love Itself…overflowing in it’s own recognition..was blown away here – not so much by the words but by the Reality that was present..lucky inmates to have him around and a deep bow to Gangaji..

  2. Yes, 2nd time I’ve heard Kenny and was blown away each time. Such a clear story of how maya brought him to Self and ultimately to service. Loved it.

  3. I’ve watched almost all of the interviews, now, and this ranks as one of my favorites. I’m not sure why it resonates so deeply, but THANK YOU both Rick and Kenny for a most enlightening experience. I plan to contact Kenny and send any of my many books that would be helpful his way.

  4. I bow before anyone who enters a prison or jail to be of service to society’s outcasts there, and have very little inclination to evaluate their motivation for doing so. They go where most of us would avoid going.

    I also have an affection for this particular kind of prison work:


  5. Mike,
    As usual – very clear observations..which I’m sure many might hold..so good you brought them up..
    Here’s my take on it..

    Concerning Seva – I interpret Kenny as meaning that when this awakening happens – if profound enough – it strikes the heart so powerfully, that one can’t help but want to give back…

    That doesn’t mean everyone goes to work in a prison but that something is born in us to naturally want to contribute – just happens..whether we are guided to sit on a mountaintop and radiate being or build homes for the homeless – we are used..

    There is also the overwhelming gratitude that comes with awakening and more importantly compassion….One wants everyone to be out of suffering..It becomes clear that this awakening is never just for us as an apparent individual….

    And lastly there is the point to consider that if we are truly without self-concern and self-involvement – if the ego/self has been vanquished – we are always available for the apparent other…If we’re still trying to figure out our lives in a state of constant self absorption as most humans are – how much can we really give..I found service and devotion is much different after awakening than before…

    As far as a reward from God – again assuming to speak for Kenny – I feel he is referring to the deep bliss that comes from knowing oneself as Love and allowing it to overflow to support others…that’s the true reward..a heart full to the brim..That is God’s gift to us for going through the fire of truth..

    With regard to where he might be in 5 or 10 years…who could know..and it’s natural to be suspicious noting the high recidivism rate in the prison system…But he did have this awakening 15 years ago, and after having been in and out of jail most of his life – has not returned to a life of crime since meeting Gangaji…I feel he’s a changed man..Divine Love’s influence on the heart is profound and it’s the only thing that really transforms..

    He was honest when he admitted to still having some conditioned thoughts – don’t we all..but he hasn’t acted on them..that’s the important difference…something else is guiding the life now…

    As far as his reference to popcorn gurus – I’m sure he’s met his share – who hasn’t – the ones who come to prisons and bring all sorts of techniques and religious philosophies to try to transform souls…but as he described, when one looks into the eyes of a true guru and the mind stops – when the world stops -there is no mistaking it….

    He was just noting the difference between meeting Reality and having an idea of it…I don’t think with a heart as big as his, that he was being unforgiving of those who weren’t speaking Truth, but just having a sense of discrimination..

    Love to you always,



  6. “As far as speculating/guessing/intuiting about other people, I would agree if there was any malice or judgement. But I’m sure you would agree, it is a function of being human. And is not, necessarily, a bad or pointless exercise.”

    Since this observation is raised within the arena of service, Mike, here’s what I dis-covered from personal experience.

    When you provide someone, who is in dire need (versus want) of a basic necessity of life, with that which he needs, the recipient of your service rarely cares what the motivation of your service might be. They are just grateful to receive that which they were in dire need of.

    Significant service always benefits its recipient, irrespective of what your motivation may be for providing that service.

    Which is why motivations for service are somewhat inconsequential to me.

    Just serve someone who needs your service badly.

    Make sense to you, Mike?

  7. What may be worse than an authoritarian dualist?

    Perhaps an authoritarian nondualist:

    “Hey, relax. I’m pushing your buttons for your own good.”

    I rather have a cup of joe and a cigarette with an anarchist dualist:

    “Hi, mate. I’m happy to respect your reality.”

  8. Open up your heart
    to whatever dissonance
    you may resist,
    for it teaches you
    where you are hooked.

    As I open mine
    to see that
    any desire to create
    dissonance in you
    says more about me
    than it does about you.

    That is the path of self-awareness.

  9. For Kenny..

    Psalm XXIII
    (Divine Love) is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    (Love) maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
    (Love) leadeth me beside the still waters.
    (Love restoreth) my soul (spiritual sense) (Love) leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for (Love) is with me; (Love’s) rod and (Love’s) staff they comfort me.
    (Love) prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: (Love) anointeth my head with oil, my cup runneth over.
    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house (the consciousness) of (Love) for ever.
    Mary Baker Eddy

  10. At the end of the interview when Rick said, “empty out those prisons,” this quotation came to mind:

    When you see a man led to prison say in your heart, “Mayhap he is escaping from a narrower prison.” And when you see a man drunken say in your heart, “Mayhap he sought escape from something still more unbeautiful.”
    -Kahlil Gibran

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