Kenny Johnson – This Light Won’t Die
by Matthew King
Although I was not able to attend this years’ SAND (Science and Nonduality Conference) in California this past October, several of my friends and colleagues went and a few were even guest speakers. So right after the conference, I asked them what was the highlight? or what stood out? Pretty much the unanimous answer was always: KENNY JOHNSON.
Hmm, Kenny Johnson —I had never heard that name before and did not remember seeing his name listed on the [rather extensive] speakers list or from the many scheduled workshops that were to take place at the week-long gathering.
So, I was wondering if Kenny was a Scientist or nonduality speaker or perhaps a teacher?
It appears Kenny was just a “regular Joe” that had found peace or awakened, while serving what was to be a 40 year prison sentence (after a life of crime)! His awakening came while in meditation with Gangaji, who was working for a non-profit organization to bring compassion to the life of those incarcerated.
Yes folks, this is a pretty amazing story and I am happy to share this with you, but I think it’s best if you listened to some words from Kenny —straight from his heart…
Kenny, on going back into the penitentiaries to speak:
“All I wanted was for those young men to find happiness in their heart in such a difficult situation —the same thing that I had experienced. Prison is a great place for a person to have an awakening.”
The full story (or the “story of Kenny” —whichever you prefer).
Kenny Johnson, 59, devoted his life to crime beginning in his early teens, and served over twenty years in various city, county, state, and federal prisons. During his early years in prison, he spent most of his time participating in all sorts of religious and substance abuse groups. It was his inner desire for freedom that led him and a band of truth-seekers to a meeting in the prison chapel.
Gangaji, a spiritual teacher, answered his most pressing question: “It is my understanding that we have to wait until we die before we can receive God’s Grace.” Is that so?” She replied, “Kenny, God’s Grace is here now! Kenny you think you are a convict, you think you are your name, you think you are a black man. Kenny you are none of these things.”
This was a turning point in Kenny’s life. Paroled from prison in 1997 and successfully discharged from Federal and State supervision, Kenny now resides in Sonoma, CA. He visits inmates weekly at San Quentin State Prison and the San Bruno County jail for men, facilitating spirituality groups, and has a spirituality program in the San Francisco County Jail for women.
Kenny’s insights, as well as those of other spiritual teachers, have been published in the book, The Awakening West, by John Lumiere-Wins and Lynn Marie Lumiere. He is in the process of publishing his memoir, entitled The Last Hustle.
*Stay tuned for an upcoming special feature as well as a sneak-peak from his unreleased book.