Justin Kelley grew up on a farm in rural Massachusetts. In 2005, after graduating from Tufts University and working a short stint in land conservation, he picked up and left for India — the fantastic land of yoga and meditation. He had high expectations before leaving, imagining levitating yogis in remote caves, but these were quickly replaced with something more profound: a way of life in which everyday activities were imbued with spirit; a world in which people embraced their religious and/or spiritual faith. This lead Justin to spend the next ten years living in India, Nepal, and southeast Asia, immersing himself in the cultures and studying Tibetan language, Buddhist philosophy, and various meditative practices. In 2015, he returned to the US and entered a doctoral program in Rice University’s Department of Religion with Dr. Anne C. Klein, professor of Religious Studies. Academia surprised him by providing applicable insights into the historical and philosophical developments within religion, which help him navigate his personal beliefs. His research interests include meditative and philosophical systems in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, phenomenology, and contemplative studies.
Throughout the years, he has taught courses on Buddhism and meditation in universities, high schools, dharma centers, and more, as well as designed pilgrimages for organizations such as Tricycle Foundation, Tergar International, and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. These journeys incorporates his three loves—indigenous Buddhist cultures, education, and personal transformation.