Avalokiteshvara at the Baths




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Also on this website:


Toby Johnson's books:

Toby's books are available as ebooks from smashwords.com, the Apple iBookstore, etc.


Fing Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret IIIFINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III


Gay SpiritualityGAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness


Gay Perspective

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe


Secret Matter

SECRET MATTER, a sci-fi novel with wonderful "aliens" with an Afterword by Mark Jordan


Getting LifeGETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE:  A Fantastical Gay Romance set in two different time periods


The Fourth QuillTHE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil




Two SpiritsTWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams



charmed livesCHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: GaySpirit in Storytelling, a collaboration with Steve Berman and some 30 other writers


Myth of the Great Secret

THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell



In Search of God

IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD: A Mystical Journey



Unpublished manuscripts


About ordering


Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series


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  Toby has done five podcasts with Harry Faddis for The Quest of Life

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  Articles and Excerpts:

Review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness


Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"


About Liberty Books, the Lesbian/Gay Bookstore for Austin, 1986-1996


The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate


A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality


Why gay people should NOT Marry


The Scriptural Basis for Same Sex Marriage


Toby and Kip Get Married


Wedding Cake Liberation


Gay Marriage in Texas


What's ironic



Shame on the American People


The "highest form of love"


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Gay Consciousness


Why homosexuality is a sin


The cause of homosexuality


The origins of homophobia


Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness


What is homosexuality?


What is Gay Spirituality?


My three messages


What Jesus said about Gay Rights


Queering religion


Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men


Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?


The purpose of homosexuality


Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality


What the Bible Says about Homosexuality


Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men



Varieties of Gay Spirituality


Waves of Gay Liberation Activity


The Gay Succession


Wouldn’t You Like to Be Uranian?


The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter


Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium


Easton Mountain Retreat Center


Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism


The Mysticism of Andrew Harvey


The upsidedown book on MSNBC


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Enlightenment


"It's Always About You"



The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara


Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara


You're Not A Wave



Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging



What is Enlightenment?



What is reincarnation?



How many lifetimes in an ego?



Emptiness & Religious Ideas



Experiencing experiencing experiencing



Going into the Light



Meditations for a Funeral



Meditation Practice



The way to get to heaven



Buddha's father was right



What Anatman means



Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal



The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika



Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva



John Boswell was Immanuel Kant



Cutting edge realization



The Myth of the Wanderer



Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss



World Navel



What the Vows Really Mean



Manifesting from the Subtle Realms



The Three-layer Cake & the Multiverse


The est Training and Personal Intention



Effective Dreaming in Ursula LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven


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Gay Spirituality


Curious Bodies


What Toby Johnson Believes


The Joseph Campbell Connection


The Mann Ranch (& Rich Gabrielson)


Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy


The Two Loves


The Nature of Religion


What's true about Religion


Being Gay is a Blessing


Drawing Long Straws


Freedom of Religion


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The Gay Agenda


Gay Saintliness


Gay Spiritual Functions



The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.


The Sinfulness of Homosexuality


Proposal for a study of gay nondualism


Priestly Sexuality


Having a Church to Leave


Harold Cole on Beauty


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Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption


Not lashed to the prayer-post


Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality


Is It Time to Grow Up? Confronting the Aging Process


Notes on Licking  (July, 1984)


Redeem Orlando


Gay Consciousness changing the world by Shokti LoveStar


Alexander Renault interviews Toby Johnson



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Mystical Vision


"The Evolution of Gay Identity"


"St. John of the Cross & the Dark Night of the Soul."


Avalokiteshvara at the Baths


 Eckhart's Eye


Let Me Tell You a Secret


Religious Articulations of the Secret


The Collective Unconscious


Driving as Spiritual Practice


Meditation


Historicity as Myth


Pilgrimage


No Stealing


Next Step in Evolution


The New Myth


The Moulting of the Holy Ghost


Gaia is a Bodhisattva


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The Hero's Journey


The Hero's Journey as archetype -- GSV 2016


The  Gay Hero Journey (shortened)


You're On Your Own


Superheroes


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Seeing Differently


Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil


Allah Hu: "God is present here"


 
Adam and Steve


The Life is in the Blood



Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"


Seeing with Different Eyes


Facing the Edge: AIDS as an occasion for spiritual wisdom


What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?


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The Vision


The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside


A  Most Remarkable Synchronicity in Riverside


The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis


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The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby


Part 2: The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara


Part 3: Jesus and the Resurrection


Part 4: A Course in Miracles


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The Secret of the Clear Light


Understanding the Clear Light


Mobius Strip


Finding Your Tiger Face


How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated


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Joseph Campbell, the Hero's Journey, and the modern Gay Hero-- a five part presentation on YouTube


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About Alien Abduction


In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke


Karellen was a homosexual


The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance


Intersections with the movie When We Rise


More about Gay Mental Health


Psych Tech Training


Toby at the California Institute


The Rainbow Flag


Ideas for gay mythic stories


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People


Kip and Toby, Activists


Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.


Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement


About Hay and The New Myth


About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"


About Michael Talbot, gay mystic


About Fr. Bernard Lynch


About Richard Baltzell


About Guy Mannheimer


About David Weyrauch


About Dennis Paddie


About Ask the Fire


About Arthur Evans


About Christopher Larkin


About Mark Thompson


About Sterling Houston


About Michael Stevens


The Alamo Business Council


Our friend Tom Nash


Second March on Washington


The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"


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Book Reviews



Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook


Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer


The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter


The Gay Disciple by John Henson


Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry


Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr


Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois


Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson


Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low


Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman


The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman


Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor


Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine


The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada


The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook


The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther


The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel


Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak


Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez


Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr


Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman


Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano


The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo


The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar


Occam’s Razor by David Duncan


Grace and Demion by Mel White


Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso


The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery


The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass


Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen


War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar


The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal


Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal


The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre


Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak


A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey


Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes


The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes


Keys to Spiritual Being: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises by Adrian Ravarour


In Walt We Trust by John Marsh


Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary


A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary


Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott


Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou


Internal Landscapes by John Ollom


Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks


Yes by Brad Boney


Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler


Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal


Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson


Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette


The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson


The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire


"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught


Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology



The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons


Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert


The Revotutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker


Out There by Perry Brass


The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh


The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan


It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja


ReCreations, edited by Catherine Lake


Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard


Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey by Fenton Johnson


Dating the Greek Gods
by Brad Gooch


Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan


The Substance of God by Perry Brass


The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols


10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort


Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe


The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke


The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann


Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall


Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long

An Interview with Ron Long


Queering Creole Spiritual Traditons by Randy Conner & David Sparks

An Interview with Randy Conner


Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard


Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak


Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan


Rising Up by Joe Perez


Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez


That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco


Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman


Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang


MM4M a DVD by Bruce Grether


Double Cross by David Ranan


The Transcended Christian by Daniel Helminiak


Jesus in Love by Kittredge Cherry


In the Eye of the Storm by Gene Robinson


The Starry Dynamo by Sven Davisson


Life in Paradox by Fr Paul Murray


Spirituality for Our Global Community by Daniel Helminiak


Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society by Robert A. Minor


Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences by Glen O'Brien


Queering Christ by Robert Goss


Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage


The Flesh of the Word by Richard A Rosato


Catland by David Garrett Izzo


Tantra for Gay Men by Bruce Anderson


Yoga & the Path of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main


Simple Grace by Malcolm Boyd


Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza


What Does "Queer" Mean Anyway? by Chris Bartlett


Critique of Patriarchal Reasoning by Arthur Evans


Gift of the Soul by Dale Colclasure & David Jensen


Legend of the Raibow Warriors by Steven McFadden


The Liar's Prayer by Gregory Flood


Lovely are the Messengers by Daniel Plasman


The Human Core of Spirituality by Daniel Helminiak


3001: The FInal Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke


Religion and the Human Sciences by Daniel Helminiak


Only the Good Parts by Daniel Curzon


Four Short Reviews of Books with a Message


Life Interrupted by Michael Parise


Confessions of a Murdered Pope by Lucien Gregoire


The Stargazer's Embassy by Eleanor Lerman


Conscious Living, Conscious Aging by Ron Pevny


Footprints Through the Desert by Joshua Kauffman


True Religion by J.L. Weinberg


The Mediterranean Universe by John Newmeyer


Everything is God by Jay Michaelson


Reflection by Dennis Merritt


Everywhere Home by Fenton Johnson


Hard Lesson by James Gaston


God vs Gay? by Jay Michaelson


The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path by Jay Michaelson


Roxie & Fred by Richard Alther


Not the Son He Expected by Tim Clausen


The 9 Realities of Stardust by Bruce P. Grether


The Afterlife Revolution by Anne & Whitley Strieber


AIDS Shaman: Queer Spirit Awakening by Shokti Lovestar


Facing the Truth of Your Life by Merle Yost


The Super Natural by Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey J Kripal


Secret Body by Jeffrey J Kripal


In Hitler's House by Jonathan Lane


Walking on Glory by Edward Swift


The Paradox of Porn by Don Shewey


Is Heaven for Real? by Lucien Gregoire


Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson




Toby Johnson's Books on Gay Men's Spiritualities:




Gay
Perspective cover
Gay Perspective

Things Our [Homo]sexuality
Tells Us about the
Nature of God and
the Universe


Gay Perspective audiobook
Gay Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Matthew Whitfield. Click here







Gay
Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness



gay-spirituality-audiobook
Gay Spirituality   is now available as an audiobook, beautifully narrated by John Sipple. Click here








charmed lives
Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling

edited by
Toby Johnson
& Steve Berman







secret matter
Secret Matter

Lammy Award Winner for Gay Science Fiction

updated







Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance





Getting
Life in Perspective audiobook
Getting Life in Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Alex Beckham. Click here 






The Fourth Quill

The Fourth Quill

originally published as PLAGUE




johnson-the-fourth-quill-audiobook
The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. Click here






Two
Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

with Walter L. Williams




Two Spirits
audiobookTwo Spirits  is available as an audiobook  narrated by Arthur Raymond. Click here






Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III
Finding Your Own True Myth:
What I Learned from Joseph Campbell

The Myth of the Great Secret III








In
Search of God in the Sexual Underworld
In Search of God  in the Sexual Underworld










The Myth of the Great Secret II

The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell.

This was the second edition of this book.




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Toby Johnson's titles are available in other ebook formats from Smashwords.


There are said to be Three Wonders of the Bodhisattva



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Joseph Campbell--the great light and "wise old man" of Toby Johnson's spiritual journey--wrote glowingly about the myth of the Bodhisattva and the The Way of Joyful Participation inthe Sorrows of the World.

Campbell wrote: "This is the sense of the first wonder of the Bodhisattva: the androgynous character of the presence . . . the initiate learns that male and female are (as paraphrased in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad) 'two halves of a split pea'. . ."

"The second wonder to be noted in the Bodhisattva myth is its annihilation of the distinction between life and release-from-life--which is symbolized . . . in the Bodhisattva's renunciation of Nirvana . . ."

"The third wonder of the Bodhisattva myth is that the first wonder (namely, the bisexual form) is symbolical of the second (the identity of eternity and time)."


Note to readers: if you came upon this webpage through a search on Buddhism or the name Avalokiteshvara, you may be surprised to discover an article on an aspect of gay men's spiritual consciousness. You might even be scandalized to read about a gay man's mystical experience.

Let me invite you to relax your expectations and read on. You may discover something about yourself--and certainly about your gay friends and compatriots in the world of samsara--that will surprise and edify you.

There are several articles on this website about the story of Avalokiteshvara, most of them not quite as "outrageous" as this one. There are links below to several of them including: The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
Especially if the very idea of "gay men's spirituality" seems odd or shocking to you,
please read on and/or look at Toby Johnson's main page


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Avalokitesvara at The 21st Street Baths
by Toby Johnson

(An expanded version of this story appears in the Lethe Press anthology Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling, edited by Toby Johnson and Steve Berman.)

 

One night in the late 1970s, (July 14, 1978 to be exact), I checked into the 21st Street Baths a few blocks from my San Francisco Noe Valley apartment. Within five minutes I felt I'd made a mistake. Nobody looked attractive to me and nobody seemed to find me attractive. There was only one young man I was interested in and he didn't pay any notice of me.

I watched TV awhile, delaying in case somebody else might show up. I wondered why I'd come. Earlier I'd been feeling lonely. I really need to be touched, I'd said to myself. I could still feel the neediness all through my chest and shoulders. I wasn't ready to leave yet.

I went into one of the common rooms upstairs. It was a large dark space with cushioned platforms around the walls. As I made my way into the darkness, a hand reached out and touched me on the thigh. I looked, but could not see who was there. I automatically resisted. What if I were being groped by some unattractive troll?

Well, no wonder you're lonely, I said to myself. If anybody chooses you, you reflexively assume you wouldn't want them. You're caught in the webs of karma: getting rejected because you reject others.

 

As my eyes adjusted, I saw it was the young man I'd noticed earlier. I moved closer. We started in on the kind of impersonal play that goes on in the orgy room at a bathhouse, but then soon changed tempo. We lay down on the platform, side by side, facing each other, holding one another tenderly. Innocently violating the stolid silence, the young man introduced himself to me as Jim. He said, "You seem sad," and asked how I was doing.

Surprised by the opportunity for communication, wanting more from this meeting than just an ejaculation--and sensing the openness on Jim's part, I told him about my earlier loneliness and about my disappointment with the baths as any sort of remedy. Jim listened carefully. Occasionally he murmured or squeezed me warmly to let me know he was paying attention.

Surprising myself with the depth of honesty I displayed, I started talking about my spiritual life. I told him about my past as a Catholic seminarian and my conversion, by way of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell to a kind of New Age Buddhism. I recounted several major spiritual experiences in my life, acknowleding that I found the clash between my spirituality and my liberated gay sexuality somewhat confusing.

We lay together in an embrace that was not entirely sexual, but was not unsexual either. We occasionally shifted in one another's arms sliding slowly against each other to renew the touch. I felt his flesh, warm and slightly electric, against my chest. I felt our cocks lying full but not hard between us against our bellies.

He said he was a switchboard operator at Langley Porter, the psych hospital at U.C. San Francisco, but didn't say much else about himself--other than that he too struggled with joining his spirituality and his sexuality. He commended me on being spiritually inclined and coaxed me to talk some more.

I told him of my effort to live a good life, to be compassionate and sensitive to other people, to participate in my culture and in my society, to pursue a right livelihood as a gay counselor, to be politically and ecologically aware, to live responsibly, and not to cause harm or pain--to discover how to be a saint as a modern gay man. I told him about the sorrow that seemed to come to me, inspite of my good efforts, instead of joy.

Almost lecturing him, assuming he wouldn't know about such things, I explained how Buddhism teaches that all existence is sorrowful. I lamented the pang of sorrow I found in being gay--not from guilt, but from the frustration of seeing such sexual beauty all around me and feeling--on the ego level--inadequate to participate, but beyond that--on some metaphysical level--simply unable to possess it all.

"So many men, so little time," he rejoined jokingly with one of the war cries of the Sexual Revolution.

"Yes, but on a much deeper level," I replied. "It's like I want to be everybody and know their lives from inside, feel their flesh as my own."

 

I told Jim about my obsession with a particular Mahayana Buddhist myth. "The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was this enlightened being who chose to renounce nirvana and remain within the cycles of reincarnation," I explained. "Out of generosity, he vowed to take upon himself the suffering of the world in order to bring all beings to nirvana with him. He's a world savior, a little like Jesus." I cited the John and Mimi Fariņa folk song "Pack Up Your Sorrows" as an example of this myth: "If somehow you could pack up your sorrows and give them all to me, you would lose them; I know how to use them, give them all to me."

"When I first came across this story, maybe without realizing what I was doing," I confided, "in a burst of fervor I committed myself to this myth. I mean I made the bodhisattva's vow. Does that mean I'm doomed to suffer? And is the suffering a gay man gets these days the loneliness and isolation that comes with living in a sexually active environment, maybe getting sex but never quite finding the love, just the frustration and disappointment?" (This was in the 1970s, before AIDS, and the metaphysical suffering of the gay community had not yet become physically manifest in sorrowful deaths all around us as it would a few years later.)

"Is this a holy way to live?" I asked plaintively.

"That's a pretty dismal interpretation of the story," Jim answered. "Isn't a better interpretation of that myth that since the bodhisattva took on everyone's incarnation, he is the One Being that is reincarnating. You can rejoice that he accepted your karma. You are him. You are everybody. The Being in you is the Being in everybody else. Embracing the suffering of the world doesn't mean being unhappy. It means deciding that everything is great just the way it is, that life is worth choosing--in spite of sorrow.

"The Bodhisattva took on the suffering of the world in order to transform it and save sentient beings from suffering, not to glorify suffering and get people to feel guilty about being happy and punish themselves. That sounds more like a Christian misinterpretation of the story than the bodhisattva wisdom."

I was surprised by his answer. "You know about the bodhisattva?" I asked quzzically.

"Yes, I know," Jim said, smiling enigmatically in the faint red light of the orgy room.

"You mean you know about Buddhism?"

"I mean, I know about accepting everyone's incarnations."

"You know about Avalokitesvara?"

Jim looked into my eyes with an oddly profound gaze. "I know I am Avalokitesvara," he said.

"You mean like we all are?" I answered.

"Like I am."

 

All of a sudden, to my dismay, I understood this man to be saying not simply that, like all beings, he was a manifestation of the Central Self that in Mahayana Buddhism is mythologized in the story of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, but that he was, in a unique way, a specific incarnation of that divine being.

I felt my world whirling out of control. I was in the presence of one of my most beloved of gods--right there in the flesh: Avalokitesvara holding me close, in the orgy room at the 21st Street Baths. A thrill of excitement, mystical wonder, bewilderment, and consolation coursed through me.

I experienced intentionally linking my soul with that of this other man, chakra by chakra. I felt an enormous rush of energy pouring through me--body and soul. In a certain way you could say I was falling in love and feeling love's joy.

My head was spinning. I seemed to have entered into some truly "underworld" state in which the gods took on real flesh. I wondered if I'd gotten delusional. I wondered if we were both just playing a game with one another, spinning out the implications of a mythology we both happened to know about.. Maybe he was just another stoned hippie like me carrying on with all this new age stuff.

What did it matter? I asked myself. Whatever was happening, it certainly was marvelous. Far more than just having found somebody to have sex with. This wasn't even exactly "sex," but it was fully satisfying of the loneliness I'd felt earlier. Whoever he was, he was manifesting the bodhisattva truth. What did it matter?

Almost as if addressing my bewilderment, Jim said, "Have faith."

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"Faith that things are never totally true or totally false, faith that life won't destroy us, that nothing really matters because it's all okay." He laughed. "Live in the present. Don't try to possess the world, have faith in the world."

Then abruptly he announced, "It's time for me to be going now."

"Can I see you again?" I asked, already feeling bereft.

"Don't cling," he replied, in a way that sounded more like wisdom teaching than rejection.

A pang of loss struck me, but I understood the spiritual lesson to live in the present and not to be attached, to enjoy the joy I was feeling without trying to possess it.

 

The incident changed me. It affirmed my belief in a healthy spiritual life lived in the styles of modern gay culture. It caused me afterwards to take time in gay settings to bless the other men and women, wishing grace for them, perceiving them as manifestations of the One Being, intending for them that they also discover their god manifesting to them in the form of another gay person to show them love and bring them joy.

 

Back to main page

More about Avalokiteshvara

More about gay men as bodhisattvas

I Want to Know Them All
Here's a link to a wonderful article by L. Houston Wood
about the nature of the Bodhisattva experience

 "Kuan Yin:  Mirror of the Queer Asian Christ"
Here's an essay by gay spirituality activist Patrick Cheng on the story of the bodhisattva. The article tells several wonderful stories about the bodhisattva appearing in what we'd think of today as gay/queer incarnations.



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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of nine books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, four gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality and editor of a collection of "myths" of gay men's consciousness. 

Johnson's book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness won a Lambda Literary Award in 2000.

His  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our [Homo]sexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was nominated for a Lammy in 2003. They remain in print.

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III tells the story of Johnson's learning the real nature of religion and myth and discovering the spiritual qualities of gay male consciousness.

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