Meditation Practices For A Funeral

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

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

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

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

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

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 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

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

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

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

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

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

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

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

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

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

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

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

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

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

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

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

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

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

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

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 Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

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

At a funeral

I attended a funeral recently. It was a lovely and moving event. But I was disappointed in the focus of the service and content of the priest's talks. While there was certainly a linking made to the lif of the person who had died, most of the priest's talk was about the Church and what the Church believes about death. He told stories about Jesus and the Apostles, even the minor disciple Cornelius, but he didn't talk abut the important things in the life and beliefs of the man we had all gathered to honor.

I think we would have liked to hear what our friend thought about death and afterlife and God, rather than what the Church teaches. It would have been nice to have had a friend or partner of the deceased read a statement of what he believed.

Maybe we ALL, therefore, need to write a Credo.

See What Toby Johnson Believes.

I propose that a funeral ought to include a reading of the deceased Credo, especially a statement or summary of what he believed about death and afterlife.

And I'd like to propose two meditation practices as samples of what might be incorporated into a funeral or memorial service.

The first is a practice of positive intention for the deceased's last moments.

The second is a practice of sharing the grief for the death AND transforming sorrow into bliss.

1) Assisting the deceased to have a happy death—and preparing for our own.

    The occasion for gathering is to say goodbye and commemorate the life of the deceased. At least mythologically, we might imagine that our participating in the psychic vibrations that surround his passing might entrain with his vibes and so actually influence his experience.
    So let us imagine how he died.

    Let’s hear about the actual conditions surrounding his death: Was he awake? Was he in bed? Was he standing in line at the bank? Was he in a car crash? Was he happy that day? Was in feeling healthy or feeling ill?

    Then let us imagine what his interior experience was like. Realizing the pain in his chest was a heart attack, perhaps, or realizing that he was bleeding to death and so would soon be passing beyond personality.

    Let us imagine him realizing he is dying and realizing that this is a great moment in life and so one not to be afraid of or freaked out by. So that he can say “Wow, here it comes. I've been waiting for this. I have no regrets. Life’s been great.”

    Let us imagine him relaxing into death without any fear, and feeling like the mythical “tunnel of light” is opening before him.

    If he has had the good fortune to have a loved one with him, perhaps the loved one has had the presence of mind to guide him through the passage, saying “Go to sleep to be [Name] and wake up to being God. Remember, go into the light. Don’t be afraid. There is nothing to be afraid of. Let go of ego, wake up to cosmic consciousness. Fall asleep to being [Name], wake up to being God. Don’t be afraid. Go back to cosmic consciousness. It’s OK. We love you.”

    We can say those things to him now in our imagination. As we do, we assist him in his passage AND we train ourselves for our own inevitable passing.

Aldous Huxley's wife, Laura, said these words to him as he was dying:
"Light and free you let go, darling; forward and up. You are going forward and up; you are going toward the light. Willingly and consciously you are going, willingly and consciously, and you are  doing this beautifully -- you are going towards the light -- you are  going toward a greater love -- you are going forward and up.  You are  going toward a greater love than you have ever known. You are going toward the best, the greatest love, and it is easy, it is so easy,  and you are doing it so beautifully."

    Let us imagine him rising beyond self and returning into the Ocean of Bliss like a drop of water falling into the sea.
    Remind him “You’re not a wave, you’re water.”

See Ram Dass's story

    Only the wave is dying as it hits the shore. The water flows on and on.

    Remind him, in our minds, Death is only a transition back into the greater life. It’s only ego and memory that are passing into the past. Life flows on within you and without you.
    Visualize him rising into the light and being absorbed in the infinite brightness, dissolving into eternity, letting go of time and sequence.

Read a description of a death from The Fourth Quill
"Going into the Light"

2) Sharing in the mourning AND transforming grief. (Modeled on the Tibetan practice of tonglen.)

    All of us here grieve the passing of our friend. That grief is especially intense for the deceased partner and beloved. Let us share his grief by participating in it, spreading it through the souls of all of us, transforming it into bliss--for ourselves, for the beloved and for the deceased himself.

    Let us feel the sorrow in our hearts. We will miss our friend.

    Let us be especially aware of how his partner must feel. What a loss!

    Imagine the sorrow as dark smoke, perhaps like smoke from incense, or fumes from a blown out candle. Imagine the smoke filling the room. Breathe in the smoke. Relax and be aware of your breath, and be aware of breathing in the black smoke, so that the mental space inside your body becomes dark and choked with the smoke. Keep breathing it in till the inside of the space in your body is as dark as night.

Then visualize a lightning flash – the lightning bolt of enlightenment:  vajra.


The vajra scepter is the stylized solidification of a lightning bolt. Tibetans thought when lightning struck the ground it congealed into a diamond. So the vajra is both lightning bolt and diamond – both images of enlightened mind.

    Enlightenment is the realization that ego is phantasm in consciousness, a ripple in the greater consciousness field of the Earth and of the Sun. What has passed is really no more than a transitory illusion.

    Let us see that we are all but momentary corruscations of brilliance, flashes of light caused by the clashing of the streams of karma and intention and love that create human consciousness and individual human life.

    Let us see the lightning bolt as the reminder of that wisdom: “You’re not a wave, you’re water.”

Read Ram Dass's story about the wave

    In the bright flash of the lightning--cutting through the darkness and cutting through time to illuminate an eternal moment--let us visualize the smoke and darkness changing to bright colorful lights, like flowers in spring or like the flashing of sunlight off the surface of water, shimmering and beautiful, warm and relaxing.
    Let us see our grief--and especially the grief of the deceased’s beloved being shared by us all--be transformed into joy for our having known [Name] and bliss in our own experiencing of being alive and of being alive in the world in which [Name] was also alive and which he changed by his loving presence.

    Let us share the beloved’s grief, turning the grief and mourning into a joyful experience of the poignancy of consciousness.

    Breathe in the smoke and darkness of human sorrow and suffering in the transitoriness of time, let it be transformed in the lightning bolt striking into your heart and congealing into a diamond, and let it become joy for life and bliss in the eternity of consciousness transcending individuality.

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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight 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, three 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. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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