Table of Contents
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
THE FOURTH QUILL, a
novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"
The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"
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
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
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
There is a notion in Tibetan Buddhism that hints at the spiritual identity of gay people. After death, souls wait in the bardo for another incarnation. In this disembodied state, they float around, waiting for something to happen, looking for something to interest them. Frequently they become sexually attracted to the sight of human couples in sexual intercourse. (If you could be invisibly present anywhere, wouldn't you go looking for sex?)
If a particular soul happens to be too close, too attentive and too personally involved when a sperm and ovum unite, that soul will be pulled into incarnation as the offspring of that sexual union. That is how souls get reincarnated.
A homosexual soul, however, floating in the bardo state, can watch lots of acts of homosexual intercourse without ever being drawn into incarnation. In fact, it seems like it would never get pulled into incarnation at all. Thus homosexual souls must come back only because they choose to. Perhaps they become bored in the bardo and shift their consciousness from lust to compassion for the suffering they observe. We might even say gay people come into the world as bodhisattvas.
Joy In The Joy Of Others
From the Bodhisattva story, Buddhists derives the four abodes of consciousness, also called the Four Immeasurables. These are the proper attitudes to hold toward life: compassion, loving-kindness, joy in the joy of others, and equanimity.
Joy in the joy of others is the spiritual basis for sexual liberation. Instead of judging other people's sexual pleasures and, wittingly or unwittingly, intending evil on them out of resentment and disapproval, we can be glad for them and wish them well.
As all people begin to wish well instead of ill, the self-fulfilling prophecies of bad things happening will diminish. That is how we save all those sentient beings. If we are compassionate and conscientious about the consequences of our actions, then we do not cause harm to others. If we treat people with loving-kindness, we make the world a kinder place. If we truly experience joy in the joy of others, we release resentment and disapproval and enter into joy ourself. If we experience all things with equanimity, we overcome fear and desire, we let go of judgment and resistance to life and we create a context for ourself in which to say yes to experience.
A mantra associated with the bodhisattva goes: "May all beings be happy. May all beings be free." What a good attitude to have all the time!
If you want to find a reason for joy, just be joyful that other people are happy. Be joyful that there are beautiful men in the world. The way to find joy and happiness is to rise above your own situation. You'll never find joy if you have to get everything you can imagine wanting--unless what you want is others' being happy. Then you can get what you want every time.
When you're standing in a gay bar, hoping somebody will talk to you, be happy for all the people who are talking to one another. Wish them all well. Wish them all love. You might not meet anybody yourself that night. But you won't go home frustrated. You can go home knowing that some of those men did meet one another and, even now, are experiencing the joys you wished for them.
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
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of
Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated
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
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