Table of Contents
Also on this website:
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of
Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness
Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature
of God and the Universe
MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press
with Afterword by Mark Jordan
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
A NOVEL ABOUT HEALING.
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Crane Gay Spirituality Series
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San
Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate
Why gay people should NOT Marry
Wedding Cake Liberation
Gay Marriage in Texas
Shame on the American People
The "highest form of love"
Second March on
Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality
cause of homosexuality
origins of homophobia
about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness
What is homosexuality?
is Gay Spirituality?
What Jesus said about Gay
Common Experiences Unique to Gay
Is there a "uniquely gay
The purpose of homosexuality
The Reincarnation of Edward
The Gay Succession
Interview on the Nature of
What the Bible Says about
Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men
of Gay Spirituality
of Gay Liberation Activity
Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality
as Artistic Medium
Easton Mountain Retreat Center
Andrew Harvey &
Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and
the "Statement of Spirituality"
"It's Always About You"
The myth of the
Joseph Campbell's description of
Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.
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
The Danda Nata
& goddess Kalika
Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva
John Boswell was Immanuel Kant
The Two Loves
Toby Johnson Believes
The Joseph Campbell Connection
Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy
The Nature of Religion
What's true about
Gay is a Blessing
Drawing Long Straws
Gay Spiritual Functions
The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.
The Sinfulness of
for a study of gay nondualism
"The Evolution of Gay Identity"
"St. John of the
Dark Night of the Soul."
Let Me Tell You a Secret
Religious Articulations of the
The Collective Unconscious
Driving as Spiritual Practice
Step in Evolution
The Moulting of the Holy Ghost
is a Bodhisattva
The Hero's Journey as archetype
Immaculate Conception & Assumption
Prostitution and the Nature of Evil
Hu: "God is present here"
The Life is in the Blood
retirement and the "freelance monastery"
Seeing with Different Eyes
experience at the Servites' Castle in Riverside
Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis
The Techniques Of The World Saviors
Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the
Part 2: The
Part 3: Jesus
and the Resurrection
Part 4: A
Course in Miracles
Secret of the Clear Light
Understanding the Clear Light
Souls Get Reincarnated
In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke
Karellen was a homosexual
About Alien Abduction
are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?
about Gay Mental Health
Ideas for gay
Kip and Toby,
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"
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
Be Done on Earth
by Howard E. Cook
Pay Me What I'm Worth by
The Way Out by Christopher
The Gay Disciple by John Henson
Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry
Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth
the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois
Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay
Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson
Dark Knowledge by
Janet Planet by Eleanor
Kairos by Paul E. Hartman
with Jesus by D.K.Maylor
Kali Rising by Rudolph
Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada
Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook
The Scar Letters: A Novel
by Richard Alther
Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel
by Charlene Spretnak
Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez
Cut Hand: A
Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr
by Eleanor Lerman
Rizzoli by Felice Picano
to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo
The Door of the
Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar
by David Duncan
and Demion by Mel White
Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L.
Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery
Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass
TECHNIQUES OF THE WORLD
The Bodhisattva as Thousand Armed Chenresig
"Thousand-armed" because he is everybody.
Courtesy of Osel
from The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation
of Joseph Campbell (Celestial Arts, 1990)
This article has 4 parts. This is
Part 1: Brer Rabbit and
Part 2: The Bodhisattva
Part 3: Jesus and the
Part 4: A Course in
The heroes of
Buddhism are Siddhartha Gautama, who entered nirvana and became the
Lord Buddha, and the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, who renounced
nirvana to save all sentient beings. Compared to early Buddhism,
which taught that life was all suffering and that each individual had
to work to escape from life into a nirvana that was simply
extinction, as we have observed earlier, the Mahayanist
reinterpretation of the Buddha's teachings several hundred years
after his death was relatively life-affirming.
Mahayana sages, like Nagarjuna,
world arises through a process of "mutual coorigination" in which
nothing is known individually or independently but only relatively in
its interacting with everything else in a great cosmic unity. Since
nothing is absolute, nothing can be known of Absolute Truth. All
knowledge is empty. Even the teachings of the Buddha are not
absolute, but only hints at a greater, unknowable, ineffable Truth.
The denial of all absolute distinctions implies that there is no
ascertainable difference between samsara, the world of change and
apparent suffering, and nirvana, the state beyond change and
suffering. Samsara is nirvana The world is no different from heaven.
They taught a radical monism in which all beings are manifestations
of the One Being. The illusion from which all must be saved is that
individual existence is real. The Mahayanists recommended compassion
for others as the "skillful means" of attaining enlightenment and
escaping rebirth. They accepted life in the world, not just in the
monastery, as an exercise in gaining enlightenment.
To communicate the emptiness of
radical monism, and compassion as the means to salvation, the
Mahayanists told the story of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. The
myth tells that the lovely, androgynous saint, Avalokitesvara, was on
the verge of entering into nirvana, thus leaving behind forever the
world of samsara. Just as his meditation was deepening and his
insight into the transience of all phenomena growing, he was
distracted by a great groaning, rising up all about him in the world.
He came out of his trance and, looking around him, asked: What is
this groaning I hear? All the birds and trees and grass and all
sentient beings replied to him: O Avalokitesvara, our lives are times
of suffering and pain; we live in a delusion from which we cannot
seem to escape. You are so beautiful and so kind. Your presence here
among us has given us joy and a reason for living. We all love you
so, and we are saddened by the prospect of your leaving us. And so we
At that the young saint was filled
compassion and chose not to enter nirvana, but to remain in the cycle
of birth and death so that the others would not have to suffer. And
he vowed to renounce nirvana until all sentient beings were equally
enlightened. He saw that it was better that one should suffer than
that all should. And he took upon himself their suffering, so that he
alone would wander the cycles of karma, far from the homeland.
name means "The Lord Looking Down in Pity," agreed to take upon
himself the suffering of the world. And he willed that the merit for
this selfless act should go out from him to all beings, so that all
should be saved. I will not enter nirvana, he vowed, until all beings
have entered nirvana. By the generosity of Avalokitesvara all the
rest have already gone home.
The Bodhisattva's vow is expressed
a litany all Mahayanists are urged to repeat:
I vow to save them;
however inexhaustible the
I vow to extinguish them;
however immeasurable the Dharmas
I vow to master them;
however incomparable the
I vow to attain it. (For
a more modern version)
His name also means "The Lord Who is
Within." For, of course, what the myth means is that at the essence
of every person is the Lord Savior. Salvation comes from recognizing
who we really are. And from that perspective then everything that
happens to us is but an experience of our true essence.
In the Japanese story of the
there is a variation on Avalokitesvara's vow. As Amida was about to
enter nirvana, he too felt compassion for all beings. He declared
that he would not complete his entry into nirvana unless it were
guaranteed that all beings who had called upon his help, saying his
name as few as ten times in their lives, would at death gain
immediate admission to the Pure Land. He subsequently entered
nirvana, becoming Amida, the Sun Buddha.
To followers of Shin Buddhism, called
Land Sect, his departure was a sure sign that salvation awaits those
who honor the name of Amida and reverently chant his mantra: Namo
Amida Butsu (Honor to the Buddha Amida). Perhaps soon after dawn on
the sixth of August 1945, when citizens of Hiroshima observed the
noonday sun descending upon them several hours early, some of them
saw not the wrath of America annihilating them in an act of war but
the face of Amida the Sun Buddha welcoming them into the Pure Land,
making them one with the sun.
At any rate, in spite of the
indeed, because of them--Avalokitesvara alone remains, though he soon
will follow. And when he does, when, after experiencing all the
suffering in every world system whatsoever, he turns to enter the
gates of nirvana, he will discover that there is no nirvana and no
samsara, that there have never been sentient beings, and there has
never been a bodhisattva who has suffered, and that all is empty and
has been so from the beginning.
portrayed as bisexual, both male and female, uniting the opposites.
In this androgyny he personifies the principle of emptiness: samsara
is nirvana, nirvana is samsara: there are no exclusive categories.
Today "bisexual" has also come to mean being both heterosexual and
homosexual, uniting the opposites.
the Buddhists imported statues of
Avalokiteshvara to China, the Chinese who did not have a tradition of
bisexual gods, understood the figure to be female. He/she became the
"Goddess of Compassion" Kwan Yin.
When I first learned about
was not worldly enough to distinguish between these two meanings of
bisexual. Learning of bisexual gods (of which Avalokitesvara is but
one in a crowded pantheon) helped me to reevaluate deeply
ingrained--and personally destructive--prejudices about
homosexuality. For the myths tell us that from the mystical
perspective the distinctions between male and female and between
homosexual and heterosexual--as between time and eternity, pluralism
and monism--are meaningless.
Even Saint Paul declared that in
is neither male nor female. And the Jesus of the Gnostic Gospel of
Thomas declared that until one had made the male as female and the
female as male, one could not enter the kingdom. Like the myth of the
androgynous bodhisattva, this suggests that one has to overcome the
tendency of the mind to differentiate and value before one can
perceive the unity of life. For what Jesus called the Kingdom was
probably not an afterlife, but a mystical realization of the ultimate
unity of all beings. In the canonical, but only slightly less
gnostic, Gospel of John, Jesus prayed that all may be one, even as he
had realized he was one with the Father. ln Buddhist terms, Jesus was
a bodhisattva, for he took upon himself the sin--the pain, the
brokenness, the blindness, the stupidity and apparent failure--of the
Go to the
This article has 4 parts. This is
Part 1: Brer Rabbit
Part 2: The Bodhisattva
Part 3: Jesus and the
Part 4: A Course in
See also Toby Johnson's story of
to main page
Here's a more
contemporary statement of the vows and understanding of what the
bodhisattva identity might mean to us modern Americans
beings, I vow to save them.*
However inexhaustible the
resistance, I vow to relinquish it.
However many the doors of
incarnation, I vow to enter them all.
However incomparable the
perspective, I vow to attain it."
Gay Buddhist Fellowship issued another "updated" version of the vows in
their newsletter in 1998:
I vow to celebrate for all
I vow to enjoy my delusions in
vivid and wonderful ways without being attached.
I vow to dance through the
Gates I am presented with
and fully experience them.
I vow to appreciate the
and emptiness of all my senses and be with them without attachment as
*Notice that "However countless sentient
also means "However the countless sentient beings are," meaning less
the countlessness of all beings than the non-judgmentalness of the
bodhisattva's attitude in making the vow. I vow to save all beings
regardless of who they are and what they're like.
playwright Jean Anouilh proposed a scenario for the Last Judgment
that elucidates this point in Christian mythology.
The good are
densely clustered at the gate of heaven, eager to march in, sure of
their reserved seats, keyed up and bursting with impatience.
All at once, a
spreading: "It seems He's going to forgive those others,
For a minute,
dumbfounded. They look at one another in disbelief, gasping and
sputtering, "After all the trouble I went through!" "If only I'd
known this..." "I just cannot get over it!"
themselves into a fury and start cursing God; and at that very
instant they're damned. That was the final judgment. (cited in Louis
Evely, That Man is
The way to get
to want other people to get in too. The tragedy of the
anti-homosexual stance of most religions is not so much what it does
to the gay people. (We can wake up and leave, after all!) It is what
it does to the faithful.
If you take
of the Last Judgment seriously, he is going to have to say to the
Fundamentalists: "Behold, when I was thrown of the military or was
fired from my job or evicted from my apartment, you didn't care. When
I was sick, you didn't visit me or lobby Congress for research funds.
When I wanted to sacramentalize my relationship, you passed laws to
prevent me. When I needed civil rights, you vilified me and
misrepresented my claims. When I complained about injustice and
demonstrated politically, you sensationalized my cause as a
fund-raising tactic to gather more wealth into your coffers. When I
died, you picketed my funeral. Behold, what you didn't do for the
least of these, my lesbian and gay sisters and brothers, that you
didn't do for me. Because you were not hospitable to these strangers
in your midst, heaven holds no hospitality for you. Get thee into
everlasting damnation." (Matthew 25: 45)
Perhaps the reason
spiritually-oriented gay people have to work for the transformation
of religion is to save the Christians from their own hell-fire!
back to The Vows of the
Go on to Part
3: Jesus and the Resurrection