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
In graduate school in comparative religions, I studied a Buddhist philosopher named Nagarjuna. He’s said to have lived for three hundred years — 150 BC to 150 AD. That’s because there are philosophical texts written by him that are dated as early as 150 BC and as late as 150 AD. Comparative religion scholars now understand that there were three men who wrote under the name Nagarjuna; they lived about a hundred and fifty years apart, so spanned the three hundred years.
On the purely factual plane, I think this story also explains Methuselah and his ilk in the bible stories.
On the psychological plane, I think this also suggests that people took the names of their elders/teachers/fathers literally in order to become them. Sons were given their fathers' names and then took over their fathers’ life patterns and continued them into the next generation. That’s what “junior” means, the “younger one.”
I think in the old days a single life, that is, an identity, an “ego,” spanned several lifetimes and lived in a series of different bodies.
I think as evolution progressed and people became more individualized as they became more conscious and complex, the numbers of lifetimes in these series diminished. After a while the great grandson didn’t feel himself an extension of his paterfamilias because the world was changing and he was changing with it. He wasn’t a younger version of the old man three and four generations back, he was only like his grandfather.
Around the time of the European Middle Ages, the idea of the “ego person” arose along with courtly love tradition and the Arthurian legends. Perhaps that suggests that the number of lifetimes in an ego had gotten down to one. This was a major revolution in human consciousness. Each person was a lifetime, each lifetime a person. This is when romantic love developed with the idea that you’d find your soulmate whom you would bond with for life through the feelings in the heart.
As evolution has continued to progress, there have gotten to be more than one “person” in a human lifetime. Today, we go thru a series of lives. We change careers, move to new cities, sometimes change our names, change our styles of dress, our interests, our entertainment choices. We even change our partners, husbands and wives and spouses; some people change their sexual orientation, some their physical sex. We get to be several people in a single lifetime.
On the mythic/“spiritual” plane, I think this points to the deeper reality that ego is a sort of illusion that arises from point of view. In order to know anything you have to step far enough away from it to be able to see it in context. In order for “God” to know “Himself”—i.e. the universe—he had to separate himself from it. The consciousness that is experiencing being the ego and living within lifetimes IS that “God.” And “He” looks different to “himself” from every perspective. Hence the universe as we know it.
You looking out at the world through your eyes is “God” seeing “Himself” from your particular perspective. And your perspective is a consequence of all the patterns that comprise you—from genetic to biological to experiential to intentional to coincidental to karmic. Each of us is the intersection of the world’s phenomena in just this particular way—like waves in the sea.
The trick of “immortality” is to know that you’re the experiencing consciousness, not the perspective you’re experiencing from. You’re not the wave, you’re the water.
What we really are is Experiencing experiencing experiencing.
The "problem" of the One and the Many.
The reason we get trapped in ego—that's the myth of Brer Rabbit and the Tarbaby
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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